Archive

Gardening

Life is a process and so is the development of a new project. The community garden in Luxemburg City is flourishing, thanks to a group of people who put a lot of efforts, sweat and love in the garden so that the first crop can be admired right now.

In a short period of time from January to now, decisions had to be made and the group process had to move on because the garden has its special lifetime and needs to be done on a precise moment in time otherwise you miss the year. If you listen carefully and if you are open, the garden tells you its own story and what needs to be done. Have we listened carefully? We hope so and here comes the short story of my garden, your garden, our garden. The garden at the beginning of the year in wintertime….

Our first visit to the garden in January 2012. Lots of ideas arise and the first steps of design are discussed, and many meetings follow (below one at Konrad’s)… The design works start at the beginning of March… Our hands start doing things, learning along the way… Two half-circle raised beds with rock boundaries, as well as two multi-layered beds with branches, leaves, compost and earth. We also build a huge Hügelbeet! Weekends spent happily at the garden…

On 7th April, apprentice gardeners meet up with Katy to work on a design for the garden. Many of us start sowing seeds of tomatoes, pumpkin, courgette and many other things on their balconies to bring the seedlings to the garden later on. On 21st April we get some visitors… Richard and Michelle who are both permaculture teachers and their daughter Grace. They are currently travelling the world to document low-impact living projects…

May 2012. A good functioning of the community garden centres on the values of solidarity, tolerance and conviviality. For Labour Day, we organised a communal gathering full of inspiring conversation and good humour. We also planted four varieties of potatoes with the cardboard and straw technique. In our community garden there are no boundaries or allotment for individual people.  All important design decisions are taken communally by all participants. On 21st May, François the architect installed pean poles for climber beans that we received from Steve Schwartz.

June 2012. The multilayered Hügelbeet and the raised beds are very fertile grounds for our vegetables and require but little attention. They have developed quite fine, and our vegetables like it there. On the pictures you will see the layered bed with salads, cabbage, tomatoes and tagetes.

The Community garden at the beginning of the summer 2012… Tania and Malika from the Natural History museum made an inventory of biodiversity and documented no less than 37 species of wild flowers. Some flowers in the garden are depicted below: calendula, Nigelle de Damas, Phacelia, cornflowers, camomile…

Here is a list of wild plants found in the garden recently; there are 37 so far and probably more. Sorry only scientific names in latin! You may look them up yourselves in wikipedia and get nice pictures too…

Fields near paths:
– Conyza canadensis ou Solidago canadensis (wait for flowers for determination)
– Medicago lupulina
– Hieracium aurantiacum
– Aster x salignus
– Sonchus asper
– Sonchus oleraceus
– Capsella bursa-pastoralis
– Sedum acre
– Tripleurospermum maritimum
– Myosotis sylvatica
– Trifolium album
– Plantago lanceolata
– Verbascum densiflorum (perhaps V. phlomoides)
– Trifolium repens
– Senecio jacobaea
– Senecio vulgaris
– Achillea millefolium
– Vicia hirsuta
– Senecio vulgaris
– Convulvulus arvensis
– Geum urbanum
– Bromus sterilis
– Geranium sp (wait for flowers for determination)
– Centaurea jacea
– Centaurea cyanus (bleuet; corn flower)
– Malva moschata
– Tragopogon pratense
(Raised bed:)
– Stellaria graminea
– Anagallis arvensis
– Papaver rhoeas (coqueliquot; poppy flower)
– Lapsana communis
– Lamium purpureum
– Lolium perenne
– Myosotis sylvatica
– Poa trivialis
– Mercurialis perennis

The gardening season is entering into another gear. In the central garden space, we built two half-circular raised-bed structures in the garden’s centre using stones from the building site next to the garden. The structure creates a central focal point; breaks up the existing linear paths; and adds a new look to the garden. The stones are almost certainly from the lovely house that was demolished – so it’s nice to re-use them. In the future we need to built a 3rd identical structure to finish space; cover the soil inside the structures with mulching material.

We started two raised beds at the lower end of the main garden space. We lined out two paths, took out the soil and started filling the beds with organic material. We added two large tree trunks which we got from the boy scouts after asking them. We need to add manure, compost inside and sheet mulch on top of the beds.

Some metal/glass greenhouse windows have been unused for years. They are somewhat broken but after checking them, we decided some of them can be fixed/reconstructed and used as a “greenhouse” by laying them onto one of the walls on the banks. The idea is to grow plant seedlings on location. We need to finish re-constructing the windows and prepare soil with manure.

We started thinking about paths through the garden. The idea is to deconstruct the linear horizontal layout by adding serpentine/horizontal paths. The paths’ function is to facilitate movement through the garden without walking on and through planted parts; and transform the rigorous horizontal symmetry. We need to finalise the path design and actually “make” the paths by taking away a but of soil and marking out the paths with whatever organic materials we can find (branches, stones, etc…)

Today, that was the first meeting of the year in the garden. We had several people from the group and several visitors. A lot of plants are bursting from the soil from everywhere in the garden, so be very careful when you go around the garden. Some spaces were defined and cleaned.

On the edge of the larger terrace, the space where the asparagus are was cleaned, as well as the line along of it where the tulips are. On the terrace, below, by the tool shed, there are flowers, parsley and rhubarb growing. On the same level across the main path, there are colombines (ancolie) and hollyhocks (rose trémière).

The strawberries need to be replanted. Currently they are everywhere but they are giving a lot of fruits to make wonderful jam. The replacement could be done by steps, plus the new plants won’t give any fruit until next year, because it should be done in August. The rose trees need to be trimmed, Kyria told us her mother could come and do it properly (we could learn from her in the same time). To clean the top terrace on the right when you are going up (dead tree, black berry branches and over growing laurel.

Some visitors came with Kyria, one of them was very knowledgeable in permaculture and explained us how to implement a raised bed (hugelbeete). He explained that would be a good think to do because it allows the culture to have more light, stops and keeps the water running down from the top of the garden, does not require a lot of maintenance once it is implemented and bring a lot of nutrients to the ground. Plus for us, it will create paths between the crops.

How to do a raised bed (hugelbeete): with two gardener lines or cords, delimit a row of 1 meter wide, with 40 cm of path on each side,  in the direction South to North, take off the soil on the surface of the row on a depth of 8-10 cm and pile up on the cleared surface any organic stuffs (branches, leaves, compost and any organic waste or remnant in a (butte) or little hill. Then top the hill with the soil set aside to which we can add compost and BRF (Bois rameal fragmenté).

We do not use boards. One thing has to be kept in mind, the process of the organic degradation inside of the row requires a lot of nitrogen. Plants fixing the nitrogen have to be planted on the rows.