Growing ginger, waiting for rain

Heyheyhey!

Today I’ve finally done some work in the garden! Inspired, and a bit stressed, by the prospect of rain. The clouds are heavy and very present, the air heavy with humidity. And we haven’t finished mulching! This is no disaster but better for us if we mulch while the grass is dead, to keep it that way. So today we went around the village of Puerto Engabo and asked for cardboard and got mostly old egg cardboard. Then we rushed on home thinking it would rain any second and mulch as much as we could with the small amount of cardboard we had gathered. And then I remembered I had bought ginger (that already had sprouted a bit) at the market in Playas and that now was the perfect time to do it as the rainy season will start any second now.

About growing ginger: it doesn’t like direct sunlight, but filtered so I put it in the one shady and sheltered spot furthest away in the garden since we wont be harvesting in a long time and not often. It needs a lot of mulch since it likes humidity, the soil must never dry out! We sheet mulch so the soil will probably, hopefully, be rich and moist and happy. I chopped up some extra cow manure that Rachid had brought to make sowing soil and sprinkled it over the dry grass we had gathered in a panic.  Then I put the cardboard on top, cut holes in them and inserted the ginger about ten centimeters into the mulch. Then I breastfed Soleiman that could bear it no longer that mommy was doing something else than giving him my full attention, as Rachid did the final touches and added the seedless straw on top. Now it better rain like crazy!

Ginger is a beautiful plant, looks like a sort of grass and it makes bulbs that you then harvest (after a looong wait). It is not the root, you can read a better text about growing ginger here. I have only grown ginger once before in not-at-all-tropical Sweden, indoors and that went great although I kinda neglected the plant. I highly and strongly recommend growing ginger wherever you are, as it is delicious, healthy, beautiful and so easy to grow. Yesterday I also took bits of a lemongrass plant and put them on the banana circle, so soon, Nadija my friend and the owner of this garden, will be making all sorts of amazing thaifood. Mmm….

Enjoy photos!

Ginger

Ginger

Cardboard puzzle, you have to overlap them so that no grass can come through!

Cardboard puzzle, you have to overlap them so that no grass can come through!

Ginger anyone?

Ginger anyone?

Sprouted side up!

Sprouted side up!

One bed mulched!

One bed mulched!

Will the lemongrass survive?

Will the lemongrass survive?

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Design

Ok, so yesterday it rained! YEY! But also the power went away on a small vacation, and when it came back I was ready to post my design all happy and proud and my computer wasn’t plugged in properly and since the battery is dead it died down. I tried again and the same thing happened. Now it is dead forever. Typically when I’m starting the blog up again but then again everyone has a laptop laying around here even in the so called third world. And I get to buy a new unethical laptop when I get back to the first world! And I get to live instead of losing myself in the screen.

The design is done, it is even drawn out on the earth outside. My friend went away during the design process so I couldn’t ask her about essential information about where do the chickens go, do we move them or are they staying put or is the other side of the banana circle open for business. When she was back we just finished marking the path out so now I wont change it. We will start small with this one side of the yard and maybe we will have time to build a geodome chicken tractor out of bambu that we can integrate into the design. So the chickens can easily be moved and work the soil for us. We haven’t bought seeds yet so no plants are marked out on the design. But there will be alot of green leafy plants and then seeds we save from whatever we have eaten. I won’t be here for the harvest so it’s really not up to me anyway.

The banana circle will be filled out with more plants, my friends favorite yuca, commonly known as cassava, lemongrass, sweet potato, beans and tomatoes and maybe some papayas in between the bananas. The bananas are actually green banana. And I want them to put a shower in the middle as the bananas need alot of water. The paths will be lined with lettuce, mangold, arugula and other path greens. Later will follow amaranth, kale, peppers and whatever else we decide to get. In the middle of the waves there will be cowpeas, cabbage, ginger, aubergine, things that you don’t harvest that often. I will get back to you with a more complete design. First we need to mulch the spot before the rains hit and turns the plot into a jungle. We will use carton, donkey poop and grass that is used on top of ceilings on traditional houses here. Luckily there is some laying around and it is completely seed free! Then we will get sawdust for the paths so you can see the design and give your feet a nice welcome into the garden.

