Gardening in Berlin

Berlin is a very green city, much more leafy and park-filled than NYC. But in every urban metropolis, finding your own patch of earth to cultivate can be difficult. I though about asking the landlady for real estate within her troll garden in the courtyard of our building, but Christian dissuaded me. I tried to convince him to build a flower box but we are on the fourth floor and a strong wind might lead to serious injury and destruction. Finally, we decided on three big clay pots to put in the sunniest part of the apartment. From left to right: basil, chives and kresse, sort of a mustardy watercress sprout:

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But of course what I really want to grow requires much more space, so I’ve joined a community garden in Prenzlauerberg called the Kiezgarden. There are no individual beds there, so all of the gardening and harvesting is done communally. However, even my initial visit yielded a surprisingly large harvest of red-tinged salad greens, mizuna, an array of various mints and several herbs that were new to me, such as Liebstöckel.

My first work day at the garden is this Saturday, and there’s already support for planting and growing the plant I miss the most so far -kale. I can’t find it anywhere here, and it was a staple of my diet in NYC. Perhaps kale doesn’t grow here, but I’m willing to give it a try.

So who of my US friends will now send me some kale seeds so that we can get this experiment started?

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7 comments
  1. i can send you kale seeds, though i’ll have to disguise them.. im sure seeds are considered contraband. Did you know that kale is in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and collards? they all share an ancestor. you could start a branch of the kale project in Berlin: http://thekaleproject.com/

  2. Wow, I didn’t realize that kale was a movement! There seems to be the erroneous perception though that it is available in Germany. A squat, densely curled version called “Grünkohl” is available at green markets and grocery stores during some winter months when Germans buy it to make a traditional recipe in which the plant is boiled for an hour often with animal fat. It’s delicious, but just not the same. Send the seeds!

  3. Hi there! It’s Kristen from The Kale Project – Paris. I found your site through my analytics and loved reading about your community gardening in Berlin. I was just in Berlin and saw a large community garden that looked wonderful. That’s so awesome that you already have some kale supporters!
    For The Kale Project Paris, I just received some organic seeds from Tamar Organics based out of Cornwall. Since we’re all EU, there are no issues with shipping from England to Germany.

    http://www.tamarorganics.co.uk/pages/catalogue.php?status=2&cat=1&typename=KALE+%28BORECOLE%29&prod=523

    I can’t wait to read more about the progress with your community garden and kale! When the kale takes off with your garden, I’d love to feature you on The Kale Project to share more information about kale in Germany. Drop me a note if you’re interested!

    Best,
    Kristen
    http://thekaleproject.com/
    kaleprojectparis@gmail.com

    • Thanks for the seed tip! Still figuring this all out but glad to know there is a fellow trail blazer in Paris. As I mentioned, Saturday will be my first day working at the community garden and it seems pretty late in the season to start planting, but the lousy weather might work to my advantage. I read through your blog and am keen to hear how your own ambitions take off. All the best from Berlin!

      • Hi again. Not too late to plant at all. Tamar has different varieties that are meant to grow through the fall. Plus kale is one of the easiest plants to grow and it withstands most frost. I planted my own seeds (like 5) in a pot three weeks ago and they are doing very well and I have zero experience growing anything. Keep me posted! -Kristen

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