For us it is not enough to renovate one house and to create a garden. No, we need to have a greenhouse too, as if everything else would not provide us with enough work. We wanted to taste all aspects of country life, instantly. The most important for us was to be able to harvest our own vegetables from our garden. We wish to grow tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and more of vegetables, which need the warmth and humidity of a greenhouse to fully flourish. The decision process regarding our greenhouse was long. The factors which were essential to us were not only that it would need to be practical and give enough room for all kind of varieties, which we would like to grow, but it needed as well to merge in an aesthetic way within the nature of our garden. Finally we found it, on the website of BAUHAUS*, while actually searching for something completely different. Our dream house out of glass should become the Juliana Gärtner, with a proud area of 18,8 square meter. As loyal customers we were extremely happy to be supported by BAUHAUS in the realization of this project. Especially now, during our renovation phase, you will find us often in one of their stores. Their selection is huge and what we love most is that the company has not only high quality but as well environmentally friendly products. You can recognize these products by the seal „Pro Planet“ for example.

Before we begin to rhapsodize about the greenhouse itself, we would like to tell you about the way we needed to go to get it. All began in February with putting the first seeds in the soil of tiny breeding pots. Week-long we nourished and cherished our babies. We worried that they would not be able to make it, being without us for three days. Clearly, as parents of young plants you have a lot on your mind. But to care for the tiny ones was still the easiest task. Our way to build a home for our young plants was long and stony.

We visualized it beautifully and chose the place for the greenhouse carefully. A flat area is not to find on our ground. We only noticed how steep the place for our greenhouse was while we were, in pure heat, taking off the grass sod. A house needs to be build on a solid foundation, of course this does not only count for houses of stone. So, hard working we took away soil, dumped soil and made the area flat. And this was only the beginning.

Without a notion of how to manage such a project, we were overwhelmed pretty quickly by the task to build the foundation. For this the area does not only need to be flat but the foundation needs to be embedded in the ground without any frost. This meant that we needed to dig 80 cm deep holes. Luckily, our hero Jörg was rescuing our buts another time and came with his earth auger. Never before were we celebrating to have 10 deep wholes in the ground!

Being filled with concrete, measured thousand of times with a spirit level and a yardstick, the foundation was finally let to the ground. But that was not the end of the game. Thousands of pieces waited for us to be screwed and connected. The blistering heat was continuing and during the evenings hours full perspiration, we were in company of many midges. Strut over strut our construction was growing, and finally it was recognizable to be a house. The system of the Juliana green house is really simple and incredibly thought-out. Due to this, the construction of the house was good to manage by us two. Until again there was a moment, in which we would have been lost without Jörg. We experienced huge respect to place the glass plates into the roof. Some of these plates are about 2 meters high and to control them while standing on the ladder, without bringing the glass to vibrate too much, was already nerve-racking while being the observer. In addition there was always the worry that we could have made a mistake. That it might be that one missing screw or an oblique angle could ruin everything in the end. Quite often during this whole process we asked ourselves why we were doing all of this. Why we were torturing us to that degree, in order to be able to harvest a few tomatoes in the end. But once you are in this moment, when the perfect result is in front of you, you will glow from being proud and happy, or not? At least this was what we felt like. And this was why we wanted to celebrate this moment. To experience a cosy evening between all these young plants, was indescribable beautiful. The rays of sunlight which were reflecting in the glass, the glittering water drops of the previous extensive rain, the sounds, which were coming muted through the windows but which were still creating a feeling of outside. In this moment we thought that it would be a pity to give the greenhouse completely to the plants. Our dearest Jörg Schlinke gave even more to us for this occasion. With his Glow-Writing he created a wonderful, temporary installation in our greenhouse. Holding a refreshing drink we were sitting together and we had waited for the right moment. The moment, in which the light was perfect. The first stars were already emerging, the sun was shining with its last power a whiff of red on the horizon…

After this amazing evening it is not easy to give the house to our plants. On the other hand, we are looking forward to bring them into the well deserved soil. Of course we will tell you about news and about how the tiny ones will grow. Latest, once we are harvesting we will write a detailed post on the blog.

After being quiet for a few weeks about the development of our settler house, we want to tell you now where we are at. To find a beginning, to tell about all these developments, is extremely hard. Compared to the progress in the beginning of the year, which was formed by the slowness of bureaucracy, now everything is evolving without any notion of calmness. After the last snow during Easter and a crystal cold week of even minus 18 degrees, nature exploded when it was touched by the rays of sunlight and the first warmth of spring. This was our call to come out of our house and into our garden. Our plans were big. In all various garden books it is to read that one should begin small. This is a matter of interpretation but that a vegetable garden of 75 square meter and a greenhouse of nearly 19 square meter is not a modest beginning leaves less room for interpretation. At last while you are doing the first cut of the spade you notice that your ideas were exaggerated. To transform an overgrown, wild area full of gardeners most beloved weed into a usable ground is clearly only a minor challenge. This will keep us working over the coming years! We were expecting a whole lot of work in the garden but reality even managed to outdo our, as we thought, pessimistic calculations. Quickly everything was overgrowing our heads. In the true sense of the word, as the idea that we would need a proper lawnmower for a 3000 square meter piece of land, never crossed our mind before. We thought that it might be beautiful to leave everything growing wildly apart of little ways to walk through the garden. Who is in possession of a big garden will laugh loudly about our naive way of thinking. Okay, this is another area of development. While we were digging day in and day out, nature was changing in the blink of an eye. Now the cherry and apple blossoms were opening, which we were waiting for in eager expectation, and now they were falling to the ground and now there are countless tiny fruits flourishing. Flowers are shooting out of the ground and are opening their fragrant blossoms.

