Backyard Vegetable Garden in Brooklyn

One of my urban gardens was a backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn. I had it set up from May 2009 – December 2009. It was in my Grandmother’s backyard in Canarsie, the neighborhood that I was born and raised in.

Her garden beds were not used. Instead I made 15 self-watering containers that were planted in. There were also six herb planters set up.

The backyard vegetable garden was a great way for my 90+ year old Grandmother and I to bond. She used to grow a lot in the backyard, but currently just grows some tomatoes.

I grew a bunch of vegetables in the containers including cauliflowers, lettuces, spinach, cucumbers, cabbage, onions, collard greens and much more. My big mistake was that I grew a little of a lot instead of growing a lot of a little.

Since I was growing such a variety, I couldn’t really piece together a complete meal at one time.

The herbs I grew were rosemary, thyme, chocolate mint, spearmint, sage, chives and more.

I was also able to experiment with setting up a cinder block garden in the backyard.

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Video of the backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn on September 14, 2009:


    what did you mean by you grew a lot of a little instead of a lot of a little? Did you mean you grew a lot of a little instead of a little of a lot?

  • Mike Lieberman

    Good catch. Thanks. I meant that I grew a little of a lot instead of a lot of a little.

  • Amesa

    Hey! I think what you are doiing is great, however regarding the fire escape garden I tried to start my own when someone told me that it's a fire hazard . . . or something along the lines of it being illegal since there shouldn't be anything blocking the escape. What do you think I should do? Is it possible to still have a small garden outside another average window?

  • Mike Lieberman

    Yes by law the fire escape garden is illegal, but so is j-walking. It's just how and if it's enforced by the building. If you did decide to grow one, just be smart about it and don't block up the entire landing. It's your call.

    You could definitely do something outside another average window. Herbs like parsley, cilantro and oregano would do nicely in a window.

  • Tayra

    Hey Mike I also live in Brooklyn, not to far from Canarsie! I want to start growing kale and beets but not sure if this is the right time to do it. I would like to grow it in containers, I don't want to take up too much space in my back yard. I also want to grow herbs and tomatoes,maybe strawberries too. A little ambitious huh… any way what do you suggest. When should I start I don't want to set myself up to fail. Thanks

  • Mike Lieberman

    I emailed you some questions.

  • Meemsnyc

    It's great to see people growing veggies in Brooklyn!! Lived in a 3 floor walkup in Brooklyn for 4 years and the landlord forbade us to grow anything on the fire escape. Now that we have our own yard in Staten island, it's like being in a kid in a candy store!!

  • Jacquek

    Can you tell me more about the green bins in this picture because I have some of these already and I think they would work really well to produce more lettuce, rather than the round ones.

  • Mike Lieberman

    What would you like to know about them?

  • Megan

    In those bins, have you ever combined seeds? For example, if you sow spinach and carrots seeds together, about six weeks after planting, the spinach will be finished and the carrots will develop. I know it works with traditional gardens, but I’ve never tried it in bins.

  • Rachel

    Great posts!!! I love reading your tips and tricks. Then again anyone looking like you will get my attention. :)