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Aug 252014
 

This year I grew a lot of purple food, which all seemed to come ripe at the same time. Here we have: eggplant (two varieties), red basil, thai basil, black cherry tomatoes, Iko peppers, red russian kale, red curly kale and blueberries. Other purple/dark red food that I grew: red okra, blackberries, black currants, red lettuce, red peppers, black beans, red popcorn & cherokee tomatoes (the best tasting tomato I ever grew….)

Purple Food

Purple Food

 

Jun 152014
 

This year, I’ve decided to keep track of how much I harvest each month & see if it is enough or too much for a three-person heavy veg-eating family. My first planting was March 21.

Salad greens – 3+ kg

Here we have all sorts of lettuce including red leaf, oak leaf, green leaf, red romaine, plus nasturtium leaves and flowers, borage flowers, and spinach. For lettuce, I harvest the leaves, not the whole heads. I seem to be able to harvest leaves from a head of lettuce for about 4-6 weeks before it needs to be pulled and eaten. I have found that for a family of 3 heavy salad eaters, we need about 6 or so active heads of lettuce (that is, heads from which leaves can be harvested). So let’s say each human head needs two salad heads. As for spinach, about 5 plants per person every week seems about right. One can harvest a few leaves at first, but they mature so quickly, the whole plant must be picked within a week or so. My family seems to eat about 100 g of salad greens per day. During this time, even though I picked a lot of salad, I still had to buy one head of lettuce from the green market (ran out of garden lettuce). I also ran out of spinach — that’s to say, I didn’t plant enough.
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Snow Peas – 1.2 kg

I planted about 10 rows double rows of peas starting in late March and ending May 1. A double row means a trellis with peas planted on both sides of it. Since late May — about 2 weeks — I’ve harvested only from the first 3 double rows of snow peas. They are incredibly tasty. Three double rows equals about 100 plants and about 1m2. I estimate that each m2 (three double rows) will give about 2 kg of snow peas over about 3-4 weeks. I’d say a generous portion for one person is about 50g of peas. So 2 kg means about 40 individual servings of peas over about 20 or 30 days. So for 2 people — that’s peas every day; for 3 or 4 people — peas every other day. This is not a problem for me. If the peas keep going we will be eating peas every other day for the next 6 or 7 weeks. That might be too much…

In simple English: 100 pea plants produces 2 kg of snow peas harvested over 3 or 4 weeks.

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Strawberries 3.5 kg

I planted 15 plants last spring. These 15 plants became 30 plants. And then they became 45 plants or maybe more. Let’s say there are 50 plants. The mother plants give bigger strawberries than the daughter plants. There are still many more to be harvested. farm_0619_straw_IMG_1298

Asian brassicas / greens (savoy, tatsoi, hon tsai tai, pac choi, joi choi, bekana) – 750 g

Growing these tender little babies is a constant struggle as they are clearly the most favorite food of the SLUG. Even a good old Polish radish won’t distract them from these delicious greens. Picture shows 100g of greens. Not pictured is Savoy — a great green! These grow best in raised beds.

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Brassicas & chards (kale, collards, mustard greens, chard) – 2 kg

Quite early in the spring I was able to harvest quite a lot of chard and mustard greens which were planted last summer. I am pretty much the only person in my family who eats this stuff.  I love the brassica family! No picture yet…

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:

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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):

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I also made some beautiful balls:

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

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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 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. https://www.facebook.com/groups/603740809715692/

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

 

Apr 062014
 

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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.
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Next we dug a few holes with the amazing dirt driller:
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The wholes were about 8 cm wide and 1 m deep.
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These we filled with landscape fabric “socks” filled with gravel.
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The finished drains looks like a cute bow tie:
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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:

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We added the straw-manure mixture:

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

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This is what it looked like when all was done — a bit of a mess!! That’s a work-in-progress.
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Sep 132013
 

For a few years now, I’ve been making tempeh because I couldn’t find it for sale in Poland. For the last month or so, I’ve been making it and selling it to the Kooperatwya Dobrze here in Warsaw. This week I documented the process to to show people how tempeh is produced, and also just to assess how much time and money it costs to make.

Making tempeh starts Monday night and ends Thursday morning.

MONDAY

Crack and soak the beans

Of course we start with organic, GMO-free soybeans. 1000 kg of soybeans makes about 1600 g of tempeh. Interesting, huh? That means that 37,5% of tempeh is — well, what is that white stuff exactly? It’s the mycelia of fungi Rhizopus oligosporus and Rhizopus oryzae! (I apologize for referring to then as bacteria and mold in the past.)

