Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

Plans for 2012
January 5, 2012

Once again, I’m trying to revive this blog. I realized that besides time, what was really missing on this blog was a clear concept. Many plant-related things happened in 2011, but often I wasn’t sure how to report on them. Every now and then I tried to write a post, put I didn’t finish. By the middle of summer, I just stopped trying. But during the last few days I realized that blogging isn’t just a “fun activity” for now, but it’s also a good instrument of remembering, reflexting and evaluating things. And I realized that if I wanted to become a better gardener/cook/forager, these were the skills that I’d have to learn. That’s the number one reason I’ll blog again: to improve on many levels. For this journey to work, there are three premises:

  • Premise 1: Blogging is neither gonna take over my life nor am I gonna neglect it.
  • Premise 2: A small post, e.g. a photo, is better than a long post that’s never going to get finished.
  • Premise 3: Blogging – like everything else in life – is not a question of time, but a question of priority.

Now we got this straight, here are the contents of 2012:

  1. Plants and gardening. While I’ve blogged a lot about edible plants, I’ll try to include ornamentals (especially indoors) as well. However, edibles will still be the focus. Growing, harvesting, pests, storing etc., maybe also some “plant portraits” reflecting what I know and my experiences with particular kinds of plants. I’d also love to write more about the challenge of small space gardening, garden design etc. But we’ll see whether that’s gonna work.
  2. Foraging. I’ve read a lot about it and done a tiny bit, but come spring, I’ll actually REALLY DO it. Focus will be on (sub)urban foraging. With foraging comes….
  3. Cooking. I’m now on a paleo or LCHF (Low carb, high fat) kind of diet. During the last few years, I’ve put on way too many pounds and since late summer, I’m trying to loose weight – with some laaarge breaks due to an operation, busy days in university and Christmas. I’ve lost about 7 pounds so far, which is not a lot, but for an estimated 2 months of strict paleo, I’d say this is actually the most successful and best tasting “diet” I was ever on. I’ve read TONS about paleo/LCHF and now think that it’s the way to go. Not only if you want to loose weight. The hard part are the recipes, so I’ll try to post some here. I’ll also try to write about the paleo diet in general or at least refer to it every now and then.
  4. Book/movie reviews. Related to gardening, of course.
  5. Pretty pictures. Lots of them. Maybe also interesting pictures. But pictures.

That’s it. Let’s see how it’ll turn out!

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5 Things That Didn’t Work In 2010
February 21, 2011

Looking back on 2010, there were some things in the garden that didn’t work so well:

1. Guerilla gardening. Remember this? Yes. It got thrown out two weeks later. Anyway: I’ll try some guerilla gardening again this year! I got a primrose gifted last week and I’m looking forward to planting it outside when it’s done blooming and the weather right.

2. Underplanting tomatoes: Epic fail. I underplanted my tomatoes with basil, marigold and begonia and none of them continued to grow. They just stopped. ’till I threw them out, like, 5 months later. I’m not gonna try it again.

3. Leaving dead leaves on the soil. What might work in a garden in the ground in this case doesn’t work for container gardening at all: There are no worms or bugs to decompost dead leaves, so they just stay on top of the soil, keep moisture and hence are perfect for any kind of soil born diseases: mold, fungi, you name it.

4. Keeping the oleander pest-free. Didn’t work this winter – again. Spider mites infested my baby once more and it looks pathetic now.

5. Overwintering herbs outside. Well, now I can tell that most – if not all – of them are dead. I tried to leave them outside because I know that they’ll only get ugly and leggy inside. Although I put them to the window sill (outside) where it’s the warmest, when the temperatures hit -10°C, they must have froven through. Well, it was worth a try.

I’m reviving thig blog – so stay tuned for more!

A disappointing visit at the nursery
April 25, 2010

Yesterday the local nurseries celebrated an “open day”, where they opened their greenhouses and made some special offers. I persuaded my boyfriend to drive to a nursery a bit farther away, because according to their website, they had some special herbs (like ginger mint) and good offers. Well, we came there and the herb table consisted mainly of the usual suspects: sage, chives, mint, thyme, but no special varieties. So we took a look at the greenhouses where all the bed and balcony flowers were growing, like begonias and stuff, really nothing special. So I asked the girl there for some vegetable plants, especially egg plants and chili. She said they’d only have the normal egg plants, no variety. Then she said that it would be still too cold outside for the plants, and she didn’t really get it when I tried to explain that I have a so called loggia where plants are protected. And she said that I could grow anything in containers and wouldn’t have to look for a special variety (well, theoretically maybe, but practically…). Then I asked for chilis, she looked for the hot ones (and “hotter than hot chili” as she said, whatever that might be) and came back to tell me that their plants were still too small to sell, plus they only had two varieties, hot and not so hot. I asked for the name of the varieties, but she had no idea. So we went away.

