You might have seen my post about Russian gardens. If so, you’ll probably have understood that I love gardens and growing things. But it’s not so easy to do it yourself, depending on the resources you have available to you.
Gardening and my family history
Both my grandfathers were into gardening.
I don’t know much about my paternal grandfather, he died when I was 13 years old, and I didn’t spend much time with him. But I do remember the few times we visited him when we were kids we spent some time in his garden. I have a strong memory of picking his peas and eating them fresh off the vine.
His father, my paternal great-grandfather, had been a market gardener in Riverton (a suburb of Perth, Western Australia) in the early 1900s, and supplied vegetables to the market which was located in the centre of Perth.
On the other hand, my maternal grandfather was much more present in my early life, and he was always interested in growing things, healthy eating, and all things related to living off the land.
He was always in the garden, tending his plants, building garden beds or planting new things – vegetables, fruit trees, berries and other delicious things. He seemed to love all living things, even the insects and bugs that ate his precious plants!
So it’s hardly surprising that I have a love of growing things. It’s probably in my DNA.
Growing things in my early adult years
In my 20s I was lucky enough to live in houses where I had gardens and space to plant vegetables, and despite moving regularly (I’ve been a nomad all my life) I often grew vegetables and enjoyed cooking and eating them at home.
There’s an enormous pleasure eating your own produce – if you’ve done this yourself you’ll understand exactly what I mean. Not only are the vegetables tastier than the ones from the shop, there’s something in them that you’ve put there yourself – something like your soul, or even blood sweat and tears sometimes!
There were times when growing vegetables wasn’t possible. So during those times I often had house plants. I prefer non-flowering house plants. I like to propagate them, and I’ve sometimes done that and then gifted the new plants to friends.
The limitations I lived with in Moscow
While I lived in Moscow, in one of the apartments we lived in I tried to grow things on the balcony – some herbs along with some cherry tomatoes. The only problem was that the balcony didn’t get much sunlight, and I had to move the plants at least 3 times during the day, every day, for them to get the maximum amount of sunlight possible.
So, if we went on holidays, or if I was at work all day, then the plants didn’t get their normal dose of sunlight because I couldn’t move them as the sun passed overhead. You can guess that these weren’t my most successful attempts at producing food.
They did look good for a while, though.
But at other times in Moscow I focused on growing house plants – much less stress!
One of my dreams for the future is to have a garden that I can nurture. One that I can keep for years and years and grow some food for healthy eating, as well as for preserving – because that’s really fun too!
We’re currently living in a apartment, so there’s no garden in my life yet. But we do have a balcony, which gets a fair amount of sun. So I’m taking my chance with it, even though it’s now autumn here in Bulgaria which is not the best time to start growing things. I’ve planted 6 different kinds of herbs in small pots.
So far, three of them have started to sprout (I planted them about a week or so ago). I’m hoping that in the next week I’ll see the rest of them poke their little green leaves through the soil.
Here’s the basil!
Using food scraps to grow more food
I’m also trying to extend the life of supermarket produce, by using the food ‘scraps’. My first experiment is using green onions (known as spring onions in Australia). I’ve just cut the white bottoms off (using the green stalks in cooking or salads), and put them in a glass of water with some cotton wool in the bottom.
All I have to do is make sure the water level doesn’t drop too much, and the onions will continue to grow the green stalks which I can cut off and use in the kitchen. And they just keep regrowing when you cut them!
There are some great Youtube videos about how to use the vegetable scraps from your kitchen instead of throwing them out. And when I get out of the apartment and into a house with a garden, I’ll be trying some other ways to extend my vegetable scraps and hopefully end up with a no-waste kitchen.
What have you been doing in the garden recently? Do you grow fruit, vegetables and berries, or are you more of a flower gardener? Or maybe you have some tips for those living in an apartment who are limited by having only a balcony. Let us all know in the comment section below.