Lot’s to do!

 

Design on paper

Design on paper

Design on soil

Design on soil

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Designing Life vs Describing Life

Today I have struggled with the design. It was a cloudy, hot and slow day and my mind would just not wrap around the concept of designing. Drawing something that later would be made real, take a physical form, is not within my repetoir of thinking talking watching listening. Instead I read, took a walk to the beach to see the sun set beautifully on the pacific, casting purple pink shades on the clouds and the dark sand. And I though “oh I would like to go home and write that novel now, I don’t want to finish the design. I just want to write that novel.” And I looked down on my feet that hade three different shades of sand and thought how I would like to write that down.

This is really what this blog is about, trying to get me out of myself and my mind. Because it is necessary, it is if you want a just world and a full life, you have to work for it. I have to transform the world through my work not to be alienated and to be intuned, intouch and connected. Why then is it so hard? So hard to look at the paper and see the same tree on the paper that is right in front of me in the non-mental world? Why do I keep dividing? How can I see the transformation already happening, transcending in an inbetween? How do I change who I am? How did I become me? Will practical, physical work change me? Better me? Or does it really not matter? Should I leave it up to Rachid altogether and bake a cake instead? I mean that’s also phsycial, practical work. Should I accept that there are roles to play, a part for everyone? Maybe I’m not meant to garden, at least not in such a professional way. Maybe this is just me doubting myself, feeling like a fraud cause I didn’t read all of Bill Mollisons bible on permaculture. For not knowing about scale, about what plant goes where and so forth. But this is what I’m here to learn I guess. And if I just can’t get that practicality to compete with my soft fuzzy mind then so be it, I will write that novel instead, eat that cake and be content that my husband loves me for just exactly that.

Tomorrow I will post my surfgarden design, and it will be spectacularly impractical. But pretty.

Good Night!

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Omagad we’re back again…

Yes, it is a Backstreet Boys song and yes I am back and yes and yes and yes! Why on earth did I just stop blogging those of you who googled sloeberries and have no idea about my withdrawl from the blogworld, might wonder. Well I got pregnant that summer, and was nauseas most of the time and had no interest in growing anything but baby. Although the old plot was quite beautiful that last summer, my own plot however was just filled with dandelions and so Rachid won that war but I won the who can give birth without any painkillers war. Now the old plot is but a memory and evened with the ground. Sad yes. So why am I starting the blog up again those of you who get an email whenever I post might wonder. Well, I have a new exciting new plot challenge to fail at and of course I want you all to be a part of it!

I am in Ecuador! In Puerto Engabao on the coast were my good friend has opened up a hostel.  She wants an edible garden and who do you call when you want a garden? Me so I can tell Rachid. And so here we are, in som sort of dry tropics (contradictory I know) by the sea where you can grow practically anything that is delicous. Rachids dream come true! (This blog is sponsored by Rachid) So yes, and I’m here too, pretending I know and care but really just getting lost in litterature and hammock hanging. And childcare of course. But still, looking and thinking at an about the garden is filling me with joy, let’s see how the work feels. So it’s gonna be a permaculture garden, of course. It actually already has a banana circle and Rachid went and picked donkey poop and dried grass from our extremely ugly surroundings consisting of just that. But soon the rains will fall and appearantly everything will turn green in accordance with ones image of south american coast lines. So first thing to do, as always in permaculture is to design and mulch.

I have already started a design that’s inspired by the surfwaves that roll by on the beach since this hostel is basically a surf shelter (although anyone is welcome! This post is also brought to you by Hostel Puerto Engabao). Pictures of the plot before can be seen below and this time I swear to produce some kick ass after pictures! Or as kick ass as a tropical permaculture garden can get after three months.

Stay tuned!

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Summa summa summatime!

