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Apr 302014

The idea was to make sculptures out of plants. First we went out looking for interesting plants to make art out of.



I found some burrs. I got the idea to make a sort of burr helmet or burr-haired head.


A couple of women made a cool mandala-thing, but I didn’t get a picture of the final work.

With some cedar and a basket, I made a body.

Omar replanted willows.

As they grow, Hirvitalo can use the branches to make a nice entrance into the yard.

Unfortunately, three hours wasn’t enough time to finish my “Plant Yeti” — maybe next time….

Apr 122014

uo_logoTomorrow is the first event for Uprawiajmy na Ochocie, a series of workshops for Ochota residents.

We will be learning about how to get started with growing food in your apartment and on your balcony. Lots of possibilities from the easiest (onions in bottles, sprouts) to the more difficult (tomatoes, peppers). All you need to bring is a container (pot, bottle, old shoe??)

It all starts at 11 am in the common building at the Zelmot Allotment Gardens in Ochota (where Pixxe Garden is located). There may still be time to sign up.

If you can’t make it, there are still two more workshops in May!


Apr 062014


Today was the first big workday at the new SDK Community Garden. We started it with a quick lesson on Soil biology, texture, structure, acidity, and nutrition, then moved on to the big work of the day: fixing the poor-draining garden beds. One participant did it all in bare feet!!

First we removed all of the top soil — about 10 or 15 cm. The layer underneath is very heavy.

Next we dug a few holes with the amazing dirt driller:

The wholes were about 8 cm wide and 1 m deep.

These we filled with landscape fabric “socks” filled with gravel.

The finished drains looks like a cute bow tie:

Next we broke up the hard clay layer as much as we could and mixed it with wood chips. A nearby stadium donated a huge amount of horse poop and straw. They even delivered it right into the compost bins:


We added the straw-manure mixture:


We decided to leave this and let the organic matter break down a bit. We’d like to build raised beds here…


This is what it looked like when all was done — a bit of a mess!! That’s a work-in-progress.

Apr 042014

We gathered samples of the top soil and the substrate for texture tests.

First we remove all visible rocks and organic matter, spread the samples on newspaper, and let them dry for a couple of days. The next step is to pulverize the soil. You can put it into plastic bags and crush it with your hands or a rolling pin, for example. Remove any additional organic debris or rocks.


Then we put the soil into a jar (500 liters or a quart) until it’s about 1/4 to 1/3 full, add water until the jar is about 3/4 full, and add 1 tsp of castille or dish soap, something that doesn’t make too many suds. Typically, the recommendation is to use dishwasher detergent, but that is very expensive here in Poland. Shake for 10 or 15 minutes and set somewhere where it won’t be disturbed.



Within a few minutes the sand settles to the bottom of the jar. Within a few hours the silt settles on top of the sand. Within a few days the clay settles on top. That’s the theory. In practice, the results are not always clear. For the Pixxe Garden’s soil, the results were quite clear. For the SDK garden, this is what we found:

GARDEN BEDS have a Sandy Loam:

sdk_soil_texture_bed_results_IMG_0756 sdk_texture_results_bed_triangle

SUBSTRATE has either Sandy Clay or Sandy Silt — only two layers were really discernible:

sdk_soil_texture_substrate_results_IMG_0756 sdk_texture_results_substrate_triangle

Apr 012014

sdk_IMG_0748What is Soil?

Before we sow seeds and plant seedlings we need to find out what sort of soil we have and what it needs to help foster the life that will support the plants in our new garden. On April 6, 2014, we will be conducting tests, as well as sharing the results of lab tests, in order to learn more about the soil — its biology, texture, structure, drainage, and nutrients. More importantly, we will start the hard work of preparing and repairing the ground. Plan to get dirty.

We will be doing some “citizen science” today — looking for organisms which live in the soil, checking to see how much sand and silt and clay we have, checking to see how quickly the soil drains, testing the pH. Come and join us and learn more about this fantastic UNDERGROUND WORLD.

WHEN: April 6, 2014 12.00 – 15.00

WHERE: the NEW Służew Dom Kultury

* Note — the new SDK is not officially opened yet. If you want to participate, please sign up at



Zanim zasiejemy w ogrodzie nasiona i posadzimy sadzonki, musimy się dowiedzieć z jakiego typu podłożem mamy do czynienia – gliniastym, ilastym, piaskowym? Czy teren ogrodu to teren podmokły? Czy gleba jest kwaśna czy zasadowa? Czy jest właściwie odżywiona, posiada wystarczającą ilość makro i mikroelementów?

Podczas najbliższego spotkania spróbujemy się dowiedzieć czegoś o glebie badając w dłoni teksturę i strukturę ziemi, przyglądając się organizmom, które można w niej znaleźć, testując pH, przyglądając się wynikom przeprowadzonych przez nas wcześniej testów laboratoryjnych.

Przed nami także sporo pracy fizycznej – kopanie, przerzucanie ziemi i kompostu, wiercenie! Trzeba wykonać czynności, które w przyszłości pomogą nam uzyskać jak najlepsze plony.

Warsztat poprowadzi Jodie Baltazar we współpracy z Pauliną Jeziorek