Datscha Radio Logo
Tag "Weltgaertnern"

Absolut erstaunlich und rasend schnell: In nur 6 Tagen hat das seit Ende der Süßkirschenernte im Vogelhaus heimische Hornissenvolk einen fantastischen Anbau fabriziert: eine Datscha für Hornissen!

Ich frage mich, wie das nun weitergeht… die Schönwettersaison ist ja noch lange nicht vorbei. Hornissen sind nachtaktiv, aber morgens und in den frühen Nachmittagstunden sind ihre Nestbaugeräusche am lautesten: Ein permanentes Raspeln begleitet von leisem Brummen und Flügelsausen. Schöne Idee, da mal ein Mikrofon näher hinzuhalten – tja, ich bin’s nicht.

Um welche Hornissenart es sich hier handeln mag?

Ansicht im Ganzen mit Vogelhaus

72 hours later

Close-up of the lower section

The lower section 72 hours later

Datscha Hornet Front View

Adorned entrance

Entrance 72 hours later


Read More

11. März 2018. I meet Daniel Sigler at the Casa Encendida where he reads silently the El Pais while I discuss the (then) future Datscha Radio with the Radio Hortelana ladies Elena and Carolina. It is the day of the agricultural market in the Retiro Park, so after a quick side trip to Esta es Una Plaza, Daniel and I walk up to the park. He carries a huge umbrella that provides also a bit of shelter for the microphone that I had to switch on as we „talk garden“ for most part of our conversation already. Daniel is one of the foundesr of „La Cabaña del Retiro“, a „garden in the garden“, a place for horticultural education, self empowerment, and spiritual well-being. He is also a teacher of Shia-tsu, and his views on the corporeal and spiritual elements in gardening are well-grounded and for a great part based on Eastern philosophy and medicinal knowledge.

Daniel Sigler

The Cabaña was started about 14 years ago with a handful of volunteers from the surrounding neighborhood. From 60 m2 it was continually extended over the years and spans now more than 145 m2 situated on the eastern flank of the park. Currently there are up to 20-30 people regularly tending the garden and/or taking part in the multitude of activities offered within the frame of the Cabaña’s educational programs. Daniel teaches the art of holistic gardening, with a strong focus of inclusion, ecological education and self empowerment. All materials come from recycling and/or left-overs from other building activities in the Retiro: Boards, stones, sand and soil. The garden paths between the plots are wide enough to be accessible for people in wheelchairs, there are spaces for communication (“The lover’s meeting point”), meditation (a geodetic dome) and teaching (inside the actual house). A path leads up the terraces to a scenic lookout over the garden grounds.

The Cabaña belongs, like all other gardens I have been to, to the Red de los Huertos Communitarios, the Madrid network of urban gardens. The „Aula Ambiental“, the place’s „ecological classroom“ forms the offers courses and workshops on plant care and environmental awareness for children and adults alike. In addition, there are periodical invitations to conferences and excursions to natural spaces and environmental facilities.

Entrance of Cabaña

Still life in Cabaña

Still life in Cabaña (educational)

Still life in Cabaña (educational)

Where you can learn

While we walk on the paths I notice that there are more „ornamental flowers“ present than formerly encountered in other urban gardens. „No, we don’t ban flowers from our garden“, says Daniel. The practical and the beautiful both serve the environment, be it animals or humans.“ While he picks some salad for the market I take my documentary pics. It is almost 3 in the afternoon on our arrival at the market of the „El Huerto del Retiro“, a more „classical“ urban garden by way of its organization and horticultural lay-out (plus the biggest insect hotel i have ever seen). Alas, the market stalls are almost deserted by now (Spanish people don’t like the rain)! There is craft beer, organic cheese and honey. There is or was still more, yet i admit, I was very hungry by that time and needed a meal more than anything else…

View from having a craft beer

XXXL insect hotel

On our way to this huerto we passed some bellis growing next to some daisies in the grass. Those seeds got carried over the fence from the community garden, says Daniel. Later I look at the Madrid map of urban gardens: Somehow, I find, there is a resemblance…

Daisies and bellis


Urban gardens in Madrid


Read More

21st March 2018

The air was fresh but the sun was shining and the lawns lit up in dreams in pink, white and black: For once in these times of preparing for the radio at the “Plaza” I did what is a tradition among the Madrid people! I went to the Parque La Quinta de los Molinos to wander among the budding and blooming almond trees. I had myself photographed under a tree (like everybody) and I took selfies (like everybody). Wonderful!

