Another cold day. I went out for a walk through the Kralingse Bos. This week i had looked up gardens on the other side of it. I planned to visit them.
The view on Rotterdam, with the partly frozen Kralingse Plas, the birds all huddled up in the few bits of clear water, the whiteness of the trees and the sky, the low hanging sun shining was magnificent.
I visited the Venhoeve. This is a collection of separate allotments, mostly grass and flower gardens. Since it was freezing cold, there was nobody around to talk to. I went on.
Further along are the Educational Municipal Gardens Prins Alexander. Mainly school gardens. Quite a large area really. I was lucky, since there was somebody there. We talked a bit. The man, maintainer of the gardens used to work in the Kralingse Bos. Cutting cost did come up in our conversation a couple of times. I will be sad if these school gardens will be let go. Not sure what i can do about this. If ever i got loads of money, setting up a foundation for these gardens will be high on my list of things i want to do.
A lovely great garden. Cold, yes. Nothing growing there, everything covered in frost, sure. But still, everything seems to be waiting for the first spring days in a couple of months, and everything is preparing itself almost unseen to burst into leaves and flowers and fruits and vegetables.
Last week, on New Year’s Eve, i had a talk with Ronald. I have said the same thing to him times before, and i said it once more: I will be famous! Soon! So he said aha! i will bring some paper and a pen, so you can put your autograph on them ten times. Last Friday i reminded him of that. So today he did bring some paper and a pen with him. I did bring some paper with me today as well, anyway. So ten autographs he got! Dated.
I gave all the others an autograph as well. That was a quick decision. Not really thoroughly thought out. Someone commented on it, at the end of the afternoon. Hmmm. He questioned my strange behaviour of giving my autographs away. I wasn’t sure how to respond to it. Without bringing the world into it. But i did say i would become famous in the next couple of weeks. Which is more me saying something so i could believe in it. To get used to it maybe? I also said that having that talk with him at that time was helping me.
It is strange. How each and everyone of us is living in his or her own world. How each and everyone of us is believing something to be true. We all need to take care of ourselves. Nobody else will help us. We all need to work. We all need to earn money. To pay the rent. Or mortgage. To pay for food. To pay for internet access. To pay for energy.
Now, i got my work. This website. This website is the center of my life. What i do here means the world to me. These five posts a week, published at six CET in the morning, they are so important to me.
But for me it is very difficult to tell the whole story from start to finish. I lose the structure so fast, get distracted in an eye blink. But i do see the structure rising up from all my posts. To me it makes perfect sense. Because i know all the posts i have made here, in the past two years.
I don’t where i will end. Nobody knows. Nobody knows how his or her own life will end. Nobody. I know right now i’m pulling things into the extreme. A bit. A bit much. But i am forcing myself to get something out of me. Something i need to say, or do, or show. Of course i know i can fail. Terribly. But still, i live in the Netherlands, one of the safest countries in the world, for now anyway. I won’t die. So i’m going ahead.
I leave with this photo i made last Friday. It does show the garden and the people all in their own world. And each head has its own space. I love this photo. I hope you do too.
Tuesday is the day i usually go to the market. This Tuesday i had to empty my compost bucket at the garden first. I stayed for a bit longer and made some photos. One photo of the Christmas tree standing besides the greenhouse. No idea how it got there! With the one shiny garland nonchalantly hanging from it.
It is cold. A blue sky. Lovely.
I’m surprised by the amount of vegetables growing in the garden still. It is December! And still we seed plants, spinach, endive, lettuce, purslane, chervil, amsoy. I did ask about the cabbages. Last year though they were eaten by caterpillars. So they were not planted that much this year.
I do know we lost many veggies this year to rats, the corn, beets, carrots, tomatoes. All eaten by rats. So next year my attempt to fight the rats is planting catmint. I did read that rats don’t like catmint. Very different from cats, who absolutely adore it. So yes, i will put a plant on my balcony too!
I brought the empty compost bucket home and went straight on to the market. I still look at people’s faces a lot. Some react almost surprised when they see me looking at them, some don’t see me looking at all. Most wrapped up in their own world. Their own stuff. Their own smartphone. It is these choices we all make. What we think is important. What we want. What we buy. What we throw away.