Almooooost….sooooo cloooose….sooooon….aaaarrrggghhh my fingers are itching like crazy to get the fuck away from this here keyboard and out into the world of winds and fragrances and sensations. But first I have to finish my class in humanecology and write about the importance of gardening. It’s very interesting stuff but my mind is tired now and my body awake and ready to work. Meanwhile on the new plot, I have dug with the assistance of some young charming chaps and made a maze of soil so far. It looks amazing and I will get back to you with pictures. I have sown lettuce, beets, onions, salsify, broad beans, flax, carrots and spinach. The flax is green manure, meaning that it gives the soil nutrients as it grows, and I have made sort of a half circle with it to make a windbreak and a suncatcher in the keyhole. The other stuff is growing except the carrots and the broad beans that haven’t emerged yet. In the eye-shaped bed I have planted artichokes, marigold (the edible kind) and mangold. Thai basil and regular basil also but I think they are dead….Oh and comfrey in the keyhole bed.

When school’s out for summer I will read up on companion planting, fix the pond once and for all and dig up the last beds on the new plot. The new plot is so beautiful, the apple tree just flowered in white and pink and below it is a meadow of wild strawberries. And now I have an island of raspberry plants and I harvested some rhubarb (what was left of it after someone had stolen some of it…allotment criminality…I want their heads on spikes around the plot (yes I watch Game of Thrones, who doesn’t?)) that was delicious. And yesterday on the old plot we harvested big and beautifully red radishes from our own saved seeds, some spinach and ruccola that is delicious. Also some sage and thyme and a tiny undeveloped garlic. The developed garlic plants are up to my knee now…I’m so looking forward to harvesting them! We made a sallad and put some flowers from the chives on my new plot in it, yummy! Each flower has a whole bunch of small flowers that each have a very distinct chive taste. That was our first real harvest, the first of millions to come! I love summer!

 

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Pond disaster + hybris

My feet are inflamed so I can do nothing but sit inside and have intimate moments with laptop. I ran a half assed marathon, only 5K, a christmas present from my brother. Stupidly I put on shoes that were way too big and ran like a maniac, flaying my own skin in the hunt for a good time. Good time as in a good running time. These events are so weird. I can’t seem to escape thinking in system-theory lines of thought. Almost all of the women, it was a women only race, had their Ipods tucked into some sort of Ipodholders on their arms, even though this was a “party” and a collective event. Everyone still wanted it on their terms, with their music so that they could stay in their own worlds. Meanwhile a disgusting guy (Peter Siepen) in a cowboy hat who kept showing of his aged six pack of a stomach talked about the importance of physical exercise and how there now are apps that can help you with that. How can there be apps helping you to get out more? Are you really outside if your actual being outside is dependent on some small machine that cost a few peoples lives in the making of it? Then as I ran passed everyone, or a whole bunch anyway, everyone were wearing t-shirts of companies who conduct services. Meaning no physical work what so ever, just services and that is just what the neo-liberal notion of a great mechanized society should be like. Machines do the real work (meaning poor asians) while we live strictly on a platonic level. And so the body crumbles under the weight of apps.

So the pond, yes I was very happily sealing it another time and then very happily filling it only to come back the next day to find it completely empty, dry and cracked again. But eventually it will heal itself, as my feet are at the moment, creating a new skin for itself. Some water has appearantly been staying my sources tell me.  On my very own plot a design is emmerging quite spontaneously while I dig like crazy. It will be beautiful. Well this was a meaningless post, mostly I just wanted to post these pictures of myself sealing the pond. Look at my giddy face in its naive presumption that this will actually work….

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Another plot for independence + pond update!

Yes, finally I have my own small parcel of laaaaand! I was sent the letter with the plots available about two weeks ago, there were only five! The demand for allotments is really high right now and I take full credit! Haha no but really, it is amazing seeing all these people working really hard to produce their food, every single allotment is occupied on the sunny weekends, everyone hard at work planting, sowing, even mulching! And a whole bunch of young people are invading to the veterans of the place great amusement. My plot is beautiful! One we were thinking about chosing over the one we did chose before when we could choose the first time, but this one is 130 square meters and not 150 as the other one. Therefor this one will be more of a leisure garden as the other one is under intensive cultivation, there’s not even room to sit. My plot alreaady has a full grown and producing apple tree, strawberries, rhubarb, morrocan mint, lots of raspberries, chives, wormwood and what I think is lovage (libbsticka). So there’s not a whole lot I need to do to make it a perennial garden. I will plant more herbs, the benifical flowers that I presented in this post and sneak in some vegetables in between. A greenhouse has to be built as well, we have a ton of tomato and chili seedlings, some pepper and eggplant that need the warmth. And of course I will dig a pond!

