How to Find and Praise the Commons

In many European countries gleaning after harvest is a widely accepted thing. A necessity after WWII, it became a fun event. Kids do it with their parents, you do it as a sunny Sunday afternoon, you join your gleaning neighbors. – It’s hip, Agnes Varda celebrated it in her glorious film Le glaneur et la glaneuse as a form of sustainable lifestyle and showed us we’re all perhaps not gleaning enough.

Some land owners never do harvest though. If they do not like strangers to run across their land singing loudly they call the public harvest attempts scrumping. If they do love to see their crops and fruits used before they fall bad, however, they might join an old, rediscovered form of public use: the commons.

The German word for commons Allmende  derives from “all men” and was the part of a village that was owned by the community.  On the Internet commons are a heavily debated thing in Germany. Traditionally the creators of a work got a strong standing and the idea of shared ownership comes with the question attached: what funds will the creators live on?

Sometimes, however, commons and Internet go hand in hand and come to a glorious, widely celebrated hole. And I’m not talking ab out Wikipedia here.

The German page is an interactive map with user generated content about commons. Fruit trees planted on public ground by the city, neglected meadows with herbs and river banks full of elderberry shrubs and nut trees. You see one, you list it. The secret hint on where to go and pick is passed
on by small interactive pins on the map, each pin carries information about
the type of tree/field/find or bush and where to find it. Other users and harvesters can add their comments: Will you need to bring a ladder? Do you know the type of pear or apple growing their for everybody to pick? You know it, you add it.
On Saturday you can go for a cycling trip with your kids to go and harvest.
On Sunday you got jam boiling in your pots and the yummy steam of cooking fruit all over your kitchen.
You can access it on a holiday or whilst being on a longer hike as a little refreshment at the road side.

People from Georgia to the Canary Islands, from Finland to Northern Africa joined the map and listed their secret gardens. –  I think it’s a brilliant idea.

We should be using this gifts with some sense, common sense. Don’t break branches from trees kind of thing. Don’t destroy the nature around the common area by stepping

Some people might not like the Google-translated look – the original page is only available in German.

Or do you know of a map like this in your region? Perhaps they could join forces? Or we could help and offer the makers of the advertisement free mundraub page an English translation?

We definitely should spread the word, fill up this map and get many commons listed all over the world!


Seed. Saat. Samen.

Diesen Artikel auf Deutsch lesen * Link zu Samen Tausch Börsen | Links to seed swaps in Europe * Frank’s Spring Garden Fever I read about on her blog here got me going and made me finally get my hands in to soil again for the first time this season…on this gloomy dark day…

I made some pots from newspaper, using a round, flat piece of wood. Any wooden building block for kids or cut off broom stick will do, really. You tear, roll, press – done.








Before I discovered the newspaper recycling idea, I used mainly old egg-cartons.

This year, for the first time, I tried to use seed I produced myself: I let a few veggies grow and bloom, such as radish and kohlrabi. Collecting the seeds, I’m hoping for plants, that will like it in my garden better than anywhere else in the world.

Many countries have events or organisations like the Seed Savers Exchange. The European version of it, Seed Sovereignty, got me started. The idea is simple and has been used for thousands of years: what grows in your area well, let it bloom, take seeds from it. Exchange with others, if you like. Lots of seeds you buy in shops are hybrids, they promise larger fruits, resistance against disease or other benefits. Hybrids are produced natural, no genetic modifications and patenting involved. But: Hybrids can not reproduce themselves. Just like a Mule they can not have children, thus you are forced to buy each year new seeds. Another downer is, that they are not tailor made to suit your micro climate: your southern balcony, your shady garden patch in a back yard, your windy open field in a community garden. When you grow your own seeds, you can decide. Let the best crops bloom – and get the best results for your garden in the following year. It’s fun. You should try.

Oh, the sun just came out!

Hier in Deutsch – Back to English

Diese Jahr habe ich nach etlichen Jahren Eierkarton-Aussaat-Topf Verwendung eine neue Recycling Methode verwendet: Ich rolle selbst. Zeitungspapier, in ca. 20cm lange Streifen gerissen und der Schönheit halber mit einer glatten Kante nach oben, wird um einen flach abgesägten dicken Stock gewickelt. Ein Besenstiel-Abschnitt geht, ist aber ein bisschen dünn. Ein runder Bauklotz war für mich perfekt. Am unteren Ende einfalten, fest aufdrücken für guten Stand und Stabilität, abziehen – fertig ist der vollständig kompostierbare Anzuchttopf.