Yesterday i helped a lady who was trying to get an old chair out of a large litter box standing outside. I helped her with pulling out the chair. Once i was done i looked into the box to see if there was more. I saw some empty plant buckets. I pulled one out. Broken. Another one. Also broken. Another one. Whole. A woman past by and said to me “you sure you want that? It is from a weed plantation“.
I don’t mind that. It did make me look a bit more careful at all the stuff in the litter box and yes, i could see it.
I wasn’t sure what post i would make today. I was thinking about my page on Patreon. Still standing empty there. It is not that you get something extra. It is simply a gesture of niceness, a gesture to see what i am trying to do here and giving me a thumbs up, so to speak.
Anyway, i will add the Patreon link to the footer of this website. Gotta try something, don’t i?
Today, Wednesday, i had a gardening meeting. I felt more in my place than the first gardening meeting i had, around six months ago.
There was a basic dinner before, with the request for anyone participating to bring something extra. I made a celeriac and apple salad, with half an onion and chopped walnuts added. I had also made my own mayo, with some yoghurt and mustard and a lemon added. It tasted really nice. Very fresh and zesty. The raw celeriac finely sliced on my mandolin. The apples sliced the same way. The mayo homemade. Hmmm.
So i got home just yet, a bit later than i had planned. Of course.
Since April this year, 2016, i have been working in the Peace Garden. I got to know the people already working there, first and foremost Daniel and Rutger. But also many other people working there, other people making a film in Europe and Asia about urban agricultural projects. I try to wave as much as i can at people walking past and looking down on the garden. Sometimes there is room for a small chat. People stop and enter the garden and talk with us. I love it.
I have also made a couple of walks to other gardens.
Making these walks was a good combination of walking, which i love, getting to know this town a bit better, in which i have lived for the past thirty years, and getting to know the gardens, especially the vegetable gardens and allotments. In some gardens i met some of the people working there. We had a casual talk usually, but it felt good. It was good.
I never lived in a house with a garden. Not when i lived with my parents, and not when i lived on my own. I didn’t miss it terribly much, no, but my experience has changed me. I see now what i have missed. The simple knowledge of gardening, maintaining the garden, the ground, the earth. Having a compost heap, eating what you are growing yourself; i love it. And now i do gain the knowledge i could have gotten so much earlier.
I started to think about education. Especially primary education. For me personally, i loved school. I loved learning, i loved mathematics, chemistry, physics. I loved to learn how to read, how to add and subtract numbers. I never had any difficulty with any of those subjects. The only difficulty i had was with languages, which to me were very illogical and mystifying subjects which i dropped as soon as possible. I did have swimming at school. I liked that too. And sports. Which i didn’t like. But never did i have any gardening lessons. No cooking lessons. Nothing so practical. One thought did pop up, schools should have a vegetable garden. Communal or single, doesn’t really matter. Kids should learn about plants growing, about the earth feeding the plants, about compost brewing into usable earth with enough nutrients for plants. The simple facts of everyday. Which of course today are not so simple anymore.
A few weeks ago i came across a post on facebook of all places about Henk Oosterling. He was one of the participants on the special evening for Sexposition, the exhibition Annemarie and me organized in 1992. Oosterling has started a project on a primary school, combining judo, philosophy, cooking lessons and gardening to be taught to children. This all is combined under the name Rotterdam Vakmanstad Skillcity. This project is trying to function in the world of rules and regulations of primary schools. Outside of this experiment i read about rules forbidding primary schools to hire cooks, only money is provided for educational staff. (Source: Rotterdam Vakmanstad als voorbeeldmachine). I don’t know the ins and outs of this project and i don’t know much about current primary education, but this does worry me.
I do find this project Rotterdam Vakmanstad/Skillcity very interesting. On the site there are many books, articles and videos linked.
Today, Sunday, it was a clouded day. Not wet no. But cold and grey. Only a few people turned up at the garden. It was still good. Further on we went with the wood chips. I filled a path between the rows. Soto filled the bit at the compost heap and the newly dug path at the side, between the hop and the newly planted raspberry plants. It was warming. I did keep on my fleece sweater, but it did get warm while working. I do feel my body right now, yes. Nothing that hurts much, it’s a good feeling.
