Category Archives: Permaculture

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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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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Allotment symbiosis

Hej everyone! The chicken tasted great thank you for asking! Very lemony and yummy and all the surrounding veggies also got a nice acidity which I balanced out with some sour cream mixed with parsley. First time in a while that I felt food-happy.  Today the sun decided to make a guest appearance and mingled with the clouds, so we went to the plot and continued our sheet mulching venture. The lawnmower man had been at it again and we have collected tons of grassclippings and fallen leaves. Last time we were there we hade pretty much taken all the compost material that  our alotment neighbours had thrown in the line of trees next to our plot. Pretty much everyone throws it there so alot of it had accumulated. This time it was again refilled, since it’s autumn people are uprooting all the dead plants to have naked beds. Don’t do that! Just leave them on the ground and they will give back all the nutrition they have sucked out of the soil. Today I have a different type of recipe for you!

GARDEN LASAGNA

a bunch of newspaper

organic material

grass clippings

On your weed/plant covered garden bed, uproot everything but leave it on the garden bed. Add organic material (such as small twigs, compost, straw, manure, compost soil, leaves, grass, old plants, seaweed etc) and spread out over the bed until it is a 30 cm thick layer. On top of this put newspapers. They should cover everything so that no weeds can come up through them. (The newspapers kill everything underneath since they allow no sun to come through). On top of the newspapers put grassclippings or some other seedless organic material. Leave until spring and enjoy perfect, weedless soil and absolutely no digging!

So basically what sheet mulching is, is making your whole garden into a compost meaning you don’t have to dig and transport the soil but just make it on the spot and at the same time avoid weeds. Does it work? Stay tuned for more plotting for independence!

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Autumn’s gifts

Sweet lord of jesus it is laaaate! And yet here I am writing a blog entry in very poor english while listening to the same songs over and over again. I feel a slight regression….

So! Today was an exciting day! Me and my beloved husband went to the beach to get some mulch material in the form of seaweed! In the spring we also made a crappy sheet mulch with a bit of seaweed but because it was spring and people starting showing up at the beach a big ass tractor came and removed it all. Now in the fall there is a ton of seaweed, so go get some for your compost or your garden beds!

When we got to the alotment the lawnmowing man (I’m presumptously assuming it’s a man) had mown all of the lawn on the outside of our plot, which meant even more mulch material in the form of grassclippings (a very good mulch material)! Plus leaves are falling like crazy so you just say thank you and gather it all in a pile. We don’t have a rake but luckily for us there is a golf course right beside our plot and there they have these pits of sand with rakes in every single one of them! Plus a huge mountain of old trees and boards and other useful stuff that they probably use for burning witches. Yeah cus they burn it all down and then we are left with a bunch of ashes to get, which is great to mix into the soil. So many gifts!

So in the amazingly beautiful autumn mist we finished the sheetmulching we had started, we still have alot left but next week we are both “free” and now that the good lord is sending us mulch materials in all kinds of forms we might just have mulched the whole thing next week. What is sheet mulching and why does it seem so important you ask? Sheet mulching is a way of getting great soil withouth disrupting the soil and dig it to pieces. It’s basically putting a bunch of organic material like compost and manure under (or over, depends on the technique) newspapers that will prevent any weeds from growing and at the same time create a soft humid compost soil underneath. You usually top it with straw and then you just sit back, relax and have a smoothie while nature does all the work!

Rachid thought I should bend over a bit so that mulching looks like work, which it's not.

Our plot is in dyer need of this treatment, when we got it in April this year it was an abandoned plot that no one lasted very long on. It was a meadow of weed, it still is. Very beautiful, but the soil was so compact and had a greyish layer once we got to see it. A bit like cement. We made two keyhole beds in the spring with horse manure, but thats about all the improvment we could manage since we spent all summer in Spain. Now the whole plot is covered in grass and other evil plants. They shall all crumble under the sheet of mulch!

Then we planted garlic! Yeeey! Planting garlic is very easy, you just put it in the ground. That’s pretty much what we did. We covered it with grassclippings as an indication to the grass that we will mulch there so there is no point in growing. We’ll se how that goes.

And of course, I made a delicious meal when we got home. On the alotment I have alot of time to think about what to eat later. I got nostalgic and made a dish I used to make as a vegetarian teen, with mock chicken and microwaved potatoes. Now I’m a grown up, a woman, a wife. So I made

BAKED POTATOES WITH CURRIED PUMPKIN AND TUNA FILLING

We picked a pumpkin from the plot in the park about two weeks ago and I have already made 5 dishes with it and I can make at least two more with it. It was a Dill’s Atlantic Giant pumpkin, they can get as big as 600 kg, so this one was a teeny little baby in comparison.

