April 29, 2010

Flowering sour cherry tree - double pleasure

This is sour cherry tree growing in my garden longer 10 years. First pleasure - wonderful grace and beauty while flowering. Second pleasure - delicious confitures for winter. When it's cold and dark outside this confiture is great reminder of summer. Not many are able to eat its fresh sour fruits, but they are best for baking and cooking. And are full of antioxidants.
Sour cherry tree is self-pollinating and 1 tree is enough to get lot's of cherries.
I bought on Friday white geranium and placed it on the table - deliberately? No. Coincidence? How? Matching great.   

Sour cherry - Prunus wanpiti

April 27, 2010

Cuba urban farming – what can we learn from Cubans?

Cuba and especially Havana was famous for centuries from beautiful cultural heritage, then for some time everyone knew who was Fidel and recently Cuba is most famous from Cuba urban farming - most spectacular organic urban farming revolution ever happened on the Planet.
In 90-ties, the food system relying heavily on import collapsed and oil supply was suddenly shortened, Cuba faced dramatic shortages in food supply. Before crisis 50% of food was imported from Middle and Eastern Europe. Another 50% produced locally could not get to the city because of lack of gasoline. Literally there was no gasoline to transport the fresh food to the city.
People having bicycles were in much better situation, they could get to countryside and buy fruits, vegetables and rice. That economic disturbance started very spontaneous green revolution. Cubans had to learn how to grow vegetables. The government cancelled all laws which banned urban farming in the city. Anyone who declared to produce food, got the a piece of land to take care of. Even the lawns in front of ministry of agriculture were turned to veggie patch.

Food production in Havana multiplied 50 times in 5 years. Today 80% of Havana’s fresh food is produced within city limits. All intensive organic. Pesticides are banned, because of the threat of water contamination.

The world is today at oil peak, the moment when demand exceeds supply. This means that from today, the oil surplus will get smaller every year. This sounds pretty boring – I know. I felt same reading this sentence few times before until I saw the diagram based on US military report published recently by The Guardian. When I opened the link to article today, I can see the diagram being removed , but seeing it 2 weeks ago and reading that part was real eye-opening:

“The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.”

From now on I believe, that oil peak is not a distant threat. It can knock my door in few years. This is why it is better to be prepared and learn how to grow your own fruits and vegetables.

If you want to know more about Cuba urban farming and what you can learn from Cubans:

Another interesting video about Cuba urban farming you may watch here.

April 25, 2010

No-dig vegetable garden - easy instructions

You will love the idea of no-dig garden! No-dig garden is perfect and fast solution to poor soils and also saves a lot of work. I am constructing now raised bed vegetable garden and no-dig garden philosphy is the part of my idea of lazy gardening. OK, I agree, spreading all materials needed for lasagna layers is hard work too, but at least digging is eliminated. Digging is harder than spreading, right?
For long root veggies there might be some digging required if there is clay or very hard, not cultivated soil in the place where you want your veggie patch. You may read in some places that no-dig garden is loosing fertility after few years, but I believe this occurs when you start as no-dig, but continue conventional, petrochemical way. There are ways to maintain high nutrition and nitrogen level like sowing white clover or winter rye.

I found 2 great resources explaining basics of no-dig garden. One of them is 2 minutes long, very essential video below - energetic and providing clear instruction - worth to see. Second one is prepared by Australians step-by-step to no dig garden.
I promise you, after 5 minutes you will catch all reqired basics about no-dig garden to start your own.


April 24, 2010

Clematis Omoshiro biggest bud

Clematis Omoshiro survived -30C/-22F without winter cover in excellent condition and so far looks like most vigorous clematis among those growing in my garden. Planted in 2008, gave me 3 beautiful flowers last May. No special care, no compost, no fertiliser added since planting. These fat, hairy buds make me always wonder at Nature's richness and diversity.

Clematis Omoshiro - japanese, large-flowered, requires pruning immediately after flowering.


April 23, 2010

Russian sage self-seeding

Russian sage volunteered and got rescued by me. How could I resist? It clearly says "I feel well here!". 2 years ago I moved the mother plant and new russian sage appeared 5 meters away. Are concrete bricks so comfy to grow? No. Maybe they give enough warmth and shelter to russian sage seeds? 
Even if seeds are comfy among bricks, the plant is not. I decided to rescue this wonderful and amazingly fragrant plant. Lift brick using weeder is not easy, but plant must be happy. The stem was completely flat! Poor thing - no space to grow. Now, temporarily it found good place in the pot. 

Russian sage - Perovskia atriplicifolia

April 21, 2010

Nasty ornamental grass

View is nice, but grass is nasty. It grows without asking permission! It overtakes everything. It's name is... I just have checked.... some kind of Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)... cultivar I think.