Get these pictures:) (Some other info about the park and its trees will follow)






Read More

(Übersetzung folgt) The district of Batán borders on the Casa del Campo park, the neighborhood is a mixture of appartment blocks for the not-so-rich, sports grounds, and still fairly big patches of wasteland. A winding road takes us – about 500 meters further – to the urban garden of Batán, one of the first in Madrid.

Irene, who founded the garden with her community

Things to do

Irene Prins was one among those first founders, then in 2012, in fact, she initiated the project. Our talk takes us from the need to create a place for oneself to the ramifications of the 15th of May Movement in 2011. Irene stuck notes to the walls and trees in the neighbourhood to find people willing to set up a garden space in the area. Over 30 came. “Before this revolutionary movement happened”, she said, “maybe the interest wouldn’t have been so great. But this idea of selfempowerment and taking on responsibilty for the places and communites we live in, was just too important”.

Batán No.1: The original location of the garden was some 50 meters distant. It is smaller and is now cultivated into a forest garden.

Soon afterwards, the Huerto de Batán began to connect to other urban gardens in the city, “there were maybe 4 or 5 of them” – and this was the beginnung of the “Red le los huertos communales en Madrid”. La Red, the network, now counts around 50 urban gardens in the municipality of Madrid. The work is done by volunteers, but the city occasionally supports the gardeners in gaining acess to some rescources like extra soil, organic fertilizers, and water. Yet in their very beginnings, Batán gardens were just a squat and the water was “siphoned off” a communal pipe.

The pond

As we sit in the sun with the distant noise of the A 18 motorway in our back, the conversation shifts from politics and communal issues to the permacultural design of the garden which is clearly organized in terrasses, and planted with a thoughtful mix of (still young) trees, supporting shrubs, herbs, occasional flowers and of course, a diversity of vegetables. There are also a pond and a beehive… too silent this latter one for this time of the year: “We’ll have to wait. Maybe there is still hope, there was so much honey there the last year and we left it all to the bees. But it is strange, not to see a single bee…”

Irene shows me around the plots that in some places spout bushy clews of “habas” (broad beans), there is  timid rhubarb, rosemary and salads. There is also grass, stone, wood, mulch made from twigs, and an irrigation system (saw no Spanish garden without one so far). The garden’s special point is to turn annual vegetables into perennial ones, something that can work quite well with cabbages for example. I get also introduced to a garden plant entirely new to me, the Siberian Pea. Hardy, sturdy and with a stem and branches, a pea bearing shrub… !!!

One last question (podcast of this will be available at some later point) touches our personal relationship to the plant life. Yes, there is , if not actual talk but ‘thinking’ to the plant and a sincere feeling of respect and gratitude. Irene holds that connecting to the earth also connects us better to our lives and fellow human beings, because “it is all about caring”, she says.
There is nothing to add… except some images and the following links.




Read More

(Übersetzung folgt) A place for study, information but also a treasure trove of ancient books on botany, this is the library of the Real Jardìn Botanico. Felix Alonso is the head of the library department – we already met when I stumbled into the offices on my very first visit to the garden – and we both enjoy our second encounter. As requested I had prepared some questions and the interview runs smoothly (in the process of editing).


Felix Alonso, head libarian of the RJM explains about his work


Sample Title :)

The beginnings of the book collections stored here lie in the 18th century, but since then the work of librarians has changed considerately – more so with the impact of the digital age. Apart from keeping pace with the mounting bulk of new publications (and sorting and cataloguing them), the library also engages in several activities with the public. One of them being the forthcoming exhibition about „Tulipan Ilustrado“, the Tulip in Illustration, on the 20th of March (until 20th of May).

