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May 302014

Today was Work Day or Open Day at the Common Garden in the Służewiecki Dom Kultury. The “Wspólne Ogród” is still in its infancy and it hasn’t been easy to attract local residents to participate. Today, however, a great guy who has been helping a lot lately, Wojtek, stopped by with a new part for the hose. He helped move some dirt and some giant rocks. Hurray!

There has been a big pile of muł (pronounced “moo”), that is to say silt, just sitting in the path for weeks. It came up from the bottom of the beds. Up until just now this very moment, I thought it was “ił” (pronounced “ew” as in yuck or gross) because someone told me so and I never looked it up. I looked it up. Muł is SILT. Ił is LOAM. But  “muł” also means “mule” and ił is just muł with sand…. This is it:


After discussing with Wojtek what we could do with this pile of muł (throw it over the fence, spread it around a little here a little there) I suddenly got the idea to mix the silt (maybe about 60 liters) with the acid peat that was donated by Plantico. So that’s what we did: 180 liters of peat with 60 liters of silt. Starting to look like SILTY LOAM. Don’t ask me what THAT is in Polish. This is silt with peat (muł z torfem):


I also made some beautiful balls:


The garden is looking good. Each bed is its own universe of experimentation!


1 – Veges and herbs (mostly brassicas)
2 – Veges and herbs (mostly tomatoes and peppers)
3 – Nothing yet. A dirt-holding bed
4 – Double dug, and then soil over a “Permaculture bed” (grass, straw, woodchips)
5 – Compost bed
6 – Double dug and planted with a couple of pumpkins so far
7 – Lupine and alfalfa (łubin, lucerne)8 – Lupine and alfalfa (łubin, lucerne) with 4 tomato plants planted into the green manure
9 – A woman planted some cilantro and radish here!
10 – Mustard and Lupin (Gorczyca, łubin) plus 2 fennel and some wild mint



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

Sep 182013

On Monday it was time to remove the Kompostowisko at the Copernicus Science Center. Hopefully soon the organizers will share some event photos.

Aug 272013

Kompostowisko KopernikaSome of us grow food. Some of us cook it. But all of us eat it! (and all of us waste it!)

Growing, cooking, and eating generates A LOT of organic waste. On September 8 at the Przemiany Festival there will be a Breakfast at the River picnic at The Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw, Poland. There you can learn how to deal with all of that waste — by composting it back into fertile soil!

Organic waste makes up more than 50% of all the waste in Warsaw’s wastestream. The vast majority of it is dumped in the landfill, where it has terrible environmental consequences through the production and release of methane gas (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere—two notorious global warming gases. What’s tragic is that organic waste can easily be turned into humus ( the living, organic part of soil). This humus can be used to grow food, feed plants, and heal damaged land – even land damaged by landfills.

This year Warsaw is implementing new waste disposal laws and fees, putting our waste and its dirty secrets into the spotlight. The new laws impose a 40% fee for not segregating waste (that is, recycling). However it appears there is little incentive to actually reduce the quantity of waste or indeed to do anything at all about organic waste.

At the we are going to do something about it! We are going to compost all of the organic waste generated at the Festiwal’s picnic and show how we could safely compost our own waste on a local level. From 11-15.30 we will be collecting and composting all of the organic waste from the picnic on site. Come and learn how to compost organic waste by actually doing it!

We will discuss composting basics and what you can do right now with your own waste at home. We will also prepare the bin to accept the waste.

We will make the first rounds to collect the waste from the picnic vendors and participants, take it back to the composting site and compost it. Through this activity you will learn how to build a compost pile.

We will make the last rounds to collect the waste from the picnic vendors and participants, take it back to the composting site and compost it. Through this activity you will learn how to build a compost pile.

Thorughout the event you will be able to see compost in various states of decomposition, and see what a vermicomposting bin looks like (worm composting!)

