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About the 6/15 Green Blog

Brooklyn, NY
Welcome to the 6/15 Green community garden blog. This is a place where our community can share stories, poems, photos, memories, recipies, and all other experiences of the garden. For information on 6/15 Green, please see the official website. To share information on the garden or communicate with members, please use the member Google Group.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Gardener Spotlight: Interview with Susan Steinbrock

While Susan loves getting her hands in the soil and watching unexpected plants pop up in her plot, her favorite thing about the garden is actually the visitors.

“My pride and joy,” she says, “are all the insects that love to come to my garden. Big bees to smaller bees to different flies to moths… I could just stand here for a long time looking at all the things that are flying through.”

We were doing just that – watching the bees buzz by – on a sunny July morning, while Susan told me a little about her time at 6/15 Green...

Show me around your garden a bit.
This is my space —my stewardship, that’s what they’re called. This is a milkweed called asclepias incarnata. It’s very robust, and if you look, there’s probably like 20 or 30 things flying around here right now.
 That’s allium. They come back every year, but they’re also bulbs so you can plant them in the fall. It’s the same family as garlic, onions, and shallots. So if you let all those different plants bloom, they get this sort of round ball.
 These are the last of the flowers from foxglove… so pretty. Look at the inside of that. This plant just volunteered. It will seed around from other places. I didn’t plant it; it just came up in this amazing display.

How long ago did you join the garden?
I joined the garden in… I think 2002. So 15, 16 years. I became a professional gardener since I joined the garden. So I have a business, too.

Were you a gardener before you joined the garden?
No, I really wasn’t. Julianne, who’s on this side, is a friend of mine and she joined the garden a few years before me and told me about it. I joined because of her. Then, there was another gardener who worked at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She told me about this internship program they have there. In 2010, I applied to it and was accepted. Since I graduated from that, I have my own gardens that I work on for other people.
 It’s very rewarding work, and also challenging at times. You learn all the time.

So it really changed your life.
Yes, it really did.

Did you learn everything as you went? 
For my own stuff, it was trial and error. When I started, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Every spring, when green stuff would start coming up, I would decide everything was a weed, and I would start pulling things, and I would have nothing left. It’s definitely a learning curve.  Still I look at some of this stuff and I say should I let it go? Should I see what it’s gonna do? Is it a weed? But I have a much better idea now than I did before.

I think that’s the most fun part about gardening. Every day you go out and it looks a little bit different. Something new pops up or something changes and grows.
I know. It really is daily. For that [foxglove] to just come my way without planting it was pretty great.

Do you have any tips for gardeners?
A really good way to start is just doing your soil - adding compost to it and mixing it in.  When I first started, that whole area back there [her old plot] was one plot and they [the original stewards] only planted one kind of herb and they didn’t do anything to the soil because this herb didn’t need anything. So it was just dry and lifeless. When I took over, I dug down maybe a foot and added all the compost. I really worked on that soil. 
Do you have any life lessons you’ve learned through gardening?
Gardening is so much a part of my life now that it’s very nourishing for my state of mind. As far as life lessons, it just kind of keeps me sane. If I feel crappy, I just dig and plant something, and I feel so much better. I’d recommend it to everyone! Get your hands in the soil. It’s good for your health, mental and physical. For the times we’re living in, it’s really important. I can only do my little part, but we’re really making it all healthier just in our own little part of Brooklyn here. Before, this garden was just a big lot. It was nothing. Now we have this place for people to stop by and birds to nest… lots of people enjoy it.

Interview has been shortened and edited for this post.

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of Gardener Spotlights, highlighting members and their connections with 6/15 Green. If you’re interested in being featured, even if you don’t have your own plot, shoot me an email: I’d love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


This Saturday, July 14th, 6/15 Green is joining community gardens throughout the city to celebrate GreenThumb's 40th Anniversary. The garden will be hosting free events from 11:00-3:00 (rain or shine), and all are welcome to join in the fun!

