Let there be light

Well… After I finally destroyed the massive concrete block in the middle of our garden over the weekend, I started pre-germinating a bunch of seeds for some vegetables and perennials. Using simple egg cartons and peat-free potting soil I got started. Filled up the cartons, pressed in the earth, poured some water laid down seeds and covered them up when needed. Some are kept inside, some are in the cooler (almost “outside temperature”) hallway.

A friend of mine provided me with a bunch of seeds from his own collection and I bought the rest at a German online store called Blauetikett. The dutch friend is going big and started his own edible forrest in Enschede, next to his simple vegetable patches. Go check out his progress over at his website “Modderbaard“. He also has some bee stocks and sells his own raw honey on his website. Tastes awesome!

But before I got to this calming work I had to get rid of the concrete first. I rented a demolition hammer at the local hardware store and I was afraid it was a bit overkill. Turned out it wasn’t. Not by a long shot…

At almost 18 kg and 2000 Watt it was much better than the one I initially wanted to rent, but still took me almost 5 hours to get out everything. During the demolition I thought I smelled something funny and a few minutes later I noticed something that looked like a puddle of water inside the concrete. It wasn’t water. It was beer and that also explained the weird smell. I cut myself too, when I removed some of the debris, but after that I got cautious. I really don’t know why the guy (woman?) who build it put in a full bottle of the local beer (Reissdorf Kölsch to be precise), but I guess I’ll never know since he passed away a few years ago.

After I finally got it all in smaller bits and removed it all from the hole the hardest part was about to come. Or at least the most wearisome… Shoveling the dirt back in to the crater. And piling up the debris. How it looks now, I still need a few qubic meters of soil/earth to top it off, but it looks much better now after months of concrete.

The debris I took out will be partially reused for the foundation of our herb spiral. but that is another story. For now I will need to take care of the seedlings and prepare the 6 beds that we will use for our vegetables in crop rotation. All the shrubs also need to be trimmed and pruned, because they have been neglected for a long time. As well as the bramble that has been making it’s way through the complete garden really needs to be cut down in some places. Loads of work, but also lots of fun.

In a white room

On and off I had some time to work on the little shed in the garden and in the garden itself. We are still planning the layout, but for the shed we have some ideas and put first things in motion to get it just the way we like it.

The Shed

After all the tiles were removed, all the walls were giving a simple coat of plaster to get rid off the ugly structure that was on it before and to hide the naked concrete wall that the tiles revealed.

After the plaster dried (which took a while and meanwhile I had fired up a gas heater to help in the process) I painted the walls with two coats of white paint. Everything looks like new and way better as before.

I also started planning the solar set-up to provide us with some power during the darker hours. For now we will just be using it to light up the shed, but eventually I would like to put in a converter and power a simple fridge with it (cold beer, yeah!). First I had to figure out which cable lead to where and what it used to do (see the cables tangling from the ceiling). They will all be tucked away under the old corner seat together with the battery. I made a wooden compartment including a voltmeter for the battery and two ammeters to monitor amps coming in from the solar panel and the amps that go out and are being used at the moment. I think I will write another post about the electrics, because it took me some time and fiddling, but tests it with a 9 volt battery were successful!

The Garden

Not much was done in the garden itself. I gave myself some sore muscles by slamming on a big piece of concrete. The former owners thought it was a good idea to give the grill a (almost pure) concrete foundation with a volume of  about one cubic meter. The thing is rocksolid and very hard to break up without power tools. We blew the fuse when we took a chisel hammer to it, so I might need to rent a petrol powered one.

Something that did was a success was the old pond. After we cleared it out I took out the old foil and shoved all the old plants and dirt back into the hole. We’ll let that sit and sink in and top it of with a bit more dirt to make it al level and nice and even.

Last action we took was on the sour cherry: we attached some bricks on strings to the lower branches to make them grow horizontally outwards. This way it will catch more sun, cast more shadow below and hopefully produce more and better fruits! I guess we need a few months before we can find out. That is something I already like about this garden and gardening as a whole. It takes time. Much, much time.

Like I said, I will write a post about the electrics and how I connected everything together. Maybe in the end it will be superfluous, but at least I had fun building and planning it!

Community Garden

Ever since we got kids, we got bugged by the fact we do not own a garden. Or have a balcony in/at our apartment. Because of that my wife was already on the look out for our own community garden (or allotment garden, you know what I mean). Being as it may, those types of gardens can be populated by pretty narrow-minded people here in Germany. Think: a perfectly cut lawn, a german flag, garden gnomes, pristine flower beds, a large fireplace or grill and of course a luxurious set of garden chairs with matching table and parasol.

We do not really fit that profile and if we ever did get our hands on a plot we would try to live from the garden. Live as in eating, but also to just relax and enjoy it. This fall it just so happened we got our hands on a scruffy, 280 m2 large plot of land. Most of it is just grass with loads of weeds, but the stone house and the fact that it was pretty cheap made us decide to buy it and go for it. Continue reading Community Garden

Workcycles Kr8 × Maxi-Cosi Pebble

Since we had a small update to the family in June, we needed a way to transport her in our trusty Kr8 cargo bike. You could just put a Maxi-cosi on the floor of such bicycle, but the guys from Workcycles created a small device to make room for the legs of the kid(s) who sit on the bench.

This invention is in fact just a small raised platform that raises the Maxi-cosi a bit of the ground and also moves it a bit more forward. This provides more legroom for the kid on the bench. The riser comes with pretty stainless hardware and if returned to the shop they will give you back 50 Euros (as a voucher for the shop, but still).

For future reference I took pictures of all the steps involved. It is not that hard, but I couldn’t find some sort of manual so I thought, I’d make one. All pictures are uploaded in my Flickr stream and can be seen here: Workcycles Kr8 × Maxi-Cosi Pebble.

Comment lockdown

Well… It seemed that my reaction on a simple comment unleashed a shitload of spam comments on my website. The last few days I get comments in my que that are unbelievably long and are just full of links, or just plain rubbish.

Because of that I will close the comments on every post I have written, just in case. If you want to comment on something I posted you can always get in contact with me on Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr. Or you can just send me an email at post (a) pimrakers.nl.