After the lilac there were evolving wonderful peony and we are curious how our garden will continue to surprise us. The potato patch, having seven varieties, is now fully grown and all the other beds are filling up with our young plants. But even without our actions in nature, it brought  us enough to already bring it to our kitchen. We fermented the young sprouts of the pine tree in honey and cooked dandelion blossoms to a syrup. A huge sage bush is inviting to create mediterranean dishes. Its blossoms look delightful in a cold lemonade too. It is pure fun and joy to serve oneself in nature according to ones current whim.

Even if we spent more time outside than inside, our settler house developed further. Since three weeks we are living in an camping atmosphere, as our bathroom is getting completely renovated. The craftsman did an amazing work and it will not take long until everything will be in place. We cannot wait until we can see our chosen handmade tiles inside our bathroom. Or our self constructed fittings out of copper. An old trough, which we found inside the barn, will serve as our sink. We are deeply curious if all our ideas will form a harmonious picture in the end. Already now we would have loved to present you everything in the finished condition. But the walls are not even painted and we are still trying to find specific pieces of furniture. Further, we need to coordinate thousand of things which leads to various things being left behind. As not only for our bathroom we found the perfect craftsmen but as well for the core of our house, our kitchen, we were able to create a fantastic team. They are working already quite a while to build us a little cooking paradise. We would love to tell and to present you more about it in no time!

Traditions should be celebrated! How extensively Sicilians do that we could see at the 150 jubilee of Averna*. Within only three days, so many impressions rained down on us, flavours and smells, we are still overwhelmed. The hosts did everything imaginable to wrap Sicilian culture, hospitality, the love to their long-cherished traditions and pride of their a thousand years old home into an exciting program. Thus, we could experience the origin of Amaro Siciliano in a very special way. 

When we arrived in Palermo, the colourful, lively city, surrounded by mountains and the sea, fascinated us immediately. The air is scented lightly with lemon and Palermo’s inhabitants spread incredibly much vitality with their energy. This first impression lingered like a red thread during our time on the biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea. We started with harvesting lemons, which appealed to all our senses. Harvesting the untreated fruits with view of the sea and enjoying fresh lemonade and granite afterwards sharpened our senses for the Festa Siciliana. Set in the impressive atmosphere of Villa San Marco of the 17th century, regional dishes were served and traditional dances and music were presented. The love of the Sicilians towards their guests and the appreciation of good, authentic cuisine were pervasive at the festival. Handmade pasta, fresh, still warm ricotta, and pistachio pesto were our favourites that night.

Even though the first of three days started for us in the early morning hours and we stayed awake even a bit longer, our excitement for the next day wouldn’t let us sleep too long. Beside the festival, a fascinating program was waiting for us. Chef Filippo La Mantia showed us the streets of Palermo, small cafés, the famous Ballarò Market, and the best local products. It was like a carrousel ride: fast, colourfull, loud, and with a tickle in the stomach which got stronger during the ride with an icon of Italian culture, the Ape.

 

In this small, versatile vehicle we were chauffeured through bumpy alleys. It was driven by a sprited,  elderly Italian woman, who roared greetings and curses alike. You never quite knew without speaking Italian. It was wonderful!

Meo Fusciuni, an olfactory virtuoso and master of creating perfumes, guided us through the divinely beautiful, neoclassic botanic garden of Palermo and treated our noses with his essences and scents of herbs and flowers. And when we thought it could not get any better, we arrived at the almost imaginary location for the festival: the ruins of the city’s once biggest cathedral. Beautifully decorated, the majestic Chiesa di Santa Maria dello Spasimo was the perfect location for the big Festa. You don’t experience it that often to sit on a long table in such old masonry, see the birds fly high above and to get served dinner by Filippo La Mantia!

The flavour of the Amaro Averna with its bittersweet taste of lemons, bitter oranges, pomegranate and herbs was omnipresent. The bitter liquor is drank after a special ritual. Filled in bellied glasses, the Amaro is served on ice with fresh citrus fruits and herbs, and rolled so the flavours can unfold to their full extent. You can do this individually, just as you like.

Of course, we also got a glimpse on how the Averna is produced. 1868, Monks of the Abbey Santo Spirito gave this secret recipe as a special present and token of gratitude for the commitment to the local community to Salvatore Averna. All ingredients like essential oils of lemon and bitter orange zest, pomegranate, herbs and roots, are carefully selected, weighed, ground, blended and mixed with alcohol.  After a long period of infusion, the liquid is mixed with water to get the right alcohol concentration. After filtering, sugar, alcohol and water are added. The scent alone lets us travel back to the lemon plantation and the hustle and bustle of Palermo…

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