This project exposes the connection between consumption, eating, waste, and land not only by showing the consequences of waste, but also by demonstrating in a positive way that waste is really just fertility in disguise — and with a little bit of effort it can be recaptured and redirected, ultimately back into our own bodies.

Since 2011, Pixxe has been exploring and modifying public space and the use of land to create a more ecological, humane habitat for the life it supports. Activities include urban/community farming, community composting, foraging, eko-art projects, and DIY maker arts such as upcycling, crafting, citizen science, cooking and food preservation. See

Jodie is an American artist living in Warsaw since 2010. Her activities encompass numerous disciplines such as film and animation, craft, and social engagement. Her work explores how entities in an environment, living and otherwise, affect and control each other. At the heart of her concerns is the nature of Nature — our relation to it and place in it. She has been growing food organically since 1996 and composting waste since 2007. In 2011, in her Soil Garden Project, she composted over 20,000 liters of waste from the green market. She currently composts the waste of one hotel and about six families on her allotment garden in Rakowiec.

Aug 142012
The garbage bins at Banacha

The garbage bins at Banacha

Yesterday, my wonderful friend Gaja and I went to the administration of Banacha. Some really nice people are in charge. I didn’t understand much, which made me sad, because the people were so interesting and funny and kind. What I did understand was that if I had a container with a lid, then I could take the waste. It seems we can take as much as we want, whenever we want, for as long as we want! The Pixxe Garden will be making a lot of humus this fall!

I also talked to really great person from Ulica Ekologiczna yesterday. And yesterday, the Gazeta Wyborcza published an article about Pixxe and my activities. It’s great to see such interest in the project. Hurrah.

Aug 112012
Banacha waste is pretty and good!

Banacha waste is pretty and good!

Today I did a test drive to see how it would work to take Banacha’s organic waste next week. At 7AM, I took a 120 liter (about 45 gallons) container to the amazing, beautiful woman who handles the garbage there. She told me she could fill it in an hour. She also told me that we could to the test today, but that the Security wants me to have permission from the market administration to continue next week. She gave me their number. I have to call on Monday. I’m scared. In my experience so far with Polish officials, “Permission” is another word for “No.” But she also said that they were nice people, so I can hope.

At 8AM, I returned and the container was full. We tried to put it in my bike cart. My bike fell over. Too heavy. So we put it into two huge garbage bags. That worked. The ride back was slow but smooth. The bearings in the wheels of the cart made a sound, however, that tells me they won’t be working long… I returned four times and collected about 800 liters or so.

With two bikes we could easily collect twice that much.

What’s great about fresh vegetable waste is that it is so beautiful and smells good! However, I can’t process it until tomorrow, when it might not be so pretty. Thank goodness the weather is cool…..

Aug 082012

Nance KlehmCykl Warsztatów: OD ODPADY DO ŹYZNOŚCI
prowadzenie Nance Klehm


UWAGA: Nastąpiła zmiana w planie warsztatów. Sobota będzie “Otwarte warsztat.” Warsztat w niedzielę (Dlaczego i jak budować toalety kompostujące w mieście)  również zawierać temat “ekstremalny kompost na ekstremalne czasy.”

Pozwól zgnić, czyli jak kompostować odpady organiczne
Piątek, 17 sierpnia, godz.: 15.00-17.00. Sugerowana dotacja: 30 PLN.
Liście, resztki jedzenia, papier, tektura, gałęzie, fusy, biodegradowalne przedmioty itp. Te rzeczy mogą zostać zamienione w ziemię, ale jak to zrobić? Na tym warsztacie będziecie mogli zadawać wszystkie pytania dotyczące “brudu” i sami też będziecie mogli się pobrudzić w trakcie budowy stosu organicznych odpadów. Zarejestruj się w tym warsztacie

Otwarte Warsztat
Sobota, 18 sierpnia , godz.15.00-17.00. Sugerowana dotacja: 30 PLN.
W tym warsztaty, zdedycujemy co zrobimy na miejscu. Możliwe tematów: vermicomposting, przemyślenia przestrzeń publiczną. Zarejestruj się w tym warsztacie

