The Garden Escape

I have a wider than average fire escape on the back of my brownstone apartment.  The window is large and fairly easy to get in and out of.  The sill is wide and comfortable to sit on so over the years it hasn't been too hard to assemble a small garden.  I've scavenged for pots for years and have a hodgepodge collection.  I do my best to arrange them so that if there was indeed a fire that everyone would be able to navigate through it into the garden below.                                                                                                                                             I've been doing this for more than a few years now and I've learned a thing or two about tomatoes and beans in pots.  Obviously it starts with the soil. I always set aside a larger pot to be used somewhat as a mixing bowl.  I dump soil from last year's pots into the large one and then mix it nearly equally with freshly sifted compost from 6/15. As other pots are dumped out, the soil is amended and they're filled with fresh soil.
Since it's challenging for me to get to a nursery I have to use my resources to find good plants.  There are a couple of vegetable markets nearby that sell flats of annuals, herbs and some vegetables including tomatoes.  I have a stockpile of seeds plus a trip to my community garden can yield some nice plantings, notably nicotiana, shiso, kale, calendula, mints and whatever else looks like it might work.
It's actually quite a productive little garden.  Every day I pick a few green beans and set them aside. After five days time I've got enough to throw into a dish.  The same is true for the kale (although anyone that knows me knows I grew nothing but kale in my community garden plot so this is a drop in the bucket).  I grow enough basil to fill my freezer with pesto for the year and some to give away. I've also yielded, so far, six beautiful tomatoes.  I still have eight tomatoes on the vine, still green, so hoping for a few warms days to finish those.

Other years I've grown a lot of fragrant flowers, notably nicotiana, a fluffy white flowering tobacco. It's gorgeous during the day but only at night it develops a sweet white flower fragrance.  If I keep the windows open the breeze pleasantly fragrances my bedroom. I can lie in bed and catch a sweet whiff wafting in from the Escape.

Two very large tomato plants in a window box. It needs a lot of water and to be top dressed with compost a few times per year. They grew very long and about once a week I'd have to climb the stairs and loosely tie them to the railing.

I brought back some kale and nicotiana from 6/15.  Whenever I saw a bare spot in the soil I'd plant bush beans. They ended up cascading over the side, dripping with beans when mature.

This window box faces my neighbors, a couple with two small boys. The pole beans do most of the cammouflage and the basil gets bushy and creates a nice screen. It also makes for neighborly-ness as I pass fresh cuttings over the railing.

The purple podded pole beans grew halfway up the windows on the third floor!  They've never been so robust before. They bore a lot of fruit but way up past where I could harvest it so, of course, it all went to seed.  Therefore the plant thought it had done its work and started to wither - thus all of the yellow leaves.  I've planted beans for years, using the seeds from the pods that fall during the winter.  Next year, tho, I'm planting some kind of annual flowering vine, maybe something fragrant for the breeze to blow in.