Erlebnisbauernhof Auhof

Today we decided to visit our “colleagues” at the Erlebnisbauernhof Auhof (Experience-Farm of Auhof) which is a special-education farm run by mentally handicapped adults and caregivers.

The farm is open to the general public and has a really big playground that kids of all ages can enjoying.  Many decades ago, this used to be a real farm where they raised livestock and grew carrots and potatoes.  Today there a a few animals of each kind: pigs, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, peacocks, horses, goats, and donkeys are “scattered” around the different areas of the farm.  They sell plants in a self-run nursery and grow a lot of their own vegetables that you can enjoy in the salads that sell in a small restaurant with outdoor seating next to the playground.  The playground is capped off by a field of fruit trees and a lovely relaxation garden that is cared for by a former employee who is retired and volunteers her time to keep the garden in tip top shape.  The handicapped people who live in assisted-living apartments a block away come here regularly to enjoy the peacefulness of the garden, get their hands dirty with garden work, and do arts and crafts that are hung up in the different corners of the garden.

This is such a lovely oasis, and they are different events being held all summer long.  There is no entry fee, so this is a great palce to visit with the whole family’s.


The University of Erlangen’s Botanical Garden 

It is pre-summer vacation here, and we are always on the lookout for a fun place to go where the kids can run around a lot.  One of out favorite places to visit is the botanical garden of the University of Erlangen.  The entire garden is open to the public free of charge and they have a nice selection of different types of plants.

My kids are camera-fanatics, so they each get a camera in their hands and click away at all the interesting things they discover.  Their favorite creatures to photograph are the frogs and koi swimming in the raised ponds outside of the garden houses.

My favorite corners are those filled with roses, and if you are a rose lover yourself, you will not be disappointed here.  The botanical garden spills out into the local palace garden that is surrounded by the university, and you can really spend hours strolling around.

I recommend packing a pick nick and setting down on the ledge of one of the ponds or a park benches and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature in the midst of the city.


Raising Avocados

When I first moved into my last apartment, there was just something missing.  It took me a little while to put my finger on it, but when I did, I realized that I was missing life in my new home.  One day, while eating lunch, I looked at the avocado pit I had just cut out of my creamy bright green avocado, and decided that I would plant it.  I needed plants – lots of plants to fill my new home and breath in some life.

I asked a friend how to go about planting it – I remembered something about toothpicks and a glass of water – but nothing ever came of those childhood experiments.  He told me to just push it half way into a pot of dirt and water it a lot.  A few weeks later, I was the proud owner of my first sprouting avocado pit.  I was hooked, and planted (almost) every avocado pit and seed I could get my hands on – grapefruit, lemon, and tangerine seeds and pineapple tops.

Avocado trees are really that simple:

Avocado pit + Soil + Water = Avocado Tree

My avocado trees are now 3 years old, and just keep growing and growing.  Last year, they really started to branch out sideways.  I have transplanted them once a year into a slightly larger pot with more soil, but other than being watered regularly, they don’t need much.  They like a nice warm sunny spot on a windowsill, but if you don’t get lots of sunshine, just pick the sunniest spot you’ve got and they will work with what they have.  And, when they are thirsty, they will let you know by wilting their leaves.  On hot sunny summer days, I bring them out a few hours at a time on my balcony and let them get some intense sun.

Ideally, I could one day plant my trees into the ground, but I live in a rather cold climate, and I don’t think my trees would like that.  Has anyone had any luck with transplanting their indoor avocado trees outside into the ground?