Yesterday I put down my 10 New Year’s resolutions. Among them was to read more. I have to be realistic; my schedule is pretty hectic and I don’t want “read a book” to be on my “to do” list. Reading has brought me a lot of joy and escapism over the decades, so I’m not about to turn this activity into a chore.
That said, I do want to put active reading back on my front burner, so to speak. Thus I will choose a new book each month (barring attempting to read The Beak of the Finch—on my short list—or Ulysses—not on my list at all—I hope to be able to complete a book within a month’s time), reporting here the book and, possibly, a review/update later in the month.
This month’s book (courtesy of “Papa Elf,” who gifted it to me and my son at Christmas) is The Homebrewer’s Garden by Joe and Dennis Fisher.
First off, an explanation. Living in Brooklyn (NYC), outdoor space comes at a premium. Before moving from lower Manhattan, I had been on a waiting list at the local community garden for two years; when I got to Brooklyn, I was able to score a plot in the community garden near my new apartment. My son and I grew our own vegetables from seeds, which is the first time I’ve attempted to do this (back in Pittsburgh, I had grown some tomatoes and cucumbers from plantings, but never from germination). It was a challenge and a joy, bringing food into my world that I had grown myself.
Fast forward to roughly a month ago, when I was informed that a space had opened in the community garden in Lower Manhattan. There was just one “catch”: the plot is a food-free zone, as it borders the garden. At first, I considered not claiming my spot, despite three-plus years on the waitlist. However, the ex is still nearby and our son is over there pretty much every weekend. He was excited that we had more land to cultivate in the city, so I took the plot.
Which brought up the next challenge: what to grow there? I suppose flowers would be okay, but would I really want to schlep them back to Brooklyn? Would the ex be willing to work in the garden if there was no food to show for it? I figured the answer to both of these was a resounding “no”.
When I was shown our plot, I saw the conundrum; it sits on the side next to the public sidewalk, right along a chain-link fence. Suddenly it became clear: that fence would make a great trellis for hops. In fact, there are communal hops already growing in my Brooklyn community garden, meaning that if we were to grow hops in Manhattan, we would have a decent collection come next fall. Plus we could add in barley and herbs that would be perfect in homebrewing (while not on my New Year’s list, learning to brew my own beer is a goal for 2013).
As I’ve never brewed (I’m taking a class soon), I was pretty clueless what I would need to grow to make my own beer. I had heard of the Fisher brothers’ book awhile back; I’m meeting Joe later this month, when I plan to ask him to sign his book. We run in the same circles, so I figured it would be a great start to 2013 to read about a very unique type of gardening. I’m looking forward to the challenge of growing a brewer’s garden this year.