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So what happened to the other pond on the other plot? Well I soaked it with water and used its own soil as plaster so that when it dried it would be like the wall of a mud house. This worked very well except for the fact that I didn’t return the next day to fill it up so it got all cracked. But cracks aside I will fix this today and make another layer and fill it in and I’m sure it will work great! Other news on the other plot is that the garlic is growing like crazy, looking really good and healthy. The husband planted comfrey, and he and Nick have been sowing lots of leafy plants and some peas and carrots while I was at home writing an essay about Detroit and about reclaiming the power over food. The husband was in a bit of a hurry in the beginning of the season and planted peas that died instantly and sowed leafy plants and carrots that never came up, this was a month ago. Now the weather is fantabulous and there seems to be no risk for frost so hopefully they will all emmerge through the mulch. Meanwhile at home, we are drowning in seedlings, and they just keep coming!

And here’s a dish the husband made out of nettles, pine nuts and raisins that was amazlingly yummy and almost free!

Today is a great day for digging! I will keep you posted on pond activities and new design for new plot! Meanwhile, grow with god!

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Yes, the rumors are true, I dug a pond!

Hey everybody!

I have dug a pond! I have shuffled soil from out of the ground and I have put it around the pond as a sort of small wall like thing where cucumbers will grow and flourish and give me a shit load of cucumbers to pickle! Why have I dug a pond you ask? Well why not?! Mostly because we do have a huge slug problem and instead of doing all the work of pointlessly trying to get rid of them, nature can do it instead! It is much better at it than I am. I’m happy to admit my suckiness at getting rid of slugs, swallow my pride and let nature have a go. But wont a pond attract slugs because of its general moistness? Well, maybe it will but then they would immediately get eaten by the frogs I’m gonna plant in it! Or if I’m lucky, a toad will wander by and see how fit that pond is for good living. Although I am absolutely terrified of toads, and now I understand why, they are completely filled with slug slime! Eeeeeeeew. This might be the best way to cure my toadophobia, if it will help me harvest much more food. Picture me and big fat toad skipping towards the sunset with baskets full of fresh PRODUCE! (I don’t know how I feel about that word…p r o d u c e…it’s macho and pretentious at the same time. Can’t be good…)

Also the pond will reflect sunlight, make the air moist which is nice for the artichokes to the side of it and attract living creatures. Hopefully it will dampen the soil around it making watering close to obsolete in the area. But thing is, I haven’t actually filled the pond yet. The water isn’t turned on yet but it has rained a bit and I’ve heard from somewhat reliable sources that the rain water stayed in it without making a muddy mess like some skeptics anticipated….well in your face! So now all I have to do is wait for a monsoon and get some frog fetuses (when are they in season?) and plant some watercress and maybe water chestnut? Now that I’m a pond owner, I’m gonna have to get my wisdom on aqua-culture! I dug a pond! Picture to be published within the year…

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Who wants to give me a house with a yard?

Today is a Malmö day, meaning nothing but grey sky. No wind, no rain, not a gust of life outside. Days like these you wish your garden wasn’t situated several kilometers away from your home. To go to the garden on a day like today means extreme will-power. You must be determined. You must eat a large breakfast or lunch, go to the bathroom five times before you leave and dress in many layers. When you get there you must fight the urge to lay down and die under the power of the greyness. You must fight it with visions of future greenery. You must fight it with the muscle that is your mind and create another state of it, a state not so easily affected by the grey. You must focus your mind on the soil. The soil is never grey.

Ok so now I have no excuse, now I must muster up the energy and the will-power to go to the garden and sow salad and spinach, because I do want to consume these leafs in two months time. I shall prevail! Meanwhile, here are some pictures of the plot before everything happens. News are we have rhubarb! Must also kill all the grass that now wants to take over. Very important to kill grass. We are covering the paths with wood chips from the surroundings where they’ve cut down trees. Works well in keeping grass down. Today we’ve sown cabbage and brussel sprouts inside, cabbage takes such a long time to grow so better get started soon! Anywho, I will not keep you in my Malmö mood, if anyone has a house with a yard laying around, toss it over here!

