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Harvest Monday – July 20, 2015

July 20, 2015

There were a few days last week when I didn’t harvest anything – I couldn’t have cooked it, even if I could have harvested it, because my shoulder hurt too badly after my stupid little bicycle accident. By the end of the week, I was fine, though, so some things did get picked.

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This was the view from the entrance to the building on Thursday. That day, some people from the urban gardening competition came to visit to get a look at my gardens and answer any questions I might have (the only one I could think of was whether they had any experience with the irrigation system I’m thinking of buying – seems like it really is a good one). Without them pointing it out, I wouldn’t even have noticed there were so many ripe tomatoes, so after they had left, I went and picked them.

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The beans should have been picked earlier, they were a bit stringy, but since I couldn’t properly lift my right arm, that had been out of the question!

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An attempt at showing the size of the zucchini I harvested yesterday (along with some lettuce and radishes I didn’t take pictures of). I don’t even know what it weighs yet, because my cheap little kitchen scales only go to 0.5 kg, so I’ll have to weigh it bit by bit as I use it up. (I think my mother picked a zucchini too, but she hasn’t sent me a picture or weight this time.)

Harvest Monday Tuesday – July 13 14, 2015

July 14, 2015

I would have had plenty of time to post yesterday, since I’m on sick leave (bruised and scratched after a stupid little accident with my bicycle), but I got caught in a procrastination spiral…

Last week was a very busy one, and I didn’t harvest much, since I didn’t get to cook/eat at home for several days in a row. Maybe this accident really was a much-needed reminder to slow down a little.

I don’t even have pictures of all my harvests, because when I finally had time to harvest and cook something, I was sometimes too tired to remember to take a photo.

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This was an odd lettuce. It was one plant in a box of butterhead lettuce plants at work that looked different from all the others, so I took it home to see what it would turn into. It had very small leaves, with very strong midribs, and didn’t form a proper head. Instead it had a thick stem all the way to the top, even though it didn’t look or taste like it was bolting.

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This was an attempt at saving my dying miniature cucumber plant – it was wilting from the bottom up, so I cut off the tip and rooted it in a glass of water, then potted it up again. And even though it’s still too tiny to be planted back into the big pot on the balcony, it has already produced a fruit. (And in the meantime, another cucumber plant has died. They are rather frustrating this year.)

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Nothing interesting to say about this kohlrabi, except that half of it is probably still in my fridge, since I haven’t cooked anything since… Wednesday? I was busy on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and then Saturday night there was that unfortunate incident with my bicycle wheel and a tram track, and afterwards I could barely use my arm well enough to make a snack, let alone a proper meal.

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I’m giving away zucchini at every opportunity, or just telling people to pick some in my community garden plot. This was the picture my mother sent me last week – 6.6 kg in total. (And there’s another huge one waiting already, but I still haven’t finished the one still in my fridge…)

Harvest Monday – July 6, 2015

July 6, 2015

Too many vegetables for just one person to eat…

A few days ago, I started thinking about this recommendation that regularly goes through the media here, that you should eat fruit and vegetables five times a day, and each serving should be about the size of your fist. And I looked at the mountain of zucchini on my plate, and at the huge salad bowl, and just started laughing.

Not being/eating at home much during the weekend didn’t help – but considering the cool stuff I got to do, it was worth falling a little further behind. On the other hand, I met some of my relatives on Saturday, and sent them home with some vegetables.

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At the community garden. Somehow, this picture looks really pretty to me.

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Another one of my cucumber plants died, without bothering to explain what the problem was. This was all I could salvage from it.

Next year, I’m not bothering with the expensive grafted ones any more. They seem to die even more quickly than regular ones, at least in my balcony garden, so they weren’t the best financial decision.

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Another bolting but only-just-still-edible lettuce.

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Lettuce, snow peas, zucchini – standard fare these days. But also a potato.

I’m not growing potatoes, at least not on purpose. But there are a few “volunteers” in my community garden plot, and while weeding, I accidentally harvested one.

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On Saturday, my aunt, uncle and grandmother came to the garden party at the Clown Brother’s place, and when they dropped me off at home, I offered them some lettuce and zucchini (there’s a green one somewhere under the other stuff, too), and my aunt also asked for some chard (which I still haven’t really started harvesting for myself, because I have so many other things to keep up with.)

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And then on Sunday morning, I found the first tomato! That was almost as exciting as climbing around in a crumbling castle later that day.

Tower-Climbing Adventures

July 5, 2015

I have mentioned before that I’m in a historical dance group. We mostly dance for the fun of it – we’re called Gaudeamus, after all, which means Let Us Rejoice – but sometimes, we get invited to dance at medieval fairs. Today, we were invited to dance at a castle ruin called Spilberg. It’s not usually open to the public, but sometimes (like today) they open it for fundraisers to get some money to keep the castle from collapsing completely. So even though it was 35° C and going swimming was rather tempting, we put on our garb and danced for a good cause (and free food and drink).

