Posts tagged ‘gardening in shoes’
In eight used tires, eight shopping bags, and one pair of shoes, I’ve planted several dozen veg, herbs, and flowers. Some have bit the dust…plucked, thinned, eaten, dehydrated, over-shaded, out-competed, drowned, killed. Such is life in the urban jungle.
Most of the plants started from seeds…gourmet types from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine, finds from the racks at Ocean State Job Lot, or leftovers (aka heirlooms) from last year’s garden. This spring, Rich Pederson from Southside Community Land Trust kindly tended a flat full at the City Farm greenhouse: poppies, red russian kale, green leafy kale, scarlet runner beans, mini-sunflowers, morning glories, ornamental gourds. I started another batch in a sunny basement window at home: lettuce, turnips, basil, bachelor’s button, arugula.
Radish seeds were planted directly into the tires…those puppies pop up quickly and won’t endure transplanting. I transplanted spares from my home garden…johnny jump-ups, dill, oregano, lemon balm, broccoli…and traded with friends for some marigolds and mint.
Some of the plants are doing better in Green Zone than in my raised beds at home. And sometimes a scarlet runner bean or gourd in one tire is outperforming the same plant two tires away. They get the same temperatures, the same soil, the same sun, the same water, the same company. Talk about microclimates–a world of difference, just a tire away!
There is one pair of hightop sneakers in Green Zone. Discarded shoes are yet another symbol of our consumer culture. I’ve seen several shoes used as plant containers, including a pair at Southside Community Land Trust’s City Farm.
Weeks after I installed Green Zone, a friend pointed out the sneakers and reminded me how empty boots symbolize a fallen soldier. Using military gear as memorials goes back at least a century (note: I’d like to find some specific citations). The “Battle Cross” consists of a soldier’s helmet atop the rifle with bayonet stuck in the ground; sometimes dogtags or empty boots are included as well.
In recent years, the boots themselves have become a potent war memorial. For example, in 2007, the American Friends Service Committee launched a traveling exhibit about the human cost of the Iraq War. Titled “Eyes Wide Open,” it includes a pair of boots to mark each American military casualty and a field of shoes (and wall) that pays tribute to Iraqis killed.
Besides the empty boots, flowers have long been used as war memorials. Red corn poppies are commonly found in Europe, particularly in disturbed soil, such as battlefields. During World War I, entire fields bloomed red–red with poppy flowers and red with soldiers’ blood. The poppy was adopted a symbol of fallen soldiers, most famously by Canadian serviceman John McCrae in his poem “In Flanders Fields” (1915). The opening words read “In Flanders fields the poppies blow | Between the crosses, row on row…”