Speaking of illustrations Felix proceeds to show me one of the more special books. The drawings are excellent (naturally!) and separated by tissue paper from each other. Pages are turned and the rustle of the tissue compels me to record the sound. Señor Alonso smiles. Maybe this seems strange to him, that something so utterly functional has qualities beyond that: audible ones. Then again, this might have been to moment for him to decide to let me walk me further into the aisles.

Of course this is the goddess Flora


Fantastic books if you love the green world!


Needless to say that I am overwhelmed by the abundance of botanical books in the shelves, some of them surely rare: Expedtion reports from the jungles of Bolivia, mushrooms in the Himalya, pittosporums in Galicia, Pilze in Mitteleuropa, books in Chinese, German, English, French, and and and. Yet, if my curiosity hadn’t driven me down the corridor on that first day I wouldn’t have known about the cabinet at the very end of the room, and so I ask.

„Yes, says Felix, I can show you at least one of the books, I only need to get the key.

The Fuchs Book

These treasures are stored in grey plastic boxes, and carefully wrapped in transparent foil. The book I am allowed to look at is one of the very few (maybe 50 worldwide) copies of Leonhard Fuchs, one of the „fathers“ of botanics, printed around 1542.
The index indicates the plant names in latin but also with their common German names. The drawings were first printed in their outlines and afterwards coloured by hand. I am stunned and feel an overwhelming gratitude for the existence of these botanists, maybe of botanists in general. And, of course, for the people that helped to manufacture books like this, woodcutters, painters, printers. Fuchs himself acknowledges their input by the inclusion of their portraits. Else? Look for yourself! And thank you, Señor Alonso!


After the talks a quick picture


As I leave the offices of the library, the Botanic garden sparkles in sunlight. Despite the still-too-low temperatures the plant make every effort to spring into leaf and flower… while the gardeners are working hard to prepare more beds.

Almond tree bonsai at the entrance of the library


Read More

Eva Kurly and Oscar Dominguez at the Hospital de Plantas

(Übersetzung folgt) It’s less than a 20 minutes drive into the western part of Madrid and we reach the community of Pozuelo, famous for its singular „Hospital de Plantas“. As we get out of the car, the air feels different. Humid, a bit „foresty“ with a tinge of swamp. The rain falls softly on my face and onto Eva’s umbrella as we make our way to the entrance of Aula de Educación Ambiental (Húmera).

Eva Kurly had worked here for three years and arranged the interview.

Main office

The area is huge. We walk past greenhouses, wooden office buildings, plots and raised beds, and a geodetic dome used as a surround cinema. One of the educational directives of this place is the fostering of sustainable energies and waste upcycling. We pass a dew collector, solar panels (one in the shape of a giant sunflower, that alines its movement with the course of the sun) and a solar oven.

Smart solar energy plant

The fences hold plastic bottles cut out to hold plants of all sorts… due to the season most of them are „wild herbs“. Again much of the work invested into the huertos is done by volunteers and/or within the frame of education classes organized by the municipality.

The Hospital de Plantas is run by Oscar Domínguez, a biologist who teaches about plants and plant deceases at the university. There are regular opening hours once a week at Wednesday 10-2, when the citizens can come and bring their sick plants. A cupboard holds a microscope and various instruments to examine the patients and decide on the treatment.

Patients get a label

Once hospitalized, the length of stay  depends on the recovery process. For some plants, this can take up to a year, like in the case of a leafless, shriveled bonsai. Oscar put another case on the „Mesa de tratamiento“, a deplorable looking orchid in possession of none but one (broken) areal root. He points at some knobs in the centre of the plant. There is still hope, he says.

A classical patient

A snails sails across the table. It will be put out into the open

With such a long stay, I ask, how often does it happen that the owners won’t fetch their plants back?
Often, Oscar says. People just give up too easily. They are not used to care for plants in a sincere way.
Yet, if a person cannot take care of a plant, this shows that this person is also neglecting his or her own personality, or at least part of it.

