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Jul 142012
Yard clippings, yarrow, clover

Yard clippings, yarrow, clover

This morning I woke up early to go and collect the grass clippings from the housing complex near my allotment garden, which was mowed in its entirety yesterday. I just dug in and started to load the clippings into my wheelbarrow. The pile was so hot it was smoking; it steamed up me glasses! Isn’t it beautiful how life has, in itself, a perfect design to take care of itself, to give itself usefully back to the great pool of matter?

This stuff had a lot of plantain, clover, and  yarrow, a great compost accelerator I read somewhere. It also had a lot of dried grass and old leaves. Perfect.

I built two piles, adding straw here and there. They look like little straw houses for little hobbits. Or maybe more like my friend Zeek Sheck‘s beepers….

Compost House

Compost House

Jul 132012
Collecting jurassic water

Collecting Water from the Old Ones

In Warsaw, there are public water wells called Woda oligoceńska. Oligocene water. The Oligocene Period, I’ve learned since, occurred about 30 million years ago. Basically these are very deep wells, running more than 200m (650 ft) deep. They are housed in cute little buildings, and because it took me two years to be able to say oligoceńska, I always called them Dom wody, Water House. (But when I said Water House, not one person had any idea what I was talking about.) One can take the water all year. In the winter, you go into the house. In the summer, you tap the faucets on the outside of the house, as seen above.

In my neighborhood there are three such wells, though sadly, one of them has been closed for several months. We do not buy water. We go to the well. It tastes delicious. Someone else told me that her grandmother warned, “You must boil the water from the well before you drink it.” This never occurred to me. Two years and I’m still living, so I guess it’s O.K….

Because there is no water at the Railroad Garden, and no structure to catch it from, I haul it from the well. It’s about 2 or 3 blocks.  I used to use my bike, on which I could carry eight 5-liter bottles: three on the front, three on the back, and two on each handlebar. Now, I have a wheelbarrow and can carry 60 l (15 gallons). My arms are bulging. Soon I should have a bike cart and I’ll be able to carry 90 l (24 gallons). One liter of water weighs one kilogram. Brilliant, that.

One time an old lady came in and asked me, “Is it yellow or white?” White meant the water was good. It was white.

Jun 012012

In June, we’ll try to get back to a semi-regular schedule. I’ve been gone or busy so many Sundays, it’s been difficult to keep the Open Time. In June the Railroad Garden will be open the following hours, except as noted:

SUNDAYS 10am-2pm

Here is a plan of major activities:

June 2 – Build a batch compost pile; Cut, trim & sort branches & wood; Dig up concrete blocks & make new paths
June 17 – Remove remaining garbage; Cut, trim & sort branches & wood;
June 24 – TBD, Check back later in the month


May 202012
DIY Table

DIY Table

Here is a table I made from a big board I found in the dumpster. The Polish equivalent of Home Depot is called Castorama, which is actually a French company. I don’t understand why, but wood is very expensive in this store and most of the wood is really shitty–actually it’s not wood at all but rather plastic-covered particleboard, a sort of IKEA-type substance that offends me on both the aesthetic and ecological plains. One must go to a lumber yard to find real wood. It’s fun to go there and it’s cheap and that’s all great. What is not great is that the lumber yards are way out of town, requiring a car to get there, which I have not. However, I found this sort of “garden wood” at the good ‘ole Castorama. It’s about four times cheaper than untreated pine and is actually cut to standard and usable sizes.  A great guy named DAREK helped me saw the wood (and he also dug two big garden bed holes very fast and trimmed a giant apple tree). Thanks Darek!

May 022012

Allotment Sundays / Niedziele na działce will now be starting later in the day. Instead of 11-3 it will now run from 2-6 in the afternoon. The reason is that it’s too hot in the middle of the day.

There will be a lot of planting going on this week plus still more trimming back of weeds and trees. I would also like to build a table on Sunday…

Today, I planted some Broccoli, Kale, and herb seedlings. First Seedlings

May 012012

After six months, I finally did something about the lock. Something brilliant. If you didn’t know, last October someone cut the chain and put on their own lock.

I didn’t want to do anything destructive. For over a year, with the exception of cutting down some trees, most of what I’ve done here is constructive: fixing and building. So I was hesitant to break the lock or the chain. When I first arrived, there was a chain, but no lock. My gentlemanly neighbor told me the owner died fifteen years ago.

At first I thought that I would make two gates, but we thought of a better idea: two locks.

Two Locks

So now both of us can get in. The mystery man and I. As you can see, my lock is the weakling.

Mar 242012

This will be the last Allotment Sunday until April 15. This week we should be able to finish trimming the fruit trees, double digging the garden beds, and planting the cold frame. If there is time, I’d like to build another compost bin.

Please join me anytime from 11am – 3pm.

11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Pixxe – Railroad Garden

Map Wide:

Map to Railroad Garden

Map to Railroad Garden

Map Close:

Paths to Railroad Garden

Paths to Railroad Garden

It’s between Żwirky i Wigury and Grójecka.

Via Public Transportation: Take Bus 175, 188, 504, 172, 228,136 to Rakowiec stop (Racławicka i Żwirky i Wigury). Walk west on Rakowiec until you get to Mołdowska. Turn Left (South) on Mołdowska. Follow map to the działka.

Via Public Transportation (Grójecka) Take Tram 7,9, or 15 to Korotyńskiego. Walk North to Racławicka. Turn Left (East) on Racławicka. Left on Sąchocka. Right on Gorlicka. Follow map to the działka.

Via Car from Grójecka: Turn East on Racławica. Left on Mołdawska. As you approach Gorlicka, look for parking. Follow the map to the działka.

