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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!

Harvest Monday – June 15, 2015

June 15, 2015

Still in a hurry, so as with the GBBD post, this will be pictures and no words…

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Well, okay, a few words: I found a tiny little wild cherry tree behind some garbage bins on the way to the community garden, and like the greedy person that I am, harvested every single cherry on it.

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And a few more words: Forellenschluss lettuce is just so pretty!

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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – June 2015

June 15, 2015

Just quick snapshots and no words because I’ve procrastinated too long on other things I had to do, and now I’m running out of time…

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Harvest Monday – June 8, 2015 (Plus: Please Vote for Me!)

June 8, 2015

The year just flies by so fast, and I still can’t find the time and energy for all the things I want to do and write about and show you pictures of…

Before I get to my harvests: If you’re on Facebook, please like this picture to vote for me in the urban gardening competition I’ve entered.

So you don’t have to rely on the automated translation Facebook apparently provides (I’m not on there, so I wouldn’t know), here’s what the text says:

The balcony garden has grown well in the last two weeks and hasn’t demanded more of me than occasionally a bit of water.

Instead, a lot of work waited for me in the community garden. Because of work, I had to neglect it a lot recently, but this weekend* I finally had time to weed, plant the next batch of lettuce and brassicas, sow carrots, sweet corn and bush beans. And after I’d carried around countless heavy watering cans, there was an unexpected rain shower in the night…

One thing is still missing, and that is a new layer of mulch. The first one has mostly rotted away, which was a good thing, otherwise it would have provided shelter to the slugs during the recent damp weather. But if the weather stays as the forecast promises, it will be important to protect the soil from drying out – hopefully, work will leave me a bit of time to collect mulch** (lawn clippings from the park or nettles along the cycling path I take every day.)

But luckily, there’s not just work in my gardens, but also harvests, which now – after weeks, in which there were only lettuce and herbs – become more varied and colourful. Of course there are still lettuce and herbs, but also radishes, snow peas and strawberries, and the second mini cucumber waits to be harvested. The first I’ve already harvested, but not eaten – it was “payment” for my mother, who transported the cucumber plants and a lot more from the plant nursery, where I also work, to my home (by bike and public transport, that would have been a little difficult.)

* actually a week ago already, I should have posted this days ago!

** no, it didn’t.

And now, finally, to last week’s harvests, which were rather less photogenic than the stuff I sent in for the competition.

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That second cucumber I mentioned.

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Radishes, cracked and slug-damaged but still edible (although, I need to stop growing the yellow ones just because they look cool. They don’t really taste that good.)

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Mmmm, snow peas. I’ll get to pick more tomorrow, and I can hardly wait.

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Peas (from work), a really ugly (but still good) kohlrabi and a Forellenschluss lettuce from the community garden. I was too hungry to try to get a better picture, after a day of cleaning, cycling and swimming. Sunday was the first day this year I went to one of the local lakes, and it was wonderful!

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And the first chard harvest.

I don’t have pictures of everything, especially not all the herbs. All in all, according to my list, my harvests have been worth about € 10 this week. I’m definitely starting to notice the effect on my grocery shopping now.

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