Dlaczego i jak budować toalety kompostujące w mieście
Niedziela, 19 sierpnia, godz.15.00-17.00. Sugerowana dotacja: 30 PLN.
Rozpoznaj w swoim ciele twórcę gleby. Dowiedz się, jak zbudować i prowadzić prostą suchą toaletę dostosowaną do gęstego, miejskiego otoczenia. Po dyskusji pokażemy, jak za pomocą termofilnego kompostowania przekształcić twoje odpady (i inne odpady zakazanego n.p. mięso, tłuszcz, i produktów mlecznych) w życiodajną glebę.. Zarejestruj się w tym warsztacie

Rozpoznaj rośliny w swoim mieście
Poniedziałek, 20 sierpnia, godz.15.00-17.00. Sugerowana dotacja: 30 PLN.
Spacer odkrywający roślinność Warszawy, podczas którego będziemy mogli nauczyć się rozpoznawać rośliny, poznać ich botaniczne pochodzenie, historie wykorzystania ich przez ludzi i zwierzęta, a także podzielimy się przepisami na antidotum z wykorzystaniem niektórych z nich. Zarejestruj się w tym warsztacie

Ulica ekologicznaSocial Ecologies




**************** IN ENGLISH *****************

NOTICE: There has been a change in the workshop schedule. Saturday there will be an Open Workshop. The composting toilet and extreme composting workshops will be combined and take place on Sunday.

Conducted by Nance Klehm

Let it Rot 101: Composting organic waste
Friday August 17, 15.00-17.00. Suggested donation: 30 PLN.
Leaves, food waste, paper, cardboard, branches, coffee grounds, biodegradable utensils, etc. These are all things that we know can become soil but how to do it? This workshop is the place to get dirty and ask those dirty questions as we discuss and build a mesophilic compost pile out of organic wastes from Warsaw’s waste stream. Register for this workshop

Open Workshop
Saturday August 18, 15.00-17.00. Suggested donation: 30 PLN.
We will decide on the theme and activity on the spot, depending on who is there and what we want to do! Possible themes: vermicomposting, rethinking public space, or another foraging expedition. Register for this workshop

Dry toileting in an urban setting: the whys and hows
Sunday August 19, 15.00-17.00. Suggested donation: 30 PLN.
Reconnect with your body as a soilmaker! Find out how to build and operate a simple dry toilet appropriate to a dense urban setting. We will also discuss and demonstrate how to safely compost your waste, as well as other extreme waste such as meat, fat, and dairy products, through thermophilic composting into nutritious, life-supporting soil. Register for this workshop

Monday August 20 15.00-17.00. Suggested donation: 30 PLN.
This is a guided walk through
 the spontaneous and cultivated vegetation of Warsaw’s urbanscape. Along the walk, we learn to identify plants, hear their botanical histories, stories of their use by animals and humans, and share antidotes of specific experiences with these plants. Register for this workshop

Aug 052012

Szukamy dawców odpadów

This is one phrase that definitely sounds better in Polish and one that most of us non-natives can actually pronounce: Dawców Odpadów [DAHV-tsoo ohd-PAH-doov].

SOIL GARDEN PROJECT to cultivate soil from waste

We want your (organic) waste

What is it:
Using bikes we will collect organic waste from residents, business, organiczations, and public institutions in Rakowiec and Szczęśliwice and turn it into soil. Currently we are looking for Waste Donors.

How it works:
First we determine what kind and how much waste you generate. We agree on how often, where, and when we can collect your waste. Next we provide you a container and start. If you live in the pick-up zone and produce 20 liters of waste per week, then you’re the right person. Don’t have enough waste? Combine yours with a neighbor!

When it will happen:
We can start with some pickups now, but the big effort will be from Friday August 17 to Tuesday August 22. We plan to continue the project  so if you are interested in participating, please let us know.