Whatever it's name is, 2 years ago it was removed from this patch completely and see - it's back! I am kinda tired of watchig it over - it ate my echinacea, rudbeckia and - almost - perovskia too. I checked it yesterday - can't see any sign of echinacea and rudbeckia! Poor perovskia dug out yesterday, found cosy place in the pot.
Nasty grass will be gone this year finally - I will start cleaning on weekend.
This view on the picture is surprisingly unique - usually I see the same patch from the other side and usually those tulips are  much earlier than this year, so grass is much smaller and proportions used to be different. I will make my raised bed here as soon as tulips fade. It is sunny and very warm place, perfect for my leggy tomatoe seedlings :) 
This grass is my second grass mistake.

April 20, 2010

Vegetable Garden Plan

My vegetable garden plan 2010 was created in February and still it's very rough planning and I can see, that if I want to plant all different kinds of vegetables I want to grow this year in the limited space I have, it needs more detailed planning.
So far I managed to plan the vegetables according to the rules of companion planting. Vegetables that don't like each other are separated and those which help each other grow close together.

Recommended further reading The Vegetable Gardener's Bible

April 19, 2010

Leggy seedlings

Tomatoes seedlings are bit leggy, but id doesn't worry me at all. While planting, seedling will lay under the soil, entire stem will produce roots. Only leaves and about 3 cm of stem will stay out.
I decided to not use additional artificial light - sunny windowsill should do, as long as volcanic ash cloud will not disrupt.
Tomatoes - Solanum lycopersicum

April 18, 2010

15 ideas of DIY pea trellis

How to build trellises for peas - do you also have such question? I will be constructing pea trellis this week from materials having at hand. I searched for inspiration and this is the collection of ideas to share. Click the picture to enlarge if you want to have closer look at mounting details. If you want to see more pictures of chosen idea click the name of the author which you find under every photo. Enjoy!

Picture by greengardenvienna

Picture by greengardenvienna

Picture by meganpru

Picture by sleepyneko

Picture by ksuyin

Picture by pdbreen

Picture by Dharmuti

Picture by Kratzy

Picture by unertlkm

Picture by Elle-Epp

This idea of growin peas in hanging basket is very interesting - I admit. I will try it apart from main veggie bed, where my Capucijner heirloom peas will grow.

Picture by mberry

Picture by FAF

Picture by UrbanCombing

Picture by VeritiCridland

Picture by navvywavvy

I wonder which idea you adapt for your garden?
If you have an idea that was not featured in the post - share it!

Pisum sativum

I would love to recommend you further reading The Vegetable Gardener's Bible (yes, this is an affiliate link, if you like my content, why not to click my affliate links? it would be nice "thank you for your work").  

If you would like to improve your garden to a beautiful paradise, let me help you to design it. We can work online. Contact me at ewamariasz [at] gmail [dot] com.

Happy Gardening!


April 17, 2010

Capucijner peas sprouted!

Capucijner blue pod peas Ezetha's Krombek is a heirloom variety - I sow it on Sunday, 6 days ago, just almost not covered by the soil. Some seeds like this one on picture appeared on the surface after watering. It doesn't seem to be dusturbed by too much light - I can see no difference in sprouting between those covered. Look closely at the picture - can you see the stem and the root coming exactly from the same point? One grows up, second grows down - fascinating!   

Surprised with the speed of sprouting - I expected little longer time. The shorter the better. This will give them good start on the windowsill and right after they will get 2-3 pairs of leaves, I will deadhead them and transplant to garden to container and new veggie patch which is being prepared.  

I went this year for Ezetha's Krombek - blue pod peas. This is an old heirloom variety originating approx. 1600 from the period when improving peas was one the most popular pastime by Capuchin monks in Holland and nothern Germany. This kind of blue pod peas is hardy and disease resistant, largely-seeded and lovely color brown-greyish.

Soak the seeds in water for 2-3 hours just before sowing. 

It will grow this interesting peas in my garden thanks to generosity of Partick - seed swap is great!

Recommended further reading Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)

April 15, 2010

Gooseberry big expectation

Lots and lots of little flowers - big expectation. This blue gooseberry was planted last spring. Grows very well. Gooseberry roots are just under the soil, so while weeding extra attention is required, so you don't disturb the roots.     

I will not prune it this year, to see the produce next year. If you decide to prune it, do it after picking all fruits. Cut back only the stems which were fruiting this year.

April 14, 2010

Lights and flowers in Poland

My country stopped. We stare at lights and flowers since Saturday.

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey ~ Kenji Miyazawa
Ligths and flowers in memoriam of tragic plane crash in Smolensk/Katyn. Thank you for sharing your  compassion - we need it so much... 
I shot this short 1 minute video this evening, right in front of the Presidential Place in Warsaw.

April 9, 2010

Comfrey darling, comfrey...

Comfrey was brought yesterday by a postmen complaining about his aching knee. Package was pretty big to make comfrey's black roots comfortable while travelling, in this really cozy moss bed. I swapped Hydrangea paniculata Limelight baby to get this lazy looking beasty kid. Why to want it so much? Utopia, darling, idea fix – however you call it.

