Saturday, May 25, 2019

Skills, skills and again ... sklills

This very likely is going to be another one of those blogs, where I consider what we really do need to learn for the future. What our children should learn at school.

First of all: what is a skill?

A skill refers to an activity one needs to train and learn to do "whatever". It is practical knowledge. When you are skilled you have the ability to do something in such a way that things work out fine.

Why should we care about skills, when we can but whatever we need on the global market?

The world will change in one or another way. Our present growth economy will get more and more into difficulties. We already see raising prices everywhere. But raising prices is only one very small part of the whole picture. Nevertheless if you are part of the global warming or global cooling community (both are theories - which one is more likely to happen ... let's leave that open for this specific moment).

Both scenarios will, among others, very likely lead to food shortages and at the same time our food is highly treated ans processed. We should therefore care about being able to grow our own food.

Another problem of our time is the continuous overproduction. Instead of buying new stuff, we should first check if we can "repair" whatever is broken or repurpose our old stuff.

Now that we identified two, respectively three reasons why we should care about skills, we should try to create a list of skills and learn and teach them step by step.

Knowledge is power. (Francis Bacon)

Skills we should all have, whether we need them or nor

  • Gardening
    • Growing food in the garden
    • Growing food in small spaces
  • Mending clothes
  • Mending socks
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Make fire
  • Cooking
  • Preserving food
    • Canning
    • Dehydrating
  • Making bread
  • ... what else?
Like I wrote above: this article needs additions and changes ... one step at a time

First published: May 25, 2019

Friday, May 24, 2019

Time for the first salad from my own garden - Der erste Salat aus dem Garten

Finally ... the first salad from our garden. Made from onion greens, salad leaves and pea greens. This year the temperatures were so low that not even the peashoots wanted to grow ... I only have some from the balcony up to now, where it is definitely warmer than in the garden.

Endlich.... der erste Salat aus unserem Garten. Darin sind heute Schlutten (das Grün der Zwiebeln), Salatblätter und Erbsengrün. In diesem Jahr waren die Temperaturen so niedrig, dass nicht einmal das Erbsengrün wachsen wollte.... Ich habe bisher nur einige vom Balkon, wo es auf jeden Fall wärmer ist als im Garten.

This is a very strange year ... prices are rising - not only the fuel prices, but also the food prices and most of the time, what you get in the shops has been treated to make sure it lasts longer.

Es ist ein sehr seltsames Jahr.... die Preise steigen - nicht nur die Kraftstoffpreise, sondern auch die Lebensmittelpreise und meistens wurde das, was man in den Geschäften bekommt, behandelt, um sicherzustellen, dass es länger hält.

Growing your own salad not only is great for your health, being full of fresh nutrients, directly from the plant to the table, which means that it is great for our planet as well: no transport means less energy used and no packaging means no waste. It is grown organically and therefore can heal us and the planet.

Der Anbau des eigenen Salats ist nicht nur für die Gesundheit gut, da er voller frischer Nährstoffe ist, direkt von der Pflanze auf den Teller, was bedeutet, dass er auch für unseren Planeten gut ist: Kein Transport bedeutet weniger Energieverbrauch und keine Verpackung bedeutet keinen Abfall. Er wird biologisch angebaut und kann uns und den Planeten heilen.

Well, three portions came out of the bit I could harvest today - we only added some sour cream, salt and pepper. That's it.

Naja, drei Portionen kamen aus dem Bisschen Salat, den ich heute ernten konnte - wir haben nur etwas Sauerrahm, Salz und Pfeffer hinzugefügt. Das war alles.

And here you can see how I grow part of my salad. I picked it from this pot today. I wish you to see this, because you can do exactly the same thing: grow your own salad, may it be in the garden, may it be on the balcony or even indoors. It is one of the easiest crops to grow. 

Und hier könnt ihr sehen, wie ich einen Teil meines Salats anbaue. Ich habe ihn heute aus diesem Topf gepflückt. Ich möchte, dass ihr das seht, denn ihr könnt genau das Gleiche tun: Baut euren eigenen Salat an, sei es im Garten, sei es auf dem Balkon oder sogar im Haus. Er ist unglaublich einfach anzubauen.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Flashback - My garden on May 20, 2015

When plants protect one another - Magenta Spreen

Magenta spreen ... my husband hates it, because it literally invades every small angle in the garden and it is loads of work to clean up. On the other hand I love it, because it protects little seedlings from cold weather and is one of the first crops one can harvest in bulk.

Of course also other plants do the same trick, but I would like to show you the difference of a lesson learnt from just being lazy and in autum leaving the seeds for the birds, that simply love the food.

In the photo part of my harvest - I will show you what I cooked with it in another post.

All of the seedlings and plants  were put into the ground more or less the same day. There may be one or two days of difference between one and the other.

These little seedlings just start growing. I actually thought, some bird picked the seeds out of the ground, but no, they very likely did not grow, because it was too cold (below freezing point during the night).

This is the other bed, where magenta spreen was growing and letting go to seed last year, just before I harvested quite an amount of plants.  You can see there is quite a mix of stuff around.