Hospital watering can

Our conversation, facilitated by Eva’s translation, consequently drifts to the psychological impacts of plant ownership and care. Older people for example would often prefer plants that are easy to care for and grow rather slowly while young people love quick growth and plants that produce an abundance of colors both in leaves and flowers.

– The interview is presently in the process of editing and will be online in due time –


Oscar Dominguez, Hospital de Plantas

A second branch of Señor Dominguez’ research work is the construction of vertical gardens and the exploration of their micro climates. The one shown here is wainscoted with felt and allows a natural circulation of water, light and microorganisms within the unit.

We leave the „Classroom of Environmental Education“ of Pozuelo for a little walk in the nearby Casa De Campo. Once a hunting ground for the royals it is now Madrid’s biggest park covering more than 1,750 hectares. (I leave the touristic details aside here). There is anthother hospital in the vicinity: A hospital for night birds. There is not much hope to meet somebody there. Eva tells me she’s tried already several times. We are more than surprised that the door actually opens…
Yet, cheered too soon: No, no es possible! The staff is just at lunch and the birds are sleeping and must not be disturbed.


Stork’ nest Casa de Campo

Very wide awake instead are the storks that keep flying almost around our heads. Bundles of twigs hang from their beaks and indeed, Eva points out to a huge nest in the top of a nearby tree.
Two other features of the Casa des Campo: Swarms of green parrots that also nest here and pose (as in many other cities – also in Germany – ) a treat to the native birds, especially the common sparrow (which grows less and less common). Second, hoards of ghostly shaped trees, with hollow trunks and often reaching into the air with one last twisted branch. We put the recorder for the bird sounds into the fork of one branch and walk around… there is this „silky grey“ filter on my camera I try out.

Nest of the “evil” green Parrot

Ghost movie trees

Read More

(Übersetzung folgt) La Casa de la miel has been in the hands of his family ever since the shop was founded in 1942, its owner, Pedro Pajuelo, says. We are standing in front of the counter, a black board next to the door shows the different kinds of honeys sold here, a shiny bin with a giant bee printed on it decorate the counter as well as an old-fashioned scale made from white enamel.

Two other men work here, one of them dusts the shelfs with the honey glasses with a feather mop, the other walks to and fro between the back rooms and the counter. An old lady enters and asks for a bag of bean seeds.

La Casa de la Miel does not only sell honeys from different regions of Spain, but also vegetable and flower seeds, teas, herbs, pimiento and other spices, cosmetics made from honey and pollen (the best quality is stored in a fridge in the corner). There are also little boxes with violet sweets in them in the color of violets! A speciality of Madrid, Pedro explains.


But of course, we talk about honey, its origins, how prices rise with the decrease in production because of the bee pests. If the bees die, we’ll have nothing to eat after no time, Pedro says, maybe five years, no more.

The conversation is in Spanish, I ask and Alberto assists with translation. 300 words in Spanish seem to equal 30 in English. I understand fragments and then, at times, I have no clue. Yet, this recording is for Datscha Radio Madrid, and almost a third of the world’s population speaks Spanish anyway :)

It is a rule with interviews that when the moment comes you think it is finished, the real info are preisgegeben. He hands us both a jar of honey com regalo, I present my flyers with the Adopt a Plant thing happening this Saturday and upon this information Pedro reveals himself as being a gardener too.
“Realmente me gustan las plantas. Come come…“
Alberto and I get invited to follow him to the store rooms in the back of the shops where huge barrels of honey sit on a tiled floor and a machine to knead the honey to a more fluid consistency dominates the room. We enter the patio of the house which belongs to the few still in their original architecture existing ones in Madrid: made of wood and stone but with a metal skeleton inside.

In the patio plants are lined up, lush green leaves, palm like. An „Indian plant“ was saved here from being thrown away. This is also the habitat of an ex-Christmas tree which seemingly thrives at his now home. And there is still another patio filled with Trandesceana, begonias and “bad mothers”. So there’s a secret gardener! Pedro explains that he likes to pick up the remnants or off shoots from neighbors plants falling into the yard. He gives them a new home and cares for them.

