Upcycling is the process of turning materials from the wastestream into new materials of higher environmental value.
Upcycle Yourself is a similar concept on a human scale, turning from agents of pollution into agents of environmental change.

Jul 3, 2010

Le Jardin Mobile

Can you spot the bicycle hiding in this picture?

My bicycle garden reached new heights during the second half of our trip, bringing a mixture of pride and embarrassment as we zoomed across south-eastern Ontario. In an effort to bring extreme gardening to more impressive parts of my bicycle, I decided to create an axle garden, on the inner part of the wheel. A resounding “yes” to a crucial question that has been confounding us for centuries: can plants grow and prosper while constantly spinning? Of course they can.

Our bike ride came to an end last week, tipping the odometer at 2,000 kilometers. My experience ended the same way it began: undoing my bike into pieces, packing it up in a box, and giving my financial support to the oil industry by taking a bus. So life goes when we're in a rush, and when we prioritize our desire to travel over earthcare. In the next month, I'll cover more kilometers by bus and carpool than I did in two months by bicycle. Perhaps it's time that I more seriously evaluate my relationship with transport.

At the very least, I've now developed the competence and confidence to cover long distances with the power of my own legs, bringing the potential to more whole-heartedly adopt a sustainable approach to transport. I look forward to traveling to my garden and nearby farms by bicycle now, all within reach at 80km or less.

Another valuable lesson learned from this experience is that my body thrives when living outside. After two months of camping and biking, I was no longer experiencing problems with allergies. Within one night of returning to civilization, I once again developed a state of constantly compromised health. Time to start looking for a second-hand winter tent and embracing the benefits of the outdoors.

After returning home to Quebec, the time seemed right to plant the peas that had been patiently climbing up from my water-bottle holder to my seat post. They are now establishing roots in our hay-fed garden in St-Casimir.

So the journey continues,


Recipe for an axle garden: Cycle 1500 kilometres to a seed sanctuary that preserves heirloom varieties. Ask for a cutting of last fall's rye. Thresh by hand. Soak rye in a stainless steel water bottle for 8 hours, then sprout for 24 hours. Sew a “pillow” for the rye using cheesecloth, with 6 layers of cheesecloth under the rye, and 2 layers of cheesecloth over the rye. Ensure in advance that the rye-pillow will fit around the axle. Sprout rye-pillow in a plastic container in panier for 2 days. When young grass begins to peek out from the cheesecloth, attach the rye-pillow to axle using safety pins. Water several times a day, spinning the wheel while watering to ensure good coverage. Enjoy.