Comfrey finds his home in my garden because of its great natural fertilizing values. First it is free fertiliser, second it will make my garden more self-sufficient. With the time I am more and more bored with going shopping, so more and more often I do things to follow my utopia idea of being self-sufficient. Let’s say that on a better days, I believe it's possible to certain extend.

While gardening in real organic way, not industry promoted way, I am on my quest to improve soil quality without tiling. Why? Because lazy gardening is better – don’t you think? I prefer to spend more time to read in my garden, than only work, work, work... Don't get me wrong. I do like to work in the garden and it will never be possible to do nothing, but I want to reach balance with the help of Nature and make my garden self-sufficient in nutrients, that are removed while harvesting.
There are scientific proofs, that without tiling and weeding it is possible to get even better crops than while tiling and weeding. Sounds revolutionary? I know.

Lazy gardening doesn’t mean doing completely nothing – it means changing way of thinking, changing way of gardening and focusing on doing only necessary things.

Comfrey is one of my steps to ‘lazy gardening’ – what are yours? Or maybe you fully reject this idea and prefer too much work in the garden? How is it with you?

Recommended further reading Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family

April 6, 2010

Hydrangea propagation easiest way

Hydrangea paniculata "Limelight" 1 year old
While pruning hydrangea paniculata Limelight last year - I looked at the cuttings and thought it is a total waste just to send it to hydrangea's heaven. Why not to try to have even more Limelights? I cut them into 20 cm pieces, made sure there are at least 2-3 pairs of buds - and just like this, stucked them into pot filled with plain garden soil. No tricks. No gimmicks. No growth hormone. Niente. Nothing.
Why 2 pairs of buds? 1 pair above the soil, so it can grow leaves, 1-2 pairs in the soil for growing roots. It was 8 cuttings in total. All of them started to grow in 2 months. 
This baby one on the picture will be send tomorrow in exchange for comfrey (Symphytum o.) - I hope she will have good travel.
Comfrey is very valuable source of fertility in the organic garden. Great source of potassium - important element for setting fruits, seeds and flowers. Comfrey leaves contain 2-3 times more potassium than manure.

April 5, 2010

Fresh mint misbehaving

Fresh mint... so innocent when you bring it to garden... so refreshing as mint tea in hot summer...
so wild after one year... it escapes whatever you do...
cure? always plant it containers... otherwise you will keep running after it.... like me - look it grows on the my natural pesticides free lawn - together with moss and clover...

Is your mint misbehaving too?

April 4, 2010

Polka red raspberry - prolific fruiter

Red raspberry Polka is slowly taking off... great Polish raspberry. It bears fruits on this year's shots continuously for 3 months starting end of July. This little inconspicuously looking plant will grow up to 1-1,5 meters high by end of June and give big, red, cone shaped, shiny, yummie red fruits.... 
Do you grow raspberries in your garden? I wonder what kind?  

April 3, 2010

Santolina chamaecyparissus pruning time

We can do no great things, only small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa

Pruning Cotton Lavender now makes it looking better for the rest of the year. Even cutting back very short will do no harm - it will be fine. Next pruning time comes in August.

Look how much I have pruned it last year -- >> Santolina pruning 2009

April 2, 2010

How to grow alpine strawberries from seeds

January last year, I was squeezing white envelope in my hand. On the poststamp there was a bicycle and written "Holland" - I closed my eyes and said to myself "the most unusual strawberries of all strawberries have just arrived"....

Strawberries fans get ready – you also would love to harvest all season, I guess. If you want strawberries all season round, go for alpine strawberries – little plants bearing white to yellowish fruits all season, very fragrant and very tasty, evergreen, producing no runners, liking semi shade (4 hours of sun daily is enough). All this sounds promising – right? I planted my grown from seeds alpine strawberries in humus rich compost. 

I got seeds last year from Patrick/Bifurcated Carrot. Alpine strawberries have the fame of germinating terribly, but they are really germinating great, if you place your seeds in the fridge for 1 month, just before sowing.
Help the seeds to germinate and don’t cover it with soil, just let it stay on the surface, keep the soil and air damp. For easy home-made propagator, that suits its job great with no cost, I recycled plastic boxes – see the picture. Easy to open and close, easy to ventilate - ->> easy to germinate any seeds.

I sow the seeds in February previous year - in June they were big enough to replant them in separate pots. Some of them flowered and had few fruits. This spring is time to plant them in their containers – big, old wooden barrels. Last year, as I used to be the ornamental gardener, I would plant petunias or surfinias there, but this year I am drifting more and more into veggie gardening, the barrels have different guests. Strawberries will be growing on such a level, that it will be easy to pick the fruits and eat directly from the plant…


Do you grow alpine strawberries? What are your tips?

If you would like to improve your garden to a beautiful paradise, let me help you to design it. We can work online. Contact me at ewamariasz [at] gmail [dot] com.

Happy Gardening!