Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Extending my growing space

Yesterday I harvested a handful of sugar snap peas and had them for a snack. I am far away from being able to have enough food for my family, though it is getting better step by step.

In order to grow more, I do need growing surface and I need crops that go beyond salad.

When I started with my first garden bed in 2014. I just had very few stuff growing, but two zucchini plants gave me loads of food. The following year I got many plastic containers from a local store for free (their flowers come in there and they are usually thrown away). In 2015 I also built another small gardenbed. From the beginning I always had one issue: where to get the soil from ... (this shall be another topic for a blog)

Until 2018 I went ahead with pots, substituting the buckets/pots from the shop that broke after one year with other pots that withstand the sun. I have some really big ones for raspberries and other trees, but still they are too small. We are not really allowed to plant trees here - well, we will try to change that, because of course we will have better yields then and the trees and bushes will be healthier. I also cannot fill the whole space with garden beds, so I must change things bit by bit. Should it be necessary: additional beds can be built really fast.

I also have some hanging pots, mainly with nasturtium, which is fine for salad and at the same time it is said to be a fairly strong antibiotics and we have a number of hanging flower pots that for now will hold flowers :-)

This year I bought "cubic" containers, because space usage will be maximized - more soil on the same surface - and I started to pile up my containers in order to have even more growing space.

Then I built a no-bed garden bed :-D that is I simply layed potatoes on the soil and covered it with what I had: grass cuttings. And now I am curious what comes out of this experiment.

And the last bit to show you today is my bean-trellis that is just a garden fence. I will add long sticks, when the beans will have grown a bit more :-) This was a dead place of maybe a hand width where I put some wooden pieces my husband had made for something else which we then did not need :-) well I needed them here - obviously that was the "real" reason for making them ;-) - never be sad about work done that seems to be useless ... it will for sure get a different life.

The next steps to extend growing space is planned for 2020: the flat beds I have now will become hills and by that even more growing surface will be available.

Why I am showing you this? Well, it shows that a garden is not built at once, but bit by bit, in particular if it is small, one will always make changes to even better use each angle.

Whenever I add something to my garden or change something in terms of growing space, you will find it under "extend growing space".

You can find a group of people caring about some level of self sufficiency on MeWe:

And you can find pictures from my garden, some harvest and the "almost daily apple-tree picture" on Instagram (please note that often I upload the garden overviews + the apple tree pictures once a week or so, while I add other stuff on the go).

Monday, June 17, 2019

Medicinal plants that grow in my garden or nearby

Thanks to a conversation on facebook, I tried to list which plants with medicinal properties are growing in my garden and I noted that there are so many, when I start to list them. Maybe it is good to have a list :-) so here it is:

  • basil
  • calendula
  • dandelion
  • lactuca virosa
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • peppermint
  • sage
  • sambucus nigra
  • stinging nettle
  • thyme 
  • yarrow
  • echinacea purpurea
  • cardus marianus

Thursday, June 06, 2019

How I got into Gardening

Actually I am answering to a question here, and I do it on my blog, because I believe that this question comes up over and over again when we talk with people. Said that I am also curious how you got into gardening.

When I was a little girl my grandparents had a garden where I often went to help my grandpa. It was there where I learnt many things I still do today and many particulars are "coming back" to me bit by bit. At that time I also lived with my grandparents, since both of my parents worked.

When I was around 11 years old my mom and my stepfather went to another city and after a couple of years they had a garden, a so called Schrebergarten which you can rent, but then, I was not really interested in gardening. Well it was an age of those ...

When I was 21 I moved to the south of Italy. At the beginning I had only some salad on my balcony, I dried tomatoes in summer, preserved zucchini and eggplants. Years later and after some moves I met Anna and Alfonso who produce organic wine, tomatoes and much more high up in the mountains of the Amalfi Coast. On their land I found many of the herbs I knew as a child and I started to collect them. I could also get fresh veggies there.

In 2010 I came back to Germany, back into my home town, which once was at "the end of the world", because 3 kms from there, there was the border between East and West Germany. If you never lived at such a border, you cannot really understand which feelings are there, when you know you cannot pass a certain line without stepping onto a landmine. Well ... now that I was back the border was open, no more mines ... but back to gardening: I thought about getting a small garden, a Schrebergarden, just like my parents had, but then life changed an in 2013 my family move to the place where we live now, just about 20 km away from the place I was born.