I really need to find a good nursery. I usually go to the garden center, but I’m not happy with the fact that their plants are just transported there from god knows where. They don’t grow they, they just sell them. But at least they have more than always the same ole same ole. I understand that nurseries have to live of something and try to go the safe way with growing the same stuff every year, but isn’t that kinda boring? And do people really want that? I personally don’t. I mean, if you want just the same boring egg plant, you could as well go to the supermarket and buy it. The vegetable I mean, not the plant, because there is no point in growing something that you can get way cheaper and easier at every supermarket. To me, one of the funs of growing plants is to try new, unusual varieties, that might have a lot of advantages compared to the old ones. I don’t get why nurseries (I mean not every, but probably a lot) don’t see this niche and jump in. What’s the point in growing two kind of peppers, one hot, one not, every year, when you could instead grow red, yellow, black, purple, striped, white, green ones, that are hot, fruity, juicy, tasty, mild, spicy etc. and long, tiny, round, squeezed, huge, short etc.?

Thank you, Eyjafjallajökull
April 18, 2010

The volcano erupts. A cloud of ashes is spreading across Europe, airlines cancel their flights, it’s just too dangerous. The particles and ashes might damage the jet engines. Thousands of people try to get home by train, or just wait at the airports. The sky above citys is clear, it’s silent, you can hear the birds. No vapour trail in sight, no sound of starting plane engines, older people claim that they haven’t seen a sky this clean since their childhood. The power of the volcano and there is nothing you can do to change it, but let go.

Of course, when there are no planes, there are problems: people can’t get home, are stuck somewhere in cheap hostels, wait endlessly in line for some information of the airline or the airport, cargo can’t be sent, not your overseas mail nor first-aid-packages to e.g. Haiti, oh-so-important people can’t fly around the earth in business class to manage some…well, maybe hedge fonds, for who knows what exactly they are really doing? Fact is, these days a lot of people are losing a lot of money because no plane goes – no exception. The recession that we just got out of might strike again, with more people losing even more money – but wait – because of some stupid planes?

How did things work a few decades or even years ago, when there were no cheap airlines, no all-inclusive-holidays, when flying was so expensive that only some flights and only for the most important people of a company were available? I guess they didn’t. I remember that when I was a child we sometimes flew on holidays. To Greece or Turkey, once to Singapure and then on to Australia. I loved flying. It was fun, but most of all it way something special, real special. We didn’t fly for every singe holiday, only about once in every two years, sometimes once a year. The other times we drove by car (not very ecological as well) to the nearby Italian coast. I know the promenades of Grado, Bibione and stuff, and I loved it as well. There was nothing I missed, except for the nice, wild feel of a greek island, but hey, get over it. Last year I went to Coventry for a conference and took the plane from my small town to London Stansted. My colleague and I had booked quite early, the tickets where cheap, not those cheap 1-Euro-tickets, but still way cheaper than going by train. And way more comfortable. But I realized how things had changed, I think I haven’t taken a plane in 7 years. There were a lot of restrictions on you, like the liquid thing, you know what I’m talking about. And during the whole flight people tried to sell us something. It didn’t feel comfortable or exciting anymore. Flying was nothing special anymore, it was just another transportation thing. The McDonalds of transportation. And on days like these we realize how fast it could be over.

When I was on my exchange term in Italy, I talked to a lot of people, many of them already studying abroad or going home to wherever several times during their Erasmus. In half a year, I guess many of them took about 3 or 4 flights home or somewhere else. That’s quite a lot. It was great for them, flying is cheap and you get to see a lot of the world, but ecologically spoken, it was a catastrophe. For I always find it kind of confusing to know how much grams CO2 per person per kilometre a flight causes, I decided to calculate my CO2 emissions on the flight Klagenfurt-London Stansted and return for you. With this flight, I caused 660 kg CO2. To give you an idea: That’s what a fridge causes in 6,6 years of running. That’s a third of what a middle class car causes in a year. That’s more than two third of what a person with their lifestyle in India causes in a year. But it’s just 1/6 of what a flight (from middle Europe) to the Carribean causes. Flying causes almost ten times as much emission as going by train. I’m not suggesting not to take the plane at all – every now and then we just want to see parts of the world that otherwise couldn’t really be reached in a fair amount of time – but we should cut it down drastically, not just because it’s an ecological crime but because it’s possible. Just think of the managers mentioned before. Why can’t they just use skype? My guess is, it would work. There are other ways to communicate. Technology is here to help us, we only have to use it. Plus you don’t have to be anywhere anytime.  That’s why it worked a few decades ago, and that’s why it will work this week as well, and why it could work the next few years too, without us destroying the only earth that we’ve got. You can see it now, the air above Europe is clear, no plane in sight, and the world still keeps spinning round.