They’ve already done a lot of work since I was there for the first time last year, but I didn’t have my camera with me then, so I can’t show you any pictures to compare.

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The new entrance (the original one is on the other side, and that was the one we took, since we had a little cart with blankets, food and CD player that we couldn’t very well take up the stairs.)

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The well. There was a large larch tree growning close to it, and when they cut that down, they used the wood to surround the well.

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Looking up at the tower… seen like this, it doesn’t even feel all that tall!

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The first floor in the tower, already well restored. According to a guy we talked to, the hooks in the ceiling had large waterskins hanging from them, as a sort of medieval fire sprinkler system.

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The next floor, after climbing up a narrow staircase.

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Looking out the window.

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We’re not quite sure what this was, or why it was there… the body looks like it might have belonged to a duck, but the head’s definitely not a bird head.

Last September, there was a pile of rubble in this space, which must once have been the staircase. We climbed up over the pile to reach the next floor. Now, they’ve cleared the rubble away, and instead, there was this:

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Um. That’s a little intimidating.

But we climbed up – two floors on this ladder, and then another one on another ladder.

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Well this looks like a lot of fun…

The silly thing is, as a child, I balanced on much narrower, less sturdy things in a similar height, and I don’t remember being particularly scared. And now these quite stable boards felt terrifying! But I made it across.

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The view from the window.

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While you’re up there, the tower feels much higher than it seemed from the ground!

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A long way down…

We could have gone up another level – can’t really call it a floor any more since there wasn’t one, just a narrow ledge along the wall) – but we decided we weren’t dressed for that, both of us in sandals and me in a dress (which I’d already knotted between my legs, otherwise it would have been even more inconvenient for climbing in.

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The last bit of the way down (between the completely restored room and the “skeleton room”). Makes you appreciate modern stairs where all the steps are the same height.

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This was at the end of the event, when most of the people had left. It was quite crowded earlier, and noisy, and to be honest, rather exhausting for introvert me.

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A tiny little reenactors’s camp. (I’ve been invited to stay with them if I ever want to camp at a fair. It’s a tempting idea, but on the other hand, I’m still rather nervous around new people and new situations, and I’m already far busier than I want to be.)

A Walk in the Garden

July 1, 2015

I keep meaning to write more, and never have enough time.

I especially would like to write more because of the Urban Gardening contest I’m in, because I need your votes. So, if you’re on facebook, please go like these three pictures:

May 19th

June 2nd

June 16th

And now let’s go on a walk through my gardens… (Actually, we’ll have to do a little time-travel to the past, too, because these pictures aren’t that new any more… I meant to post them before I went to Hamburg, and even then they were a few days old, so that would make it about two weeks now… but if I wait until I take newer pictures, I will never post this.)

A short trip over to the park, to the community garden:

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I always find it fascinating to see so many different gardening styles in so small a space, from neat rows to everything mixed together, from perfectly maintained to thriving weeds.

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I’m still the only one to use lawn clippings to mulch with. The last time the lawn in the park was mowed, the workers left the clippings right in front of the community garden – did they know I’d be able to use them?

In the left bed, from back to front: snow peas, sweet corn, bush beans, cabbage, zucchini, lettuce, celeriac and dill (for the most part, there’s no real system to that, other than “where do I happen to have enough free space?”)

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During the three days before leaving for Hamburg, I harvested (and ate) over 800 g of snow peas.

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The first yellow zucchini, harvested with 650 g. There have been several more that size since then.

So viel Salat... ich habe das Gefühl, mir wachsen bald zwei Hasenohren, so viel esse ich davon zur Zeit.

I’m eating so much lettuce right now, I expect I’ll grow a pair of rabbit ears soon.

In the right bed, in no particular order: parsnips, lettuce, red beets, chard, radishes, cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, brokkoli, cauliflower, leeks, fennel, celery, arugula… there should be parsley as well, but it refused to germinate, and the carrots… well, I still don’t know if they’re just not germinating well, or if the slugs eat them while they’re still tiny. But I’m not giving up yet. I was planning to re-sow them right after coming home from Hamburg, but I’ve been home for a week now and still haven’t had time.

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My first ever cauliflower! (Apart from early balcony garden experiments, which had about 3 cm in diameter…)

Let’s go back home…

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Somebody is giving me competition for the greenest balcony this year! (But on the whole, our building isn’t very green…)

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Other people might have a balcony that’s just as green as mine, but I also use my windowsills (which they don’t.)

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The balcony has taken its final shape at last. The tomatoes are standing where they’re supposed to remain for the rest of the year, all the trellises have been built and I’ve repeatedly had to stop the beans from trying to visit the upstairs neighbours. All I ever get from them is cigarette butts (which I find in my railing planters), they certainly won’t get any of my beans in return!