Check out the fence, the rhubarb and the garlic growing happily in the otherwise dead garden. And behold the glory of my dripping iris!

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Spring is here! And so are edible and benificial flowers

Oh ma gad oh ma gad oh ma gad!! Spring is here!!! With the promise of new life, love and general fulfillment (unless it rains all summer, then you have general suicidalness, but let’s hope not…) And a new growing season promising an abundance of life, love and food (unless it rains all summer…)! So I hope you have all planted your chilis and your artichokes and are ready for the intense planting that is about to take place these coming months when we pre-cultivate like maniacs to get a good start at the growing season! In our sunnyside window we have artichokes, chilis, celeriac (the root kind, appearantly wont grow unless you pre-cultivate it), sugar peas, comfrey, spinach and salad. And we tested radish seeds that we saved from our own crop last year and they all came up!  At the alotment the husband has bravely sown some different types and colored carrots, onions and radishes. Problem is the water is not yet turned on by the city and wont be for another month or so and it hasn’t rained for days…All the more reason to pre-cultivate inside where the water-supply is never ending.

I’m so excited about this season since it will be my first real one where I’m actually present, observing, harvesting and planting planting planting! We have decided to precultivate almost everything and keep on doing so throughout the season so that when one plant is harvested it is immediatly replaced by another. This way the garden will always be full of edible plants! But not all edible plants are vegetables and berries, we also have our edible and benificial flowers. Some of which an organic gardener can’t live without. Check it out! (And if you don’t want to read about these fascinating plants, please skip ahead to the motivational speech below.)

 

Borage is actually classified as an herb but has lots of blue edible flowers. Borage is great for your garden as a companion plant to tomatoes and brassicas among other things. It’s also edible and have many medicinal uses, it is said to help with PMS!

Calendula is very well known for its medicinal properties. It is a great flower to put in your salad, it dyes your food yellow and can be dried and used for tea. Very versitile plant and very pretty. Technically it’s a perennial but usually cold winters kills it. Good companion plant that brings out the neighbouring plants own repellents.

Marigold/Tagetes very well known plant that you can’t live without if your planting organically. It is very benificial since it repells bugs and nematodes which is a parasite worm, and supress weeds. Some varities are edible, like the one in the picture.

Flax/Linseed an amazing plant that gives very healthy seeds and makes a great fibre of which you can make almost anything from building materials to clothes. It’s also very beautiful and a good companion plant to potatoes and carrots.

Evening primose/Sun drop this beautiful flower blooms only at night! It is highly edible, the entire plant from root to seed can be eaten. The flowers for salads, the roots must be cooked and are said to have a similiar taste to parsnip and salsify. Very medicinal, oil from the seeds treat PMS, thrombosis, hyperactiveness, rheumatism and acne. Tea can be made from leaves and stalk to cure coughs and creams can be made of the same to treat eczema. Quite a tremendous plant that grows in poor soils.

 Echinacea very famous medicinal plant that is extentivly used in both modern and traditional medicin. Also a pretty flower and a perennial!

Marsh Mallow not to be confused with fluffy candy (althought it could be used to make it…) this is maybe the best example of a plant you should, you must have in your garden! It’s a perennial and that is always good for your garden, it is highly edible and medicinal and can be used for all kinds of stuff. The root can for example be used as a toothbrush! See link for all the gory details of this amazing plant that also has pretty flowers!

Doesn’t this just want to make you jump out of the window and start gardening? The sun is high up in the sky, the birds are singing frenetically and seeds are bursting with longing for that damp soil. So are my fingers, my hands my spirit. The garden is not just a good excuse to get outside and be active, it’s not only a provider of healthy food but it is also a direct connection between you and nature. A connection that has long ago been lost in our modern world but that we need to revive, despite the systems devious ways to keep us seperated. I strongly encourage any type of connection to the soil. If you don’t have a garden, an alotment or a balcony. The windowsill will do and if it gets to crowded, get out and put plants in places where you see a need for some aspiring life. It will make you and a lot of other people happy!

Garden power! Garden lust and love

Garden garden garden

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