This writeup continues my series of posts meant to give you in-depth information of what you could learn and be doing while volunteering in certain areas at the Singularity Group. Keep in mind that everyone's experience is different and you will never have to do all the examples used in this post. You also don't need any prior experience. For more options check out other posts and our volunteer page!
Plants & Garden Tasks
Do you have a green thumb? Then you’d probably enjoy volunteering in the Singularity Group’s Plants team! Not sure if you can keep plants alive, but want to try? Perfect as well, cuz they desperately need more people. 😜 So if you enjoy working with and in nature keep reading to learn a bit more about the different day-to-day duties you can expect.
First let’s set the scene: Imagine a big building with more than 80 rooms and a large garden. And now imagine it even bigger, cuz our house and yard are really huge! In the front we have a nice seating area with a wooden planter and a few window boxes. The garden in the back features 2 big trees and several smaller ones, a dedicated flowers-patch, many bushes and lots of grass… I think… I haven’t been there in a while. 😛
In most rooms in the building there are potted Sansevieria plants, and big areas like the living room have probably more than a dozen. Additionally, in a few spaces we have different kinds of plants; but don’t ask me what they’re called, after many years here I still have no clue!
So this is where you come in! Our greenery can use lots of love… or I should rather say work, cuz I don’t want to give the wrong impression - there is definitely tons to be done. 😀 Some of the recurring basic tasks would be to water the plants inside the house. While there are a few plants to water more often, the Sansevierias themselves don’t need much, once a month is enough. In fact, we had a bunch of them die already due to overwatering because of people over-enthusiastically taking care of them. So don’t worry if you accidentally do too much too - keeping them alive for a week means your skills are already above average. 😛
To give you some context, we bought Sansevierias specifically because they do well with little light, rare water and generally tend to be easy to care for - at least in theory. 😅 There was a NASA study checking different plant types for their CO2 conversion-ability, and this one stood out among the others due to the aforementioned properties. Whether it actually does something for the air I cannot tell, mostly because I don’t have any in my room anymore. Yes, anymore, cuz I have to admit I killed a few. May the plant gods have mercy on my soul and forgive me. Please. Regardless of the air quality benefits, they definitely help make the place more inviting and tranquil.
When well taken care of, some of our plants actually grow quite quickly. So sometimes it is necessary to repot them into bigger pots. At the same time you might also want to remove bad leaves, use better soil and take out tiny leaves to grow a new plant. 🌱 Similarly, if there are some not doing well, taking the good leaves and combining them to a new fuller plant is an option. Depending on where the plants are, it’s good to rotate their positions regularly; so take plants from the basement and other spots with little light exposure and exchange them with a recharged plant from a sunnier place. 🌞
Outside, the most important task is to remove weeds from the walkway in front of our house. You can choose to do this by hand, with a tool, or with a flamethrower. Just kidding, we don’t have the latter. We do have a small one gas burner though, so maybe that works as well? 😛 In the winter months we need to shovel snow away from the walkways in front and back of the house, and during fall we need to remove leaves that fall from our trees in the back. All of these need to be done not only because it looks bad and can cause people to trip, but they are actually required by German law.
For the actual garden-part in the back you could cut the grass with our lawnmower, and perhaps also trim down some of the many bushes and low-hanging tree branches. A volunteer who was into woodworking set up a composting area there, which you could check on and tidy up if necessary. There are also several outdoor chairs, benches and tables, so if you would like to create relaxing seating places for eating meals, this is the perfect area to start.
In the front seating area some more crafty volunteers recently built a new wooden planter because the old one is falling apart. Thus you could fill the new one with soil and move all healthy existing plants. Additionally you could try growing something else there and in the smaller planters, if you want to.
When it comes to what to plant and how to make things look, you have pretty much full creative freedom. This counts for most outside spaces, such as the aforementioned seating area in the front, the flower patch on the side of the building and the entire garden in the back. In the past we even had small pots with herbs hanging above the snack bar in the living room - an initiative by a volunteer who enjoyed growing small plants and crafting plant hangers.
As long as the basic care is covered - most of which I tried to list in this post - it is up to you what you think is necessary to do, respectively what you are interested to contribute. Choosing to only take over the required basic tasks is already enough. But you are equally free to experiment more with plants and even create your own hobby craftsmanship project. If touching grass is not your favorite concept however, that’s not a problem! Just check out our upcoming posts to learn about other possible tasks. 🙂