Learn more about urban food gardening at Magneet Festival

I’ll be presenting on the topic of Urban Food Growing at the Magneet Festival on 23 August: 3:00 in the Green Area. It’ll be followed by a one-to-one Q&A session, so bring your queries… So if you’re in Amsterdam, stop by to pick up some tips and find out about local resources.

Asparagus!

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asparagus, mint, rhubarb august

You’re absolutely right, it’s definitely NOT asparagus season. But we’re already thinking about next year. A delivery from Vreekin’s Zaden came with 20 asparagus plants–basically, a bagfull of spidery roots. We’ve put them at the end of the permaculture spiral, in a round bed that was heavily dug over and weeded to prepare it, with plenty of compost added. Each root rests on its own little hillock, and then a light covering of compost-rich soil was added. We’ve had to top it up now and then due to heavy rains.
Here’s a few before and after pictures–the dead-looking roots produced spears and the feathery foliage in just a few weeks, which we’ll be able to start harvesting sparingly when they return next spring, and voraciously for, oh, 20 years or so after that 🙂
It’s bounded on one side by some mint that’s flowering beautifully, and then by a very healthy stand of rhubarb.

New year, lots of changes in our garden

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We’ve stayed busy throughout the winter and spring with planning and projects to start as soon as we could return to the tuinhuis full-time last month. That has included building a greenhouse (from a kit — not for the fainthearted), and many changes to the pond and existing annual and permaculture beds. Yesterday H finished this raised bed, which we promptly planted with raspberries, tayberries and a blueberry bush. It will eventually have trellises on either end so that we can train the berry vines, and another nearby for grape vines. They’ll also be the basis of a fruit cage structure that will allow us to net the bushes to prevent too many berries from getting eaten by bugs and birds.

Winter treats

It’s been an exceptionally mild winter, so we probably should expect this next year… But the garden keeps giving us lovely vegetables. I can’t believe it’s February and we’re still eating freshly picked boerenkool, tuinkres and mosterd spinazie, plus of course beets and turnips.
Plans for spring are taking shape too, particularly the idea of a greenhouse to extend the season even more… H is planning a new hugelkulture plot, and we’re both keen to grow more varieties of tasty things…

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Apples, neighbours and apple cake

Apples, neighbours and apple cake

On their last day at the tuinpark, our Turkish neighbours gave us all the apples they couldn’t carry. This haul has slowly diminished over the past several weeks, being turned into tasty apple cake, apple-nut cake, and apple-date cake. It’ll be many years before we can harvest our own, so it’s great to have neighbours to share and trade with!

Making friends with spiders

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Ever since I was small, I’ve been both terrified by and fascinated by spiders. I’m warming to these harvester spiders though — every ear of corn in our garden seems to have one in residence, keeping the tasty kernals safe from bugs. Thanks!

Finished spiral, new beds, older beds full to bursting!

It’s been a week of frantic activity as we take advantage of a summer heat wave in a country that’s more typically cool and rainy on many summer days. H has been pulling up paving slabs (as he says, “if you miss the concrete, there’s plenty in Slotermeer”), which are being used in our final burst of raised bed construction. You should be able to see his newest on the left– to be planted this week.

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He has also cut down several tall conifers by the shed, making room for a huge raised bed with a trellis along the back (my next project) and providing mulch for paths and branches for retaining mini-fences along the edge of the permaculture spiral.
That was more or less finished and planted yesterday. We can’t source some of the seeds we want, and the remaining growing season is short, so this year it will be mostly in annuals. There are some heritage greens–borenkool (kale), borenkruid (summer savory) and Brave Hendrik, and I spotted a packet of callaloo at the market as well. I loved that when it grew in my old shared allotment in the UK so, fingers crossed… There are turnips, beets, a couple of transplanted butternut squash plants, some bean seedlings, loads of cress and rocket, and rhubarb for next year. The hazelnut and plum trees look happy and as they grow will provide cover for shade-loving veggies. And we tossed a few flower seeds around.

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In the distance there you can see H’s pond. There’s lots to be done around the edges to make it pretty and inviting to salamanders, but it’s working and adds a new microclimate to the garden.
All of the raised beds except the one on the side that was planted last and gets the least sun are spilling over with plants. Baby courgettes are on the menu, and a huge array of salad greens and dark leafy greens.
Surprisingly given their wet, slug-ridden and unpromising start, tomatoes are going wild–even the one I planted from a cutting after a slug attack, even the ones I planted from seed! It looks like we will be eating lots of tomatoes by August…

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Finished spiral, new beds, older beds full to bursting!

It’s been a week of frantic activity as we take advantage of a summer heat wave in a country that’s more typically cool and rainy on many summer days. H has been pulling up paving slabs (as he says, “if you miss the concrete, there’s plenty in Slotermeer”), which are being used in our final burst of raised bed construction. You should be able to see his newest on the left– to be planted this week.

20130721-100122.jpg
He has also cut down several tall conifers by the shed, making room for a huge raised bed with a trellis along the back (my next project) and providing mulch for paths and branches for retaining mini-fences along the edge of the permaculture spiral.
That was more or less finished and planted yesterday. We can’t source some of the seeds we want, and the remaining growing season is short, so this year it will be mostly in annuals. There are some heritage greens–borenkool (kale), borenkruid (summer savory) and Brave Hendrik, and I spotted a packet of callaloo at the market as well. I loved that when it grew in my old shared allotment in the UK so, fingers crossed… There are turnips, beets, a couple of transplanted butternut squash plants, some bean seedlings, loads of cress and rocket, and rhubarb for next year. The hazelnut and plum trees look happy and as they grow will provide cover for shade-loving veggies. And we tossed a few flower seeds around.

20130721-101037.jpg
In the distance there you can see H’s pond. There’s lots to be done around the edges to make it pretty and inviting to salamanders, but it’s working and adds a new microclimate to the garden.
All of the raised beds except the one on the side that was planted last and gets the least sun are spilling over with plants. Baby courgettes are on the menu, and a huge array of salad greens and dark leafy greens.
Surprisingly given their wet, slug-ridden and unpromising start, tomatoes are going wild–even the one I planted from a cutting after a slug attack, even the ones I planted from seed! It looks like we will be eating lots of tomatoes by August…

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Update on what’s happening with the raised beds

The main development is that there are more of them, and they are full of more tasty things!
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The first squash blossoms (future courgettes) have appeared, surprisingly on one of the most recent raised beds, the one that H and I cobbled together next to our “dock” on the south side. It’s an area that gets plenty of sun but we had worried that the soil was particularly poor, even with the addition of plenty of compost, and that pests were about. However, that bed is doing very well indeed.
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Yesterday H made a new mini-bed with some leftover concrete bits and planted our new raspberry plant, I added some onions and pumpkin seeds (these are for the tuinpark competition, which I will no doubt lose even if I cheat by entering mine in the form of pie…)
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Up front both squares, H’s new improved triangle, and the oblong bed on the side are all going mad with courgettes, butternut squash, sweetcorn, rocket, cress, mustard spinach, kale, beetroot, carrots, fennel,dill, basil, lettuces and more!
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