The Bronx Layman Botanist

Hola and welcome to my blog.  Its been a long time coming and I have put it off for some time now as I didn’t feel I had any content that was worthy of viewing and boy was I wrong.  Once I began to think of the things that interest me (gardening, duh..) I realized that I had a story to tell.  I like to think of my self as having both a green and a brown thumb, as I have always had a few plants around the house since I can remember, even if just a left over Poinsettia from a prior Christmas.

An aunt of mine came to live with us from the Dominican Republic and would inconspicuously tend to any plants that my parents kept around the house.   Back home my aunt lived in a very rural area.  She lived in a tiny cinder block house with a tin roof which couldn’t have been more than 200 sq. ft. and about an acre of planted up land for a back yard.  We, however,  lived in a 3 bed room apartment on a fifth floor, so there wasn’t much space for a garden.  During the spring time my aunt would put a few of the pots out on the fire escape to get more sun and rain water.  She said it would make the plants grow bigger and stronger.  I remember noticing that once she began watering them regularly and picking off any unsightly stems or leaves, the plants began to look different, more lively.  They would take on another life and look to be very happy in their new state.  It was nothing crazy…just some simple TLC.  My parents we impressed and they didn’t mind having the plants around considering the cats, dogs, ferret, fish and birds we have kept in the past.  These were much quieter my dad would say “they give the house life with out the occasional turd left in a room or hall way”.

My aunt moved out after some time and I kept up with the well being of the plants in the house and even got a few new ones.  My mom would even bring home some that were being thrown out from her job.  I kept up with the plants, got them new pots and even purchased a small can of fertilizer.  Once spring rolled around my fire escape was in full bloom.  I remember planting peppers from seeds my mom threw out after food prep and once found a bag of cilantro seeds which I didn’t find out what they were till after they grew.  My mom noticed them one day and pulled out most of them for her sofrito.  The ones that were left eventually flowed and gave more seeds.  Boy was I impressed, all on a fire escape.  I never made much of my new found hobby but it was entertaining and self fulfilling to watch as the plants grew and oddly enough looked…happy.  I couldn’t get over how something so frail can be so resiliant with such basic essentials.

Once I made plans to move out of my parents place the first thing I thought of when looking for a new place was the amount of sun light that entered the apartment.  The agent that helped me laughed but said he had a few spots in mind.  I made sure to tell him that I would like to see the apartments on a sunny day to take measure.  I found a small studio in Marble Hill with a sunny living room in the morning and sunny kitchen fire escape in the afternoon, perfect!  Once moved in I noticed from my kitchen window the back yard of a house had a small patch of dirt which was neatly sectioned off from the rest of the yard.  The couple that lived there set up a small garden about 6ft. by 6ft.  Every few days while tending to my 3 or 4 pots, I would see them working the garden and keeping it clean.  At the end of that summer I came to see that they had all kinds of things and began to harvest their crops.  From what I was able to make out from my third floor kitchen window, they had squash, lettuce, tomatoes and who knows what else.  I was blown away at the fact that they could get so much out of such a small space and in the city.

My love for everything and anything thats green is indescribable.  Anywhere I go I will stop and look at the plants, flowers or arrangements that are in either a restaurant or a mall.  I can’t help my self…my wife would say that I am obsessed.  When we lived in the apartment I would pinch off a 4 inch section off a plant that was at our local laundry mat, which today is an over grown pot of greenery.  But a neighbor of ours that came over and saw my back yard told her…”at least he’s not out there throwing rocks at cars”.  I love being home with my kids, my wife and my plants.  It is the total opposite of what I do for a living, aside from now this blog, and a true stress reliever.  I enjoy watching my plants grow and many of them throughout many years.  So much so…that I decided to start a blog to share my work and admiration for botany on a more social scale.  I am not an expert and I now have a small yard where I live so I keep many of my plants out doors during the warmer months.  I chose to name my Blog “The Bronx LaymeBot” because I’m a resident of the Bronx and it is what I consider my self to be, a Layman Botanist, it’s sort of oxymoronic too.  I hope to exhibit my work and other topics that interest me to others like me with two different color thumbs.  Hope you guys like it.



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