Last week many thoughts crossed my mind. I finally went through the party program of the Party for the Animals, Partij voor de Dieren. I still need to read it more carefully. But i do think this party is closest to my own thoughts about our planet, about us humans, about all the animals and plants living here. Our current economic system is too much focused on making a profit. We humans, we are clever, we are knowledgeable. We have our science, our desire to learn everything about all the details of life, of the inorganic world around us, of the universe and the stars surrounding us. But i do think we need to learn how to control ourselves. How to take care of ourselves and everything around us on this still beautiful planet.
So yes, teaching our children about nature, having them learn by working in a small garden themselves, is one thing that crossed my mind. There are already schools doing this, there are already people working on getting this done and working. I’m also thinking about schooling older children and young adults get. I’m not sure, but i do think it is too much focused on making children learn skills they could use in our current working environment, not make them learn their own specific skills and broadening them with the help of their teachers and other students. Make work less taxable and make profit of companies more taxable. Return our working culture back to a more regional area, make all farmers work ecological, make communal vegetable gardens all over the country. Those are simply first thoughts in my head. Nothing is fixed yet, and so many things are already being worked on by so many people.
This is all so much a bunch of loose ideas, tumbling over each other. It’s good, thinking these thoughts. They will settle down a bit more over time. I’m happy i am thinking them.
The garden with shrubs all around it. In this part there are some eternal leeks growing. I also planted some bulbs in here. They should be blooming from February to July next year. We also weeded this bit out a few weeks ago. We did all the bits, the bit where the chickens will come, the bit where the apple trees grow in the other garden 100 meters further.
A corner. Strawberries are planted here, some other vegetables, kale for instance, grow here too. Some straw to throw on the ground when it is extremely wet. Like today!
On the left row we used the plants of the parsnip harvest as mulch. We also collected sacks of dead leaves from around the garden and dug it in the ground. Leaves are not nutrituous, but they do better the structure of the ground. We still do need that in our clay garden with only top soil of compost.
The small side with plum trees, shrubs and topinamboer growing at the end of it.
Freely seeded plants, celery, chervil, spinach. I'm sorry to say i don't know which is which. It looks lovely!
Beans at the top, some mulch, leeks.
Last Sunday we swiped all the dead leaves together and threw them on the garden down below. A general mulch and like i said earlier, improvement of the ground structure.
Lettuce, endive, green chicory.
In front of the markthal there are these beds of several plants. Last Saturday i was walking past them, and to my surprise i saw these rosemary plants growing there. Not just this bit on the photo, but several bits all planted over several meters of beds.
Last Tuesday i picked some rosemary. I had them with me when i went to the Meiden on the market. The girl helping me asked about the stems i had in my hand. She was really surprised when i said i picked them myself from besides the Markthal. Very few people notice these things. Like the plants growing next to the church: the onions, fennel, chard and other plants growing in these round beds.
At two today, Sunday 6 November, i was in the garden. It was raining. I emptied my compost bucket, talked with John for a short bit. I weeded for around fifteen minutes the side with the shrubs. Then Daniël came along. Coffee!
And i had some cookies with me. Oatmeal raisin cookies. A first try. Fine, but could be better. We cleaned up the greenhouse for a bit. Threw some stuff away. I wiped the boards. It got busier. Some were clearing the beans and corn rows, taking away the high rising bamboo structures the beans were growing unto. I went to the other garden to harvest some parsnips, together with Stephan. In the end we harvested the entire parsnip harvest. The rats were eating them. The ones not taking home will be put below sand.
I didn’t make any photo’s. I had intended to do so. Show you the work we have done on the shrub sides, weeded out and new shrubs planted to fill it up a bit more. But we worked hard, and it got dark quite soon. And it did rain intermittently.
I am tired now. My garden clothes are in the washing machine. Also the rain cape i wore today, which was still dirty from the last time i used it. The parsnips i took home are in a bowl with water. I will clean them properly later on this evening.