Diese Jahr habe ich viele Samen selbst gezogen – auch Gemüsesaat. So mußte ich zwar auf die schönsten Kohlrabi verzichten, weiß aber, dass das Saatgut aufgehen wird und ich Setzlinge haben werde, die in meinem Garten wirklich gut wachsen. Ganz wunderbar und sehr empfehlenswert sind Samen-Börsen. Eine Samentausch-Börse gibt es oft von örtlichen Gartenbau Vereinen, aber viel mehr Vielfalt findet man im Netz. Arten erhalten, das Weiterleben von Pflanzen durch Patent- und Gentechnik freies Saatgut ermöglichen, selbst Samen vermehren und ernten durch verminderten Einsatz von durch natürliche Kreuzung entstandenen, ebenfalls Gentechnik und Patent freien aber unfruchtbaren Hybrid-Sorten. ein Riesen-Spaß!



Link Collections

  • botano adopt – Sehr gute Sammlung von Links zu Samen- und Pflanzen-Börsen. | Very good collection of links to plant&seed swaps – page of plant activists, also offering a adopt a plant service. Page in German only.
  • Bantam Corn – Sehr gute Liste mit Links zu Nutzplflanzen Saatgut Börsen und Züchtern. | Amazing link collection for veggie seed-swap pages and sources  – focussed on very rare varieties of corn. Page in German language, but offering intl. links to English and French language pages as well.

Vegetable Seeds | Nutzpflanzen Samen

  • Freie Saaten – How surprised was I to find out that this page is run by people from my home-region! Did you know that within the European Union only the seeds listed in the EU chart published yearly by the Community Plant Variety Office is allowed to be commercially produced and sold? Basically a great idea: ensure that seeds can travel freely within the EU, it lead to the inability to buy or produce certain varieties. This is where NGOs and private communities have been falling in over the last years. They grow and swap seeds of old vegetables – and they are preserving the large genetic resources our ancestors grew over hunderts and thousands of years. – Disd you know the closest relative to our corn is a grass with rather dull looking grains? And did you know we actually got not one clue on how the first people munching on their corn cob managed to actually produce this brown/black/red these days mainly yellow masterpiece? Cultured varieties do not grow in nature. We got to saw, plant and grow them. If we want old varieties and the ups and downs they come with to survive. – And some of the guys working on this come from Haßloch. – German site – worth to use Google translate!
  • Freie Saaten – Resource und Tauschplatz für alte und seltene Gemüse und Nutzpflanzen Varietäten. Saatgut Tausch. Samen Börse. – Wußten Sie, dass in der EU alle Varietäten, die nicht in der EU Sortenliste stehen, lediglich privat angebaut und genutzt werden dürfen? Diese Seite versucht Nutzpflanzen-Sorten zu erhalten, die durch diese Limitation an den Rand des Aussterbens gedrängt werden.
  • Arche Noah – Austrian seed diversity site. Seed swap, events. – German site. | Österreichische Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung unserer Kulturpflanzen Vielfalt.. Samen-Tausch, Aktivitäten, Netzwerke.
  • Verein zur Erhaltung der Nutzpflanzenvielfalt – Seeds for edible plants. Page in German. | Sortenpfleger, Seminare, Saatgut Weitergabe. Saatgut-Katalog mit 270 Seiten gegen Porto.
  • VERN – Verein zur Erhaltung und Rekultivierung von Nutzpflanzen. Local community cultivating seldomly grown vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits. Only place I found for rare varieties of tobacco and potatoes! They also got a special collection of old and rare varieties for balconies. – German…still definitly worth a try…pdf catalogues here.
  • VERN – Verein zur Erhaltung und Rekultivierung von Nutzpflanzen. Brandenburger Verein, der sich neben dem “klassischen” Gemüse-Sortiment auch um den Erhalt von Sorten kümmert, die etwas exotischer sind: Seltene Tabaks-Varietäten, alte Kartoffel-Sorten und gar eine spezielle Sektion für alte und seltene Balkonblumen stehen auf dem Programm. Wie immer steht im Vordergrund, Sorten und Varietäten zu erhalten, die nicht oder nicht mehr in der EU Sortenliste geführt sind. – Angebot als pdf hier.

