Archive for the 'Environment' Category


Where in the world is Giekau?

Well, Giekau is a tiny Village in Schleswig-Holstein, which is the most northern state of Germany. Being located at Lake Selent and close to the Baltic Sea (here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal featuring the region), the climate is rather mild (zone 8 is what I found somewhere, but I’m not too sure if these zones are all the same internationally). Winters usually don’t go below -20°C, summers are rarely hotter than 30°C.

…and what can you do there?

Gardening, of course. In our rich, heavy soil almost anything grows from apple trees to violets as long as it tolerates some frost. As summers tend to be a mixture of sun, wind, rain, warmth and cold some veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers are best grown in a greenhouse (which I don’t have) however, lots of other fruits and vegetables thrive under these conditions with very little help.

Also, the area is great for relaxing. The beaches nearby are not spectacular, but neither are they overcrowfeuersteindruse.jpgded. Some are ideal for collecting fossils or minerals (here a flintstone lined with crystal), as the whole of Schleswig-Holstein is basically the rubbish the glaciers left after the ice ages. Therefore you find rocks that have come all the way from Scandinavia littered on the beaches.
If you don’t like the sea, there are plenty of lakes around too. The landscape is marked by soft hills, making it ideal for easy hiking or cycling tours (if you don’t mind the wind).

And of course bird watchers will find this an interesting region. Right now thousands of wild geese are resting here on their way north. Behind our house herons are crowding up to feed on the little fish that are coming up the creek from the lake. Most spectacular are of course the White Tailed Eagles that breed around the lake and sometimes even have a look into our gardens whether the children have left the rabbits out ….

Those who like more action would have to go to the bigger cities, which are rare in Schleswig-Holstein. The capital, Kiel, is famous for Kiel Week, a great international sailing event. Lübeck with its historic town center is probably more widely known, not least for its marzipan. The next major city is Hamburg, which, of course, is not part of Schleswig-Holstein, but only a one and a half hour drive away from us.

(This is probably one of the last articles that will end up on Jodi’s list. Thanks for starting it, Jodi.)




As I usually surf around German sites, Blog Action Day on Blogger passed by me completely unnoticed. So it took a while and a hint by Black Swamp Girl to find Mr Brown Thumb’s Blog in which he put up a list of participating gardening blogs  — complaining that gardeners were snubbed by Blogger although environmental issues are at the heart of their writing. Thank you very much for this effort!

I also find his article on imported plants very thought-provoking even though as a European with a long history of immigrating plants and animals I feel much more relaxed about this. Most immigrants have settled in almost unnoticed, finding their niche in the eco-system some being a plague like giant hogweed or Japanese touch-me-not   others being rather enriching like herbs (salvia, thyme etc.) and wild flowers (bell flowers, tulips etc.) from the Mediterranean and Central Asia. For my part I cannot say whether stinging nettles or mint are the worse weed.

So although this is quite an issue to be very careful about there is something that worries me more: How long will this planet last if we go on like we do now? If you really want to know, stop by There you’ll find a questionnaire about your consumer habits to calculate how many of the earth’s resources you need. At the end they will tell you how many planets would be necessary if everyone lived on the same scale as you.

In my eyes the questions are a little too general to be scientifically precise, however, in the end you have a pretty good impression of the footprint you leave on this earth. Even though I pride myself on avoiding garbage as much as possible, using the car as little as necessary, having a well-insulated house with solar panels, using only rain water for the garden etc. this one planet wouldn’t suffice if everyone lived like me. — So the results make you think about what great an effort is needed to turn the wheel around and save this wonderful place for our grandchildren and grandgrandchildren ….