The first step is to separate the husks from the beans. The husks must be removed because Rhizopus oligosporus/oryzae cannot penetrate the husk. The husks are separated with a loosely-set grain mill, which cracks them and in so doing removes the husk.  If you don’t have a grain mill, you’ll have to remove them by hand after the beans have soaked or you could try to find soybeans that are already de-husked. I have not yet been able to find these in Poland (organic non-GMO de-hulled soybeans).

The beans are put into water. At this time, some of the husks float to the top and can be skimmed off.

The beans are left to soak overnight.

TUESDAY

Wash the beans

By morning, the beans have expanded and more husks have floated to the top. These husks are removed. The next step is to partially cook the beans — this means about 30 minutes. As they cook, a foam forms and yet more husks rise to the top and are removed. As you can see, removing the husks is he beans are placed in a colander.

Dry the beans

The beans are spread out on a flat surface on clean lint-free cotton material, such as pillowcases or sheets. It takes at least 4 hours for the beans to dry. Wet beans prohibit the growth of Rhizopus oligosporus/oryzae and encourage other kinds of growth — the kind we don’t want. So it is important for the beans to be completely dry.

Inoculate and pack the beans

By the evening, the beans are ready to be inoculated. All 1000g of beans are placed in a big pot or bowl. To this we add 2 Tablespoons of Rice Vinega and 2 teaspoons of Rhizopus oligosporus/oryzae starter. Any kind of vinegar can be used, just make sure the acidity is no greater than 5% acidity. I once used white Polish vinegar (acidity 10%) and killed the spores. Vinegar creates an acidic environment in which other fungi and bacteria cannot grow.
Next we pack about 500g of the beans into 1 gallon-sized / 3-liter-sized zip-locked bags. The bag has already been punctured with many tiny holes spaced about 1 cm / .5 inch apart. By using zip lock bags, the tempeh can be removed without destroying the bag, and so the bags can be reused many times.

This step takes about 30 minutes.

Incubate the beans

The bags are placed on some sort of rack that has holes or space to create airflow. I use a shelf from Ikea and a rack for drying cookies. These are placed in a box, or some other insulated space with a light bulb — approximatey 40-60 watts usually generates enough heat. We need a fairly constant temperature of between 26-30 C. Lately, I have been using a cabinet in my desk. It’s painted black and does an excellent job holding the heat. The tempeh goes on the top shelf and the light on the bottom. The tempeh is not placed directly under the bulb where it is very hot.

WEDNESDAY

The beans must “cook” for 24-36 hours between 26-30 C. The temperature should be monitored during this time. I no longer use a thermometer (because mine is broken) so I had to develop my Temperature Sense. In this case,  the door is nearly closed the first 8 hours and open the rest of the time. It is better to err on the cool side. If the temperature is too high, the spores are killed and the tempeh is ruined. It’s important to have air flow around the tempeh.

THURSDAY

The tempeh is done. Each 500g bag of soybeans yields about 820g of tempeh. Removing and sectioning the tempeh takes about 30 minutes. The tempeh is then delivered to the co-op Thursday afternoon.

 

Aug 292013
 

Jadalnia Warszawa 10 MapWe kindly invite you to the final walk in association with the Center of Contemporary Art in Warsaw.

On Sunday, September 1 we will explore the actual terrain of the Zielony Jazdów event, as well as take a peek at the north end of the Scarp, which we didn’t manage to cover in the last walk.

Once again we plan to EAT, so bring something to share — some dressing for salad, bread, jam, cheese, nuts, whatever you like. This time we’ll pull the table out onto the terrain of Zielony Jazdów and perhaps convince some passersby to taste the wildness of the castle.

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!

Schedule
11-12 COMPOSTING BASICS / GETTING STARTED
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.

12-13.30 WASTE PICKUP AND COMPOSTING WORKSHOP
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.

14-15.30 WASTE PICKUP AND COMPOSTING WORKSHOP
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!)

KOMPOSTOWISKO KOPERNIKA
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.

PIXXE
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 http://www.pixxe.org

JODIE BALTAZAR
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.

May 182013
 

JADALNIA WARSZAWA WALK #2We had so much fun last week on our first walk, that before we’ve even documented it properly, we want to do it again. So, although it’s a bit late notice, please join us TOMORROW, Sunday 19.05, at 12.00 at the PKP Służewiec bus stop (north side). We’ll walk along the tracks and end up on Gimnastyczna street for some sweets, homemade jam and wild tea (black currant, mint). If you need to join in the middle of the walk, please call 796 532 208 (Jodie), 790 025 145 (Paulina)

We will be meeting here.

