The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
We live in a suburban part of The Netherlands. Over the last ten years we made a commitment to changing our lifestyle to respect the environment and be greener.
We have an organic allotment that’s about ten by fourteen metres on very sandy soil next to the normal railway line. It has water supplied by a hand pump from a municipal ditch.
On the plot there’s an apple, pear and plum tree, recently joined by a choke berry and elderberry. We also have raspberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, red currant and strawberry patches.
We set up asparagus in a bed about five years ago and expanded the bed last year. Lately we’ve established a prolific Jerusalem artichoke patch and globe artichokes In a cold frame to protect from frost. During the year we create plots of the obvious veg but we often grow up to forty different types.
Two years ago we took a bee keeping course in Dutch which was challenging and interesting. Then we were given a collected swarm so our first hive was set up at the allotment. It’s a traditional hive in boxes. It’s a spaarkaast literally meaning a savings box. This could be reference to honey or cost!
We also work with an 87 year old bee keeper and his bees at a local garden centre dedicated to employing people with special needs. This centre has a city farm too. Our mentor calls it paradise!
There we managed to collect a swarm ourselves. It’s been installed in our second hive. The hive is an African style horizontal hive. Where the bees generate their own comb in a far more natural way.
Meanwhile back in our end of terrace house we are very busy. We grow our seedlings on in the living room. The back yard is a paved square the width if the house about seven by nine metres. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing in it.
chickens and quails
We started keeping quails about four years ago. Using permaculture principles we wanted to be able to feed them kitchen scraps and have them help us convert it into manure for the allotment.
Then we progressed to chickens. The quails were a healthy seven at one point but now there are two. The chickens (Japanese bantams) number three. All five are entertaining and funny.
The backyard also houses a wormery, bird nesting boxes, a kiwi plant, a solar sink fountain, a temporary green house and cold frame for seedlings, two roof fed water butts, a bee hotel for solitary masonry bees and an assortment if medicinal and herbal pot plants. Those that survive the chickens attention. The bicycles live in the yard as well.
other home aspects
In The Netherlands there is a strong balcony culture. Ours house bird feeders at the front and a rainwater toilet system at the back. We also use them as a nursery area and for covered drying if paper briquettes and of course for a mounted clothes line. There’s no dryer I our house as there’s plenty of wind There’s a bat box too!
The front garden is a tiny scrubby grass patch similar to the back. We try to plant bird and insect friendly shrubs and grow tubs of carrots, beetroot etc in summer. The woodpile for our burner hugs the side wall of the house.
Indoors we also keep busy making jam, soap, crocheting, and building other projects.
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...