Tag Archives: Summer

The “Mosquito” Problem

Have you ever noticed this about mosquitoes – when you search for them you can never ever ever find them, but when you don’t pay attention and think everything’s cool and you are mosquito free they come up and bite you! Or even worse, they buzz in your ear so you know they are there but you still can’t catch them!

While the mosquitoes in Argentina piss me off because I hate to be itchy, (and this sucker just bit my toe…my TOE! Come on!) the mosquitoes in Paraguay also terrify me because they carry Dengue. And while people think Dengue is no big deal, (especially if you ask a Paraguayan because they have most likely had it and survived it – TWICE,) I’m pretty sure you can actually die from it, or at least feel very much like you might die.

So with all my happy triumph for being in summer when the northern hemisphere is still suffering in a sad, lonely, gray, I am suffering due to inconsiderate insects. And I must admit, while I’m very much a “live and let live” kind of person, the exception to this rule for me is mosquitoes. They are fine living until they threaten to bite, and then they are done for. If I can catch them!

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What I Learned About Planting

Here are some of the key takeaways I learned through this process of planting on my balcony. Some may seem more comon-sensical than others, please reserve your judgement for someone else, (I’m a first-timer!)

  • Buy enough soil to fill the planters
  • Buy a watering can of some kind
  • Measure your planting space ahead of time so you know how much room you have to work with
  • Determine what kinds of planters, boxes, etc you want to display
  • Figure out if your balcony (or garden area) is sunny, shady, partial sun, windy, etc
  • Determine the types of flowers or plants that work well with the above-mentioned conditions
  • Come up with some type of arrangement in your mind before you purchase – this can be at home or at the store, but you don’t want to come back home with 35 separate plants to fill a space that fits 10
  • Buy gloves and a shovel! While this isn’t 100% necessary, I found that it was way more complicated without these tools than it seemed to be for my neighbor who was planting hers at the same time
  • Layer soil under the plants, and once you’ve placed them, surround them with the fresh soil
  • Water the plants every day for the first couple of weeks
  • Don’t put too much soil in the planter (as I’ve done) as it will overflow every time you water it!
  • Water the plants at night – this is for a number of reasons, 1) the plant can absorb the water overnight as opposed to drying out in the heat of the day, 2) there are less likely to be people walking 5 stories below on the ground when the water overflows out of the boxes! (Oops!)
  • Wait until your neighbors are all asleep for the night to sweep the remaining dirt off your balcony to the ground below!
  • Sit on your balcony or in your garden everyday after planting to enjoy the beautiful results of your hard work!

Hope this inspires you to do some planting of your own 😉

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Everything I Know About Planting

I recently embarked on yet another new adventure, balcony planting! For some reason, unlike most large city dwellers, Berliners, (and Germans in general,) love to plant on their balconies! You will never see a balcony without floral adornments or green of some kind, and this is the perfect time of year to begin. I make an attempt last year, but have to admit I failed quite miserably within a short period of time, (probably about the same time I put ten plants in a window box made for 4!) They looked gorgeous for a week and then all sadly withered and died.

This year I thought I’d give my not-so-green-thumb another try. Given my limited knowledge on the topic, I had to do plenty of research before heading to the plant shop. First, was my balcony sunny, partially sunny, windy? Second, how big is it exactly and what kind of planters can it hold? Third, what are my favorite color flowers and which will last the longest? This doesn’t even account for the simple, “how the hell do I plant these things?” questions that quickly followed.

I started in two separate trips to the shop, (my plants for a car share fell through so I was forced to take taxis each time!) On day 1 I picked up the planters, which took about 1.5 hours as I stood dumbfounded in front of hundreds of different options trying to decide what to pick. After speaking with a very patient sales associate in my limited German, I finally decided on three 100cm boxes, two 30cm round over the railing planters, and one additional 60cm box for the angled corner of the balcony. It was a good choice, but to be honest I may go back for two more 100cm boxes since I still have the space and it should be filled up! Plus, I love the extra privacy on the balcony from the planters.

Day 2 was all about the plants. I’d be lying if I said it took any less than 2-3 hours to pick everything out! But finally I chose plenty of geraniums and petunias in all different purples and pinks, and put some lovely lavender on the side and some gorgeous plants that won’t flower until June.

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I made my way back home and went about setting up the metal brackets (to hold the plants in place on the balcony). This took much more time than I anticipated, so I was only actually able to plant the ready to hang boxes on that first day, but after a full day at the lake on Sunday, I came home and finished up the three large planters – filling them with purples and pinks to my heart’s content! It was already evening by the time I finished, (so the lighting in this shot isn’t great,) but here is a first taste of my balcony gardening expertise!

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I promise there will be many more shots to come as the flowers come into bloom and sunny days fill my balcony over the summer!

Summer in Berlin

Berlin is a beautiful city, particularly in the summer. So many people flood the streets and parks and lakes, soaking in as much sun as they possibly can to make up for a brutally dark and freezing winter. Being a newbie here, I am trying to make the most of the summer months, and explore the nicest summer spots where I plan to spend a majority of the next few months.

This weekend’s new discovery is Strandbad Wannsee. Only about a 30-40 minute S-Bahn ride from the center of the city, this little lake on a beach costs 4 Euro to get in, (or 2.50 if you are a student like I am…….) Once you get to the Nikolassee stop off the S7 or S1 you walk for about 10-15 minutes through a beautifully forested path until you see the entrance (and in all likelihood hundreds of people waiting to get in it!)

Entering the Lake

You then walk through the entrance and are blown away by the view of the lake, with a huge expanse of beach in front of you and across the way is nothing but trees and sail boats.

This was taken later in the day, but with the sun shining it's truly beautiful!

The first time I went with a group of friends was on Christi Himmelfart Day last Thursday, and the place was nearly empty when we arrived, which was quite peaceful.

So relaxing

And it wasn’t until much later that the beach became packed. Or like yesterday when we only arrived at about 3 PM it was already pretty packed. Though the nice thing about a lake with a long sandbar is there was plenty of room in the water to hang out without bumping into other people.

It seemed all the space was taken up, but we still managed to find a spot!

So my first summer lake experiment has been incredibly successful and I can’t wait to find where to go for the next one! I’ve heard of lakes with dog beaches, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be heading there next!