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I allowed myself to buy a few more flowers than usual this year, so there are a few fan-flowers among the variegated sweet potatoes and trailing tomatoes at the window right over the entrance to the building.

sDSC04197Into the building and right out on the balcony again…

sDSC04199The yellow snow peas didn’t like the hot weather, and mildew is taking over. I try to keep it in check with baking powder, but I probably don’t do that often/regularly enough.

Since my melons never grew very well, this year I decided to put a red kuri squash in one of the melon pots. In just one week, it grew about one metre… this feels quite threatening. If I stop posting altogether, I’ve probably been strangled by squash vines…

sDSC04201Even though the yellow snow peas always seem to get mildewy very early, I like them too, and since I ran out of seeds this year, I marked the nicest, biggest pods so I don’t accidentally eat them instead of letting the seeds ripen.

sDSC04202The tomatoes always start out along the back wall, where they get more sun while they’re small. As soon as they’re higher than the railing, they have to move to the front, where the lower leaves will be in deep shade – by now, most of those leaves have yellowed and died.

That’s also the reason why the eggplants stand on these wooden boxes – so they’ll be out of the shadow of the railing.

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In the railing planters, there are a tons of herbs, salad greens, chard, sweet potatoes, and a couple of flowers.

sDSC04204My table and chair, finally no longer squeezed in between bell peppers and eggplants.

sDSC04205To the right of my table, there are the peppers and a pot of beans I sowed indoors a little earlier than the others, and which would now like to expand my green imperium to the next storey. At the back wall, there are the cucumbers and a second pot with beans (which I sowed later, and directly on the balcony, which is why they’re a lot smaller.)

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In the corner, the pot tower with strawberries, mint and a few more flowers. On the wall, the strawberry bag and a few pots with a climbing strawberry and a trailing strawberry, which I wanted to give a try this year.

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The second bean pot. There are also a few morning glories and a shoot that I think belongs to a yam which I always forget about in autumn, and which always surprises me in spring.

sDSC04208Normally, my Abutilons and passionflowers would spend the summer out on this windowsill, but then I liked these planters (that I meant to move to the other windows) so much that I decided to keep them there. This one has “ornamental” sweet potatoes (still gave me a decent harvest last year), “lucky clover”, volcanic sorrel, and a mashua plant that also seems to be thinking about world domination. If the sun had been shining when I took the picture, the sorrel would have opened its pretty flowers, too.

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In the other one, more ornamental sweet potatoes, blue rock bindweed and different sorrels. These also would have looked nicer on a sunny day… but if I always waited for perfect conditions to take pictures, I would never get anything done at all, and I’m slow enough as it is…

July Calendar Picture

July 1, 2015

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Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’, according to Google, from the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

Harvest Monday Tuesday – June 29 30, 2015

June 30, 2015

I keep trying to catch up with all the things I have to do, and instead, I fall further and further behind.

Like blogging. It’s been two weeks since I wrote anything, and I don’t even want to check how long it’s been since I posted anything other than a Harvest Monday post.

At least last Monday, I had a legitimate reason not to post even this much, because I wasn’t at home. I was in Hamburg, Germany, exploring that beautiful city and attending a reading by G.R.R. Martin. (I thought maybe I’d get to post anyway, but the hotel wi-fi was so slow I didn’t even want to try.)

So, time to try to catch up…

From the week before the trip to Hamburg:

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sDSC04218All my lettuces are starting to bolt – they’re not quite bitter enough yet to be completely inedible, but no matter how many huge bowls of salads I eat, I can’t catch up. It might be time to give some away…

sDSC04221I don’t seem to have pictures of all the snow peas I picked in the community garden that week… over 800g in all. And then I came home to find just as many waiting for me again! It’s another thing that’s a little difficult to keep up with right now.

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I should probably have harvested my very first cauliflower while it looked like this (don’t ask me why it’s this purple, I don’t know.)

But I waited until I was home from Hamburg, and it had started to bolt a little. Didn’t stop me from eating it. And it became oddly colourful when cooked:

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Other stuff from the week after Hamburg:

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More bolting lettuce…

And the zucchini was soooo good. I don’t usually like them raw, but for some reason, I ate a piece while cutting it up to cook, and just stopped doing anything for a couple of minutes, because it tasted so good. After months of store-bought ones, I’d forgotten zucchini could taste this good. sDSC05336

And yet more bolting lettuce, and yet more peas… I had my mother, the Clown Brother, my best friend and her son Squirrel over for lunch on Sunday, so between us, we managed to eat most of this (I still had some lettuce left for the next day.)

All in all, my harvests have been worth about €105 so far. Maybe a bit more, because I keep forgetting to check if prices have gone up – I’m still doing my calculations with last year’s prices. It’s not like I get that many chances to check any more, I need to buy a lot fewer groceries now that my garden is feeding me so well!

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