The Woman Behind My Brooklyn Vegetable Garden

Posted on Jun 24 2009 - 3:35am by Mike Lieberman

I spend a lot of time with my Grandmother. One day during the winter we got to talking and I expressed my interest in wanting to grow my own vegetables.

She offered up her backyard, which was great. As much as I wanted to utilize it, it wouldn’t have been fair to her because some of the responsibility would be on her shoulders.

Door to door Gram is about an hour commute from my Manhattan apartment. So making that trip 3-4 times a week would’ve been a bit much for me.

She just turned 90 a few months back, but she’s still as sharp as they come and ain’t nothing really slowing her down.

Back in the day when she was a bit more spry, she used to grow a lot of her own produce in the backyard. These days she just rocks a few tomato plants that she harassed me to plant for her.

So when I came across the self watering container idea, I thought it would be perfect for her backyard. She was adamant that it was to be my responsibility and didn’t want to have to take of it. That was fine with me. I didn’t want to put that burden on her.

Sure enough each time I visit to check in on things, she’s bent over and knuckle deep in some soil. She’ll be straightening things out and making sure things are ok. It’s good to see her showing interest in it too. I love it.

One of the great things about her is that she’s also not scared to speak what’s on her mind. When I completed my first harvest in her backyard, I brought it into her room to show her. Let’s just say that she wasn’t nearly as excited and amazed as I was. She was more concerned with some of the lettuce soiling her bed.

I shot some video of her as she rips apart my attire to attempts to figure out how old she is:


  • Erica

    Our grandmas should hang out together. They can complain about your hat, and tell me to put on a little blush. Then they can belittle our accomplishments, make fun of us for being bad grandkids and compare prices on the great deals they got on sheets. Then, ask us to reset their clocks.

  • WendiDee

    OMG that was absolutely precious!! I LOVE your Gram!!

    Congrats on the awesome harvest, too! I was impressed, even if she wasn't. ;-P

    Lots of love to you,


  • Mike Lieberman

    And my grandmother would gladly drive to meet your grandmother.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Haha. Thanks. Gram keeps it real.

  • jeanannvk

    dude, your grandmother is hysterical…reminds me of mine. Love that you have her on film…wish video cams had been more prevalent when my grandmother was around…

  • lizwilkinson

    lol thats is the cutest video!! 😀 LOVE IT!

  • Mike Lieberman

    She acts like she doesn't like the camera when I take it out, but she hams it up once the red light goes on.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. I was hoping that people would appreciate it.

  • madpanic

    thats really great mike …. i dig it

  • Making Love In The Kitchen

    Grandma's are the best! Seriously. I was laughing so hard. When you have a moment, meet mine:

  • Tori Jarvis

    I will watch your channel over television any day! Your Grandmother is delightful – what a crack-up!

  • Mike Lieberman

    That's one of the best compliments I've received. Personally, I gave up TV over a year ago. I think I'm a much better person for it.

  • Pomona Belvedere

    I want to be like your grandmother when I'm 90. And you know, sometimes I miss the East Coast banter thing, this gave me a needed dose. The self-watering containers plus a timed drip system: could that make it easy enough for her to grow more stuff? (By the way, I did a series on low-water container gardening; if you're interested you can check out my site. Along with the self-watering thing you can do a lot to keep a container garden more water-thrifty and healthy. I learned it the hard way.)

    Thanks to you and your grandmother for this view of her garden. It makes me want to sit down in it with a cool drink.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Haha. Thanks Pomona. Sorry for taking so long to respond, but I was on one of the most amazing vacations ever.

    The garden is totally mine, my grandmother is just kind enough to loan out the land to me. I'll definitely check out your site for more ideas, but with the rain we had here in Seattle, er, NY in June there was no need for easy watering systems.

    I am going to check in on it tomorrow for the first time since before I left almost 2 weeks ago. Spoke to her today and she said everything looked good.

  • Mariann Mattia

    Mike I loved it!! Made me feel like I was back in NY. 90 huh? She looks FABULOUS!! I assume that was LI? Love listening to you talk, and it all looks great. Keep up the good work

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Mariann. It's actually in Brooklyn (Canarsie). She's been there over 60 years.

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  • Gabrielle

    Mike! Your gram's the best. I can see her big garden there as she waves her arms around. How great you've got stuff growing there, and she can give you a hard time about your late tomato planting. My first year with tomatoes they got so big before we could put them out, we had to plant the stems sideways in the ground, so the tender stems wouldn't blow over in the wind. Amazing how tomatoes will grow roots from their stems, and the stems turn into roots if you plant them underground.

    I wish I had that kind of footage of my mom, also a gardener. Made me laugh and cry both!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the comment Gabrielle. My grandmother has it put together pretty well for a 90 year old. Very fortunate for that.

    As much as she talks against it, she loves when I break out the video camera. Doing my best to capture all the moments.

    Thanks again for leaving a comment.

  • Becki

    “Tastes like grass.”
    Your grandma is awesome. Both of you are so lucky to spend time together!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Becki. She's definitely a special lady, and I'm thankful for our time together.

  • Becki

    “Tastes like grass.”
    Your grandma is awesome. Both of you are so lucky to spend time together!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks Becki. She's definitely a special lady, and I'm thankful for our time together.

  • Tara @ Go Green St.

    Oh seeing your grandma brings back so many memories of my “nanneee”, as she would always tell it like it was. I grew up helping her in the garden and oh so miss getting my hands dirty with her! To bad everything I have tried to grow the last few years has not made it, as I should have plenty of experience! :)

  • prolificliving

    My grandmother had the most beautiful garden in Iran. And I remember my grandfather planted a special berry tree when I was born. Gosh this brings back so many memories – now I am all sad – but what a tough grandma you have….good for you :)!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Good for you. Does the berry tree still exist?

  • prolificliving

    No, the house was sold years and years ago and I seriously doubt anything has remained the same. It lives on in my memory though.

  • Sukrita

    I enjoyed that post! But I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out how someone that old maintains a LAWN! I can't stand them, and I'm 70 years younger than she is! When I'm that old I'm going to have fruit trees and a garden that takes care of itself. I think it's called permaculture.. because it's permanent :p

  • Mike Lieberman

    LOL. I wanted to wipe out a small part of the lawn to grow food, but she wouldn't let me and I'm not arguing with a 90 year old 😉

  • Sukrita

    Haha, I guess some habits die hard 😀

  • Meemsnyc

    That is awesome!

  • Hopper Janis

    Neat video. Grandma is no pushover, is she? I can tell you enjoy spending time together. She must be doing something right to maintain such a high level of vitaluty at 90 years old. Congrats on the harvest!