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May 19

Fahrradstraße, or 'bike street'

Bicycling is one of my favorite things about living in Germany. There are clearly-marked lanes specifically for bicyclists and should you accidently wander into one, you will be reminded by angry shouts and ringing bells, or simply run over.

Motorists, the majority of the time, are fairly respectful of bikes, at least in the city I live in. But there is one major downside when you don’t have a car and that is space.

Think about it, when you go to the nursery you’re able to fill up your car with trays of plants, a few bags of soil or mulch, maybe the tools you’ll need and still have some room leftover in your car or pickup.

Me? I have this.

My bike loaded down with plants in the basket

My bike loaded down at Obi

You can barely fit 5 plants in that basket! The one advantage is it prevents impulse purchases. I always have to go in knowing what materials or plants I need and then figure out how to squeeze them on my bike without damaging them. Although this isn’t always the case. In the above photo I went to the store to buy large bag of potting soil and ended up leaving with 70% off houseplants—and no potting soil.

And since I own a men’s bike, which requires swinging a leg around the back, forget about tall plants too. I learned this the hard way with a climbing rose and clematis I purchased in 2017.

public cargo bike

Cargo bike

Picture a woman in the parking lot hesitantly raising her foot 20 times deciding whether she’ll make it over the bike without falling over. I wandered around the parking lot eventually finding a curb to make the swing distance shorter. Only issue was forgetting when I arrived home and proceeded to fall into a bush next to the building. This is the one time where learning the splits would have been useful.

Point is, space is an issue. And in relation, so is weight. I’m not able to buy giant bags of soil. If it can’t fit in my backpack or basket it can’t be transported. Luckily my store has some compressed soil, which barely fits in my pack, but is lighter than everything else. It just requires more water to rejuvenate it during planting. Now that I think about it, it might be compressible if it’s full of peat which is great for plants but not for the environment. I’ll have to read the bag again to see if it is full of peat. I might lose my convenient soil bag.

Thanks to the owner of the garden I do have access to a kid trailer it’s just a matter of coordinating when to pick it up. The city also has special cargo bikes people can rent too.

There is also the matter of inclines. In order to cross the Rhein bicyclists must go up spiral bike ramps to reach the bridges.

Or in the case of some unfortunate plant-loving friends, they must climb a large hill to reach home. It’s definitely a planned effort for them when they starting planting their large balcony garden.

Thankfully I only have to worry about the ramps to reach the garden center. I will admit when carting heavy items around town I do not find biking fun anymore. Just another love/hate relationship while living in Germany.

Cycle spiral near the Rhein in Paradies

Cycle spiral near the Rhein in Paradies

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