Najbliższy spacer niedziela 19.05 o godz. 12. Spotkanie na wiadukcie Marynarska/Sasanki, na przystanku autobusowym PKP Służewiec w stronę Żwirki i Wigury. Spacerując będziemy się posuwać wzdłuż torów kolejowych w stronę osiedla Marina. Spacer zakończymy w ogrodzie na ul. Gimnastycznej, dokąd zapraszamy na ciastka z dżemem z czarnych porzeczek i miętą.Kontakt: 796 532 208 (Jodie), 790 025 145 (Paulina).
May 162013
 

Jadalnia Warszawa MAP 01

We started the journey on a sidewalk of magic carpets.Carpet Sidewalk

Under our feet, a strange patch of red. Amaranth, perhaps? It seems to me somebody might have spilled her groceries here, but how many people actually eat amaranth seeds?Intentional Amaranth?

Behind a mass of growth looms a mysterious house, one of three pre-war houses in Rakowiec. This was and shall be known as My Dream House.Dream House

Before we even start walking, The Usual Suspects present themselves: Ground Ivy, Ground Elder, Chickweed, Clover, Nettles, Dead Nettles, Yarrow, Plantain, Dandelion. There will be more of these suspects later. I notice a strange red bamboo-like plant which I know now is called Japanese Knotweed, an invasive plant that came to Europe in the 19th century. I’m sad that it’s not real bamboo.Japanese Knotweed

We find a way to penetrate the impenetrable green. What appears to be an old orchard struggles to survive.

It’s pushed in on every side — a bank, apartment building, abandoned gardens — and on the last side, the remains of a greenhouse. The Dream House’s greenhouse.

We find gooseberries, cherry, apple, and the biggest walnut tree I’ve ever seen. In one of the trees someone has installed some stairs.

Dream House, Green House and now: Tree House.Dreamhouse Treehouse

Moving toward the abandoned gardens we find a way in. It’s been a long time since anyone tended this piece of land.

But so many plants remain. Lemon balm, mint, and a patch of wild strawberries. A few of us take a few of them.

Back on the tracks, we find something amazing — an oregano plant! It’s not a wild variety, just an ordinary oregano. How did it get there? It’s beautiful.

May 092013
 

JADALNIA WARSZAWA

We kindly invite you to help us launch a long-term project to create an alternative map of  Warsaw (in particular Ochota and Mokotów), focusing on its edible plants and trees, soil health, as well as on how public space is used for marginal human and animal activity. On this first walk we’ll experiment with methods of data collection and help identify the most edible/useful plants and trees one can find in Warsaw.

WHERE TO MEET:
The walk will start here, near where Żwirki i Wigury crosses the railroad tracks (the address is approximately 25 Żwirki i Wigury) between Ochota and Mokotów. We will walk here on the path (Mikołaja Drigały) towards Grójecka. After the walk, we’ll go to Pixxe’s garden and drink teas made from black currant leaves, and taste some homemade elderflower cordials and wine.

The walk starts at NOON on Sunday, May 12. It will last between 2-3 hours and is approximately 1.6 km. Please call 796 532 208 if you need to locate the group after the walk has begun.

WHAT TO BRING:
Paper, pencil, smart phone, camera, video camera.

JADALNIA WARSZAWA (Warsaw Canteen) is an exploratory map-making project to investigate and mark sites for wild food, fruits, bioindicators, and the traces of land use by humans and animals as a means to understand and assess the health of our city. It is a long-term project originated and implemented by Jodie Baltazar and Paulina Jeziorek and consists of a series of urban walks/hikes which take place from May until October 2013.

We use all means of data collection: marking directly on paper copies of maps, adding date through mobile phones to google.pl and fallingfruit.org, recording media information, such as audio, photographs, video etc. As the project progresses, we will store information on a website and develop new ways we to present the information/images as the project progresses.

The aim of walks will be:

Mapping the Neighborhood: Exploration of urban space; creating maps of urban food crops such as fruit trees and shrubs, edible flowers, herbs, medicinal plants, and plants used for dyeing fabrics. By identifying specific plants that grow on the land, we can assess the type and health of soil. We also collect information on unoccupied buildings, abandoned plots, as wells as temporary structures and signs and traces of consumption and human subsistence activity (trash, eating, fires).

Monitoring of soil: While walking, we will collect soil samples from selected sites and transmit it to the laboratory. We may also conduct other tests of the soil as to its structure and composition. In this way we will be able to assess which of the sites are suitable for harvesting crops. The data will be used to scrutinize the stereotypes about growing food in the city as well as urban consumption of edible plants.


Jan 072013
 

Jodie Baltazar

A filmmaker and photographer named Piotr Małecki has been making beautiful little photo-film essays about Warszawians, and he recently finished one about me. I find it (that is to say, myself) a bit melancholy: a tiny bit of hope amid mounds of difficulty and sorrow. Or is that simply melodrama? You decide.

Be sure to watch all of Piotr’s other movies (subtitled as necessary). They are gems.