Via Car from Żwirky i Wigury: Turn West on Racławica. Right on Mołdawska. As you approach Gorlicka, look for parking. Follow the map to the działka.

Mar 132012

Last week during Niedziele na działce (Allotment Sundays), in addition to burning a huge pile of vines and twigs, we used some of the trimmings from the apple tree to make some dye. We also took some cherry bark from the dead cherry tree. Look how beautiful this cherry bark looks:

Cherry Bark from old dead tree

Cherry Bark from old dead tree

For the apple, first we peeled off the bark. It was about 200 g of bark from young branches.

Peeling the apple bark

Peeling the apple bark

I poured boiling water over it and let it sit for five days. After that, I added 200g of mordanted wool (mordanted with Alum), brought to a simmer (80C) for an hour, and then let it cool overnight. Rinse and dry. Here is what it looks like. I think the color is very much like the inside of an apple pie, or like honey. Very nice color.

Apple Bark Dyed Wool

Apple Bark Dyed Wool

Mar 122012

Sometime in early November of 2011, someone came and cut the chain on my lock and replaced it with this lock. As far as I can tell, this mysterious person has never been here since then.

Locked out

Locked out


The irony of the situation still makes me laugh. Before I came there was a huge gap in the fence — there was simply no fence over a stretch of about 15 meters facing the tracks. It looked sort of like this:

Gap in the fence

Gap in the fence


For a while I just piled branches in front of the gap. In May, we built a make-shift fence out of sticks. It was a lovely thing. But over the summer some jerk knocked it down, so we built a “real fence”. I made wattle fences over the remaining holes.

So it is very funny to me that, after I secured the spot, someone comes and locks me out. Ha ha! Remember that this allotment has been abandoned for YEARS. It was full of an enormous amount of GARBAGE.

There was one hole I didn’t fix, right next to the gate and this has been serving as my entrance. I used The Beekeeper‘s gate as inspiration.

The New 'Gate'

The New 'Gate'

Mar 102012

(Proszę dalej — podstawowe informacje po polsku na dól)

I once again invite you to join me tomorrow at the Pixxe Railroad Garden for “Allotment Sundays”.

11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Pixxe – Railroad Garden

Tomorrow we will be pruning walnut trees, apple trees, and stripping the bark from the dead cherries and removed branches. The bark will be used to make dye for wool and fabrics.

Look at this amazing picture from Google maps, to the right and below the red farm icon. You can see  the circular shapes I made for the garden beds and paths! Probably taken in early May of last year because can see the horse chestnuts blossoming (upper right corner).  The garden is on the map!

Garden Circles

Garden Circles

What is Allotment Sundays?

Simply an open invitation to come to a reclaimed allotment in the Rakowiec neighborhood of Warsaw, in order to share work, environmental education, fresh air, and more. It will run every Sunday except for April 1 and April 8.

In the garden we are cultivating vegetables, nuts, fruits, edible flowers, and more. Many of the vegetables we cultivate are unusual varieties not commonly found in Poland (such as chards, kales, mustard greens, and others). We hope to cultivate some wild varieties, Polish heirloom varieties, as well as plants grown for fertilizer (green manure). We use techniques such as companion planting, composting, natural pest control, double digging and this year we hope to do some experiments with “bio-intensive” agriculture techniques developed by John Jeavons. ( also check out great videos on youtube).

I am even hoping (with your help) to develop a special currency (Trinkets, Tokens?) which could be used to purchase food produced from the garden.

If you have saws, orchard saws, clippers, pruning shears, or axes please bring them! KITCHEN WASTE and HUMAN URINE for compost are ALWAYS WELCOME.

Activities planned for March – April

  • pruning and trimming nut and fruit trees — walnut, hazelnut, apple, cheery, plum, pear
  • removing vines that are strangling the trees
  • cutting out dead trees
  • cutting out ash trees which are blocking the sun
  • removing bushes which are encroaching on the elderberries
  • throw out garbage, always fun!
  • burn and chop wood and branches as necessary
  • build and plant early spring greens in a cold frame

Krótko po polsku:

Jeszcze raz jutro witam was na: Niedziela na działce (Pixxe “Ogród przy torach”)

11.00 – 15.00
Pixxe – Railroad Garden

Jutro będziemy przyciąć orzech włosky i jabłonie; obierać skórę z gałęzie, które są usunięty. Kora zostanie wykorzystana do farby (dye) na wlóczki i tkaniny.

Co jest Niedziele na działce?
Po prostu jest otwarte zaproszenie przyśc do odzyskany ogród żeby podzielić się robotą, edukacją ekologicznej, permakultrą, świeżym powietrzu, i więcej.

Będzie otwarte co niedziele 11-15 (oprócz 01.04 i 08.04). Jest na rakowcu.

Jeśli masz, proszę przynieść: piła / piłka, sekator i zawsze możesz przynieść odpady kuchenne czy ludzki mocz do kompostowania

Jeżeli wiesz ktoś, który interesuje się, proszę dzielić!

Mar 052012

Yesterday was the first “Allotment Sunday.” It was a pruning and cutting day.

We cut down a cherry tree, which was quite dead. Poor thing. The wood is so hard and red. I’ll try to use the bark to dye some wool.

It is difficult to cut trees, even dead ones, let alone unwanted living ones. We cut down three young box elder trees , which were blocking the light to the garden. The sap ran out of them, clear tree blood… (at first these trees were mistakenly ID’d as ash — now we know — all that blood syrup, gone to waste). They are now part of the crazy make-shift fence.

Cutting the Ash

Cutting the Box Elder

Here is a dead cherry tree stump that will stay the way it is for awhile for one reason: Kasper loves chopping at.

Chopping the Cherry

Chopping the Cherry