For this dish you need baked potatoes, DON’T buy special big potatoes for baking, like I did, they are just big potatoes that cost four times more than normal potatoes. Just get the biggest ones of the regukar cheap ones instead.  Bake them in the oven 220 degrees for about an hour if they are big and 45 minutes if they are ordinary.

For the filling you grate a piece of pumpkin (about 300-400 g), slice one onion and one clove of garlic. Fry the onion in oil until soft, add garlic and currypowder, fry for a minute or two and then add a can of tuna (can be excluded of course or replaced by chicken which makes much more sense than tuna) fry another minute and add the pumpkin. Now for the pumpkin needs to fry for quite a while to get that soft, sweet flavour. It will give up juice that it will boil in. Only after about 20 minutes does the sweetness come out (this is the case with this yellow pumpkin anyway). When the pumpkin melts when you put it in your mouth it is done. Add cream fraiche and voila! Serve with sallad and go to bed happy!

Tomorrow I’m gonna talk about chickory!

Gonatt!

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Forest garden inventorial, tutorial try out….or something

Hello Everyone and welcome to yet another day of persistent and fantabulous bloggin!
For all you permaculture freaks out there (Rachid, this one’s for you. Nananana nana nanananaaaa….while soft piano plays alluring tones), today I was at a sort of recon meeting with a bunch of weirdos with nothing better to do (like myself) at a site on the outskirt of one of Malmös many horrendous housing project very close to the highway. And you know close to the highway means, what now? That’s right, alotments! (Whooo! Whooo!) Anyway the city of Malmö is planning some sort of recreational park there, with a barbecue area, a water thing that will run all along the city (I picture a very long waterslide or flumride) gardens with plants from different parts of the world, and a forest garden! The last thing is why I was there, mainly because Rachid couldn’t go since he had school so someone had to represent the Mesbah’s.

(I still have no idea what a forest garden is, apart from the fact that it is an edible forest which may be all you need to know, although that could be misleading as it sounds like a gingerbread house kind of deal.) The little grove where we will make the forest garden in had been planted by one of the elderly permaculture dudes about thirty years ago so he had a whole bunch of information about the place that he gladely shared while I drifted in and out thinking about my blog and what would I say about this on the blog and would this picture be good on the blog and so forth. You see how seriously I take this blogging career!

So this forest garden project that we all are oh so very interested in is actually quite exciting because the actual, physical creation of it will not start for at least a year which means we have a ton of time to get to know the site, to design it thouroughly and invite people who live in the neighbourhood to take part and give there point of view. This part excites me alot since alot of permaculture and ecological edible landscape projects usually take place in the countryside, making them very inaccessible to city folk. And housing projects like this one house so many different people with so many different experiences and points of view so if we can get the “locals” in the mix I think it could get really exciting! Problem is that these sort of activities are usually run by already very well informed people who might have a hard time letting go of their projects, and these projects need a certain level of education about permaculture which is a problem in its own when wanting to involve the locals, since it’s such a hard thing to grasp and learn in a short time. So how this will work out is also very exciting!

What we did on our first studygroup visit to the grove that is the become a forest garden was to look at what was growing there. There were all sorts of things that had been planted there 30 years ago to “imitate” nature explained the former park technician. We found a whole bunch of hazel, a whole bunch of alpine currant (Måbär), there was some elderberry bushes (fläderbuskar) som hip bushes (nypon) and sloe (slånbär) and black currant. Moreover there was mallow leaves (malva), which are edible, wild cherry (fågelbär) and hawthorn (hagtorn, inte att förvirras med havtorn som är nåt helt annat). There were also alot of trees that we probably will get rid of like beech trees since they shade everything underneath them, although you can appearantly eat its nuts and they say it is delicious. There were also maple trees and birch which both give good syrup. So the edibility rate of the place was already quite high.

Home of the forest gardenHazel and alpine currantThe projects, a part of the grove and alotments!

What’s the next step in making a forest garden? Someone is making a map, that’s all I know for sure. If you want to know more, stay tuned for more happy forest garden days! (Next time is in a month, if anyone lives in Malmö and is interested, everybody’s welcome!) I will soon go to my own garden and do more sheet mulching which is a must at our plot, and plant garlic! The autumn is a very exciting time to be in the garden. More about that another day. Good night to you all!

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