Then one of his shop attendants calls out about an important customer having just arrived, and we say goodbye and step out of the House of Honey into Atocha Street.

Read More

(Übersetzung folgt) Here’s a very quick update on what is happening in Madrid with Datscha Radio – and an diary of how I spent my day so far.

Call from Carolina from Radio Hortelana to say that we meet in a different place at 10:45. I’m at my first coffee and not fully awake. Writing quick mail to the collaborating artists (which will be introduced here asap) about next plans, ideas & meeting.

Walking very fast up to the Casa Endencida to meet Elena and Caroline from Radio Hortelana. Introductions, coffee, explaining Datscha Radio Madrid.

The plan: Setting up the radio station in the urban garden of Esta es Una Plaza. Date: Friday 23rd of March. Before that: Adopt-a-Office on the 17th in the yard of MediaLab, little performance by myself, conversations about plants that seek a new home.
Question: Is there electricity in the garden?

I am very happy that Radio Hortelana (who did a garden broadcast at Esta es Una Plaza some years ago!) will help with the project! We agree that I send a resume of all facts to Elena, Caroline and the Insonora network tonight.

Introduction to Daniel Sigler, who had been sitting next to us reading El Pais, a friend of both, a gardener, keeper of the garden “Cabaña de Retiro”. He loves the idea.

We all go to Esta es Una Plaza to find out about electricity.

Caroline Carrubba (Radio Hortelana), Luis Elorriaga (Esta es Una Plaza), Elena Arroyo (Radio Hortelana) and Daniel Sigler (La Cabaña de Retiro)!

Caroline Carrubba (Radio Hortelana), Luis Elorriaga (Esta es Una Plaza), Elena Arroyo (Radio Hortelana) and Daniel Sigler (La Cabaña de Retiro)!

I get introduced to Tommi (Carolina: “He’s the best”) who would help with technical things, and to Luis who explaines that there is solar powered electricity. He shows us the transformer and the plugs in the different places in the garden. I update my Spanish vocabulary with the word grabadora (Recorder). I get introduced to more helpful people.

The home of electricity in Esta es Una Plaza!

Leaving the Plaza to go to the agricultural market in the Retiro Park. Stormy weather. I walk with Daniel who tells me about his garden project there. He also tells me about his work as a shiatsu practitioner and that he can do throat singing. I love the idea.

On reaching the Retiro I decide to switch on the grabadora, our conversation is just too interesting. There is the recorder, rain and Daniel’s umbrella. I don’t carry one for diverse reasons, but he says it’s because i am German.

We reach his „garden within the garden“ called Aula de ecología: La Cabaña del Retiro. He shows me around (gallery and more about La Cabaña in a later post). There is a hand made wooden geodetic tent with cut-outs that let the sun shine in and make pattern on the floor. It is a good place for singing, also because of its special resonant qualities.

All handmade from wood, a house for contemplation

Daniel asks me to close my eyes and starts singing. I sit on the wooden trunk in the middle of the space, listen and record. (Recording of audio walk and singing: to be broadcast on 23rd:) )

Salad needs to get picked to bring to the market. I receive a selection of healthy greens and explain the German onomatopoetics of „Pflücksalat“.

Walk to the Mercado Agroecológico en el CIEA Huerto del Retiro that takes place in another garden (section) of the Retiro: Stalls with honey, cheese, biologically brewed beers, jams and quiche. I am hungry and need to eat, try and buy specialities.



Agricultural market in El Retiro at closing time


Happy plots at the Retiro Garden

Introduction of Alberto, head of the Huerto del Retiro. Agreement to do an interview via Daniel as a translator. Saying goodbye for this time. Tasting a lovely bio Weizenbier! Taking some pics, among them the map of urban gardens in Madrid. What you see here is just a quarter of it.

Return to Medialab through rainstorms. Making a mental note to maybe take pictures of Madrid dogs that wear raincoats.

Arrival at Medialab, switching on the heater, sitting down to write this.

… so far. All dates and times mentioned will be verified very soon as exta blog posts, Facebook events and other possible channels.

Read More