Festivities Schedule:

All Day, 11:00-3:00:
Garden Tours - Drop off compost, play in our children's area, or just enjoy the colorful and unique plants in the garden.
Open Air Art Exhibit - Meet the Artist: Bob Hagan. Bob will install his work, "Universe", as a part of the South Slope Artist Group and Open Space Gallery Project. He will be around to engage visitors in active discussions about his work, which he describes as addressing "many BIG memes; creation, consciousness, original sin and evil, cooperation and collusion, and where it all goes." 

11:00: Children’s Concert, featuring The Sparrow Sisters, Brooke
Dramer, and others to be announced.

1:00: Guided Meditation, led by Elena Tate, LMT, Faculty at Pacific
College of Oriental Medicine.

1:00: Art Installation with Miguel Ayuso, in collaboration with La Bodega Studios and the Open Space Gallery Project. Miguel's works have been displayed all over the world, from the Mexican Museum of Design to the Institute of European Design in Spain to the Brooklyn Children's Museum. And if you've ever been in the secretly wonderful backyard of Baba's Deli, you've seen the mural he painted for them.

1:30: Printmaking Demo with Sandrine Gigon

Educational programs with question & answer sessions will be presented
between 2:00 and 3:00, featuring:
2:00: Plastics - Updates & Alternatives - Makrand Bhoot, 6/15 Green member and Architect. Mak will bring us up-to-date on efforts to appropriately deal with plastics in Brooklyn, New York City and New York State. He’ll discuss phasing out plastic carry bags at businesses like The Park Slope Food Coop, and finding biodegradable alternatives to plastic use in general. This discussion ties in with efforts to achieve Global Goals in Climate Adaptability. 
2:00: Not Just Honeybees...Lifestyles of Urban Bees - 6/15 Green garden-member and urban beekeeper Jessica Katz will host a discussion and Q&A that delves into the widely-varied lifestyles of some of our local bees. Did you know that there are over 200 species of bees that make NYC their home? Jess will discuss where and how some of these lovely pollinators live and simple steps we can take to create bee-friendly habitats in our yards and gardens. Jess has been keeping honeybees and “condos” for native bees in Brooklyn for almost a decade.

We look forward to seeing all our neighbors and friends at the event on Saturday! To check out some of the happenings at our sister BANG gardens, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Summer Garden Reading

It's finally summer once again - the season of strawberries, arugula, marigolds, and good summer reads. Here are a few books to crack open on a pleasant, warm afternoon under the shade of the willow tree at 6/15...

For the junior gardenerThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
One of my childhood favorites, The Secret Garden is the tale of a stubborn British girl named Mary who is uprooted from her home in India and sent to live in an isolated house in England with an uncle she never met. Bored and restless, Mary’s explorations of the property lead her to a mysterious locked garden. With the help of some servants and new friends, she discovers the great transforming power of the beauty that grows within the garden walls.

For the person who gardens for the quiet and solitudeThe Poems of Hafez (by Hafez!)
Hafez-e Shirãzi was a Persian poet with a profound appreciation for the beauty of the world around him, and an eloquent way of describing it. All his poems feel like he wrote them while drinking a glass of wine and gazing out into his bountiful garden. Called “the poet for poets” by Emerson himself, Hafez is spiritual and wise. After reading a few of his poems in the garden, you will feel inspired to lead a better life.

For the person who gardens for the communityA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn provides a glimpse into what our home looked like 100 years ago, while also making you feel all the excitement, sorrow, disappointment, and passion of the characters in the story. The book follows the daily life of Francie, a young girl growing up in Williamsburg during the early 1900s. The same streets that are filled with bodegas and cars today are described as the places where Francie traded metal for pennies at the junkyard and visited a neighborhood boy when he was grooming his horse. She spends her summer days sitting on the fire escape reading and peeking through the leaves of the one tree that grows in their yard: “the only tree that grew out of cement.”

