Grow Your Own.

Volver the Cat and Wild Greens

Volver and Wild Greens

My dream was that of growing food on my terrace and always having something available to eat. I now realize that, under my present circumstances, my possibilities are limited—limited but not impossible. The easiest food source to grow here on Paros has been amaranth. Locally it’s referred to as “horta” a catch all term for greens. The horta is generally boiled then served with olive oil and lemon.

Amaranth greens are full of many phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. And in the fall the plant produces a grain that’s loaded with magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.

This summer my garden is full of dandelions considered by many a weed. But dandelions are a great source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin K, raw vitamin C, calcium and potassium.

So this morning I harvested some amaranth and dandelion to accompany the fava I was making for lunch. A package of split fava costs c. E2.50. And what is not eaten today will be used tomorrow to make falafel. So, in two, we will eat three meals that are both nutritious and economical.

In Italy, it use to be common to “andare in camporella”, that is, to go to the countryside to forage for greens. It’s also an expression used for going to a secluded place with your girlfriend/boyfriend to kiss.

The world population continues to grow whereas the natural resources continue to diminish. This obviously will affect our food supply. So growing your own food (or at least a small part of it) will not only ensure quality food and a form of relaxation, it also provides a means to to reduce the environmental impact of food production.

Water wars and food wars will be coming soon.


Related: the art of food foraging

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The Front Porch

My Front Porch

This is our front porch. A few years ago, weather permitting, we started eating our meals here. And it changed our rapport with the neighbourhood. When neighbours walk by, we exchange greetings. A Kalimera here and a Kalimera there has created a stronger bond between us.

Our front porch helps us interrelate with the external world. Simply by using what we already have, the porch, we’ve expanded our possibilities of being part of the community. Mutual observation has kept us from seeing one another as strangers. We share a common sense of belonging—that with our neighbourhood.

If you want to change the world, a good place to start is on your own front porch.


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“Como La Cigarra”

Wall Garden, La Sussurrata

Volver our cat wakes me up meowing every morning wanting to go outside. And when I get back into bed, the roosters start crowing. When I finally decide to get up knowing I’ll never get back to sleep again, the cicadas begin their rave party and go on for hours.

Cicadas live about 17 years underground sucking tree sap for their survival.  Then, in a kind of rapture, they all come out in hoards and, from larvae, turn into winged insects.  The males immediately start singing looking for a mate.  The hotter the weather, the louder they sing. After mating, the females deposit their eggs in the tree.

I wonder if the frequency of their singing has any effect on humans. The sound can be quite overwhelming at times. To drown them out, I play Linda Ronstadt singing “Como la Cigarra”.

Cicada & Yucca

Related: Cicadas on National Geographic


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Sunset Orange

Hibiscus Orange

This morning my first thought was about yesterday’s sunset and that dramatic variegated orange strip that traced the horizon afterwards. One shade looked familiar but I couldn’t say why until this morning when I was watering the plants. The shade in question was that of our orange hibiscus.

A sunset-orange colored hibiscus or a hibiscus colored sunset? It doesn’t matter. Today orange is my favorite color.


p.s. a couple of nights after posting the above, I took this photo:

Parian Sunset

Hibiscus Orange Sunset

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A Mended Umbrella

Mended Umbrella

During the summer, I often use a corner on our terrace as an outdoor studio. As it faces west, the terrace is a great place to be in the morning. That is, until about 11 a.m. when the sun makes its presence felt. To extend my studio time, last summer I bought a beach umbrella to create some shade. This summer I noticed the umbrella had various horizontal tears on the folds exposed to the sun when the umbrella was closed. And the umbrella had only be used a couple of months last year.

This is outrageous and a total misuse of our natural resources. Products that do not comply with the principles of ecological sustainability should be illegal as they put the survival of this planet we call home at risk.

Obviously I had no intention of buying another umbrella and decided to repair it boro style. Initially I tried sewing on some patches but life is too short for such an ordeal and decided on water downed glue instead. The glue actually worked better than needle & thread. Now all the tears have been patched but I suspect I’ll being seeing new ones soon.

The umbrella was made in China, a country known for its cheaply made exports. But even the Chinese are aware that the planet has problems. NASA satellites have revealed that the world is greener than it was 20 years ago. And this thanks to China and India that have actualized hard core tree planting programs.

Ethiopia has also decided to plant trees to reduce environmental degradation and claims to have planted 350 million trees in a day. And a few years ago, India planted over 50 million trees in one day calling for volunteers from all over the country to help plant trees in order to fight climate change. The Philippines also has a tree planting program and encourages students to participate.

Planting trees could help buy more time in dealing with climate change. Green roofs are also helpful such as those created in Chicago, Washington DC, and France.

Phytoremediation is the use of plants to remove toxins from contaminated soil, air, and water. For example, if big cities were to plant more trees and make significant use of green roofs, smog could be greatly minimized. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.6 million people die each year from polluted air. Killer air destroys more lives than automobile accidents do.

arte per massaie

Several years ago I published a graphic essay entitled ARTE PER MASSAIE (Art for Housewives) encouraging women to “make art, not trash” by recycling household trash to make beautiful and functional objects. I also encouraged the exchange of plant clippings and green roofs.


Often the easiest solutions are the best. And what could be easier than planting trees to pollution and climate change?


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