Here are the boxes on June 30, seven weeks after they were planted. All of the broccoli, spinach, radishes, lettuce and most of the kohlrabi has already been harvested! One mistake we made was neglecting to plant new seeds each week, so that we’d have a flow of food. Oops. Two weeks ago or so we seeded some arugula, collard greens, amaranth, and more lettuce.
Well it’s mid-June and a lot has been harvested already from the boxes. Mostly, lettuce and spinach. There is also a lot of kohlrabi (kalerepa). I made this great meal called Dum Monj with it. It’s uses the greens, which you can’t get unless you grow kohlrabi yourself, and asafoetida, which is a weird and delicious Indian spice. I must have made it four times this month already.
On Friday, we hauled about 700 liters of dirt to the Urban Greens boxes, and left them there overnight. This morning I found a beautiful present from my neighbor Wojtek (Pixxe Portrait be forthcoming, I promise!): three packets of seeds. What a lovely thing!
Next came Inga, a dynamite lady! A few others arrived: Wojtek P., Aneta, Kinga, and then Michał from Szczęśliwice, and Nina from the Warsaw Food Cooperative. Kasper helped with the stencils. The men-of-the-bench, the nearest neighbors and protectors of the little garden, looked on. One of them brought us water from his apartment. Here are some photos of the planting day:
Please come! In Ochota / Rakowiec at Pawinskiego 29 on the South Side of the building.
(W sobotę 5 maja 11.00, będziemy zasadź sadzonki w skrzynce “Miejska Zielenina” obok budynku w moim osiedle na Rakowcu — zapraszam!)
The boxes were vandalized only once, right after they were built. On Halloween someone threw all the straw out onto the ground, which was easy to fix. Yeah, I just put it back in. In six months, this is all the garbage I found in the boxes: two bits of paper, a cigarette butt, and a beer bottle cap.
This is what the boxes, which we prepared in October 2011, look like now. The green manure in the more distant box is about 1 foot tall. The manure was a mix of winter rye, field peas, ryegrass, crimson clover and hairy vetch, but only the rye grass really took. The straw shrunk down about 15 cm. Tomorrow we’ll do a dirt-straw-compost exchange between Railroad Garden, which lacks straw and compost, and here, which lacks dirt.
See you Saturday! Do zobaczenie w sobotę!
On October 15, 2011 a few residents of the apartment buildings as well as many kind friends came out and helped build two 2m x 1m raised beds. Here they are! I like the guy fixing his car in the background.
The Society of Creative Initiatives arranged for a photographer to be there and she took some amazing pictures which can be seen here: ę blog
We had to move from the original spot because some of the neighbors complained. We got moved next to the drunks’ bench. As it turns out the drunks are with us! But there were several people who seemed to be very upset about the idea of growing fresh vegetables in a public space with open participation. They said it would attract rats. They feared the open participation of rats.
Well, maybe the opposition is not so serious after all. One of the most vocal changed her mind after I shared the bread I’d baked and . . . she wanted the recipe.
Come find out how to grow herbs and vegetables in the city and help establish a garden in our neighborhood. This weekend October 15 and 16 from 10 to 2.
ul. Pawińskiego 29, 02-106 Warsaw
Przyjdź, dowiedz się jak uprawiać zioła i warzywa w mieście. Załóżmy mały ogród na naszym osiedlu. Zapraszamy w weekend 15-16 października w godzinach 10.00-14.00. ul. Pawińskiego 29, 02-106 Warsaw
Get in on the gardening action in our neighborhood. Learn how to establish a vegetable garden in the city, the basics of organic gardening, how to make compost and prepare the garden beds now so they’ll be ready for planting in the spring. The kids can help paint flower pots and the fence for our little garden.
Saturday October 15
10.00-11.00: How to make a garden. With Jodie Baltazar, organic gardener and originator of the project
11.00-14.00: Make the garden
Sunday October 16
10.00-11.00: How to make compost. Workshop with Jodie Baltazar and Adam Będkowski
11.00-14.00: Make the garden
Yard between Pruszkowska 12 and Pawińskiego 29
More information: firstname.lastname@example.org
ę Towarzystwo Inicijatyw Twórczych
Miasto Stołeczne Warszawa
Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwo Narodowego
Today I went outside in the yard of the blok to put aside some bags of leaves for the upcoming workshops, in which we will sheet mulch one of the garden beds. I selected bags that were mostly leaves (no garbage), and put a nice sign on them (Please don’t throw away. For neighborhood garden.) and set them out of the way of the trash man.