Last not least…if you are a collector of plants…
…zu guter Letzt…wenn Sie Pflanzen Sammler sind:

  • Network Plant Collections – You got the most amazing collection of Fuchsia or Delphinium? You are looking for a certain variety another collector might have? You’d like to focus on somthing new in life and are looking for a temporary or permanent person who’s willing to care for your treasures and look after them? The German government supports the network of plant collections, perhaps an idea to bring to other countries in those times where not only kings&queens with a solid and long lasting blood-line as well as enough heritage to look after parks&gardens can afford the joy of plant collections…
  • Netzwerk Pflanzen Sammlungen – Ein wunderbares Forum, auf dem Sie nicht nur andere Pflanzen Sammlungen betrachten und kennen lernen, sondern auch direkt mit den Besitzern dieser Schätze in Kontakt treten können. – Sie sammeln selbst und suchen Informationen zu einer Pflanze? Sie suchen eine spezielle Varietät? Sie wollen sich auf andere Dinge besinnen und suchen eine Patin oder einen Paten, der vielleicht gar Ihre Liebe teilt und die fach- und sachgerechte Pflege Ihrer Pflanzen übernimmt? – Hier sind Sie richtig!


Rose Hips and Ivy

It’s freezing cold in our no-proper-heating house. Unless you chop wood, start a fire and got patience. Still winter’s a great time here. What a perfect excuse to tuck in under thick layers of woolen blankets, pamper your legs with eiderdown quilts and snuggle in heavy duvets.

We took a Saturday off to bake with friends a lovely day and night long. And we made a wreath for Advent from the rosehips in our garden. When the snow’s coming, I’ll put them outside again for the birds.

Slow Summer Weekend

Apart from a slow summer, you can have a slow weekend. Which is what we did:

It was to hot outside to possibly stand it in the garden any longer than the time necessary for a quick breakfast coffee…so I went inside cooking up something my great great aunt had invented.

A bit of whisk swinging…

And there he was, the yum-nut cake.

So I took my most beloved mobster for a cup of tea…and a piece of cake.

Later the day, we had some of our pickles and went for a barbecue…

…to the garden. Cooled down by than, lovely fresh, shady and with a perfect chill. Why the Man was surprised and what made the dozen pictures full you can see here. He was in shock…one more!

Here is what he had to face…



Homemade Hungarian Pickles

Imagine you are a freelancer, running to a business meeting, just able to squeeze through the door in the last second and all you got as excuse is “I had to pickle cucumbers!”

Pretty lame, he? But oh so true.

Having sown heaps of gherkins ‘Vorgebirgstrauben’ this year, I simply do not know where to put them all. Cucumis sativus ‘Vorgebirgstrauben’  is listed sometimes as cucumber, sometimes as gherkin (the difference between the two, anyone?!?). The Net is straight forward on how to use them: pickle, pickle, pickle. – Having never done that it took me a while and one and a half friends from Eastern Europe to find the method I like best:

Hungarian Pickled Cucumbers

The hight of summer is apparently called in Hungarian uborkaszezon – cucumber season. People put kovászos uborka – summer cucumbers for pickling – in a jar outside in the sun and wait for the magic to happen…lactic acid fermentation

  • 1 jar large enough to fit the cucumbers you’d like to pickle
  • cucumbers/gherkins for pickling (smallish&often with rough skin – 4-10cm/1,5-2,5 inches long)
  • water
  • salt
  • herbs and spices
  • one slice of bread

Sterilize jars in boiling water.  Take out. Let dry and cool. Cut each cucumber from the top in half, stopping short before the end. Do the same from the bottom, this time 90 degrees to your first cut. You got now a gherkin split twice but still intact. The herbs and spices infuse this way better. No time? The recipe works ok without cutting.

Bring fresh water to boil. Stir and add salt until it does not dissolve any more. Now the water is saturated with salt. Let cool.
Stack your spices, herbs and cucumbers in to the jars.

Start with leaves such as dill, cilantro/coriander/bay leaf/borage or vine leaves.
Put in the cucumbers, depending on size they can stand upright or lie.
Add spices such as garlic cloves, chilli pods, large chunks of onion, peppercorn, mustard seed or for the more adventurous ones even clove, anis or cardamom.
Top of with one more layer of leaves or thick slices of onion.

Make sure nothing sticks out of the jar. After the salt water has fully cooled down, pour it over the cucumbers, filling the jar entirely. With a clean spoon, squeeze all contents well under water.

Almost done. curtains up for: The Eastern European part.
Add a slice of bread on top of your last layer. It can be dark of white bread – my friends started fighting about this. But: it must definitely be sourdough or yeast bread.- The Hungarian word kovászos uborka  for summer gherkins originates from Hungarian Kovász for sourdough – cucumbers preserved not with heat and vinegar, but with a mild lactic acid fermentation, ready to eat in as soon as a week.

Place the jar on your window seal or another warm spot. Best put a plate underneath, during fermentation the liquid spills quite a lot.