The apartment is up a mountain and the house owner allowed us to create a small garden and that is where I now grow quite a bit of food. I am far from being self sufficient, but after starting in 2014 with the first garden bed, I can produce some more year by year ... and still I see many more possibilities to grow crops for my family.

Here on my blog you will find articles for newbies, recipes and some more stuff.

Btw.: it's nice to meet you dear reader :-)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Garden today - 3rd May 2019

What I actually did:

* I harvested some lemonbalm that started to overgrow my seedlings
* Parsley got sawn in place
* Dill was sawn in place
* Spinach was sawn in place
* I covered up the places where my cat messed around with the soil (in the garden beds)

And then, here you go with a rare picture for the month of may: my daffodils are flowering now and not like usually around the second week of April.

Well, indeed these are cold times ... some frost is to come along and the three tomato plants (bought ones - the seedlings are not even out) and a cucumber plant I received as birthday present are cuddled so that they stay warmer. The tomatos will be covered completely during the night. They should well make it.

Cook what you have - May 1st, 2019

Well, yesterday was cook with what you have day ... so I had a look in my vegetable basket for stuff that needs to urgently be eaten. And there was
  • one hokkaido
  • one huge leek which I bought as being "not so nice anymore"
  • one tomato
  • one carrot
  • sunflower oil
  • Salt
  • Chilie
And there you go ...

First I added some oil into my pot and then added the leek after having cut it in small pieces.

Then I added the hokkaido cut into small pieces.

Please do never throw away the seeds of squash ... I will show you in nother blog, what you can do with them.

Then I cut the tomato and the carrot into small pieces.

And added them in my pot.

I just kept stir-frying all for a couple of minutes.

Then I added salt. A tablespoon full of salt I would say.

And a teaspoon of chilie.

I mixed it well and had everything stir-fry some more.

Since my family loves creamy stews, I added three tablespoons of flour.

And again I went on stirring ... and frying :-)

As next step I added aprroximately 1,5 litres of water and let the vegetables boil until they are almost fine to eat.

That's the moment, when my Italian years come throug ... I added approximately 300 grams of noodles (also spaghetti broken into small pieces are fine). And let everything cook until the noodles are how you prefer them (mine are always rather al dente ...).

Well, and here you go ... that's what it looks like just before eating. I just sprinkled some dried parsley on top. Btw. I always get parsley from a neighbour, since it simply doesn't like my garden ... it won't grow.

P.S.: And yes, this is a one pot meal - I truly love to cook things in just "one pot" :-)

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Compost Toilet - for the Garden and why not ... also Home

Some years ago I met a person who had a self-built compost-toilet. It was just a bucket with a box around and a toilet seat mounted on that wooden box. She always had a soil/dry leave mix in another bucket. She put a first layer of soil in the bucket and everytime one used the toilet some more soil was put on top. This went on a separate compost pile in her garden to be left for two years, So there were three piles. Acutally also the Aztecs (if I remember well - or another people) used human made fertilizer.

Photo from Pixabay under CC-0 License

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Weather for the coming two weeks

Well it is supposed to get warmer. At least the nights below zero seem to be over and by Wednesday it should be 5°C during the night and 10°C during the day (max 5°C today). Then it should get up to 8°C during the night and 16°C during the day, which is fine. No rain for the coming 2 weeks, like it seems ... hmmmm ...

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Legal data is online, but needs some nicer layout ...

Well, I just added the legal disclaimer in German and English, because these two languages are those I mainly use. Occasionally you also might find some text in Italian, Franconian or Neapolitan. I will have a closer look at the layout during the coming days, but what is relevant is that the page is up-to-date.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Back to Blogger ...

As of to day I will write blogs here again. I just got annoyed by needing too much time to maintain a website with CMS. Continuous updates, resolving problems etc. Yes, I can program, but most of my friends follow me on various social networks and therefore it just makes more sense to post photos here on the blog and via the social networks.

I am just downloading the data from my website and will then add things here.

My legal notes will be updated asap ... just have to copy them over here.