For the gardener who loves biology (and drinking)The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
Biology, history, culture, and booze – all of these things can be found in The Drunken Botanist. This book is jam packed with information about the history of different liquors, the process of fermentation and distillation, recipes for mixing your own drinks, and tips on gardening the plants referenced throughout the book. It’s an easy, fun read that will leave you with a new appreciate for alcohol and a sudden craving for a gin and tonic.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Good-Bye 6/15 Green

Dear friends at the garden,

This is definitely the hardest blog post I've ever written because I'm letting you all officially know that I'm not renewing my membership this year.  It's been such a hard choice to make but it's the right one for many reasons.  We've recently been lucky enough to get a place with a little yard so I will be able to grow my veggies and flowers close by.  In the past few years with busy kid schedules and taking care of my sick mom, I haven't been the ideal garden member.  It's been challenging for me to make it to the garden since we moved to Kensington and I've relied too much on amazing neighbors (thank you, Anahit!) to water and weed my individual plot.  Still, it hasn't gotten the upkeep that I should have given to it.  I know the list of people waiting for a plot is very long so I'd love for it to go to someone who will give it the daily love it deserves.
        I honestly don't remember how long I've been a member of the garden but my best guess is 13 or 14 years.  When I first moved to the neighborhood, it seemed like such a magical space and I would walk by it constantly but it took me a couple years before I figured out how to join.  I remember at my first meeting there was a teenage girl who announced that she was moving away and clearly she'd grown up in the garden--a couple members actually started crying when she said she was leaving and I knew that this was a special place with amazing people.
        Garden membership at that time was probably around 70 people and it's been amazing to watch it grow over the years with so many dedicated members.  I remember once in my early years of membership showing up for a group project day and no one was there--so I just pulled weeds for a couple hours and hoped that that counted--but no one was really keeping track so well at the time.  Imagine that happening now?  I believe at the last word day I did, there were at least 25 people who showed up--so many people that it almost seemed challenging to find a task for everyone.  Clearly, the garden has evolved into a tremendous community of people who take such amazing care of it.
        The garden changed my life in many ways but probably most significant by bringing me one of my favorite furry companions.  My first year in the garden there was a stray kitten who was always there when I stopped by and who always ran up to me for belly rubs.  I had a cat at the time and my landlady only allowed one cat in my apartment.  Yet, this little guy seemed to really need a home--and I tried for weeks to find him one without any luck.  At that point it was November and getting cold and I was worried about him in the cold so I asked my landlady if I could keep him just until I found a home--she reluctantly agreed.  Well, let's just say Joey lived with us for the next 9 years--and in two more apartments--until he passed away 3 years ago.  He was the best cat--and I always thought of him as my little garden cat.
      And of course, it's been amazing to have my kids experience the garden.  They love to come and dig and play in the amazing children's garden.  And in the past couple years, they both started to really show an interest in planting and watering.  Living in an apartment without a backyard, it's always meant so much to have an outdoor space where they could really get their hands dirty. 
     But more than anything, the garden has brought so many wonderful people into my life and I am so grateful for that.  There are so many amazing souls in the garden.  I've so many great conversations about gardening and Brooklyn and food and kids and life with so many of you.  I've loved spending time working with people at Group Project Days or just chatting away at the front bench.  It's all of you who have made the decision to not renew my membership such a hard one.  But the good news is that I'm not far.  I will definitely be stopping by for picnics and to see people.  I had to promise my kids that we would visit (my daughter actually started crying when I told her I was going to no longer be a member).  So this is not an I will miss you good-bye but a see you soon good-bye. 
     I know that the garden will continue to be an amazing place many years in the future--I know it will be cause it truly is the sum of its parts: all of you.  I thank you for being so welcoming to me over the years. And I'll see you soon--real soon.

Doing some final work in the garden.

A very sad good-bye.  

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Shed Clean Out

Thanks to Shelia for these pics of the great shed clean out of last summer.  In my years at the garden, I'm not sure I've ever seen the shed looking so clean and organized.  Great work!