Tomato Design Goes Green!

How much can you make with a bucket of rainwater?
June 18, 2009, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Green Issues

It doesn’t seem to stop raining this June, and now I even seem to have a touch of the flu (normally a March or November pastime.) What to make of it all?

1) On the theory that lemons can be turned into lemonade, I have placed a green plastic bucket on my building’s roof in Chelsea. What can I get out of that? Well, it occurred to me that I could water a small veggie plot (planted in a large planter or clay pots), and provide myself with truly organic, healthy food for the summer. Home-grown tomatoes seem particularly appealing right now. So do strawberries!

The flavor is gone from these treasures in all stores, it seems, so they can be safely shipped. “No one told the breeder that flavor was important to the consumer, so they left it out” (according to Dr. Bruce Chassy of the FDA Food Advisory Committee, quoted in Metro, 6/18/09.) I yearn for the Jersey Belle strawberries of my childhood that our neighbor grew around the Fourth of July; or even the beefsteak tomatoes I could get at farmers’ markets in New Jersey when I lived there in the ‘80s.

2) As a kid (eons ago, it seems!) my dad built us a tiny summer cottage with a system to collect rainwater from the roof into a large tank for washing. (We carried out drinking water in another tank from the village 5 miles away, or filled it at friends’ houses.) We also found that fresh, soft rainwater made fabulous coffee! We took great care not to waste it, watering the cedars we had planted to the north and west of the cottage as a future windbreak with our dishwashing, body-washing, clothes-washing and toothbrushing water after use. Those seedlings are now over 50 feet high and growing!

3) You could use the water you catch to water indoor plants, too (I’m not sure about what comes down with rainwater here in the city: but you could try a soft-water bath and see how that works out!) Save enough, and you can wash down the sidewalk in front of your building; clean your “tar beach”; or scrub your own floors. You could wash a car or give it to the super for the hall floors.

4) Think of the water you could save in the reservoirs in the Catskills! (I don’t know what that comes to now in dollars; but given the extreme water shortages in most of the Western USA, it will be a fortune in a very few years.)

5) At the end of the day, you would have a totally new respect for rainwater, and might even begin to enjoy taking walks in the gentler showers we also are experiencing. If you take a camera with you, you will also find that wet objects have more intense colors than dry, sunlit ones, and that your photos (especially of plants in the parks) will have more contrast and vividness than you thought you could achieve.

As a former Chicagoan, I miss the drama of tornado season, and the (very rare) thunderstorm here is still a big treat for me. There are so many shapes lightning can take! Also, if you count “1Mississippis” or “1elephants” (for seconds), you can determine how many miles away the storm is. (It’s about one mile for each second between the flash and the thunder.)

6) The shoe stores are featuring fabulous “wellies”, and if you indulge in these colorful boots — plus a fabric-rose-bordered umbrella like mine, (incidentally available for $19.95 at — you can really have fun splashing through puddles and defying the thunder, just as you did when you were a kid.

If you have other ideas, please feel free to contact me at e-mail (below), and I will post comments on my blog.


Let it pour, let it pour, let it pour!!

Sad Raindrops

— Nancy L. Hoffmann

In the Red? We $ee Green!

T: 212.691.1445