And here you go: these radishes and carrots grew between the tree spinach, that is magenta spreen. The radishes partly are already ready to harvest, which I did not even notice until I started to harvest. 

 There are also three little potato plants, that very likely grew from mini potatoes I did not find when harvesting, that survived the nights below zero. They normally would have died ... and therefore, of course I do love my magenta spreen, because it definitely cares about it's neighbouring plants.

We are finally well above zero during the night and I hope we won't have late frosts coming along ... 

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Hablitzia tamnoides - Caucasian Trailing Spinach

Picture by user Daderot on Wikimedia Commons
License CC-0
Today I received a seed package with a special plant: Hablitzia. It is a trailing plant, the leaves of which can be prepared just like spinach.
There was no way to find out if it is hardy enough for our climate. It is sold as a perennial here in Germany, so it should resist some frost. While here it is sold as an ornamental plant, it is a food plant in the region it comes from, the Caucasus, and therefore I will use it as such. The seeds will go into the soil the coming week-end. Having 10 of it, I will put them in three small pots and then we will see ...

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Gardening and Using Less Plastic

Lollo Rosso and some pea shoots I also use
for salad in this case on my balcony.
Like all so often I am connecting various themes: in this case gardening and using less plastic. We are living in a time of rising prices because of different reasons: drought, ecotax (that is eventually going to come), floods in some places, late frosts or whatever else. For many people around the world this means that they cannot afford to buy organic and “nude” vegetables and fruit anymore, since they have to choose the cheaper food. One consequence is that again more food with plastic packaging gets into the shopping cart.

Well, we can do something that

    • provides us with natural and healthy food,
    • makes us carry less stuff home,
    • lets us save money which in turn we may spend for better choices.

Gardening - and up to a certain extent, one can do this also inside - even in the smallest apartment.

To start off, you need just a container with holes in the bottom, some soil, some seeds and water. I would suggest to start off with radishes and salad. When I started many years ago, I buyed some seedlings of salad and grew them on my balcony. I still do this today, even though I do have a small garden - sometimes I buy seedlings, sometimes I use own seeds. If you wish to start with seeds, I suggest to start with radishes, because they sprout fast, which is more satisfying for a beginner.

I nowadays mainly get presents that deal with gardening, so this can be a suggestions for your family, but make sure to exactly tell them, what you are searching for. The best way is a “to-buy-list” on the fridge or somewhere everyone can have a glance :-)

But now let’s take a look at where you avoid plastics:
Salad in 99% of the cases is sold in plastic bags. Rucola and similar small leaves are sold in trays or bags (of plastic). By growing your own salad (I will post articles about single types), let’s suppose you need salad for one meal a week, just to have any number, you will avoid 52 bags plus having a higher amount of nutrients in your food, because you harvest when you eat.

Many other examples of food that is easy to grow is to come … start one step at a time and you will love what you eat and feel good, because you definitely “ARE PART OF THE CHANGE”.

The German version of this blog has been posted on Plastik sparen. License: CC-BY-NC-ND

Monday, May 06, 2019

Magenta Spreen - Tree Spinach - Chenopodium Giganteum

Magenta spreeen, though it is an annual, I do count it among my perennials: seed once, let it grow and go to seed and you will have more than you can eat.

The seeds of this so called tree spinach distribute all over the place. When the plants start to grow I thin them out and, depending from what I am cooking, I use the little plants in salad, stews, soups and when I don't use them right away, I dehydrate them and afterwards put them in my blender to cut them into small pieces. Once done I mainly use the dried parts together with other dehydrated greens in soups or stews.

When I pick them, I choose those that are a bit bigger and I go through my garden beds once a week to harvest.

Lamb's quarters is a close relative to magenta spreen.

Time ago I found a video where someone was substituting part of the wheat flour with magenta spreen flour and made bread ... not sure if I like this, because the green bred looked a bit weird.

Be aware: once you have it in your garden and let it go to seeds, you won't be able to get rid of it again. The seeds survive in the soil more than one year and come up spontaneously, when they feel like doing it.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Sharing seeds with people in need

In a group on one of the social media platforms I am a member of there was a question about "where to buy seeds for small money". This question brought me back to thoughts I already had a couple of years ago.
Many of us preserve seeds and we always preserve too much. Other people need them due to various reasons, may it be that they are starting their garden, may it be that they were flooded or whatever situation came along.
Up to now I also buy part of my seeds, because I am still building up my garden, now I am going to get 5 varieties of pole beans and 5 of bush beans that were grown in over 700 m and therefore support some more cold weather than the usual beans.
Wouldn't it make sense to have seed banks maintained in many places all over the world where one can apply to receive seeds just paying the postage or even receiving them for free, when there is someone who would pay for the postage? Wouldn't this be a way where people simply start to co-operate and create real-life networks? Wouldn't this be a further step for many to assure self-sufficiency?
One of the big examples for me is Navdanya by Vandada Shiva. She has done great work so far. The only thing I would change is: I would not collect seeds in a central place, because central places generally are more vulnerable. It's like with distributed computing: storing in many places is safer and much cheaper.

Photo from pixabay.