As I was doing this, a woman came up and started yelling at me. She wasn’t asking me anything—she was yelling. I am pretty sure she did not want me to put the bags where I was putting them. So I said, “Gdzie, mogę?”—”Where can I?” But she just kept yelling.
I recognized the word brudny (dirty) or maybe it was brzydki (ugly). I said, “Nie są brzydki, to liście,”—”They aren’t ugly. They’re leaves.” I wanted to say, “They aren’t dirty. They’re leaves,” but frankly sometimes the wrong word comes out. Either way, it didn’t satisfy her. She kept yelling but there was nothing more I could say. It’s amazing how if you don’t say anything, people will just keep talking.
She finally walked off with her little dog. That’s my neighbor!
There is a woman who is always in my yard. Woman-of-the-bench I call her. She is always on the bench and she is always talking. Her voice is a monotone in that all the syllables have the same stress, but she spits them out in even little packets so it sort of sounds like a machine gun, but slower. These packets bounce around between the buildings, a chamber of echos. I can hear her from my 5th floor apartment. Rat-a-tat-tat every day.
Well, she was sitting in her usual spot, with two other woman of a similar retirement age. I approached, but before I could ask my question, which was going to be, “Where do you think I could store these bags of leaves for one week?” She asked me why I was piling up those bags over there. I explained that they were for the garden that will be built in the yard next week. Then she launched the attack. The words flew. I got the idea that she knew of the project (to grow veges and herbs in the yard) and didn’t approve. I think she was saying, “I don’t want any herbs. I don’t need any herbs.” I think.
Finally, I told her, “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” I figured she wanted to know by what authority I was allowed to do such a thing so I told her I had permission. “Who? Who?” she said. “WSM,” I replied, which is the neighborhood council that gave me permission. Thank god it has initials and I didn’t have to say what the initials stood for. But then she kept asked me, “Kto polecie? Kto polecie?” and I thought it meant, “Who is flying?” which it sort of does, and I didn’t know how to answer that question. Finally, the old ladies just ignored me, even though I kept standing there stupidly for some time.
Later I found out what “Kto polecie?” means. It means: “Who ordered it?” In Poland, it seems, nothing happens without an order from someone. Maybe a better literal translation could be, “Who let the shit fly?”
The object of this project is very simple: to build a small communal herb and vegetable garden in the yard of my apartment block.
In some places this would be an easy task. But this isn’t one of those places. The first obstacle is getting permission to use the grounds.
There are a lot of unspoken rules about the use of land in these apartment blocks. One is that the person who lives under the window gets access to the land under that window. This means that only those who live on the ground floor have the unspoken right to use the land in front of the building. It’s sort of like a front yard. Access grants rights. Some exercise the right but most do not. However, there is a vast amount of “common” space in front of these buildings, but how to get permission to use that?
It’s only thanks to an amazing person called Karolina Pluta and an amazing organization called ę or Towarzystwo Iniciatyw Twóczych that this problem was overcome. Here is what we had to do.
We talked to the director of the District. Warsaw’s hierarchy of housing administration is a complicated thing. You live in an Apartment (Mieszkania). That apartment is in a section of the building called a Klatka, (literally means Cage). The apartment building itself is called a Blok. The blok is part of a smaller group called an Osiedle (no real translation, maybe “Housing complex”). Those buildings are part of a larger group called a Colony (Kolonia). A colony is part of an Okolica (neighborhood), which is part of a District or Dzielnica. RIGHT.
Fortunately, the director of our District is a very nice woman who thought this idea was a marvelous one. However, she said, some bloks are very active in their use of the common space, others not so much. Some of the osiedle love to plant things, others don’t. My blok and osiedle were of the sort that don’t. She would have to go to the council of my blok and ask them if and where the garden could be placed.
It seems the only spot was located to the south of the building, which we are interpreting as the one pictured below. It’s not the best spot, but it’s a spot: