When I was looking for a volunteering opportunity, I wanted to do something in relation with nature.
One can say that by getting involved in GAIA, I have found this opportunity. And this is true. But my mission takes place in a city, with its labyrinth of concrete and macadam … so I had to find a way to bring some nature closer to me.
A garden is obviously the best option. As I moved into our new house with my fellow volunteers, we were told that the small patches of grass that bear the name “garden” (“yard” would be more appropriate since we can find concrete paths between the patches of grass) should not be planted with anything. Disappointing! But we were resilient in our requests, and after a bunch of times going to our landlord’s to drink tea, eat pite and advocate our desire for nature, we won our case. Now we can plant the grass!
So, I began to think about an intelligent way to set up our small corner of nature. I had just attended some brief lessons about permaculture and I had been watching a substantial number of videos on the subject, so I wanted to apply some of these principles. As our house is not necessarily intended for volunteers to stay on the long run, and also because my permaculture knowledge is still quite limited, I would not dare saying I’m doing permaculture here. Rather, I tried to design the garden in an intelligent fashion, so that it looks nice, gives us a yield, and be, as much as it could, a mini-ecosystem.
I started to observe how the garden is lit by the sun throughout the day, determine the hottest and coldest zones as well as the sunniest and darkest. I ended up with the following sketch.
While I was drawing this sketch, we started growing seedlings. Thanks to the cooperation of my grand-parents, we could get non-hybrid organic seeds delivered from France. We built shelves that were put in the house behind the big patio window – this turned out to be a perfect greenhouse. To facilitate the transition of the plants between inside and outside, we built a small greenhouse that was put outside and hosted the seedlings before being transplanted in the garden.
I priviliged tomatoes in the most sunny area, of course. We also planted pumpkins, zucchini, butternuts, bush beans, leeks and chards. In terms of herbs and flowers, we have parsley, basil, savory, dill, rucola, chamomille, sage, lovage, morning glory, snapdragon, everlasting, scabiosa, marigold, dahlia, cornflower, sweet peas… We did some well-know companion planting: tomatoes with basil and marigold ; pumpkin, butternut and zucchini with beans.
Of course we are not using any artificial product to fertilize, fight pests or intempestive weeds… we do everything by hand and we use black soap and nettle manure.
Now we are waiting for the harvest of vegetables, enjoying herbs in our dishes, the view of our flowers and looking eagerly at the ripening tomatoes …
written by Hugo, a member of GAIA’s Mitrovica Team.