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:


32 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Erica June 24, 2009 at 4:58 am -

    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.

  2. WendiDee June 24, 2009 at 8:49 am -

    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,


  3. Mike Lieberman June 24, 2009 at 10:26 am -

    And my grandmother would gladly drive to meet your grandmother.

  4. Mike Lieberman June 24, 2009 at 10:26 am -

    Haha. Thanks. Gram keeps it real.

  5. jeanannvk June 24, 2009 at 11:59 am -

    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…

  6. lizwilkinson June 24, 2009 at 12:12 pm -

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

  7. Mike Lieberman June 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm -

    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.

  8. Mike Lieberman June 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm -

    Thanks. I was hoping that people would appreciate it.

  9. madpanic June 25, 2009 at 6:27 am -

    thats really great mike …. i dig it

  10. Making Love In The Kitchen June 25, 2009 at 3:28 pm -

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

  11. Tori Jarvis June 26, 2009 at 10:57 am -

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

  12. Mike Lieberman June 26, 2009 at 11:32 am -

    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.

  13. Pomona Belvedere June 26, 2009 at 8:17 pm -

    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.

  14. Mike Lieberman July 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm -

    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.

  15. Mariann Mattia August 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm -

    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

  16. Mike Lieberman August 31, 2009 at 5:00 am -

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

  17. Gabrielle September 22, 2009 at 5:33 pm -

    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!

  18. Mike Lieberman September 22, 2009 at 8:01 pm -

    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.

  19. Becki January 18, 2010 at 10:49 am -

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

  20. Mike Lieberman January 18, 2010 at 1:14 pm -

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

  21. Becki January 18, 2010 at 6:49 pm -

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

  22. Mike Lieberman January 18, 2010 at 9:14 pm -

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

  23. Tara @ Go Green St. April 1, 2010 at 8:59 pm -

    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! 🙂

  24. prolificliving July 19, 2010 at 10:02 am -

    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 :)!

  25. Mike Lieberman July 19, 2010 at 2:16 pm -

    Good for you. Does the berry tree still exist?

  26. prolificliving July 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm -

    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.

  27. Sukrita July 21, 2010 at 11:53 am -

    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

  28. Mike Lieberman July 21, 2010 at 2:25 pm -

    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 😉

  29. Sukrita July 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm -

    Haha, I guess some habits die hard 😀

  30. Meemsnyc February 17, 2011 at 5:03 am -

    That is awesome!

  31. Hopper Janis July 7, 2012 at 3:08 am -

    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!

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