How do we feed a growing world population?

It’s a good question. So, how do we?

If the chemical companies could decide the solution would of course be easy. Which is of course the angle here on this poster. According to them…

We can grow more using less water and land through technologies that unlock the potential of plants. These include drought-tolerant seed varieties, products that enhance plant performance and products that protect against insects, diseases and weeds.

Scary if you ask me.

How about we just start looking after our soil properly? Put everything back into the soil that we possibly can, find smart new ways of hanging onto nutrition so it’s not lost from the food chain, cool ways of working in our local communities so we can grow more food locally in the space we have using the resources we’ve already got on hand.

More common sense and less chemicals would be a good start. And Bokashi is definitely on the common sense side of the balance sheet. We just have to find ways of getting it all moving faster, so we really can feed this growing world population.

In time. Without taking scary shortcuts.

Juicy green sunflower shoots!

So it’s snowing here. Already. Which means the outdoor gardening season is definitely over.
All operations have been moved to the kitchen windowsill.
And already I’m longing for something fresh and green!
Started up a little patch of sunflower seeds the other day. It’s a really inspiring thing to do if you haven’t done it, not the least hard and it’s a real treat to pick some fresh shoots whenever you want.
There are probably many ways of doing this but this is what I do:
  • Fill a shallow dish or plastic tray with soil. Obviously your own home-made Bokashi soil is the soil of choice!
  • Put a handfull of sunflower seeds in a glass jar and fill with water. Use the birdseed kind not the skinned ones you buy for baking and müsli.
  • Put the jar somewhere dark for a day or two, a cupboard or drawer is perfect. This seems to get the process going.
  • Tip out the seeds and water onto the soil tray and put some sort of clear lid over the whole thing to create a mini-glasshouse for a couple of days. The lid should be a bit askew so plenty of air gets in.
  • That’s it! Just water as needed and enjoy the treat! They’ll be up and shooting in no time.

You might notice a bit of white fluffy stuff in the photos. It’s related to the Bokashi in the soil and a sign of good health!

Love to hear any other windowsill ideas for a frustrated off-season gardener. However nice these sunflower seeds are we’ll all be getting a bored of them come April!

Growing fresh herbs and veggies in the shadow of the Berlin wall

Sometimes you see something that makes you REALLY excited. Maybe I’m just a nerd, but this community garden in Berlin is really cool. Community gardens always fascinate me. But this one’s a bit different.

Not just because it’s in the shadow of the Berlin wall. But because they’re growing everything in plastic crates. And sacks. But it’s the crates that are cool.

From what I understand they’re using recycled bread delivery crates. The crates are stacked on top of one another, four stacks to a standard timber EU pallet. The top ones are used for growing and the underneath ones are used for — wait for it – COMPOSTING!

And that’s the genius thing. So simple, so obvious. But I haven’t seen it done like this before on any scale. Saves space obviously, and it’s a smart way to raise the work height of the whole garden. Possibly even above snail height??!

I haven’t picked up any reference to Bokashi in any of this, but it’s the obvious next thought. The combination would work brilliantly I imagine. It would be easy to “dig” cured Bokashi buckets into the lower compost crates, the process would attract worms (I assume? Do cities have worms?), and the compost is self-watering and self-draining.

Brilliant!

Has anyone been here and had a look? Berlin is high on my wish list so if they haven’t upped and moved before then I hope I’ll get to see it someday. But meanwhile here’s a couple of pictures (here and here), gives you the idea.

For our Swedish readers, Prinzessinnengarten’s website has a recent film clip from Swedish tv on the Press page (I tried to embed it here and failed…). The current issue of the Swedish garden magazine Hem Trädården (no. 5 2010) has an article on the Prinzessinnengartan project, which is where I picked up the layered compost angle as they don’t refer to it elsewhere.

Needless to say I’m really keen to give it a go myself at home — got the pallets lined up, it’s just a matter of tracking down some crates! And waiting for spring…

In combination with Bokashi this could be just the thing to get a garden going quickly in a kindergarten or school, maybe even at the local senior village. Obviously outside a café, and definitely outside any block of flats with a spare patch of gravel or asfalt.

Get’s you excited just thinking about it!

btw, I found the garden on google maps, it’s quite fun to surf in and see how incredibly urban it all is.