Do not twist on the lids. The jars might explode. You can loosely place them on top, but I prefer to ‘seal’ my jars: Throughout fermentation process place a small muesli bowl on top of your jar. It should press down the bread make sure all stays under water. Add a weight in the bowl for stronger pressure if needed.

The liquid will turn from clear to milky. That’s normal and a good thing. After fermentation the pickles should last 4-6 weeks in the fridge. But: we are eating them much faster than that!

You can use left over liquid as a super-delicious salad-sauce if you like. Ah! Next year again in my garden!

(You figured already I love cooking but do not post recipes to often…I did share however some cookies and Mozartkugel tricks as well as some Indian-German Cuisine recipe sharing cook-off I had in Assam.

Do you actually prefer to look at images, check out the food photography section in my stills portfolio.)

PS. As you can see in the images: this recipe works with all slightly harder vegetables. Courgettes/zucchini/squash/beans/pumpkin…Famously Kimchi and Sauerkraut are made following the same principles.

From Field To Mouth: Strawberry Fields

Should you ever happen to visit Germany in June, make sure you ask for strawberry fields. At about 3 Euros the kilo you can pick your own strawberries, fresh from field to mouth.

We went there today for a cycling trip and it’s hard to tell what was more fun: cycling in sunshine, the air fresh from nightly rainfall, picking fruits, round and red or coming home, cutting the strawberries, mixing them with sugar and adding some cream, milk or vanilla ice. Mouth-watering.

Only thing left to worry about: When will cherry picking fields be introduced?

Can’t visit Germany? Check pick-your-own to find out if close to you can be found some similar joys.

Sukkot in Germany

We, the probably most non-religious family  in all catholic Bavaria, built a Sukkah today. We even had dinner in it. It is a beginners one, but made everybody sooo happy.

Oh and of course we did use plastic. Did you not know plastic comes from leaves, which have been transformed to mineral oil till we took them out of mother earth and made something from it?? – Look at him and you know it’s true:

Seed Bombs are Sex Bombs.

You will love this. Especially when you have no garden and are of the wild sort. Yep, wild, garden…and gardening.

Who would have thought anyway that I will start writing about gardening. Things as boring as climate harshness zones and fertilisers (yes, the connoisseurs will cry with me and feel with me whilst reading I grew up in zone 8 and am living now in a rough cold river stone cladded 6)

It might be my new house that makes me do all this and the garden belonging to it…

Non-Garden-Owners with access to any type of asphalt bits in their city can join the Pimp your Pavement Movement, part of Guerilla Gardening*. But that’s just for the peaceful minds.

You really rock your world when you mix them, make them, throw them – the Seed Bombs:

  • GGG – Green Guerilla Grenade
  • KaBLOOM! – lazy terrorist: buy, throw&grow
  • Eggsplosives – Eggs to blast
  • Seed Ballons
  • Seed Balls
  • rather traditional Clay Seed Balls

Find the recipes for all war tools here and see instruction videos on facebook.

I love the trees with Clematis and benches int he How To Pimp collection here.

* Images of Guerilla activities in Offenbach, Glasgow, Punta del Este, Copenhagen and many more places from the US to India to be found on facebook as well as on the Guerilla Gardening Homepage.

Weather: A Dark Month.

“Winters last from December to March.” you can read on the Wikipedia page about Munich under Climate. Followed by those wise words: “The summers last from May until September.” Oh, and this funny looking site of shady origin claiming for itself to be a “Worldatlas” announces  from “May through to September” warm and pleasant conditions “with mostly sunny skies”.

Well. In fact all this quoted above is a lie. I might even create a Wikipedia username to change those false fact spreading and stop forging forecasts.

Not January, May is in fact the coldest and darkest month, as you can see on those images taken with long-time exposure in my new place.

If you’d like to experience the same we go through here in Central Europe right now and you are not lucky enough to live here, just dim the screen of your  computer really really down… low enough? Now squint and feel the darkness and cold creeping up inside you.


As much as I love my fathers cave, I like to get out of the hollow again after some good food from the camp fire. Run, fast, to get to the woods, surrounding the meadows I grew up in and the houses standing there, staring in the silently falling snow.

After my parents broke up, my father left the house over night a and moved in to this strange dark white-golden pink place, whilst I lived here looking out to this daily changing always the same winter-spring-summer wonderworld.

The bell in the church tower back there in front of the hills rings on Sunday mornings. And the slide far behind the trees, yes, the tiny orange dot, it is new. I am not even sure, if you can see it on the Internet.

Can you hear the snow falling?