My Great Outdoors: Chris & Diana's Red Hook Rooftop

Name: Chris & Diana
Location: Red Hook, Brooklyn
Type of space: Roof Garden

Diana Richards is an interior designer living and working in Brooklyn. Together with her boyfriend, Chris Miller, Diana has turned a builder's standard roof deck into a special place to hang out, and she's done it all on a budget! Nearly everything on the roof has been scavenged, recycled or reused.

Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: Our roooftop was already a nice space when we moved in, with plenty of shade from a large tree that grows next door. We're so lucky to have an outdoor space in the city, so from watching the sky change at sunset, to harvesting and eating our own fresh herbs and vegetables with friends, we try to take advantage of it as much as possible. The garden plans were in the works from the time we moved in last fall, so it's wonderful to finally see it so green and buzzing with life.

How did you create it? The dining table, lounge chairs, and garden planters are made from palette wood that was scavenged from the streets of Red Hook. We spray-painted some cheap plastic chairs from Home Depot for table seating. The vegetable garden plan references the Square Foot Gardening method for sizing the planter boxes, creating a soil mix, and correct plant spacing. We're also trying out sub-irrigated buckets to grow tomatoes. The majority of the plants were grown from seed, started indoors in the winter under fluorescent shop lights, and the rest were starts from the nursery. We compost our kitchen scraps in a worm bin we made from instructions we found online, and use the worm castings to make compost tea. To give our space a terrestrial feel, we laid down discarded scraps of astro-turf found at a recently installed ball field on the upper west side.

Recommended store, site, product or resource? We use a compost tea home-brewing kit, available at Green Organics. It's an easy way to ensure the plants have healthy soil to grow in. The worms were purchased from the Lower East Side Ecology Center. Our starter plants, soil components, and supplements were purchased in Brooklyn at King's County Nurseries. They have tons of organic gardening supplies and great prices. A great resource for gardening with sub-irrigated planters can be found on a blog called Green Roof Growers.

(Images: Philip Ficks)

(Re-edited from a post originally published 06.29.09 - NM)

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