Friday, April 03, 2015

Spring gardening

(Oops. I never actually clicked on "Publish," after the photos uploaded.)

Our children have been missing having a dacha. (I haven't. I'm happy to live in a house.) Recently Jaan asked, "If we can't get a dacha here, can we just buy a piece of land where I can set up a tent?" And they've been asking and asking about spring break from school and about planting. So, this week, when music school and regular schools were having their breaks, we rested a bit and started planting.

Monday, I just needed a break, and everyone was completely set on the fact that it's spring break, so I let them play. It was nice. Then, the next day Jaan and I went to the central market to get some seeds and strawberry plants in the morning. After lunch, the girls and I had planned to go to the massive home and garden store for some other supplies, but Raia changed her mind and didn't want to go. Asya and I had fun, though. Then we ended up doing a little bit of planting in the evening. And Wednesday Will worked outside some, while we got back to school inside. (Spring break fever was completely solved by just two days off. Nice.) Then we planted some more seeds later in the day, while he was at the office. We're also in the midst of spring rains, which complicates things a bit; the mud is almost bad enough to swallow us up completely. But that will be perfect for getting seeds started!

I've noticed a weather pattern of a whole week of rain every year, right at the beginning of spring. If we can plant before that, it's perfect, but usually there's not much warmth before that. This year was another when we didn't make it before the rain started.

Over the years, I have come up with a few things that I always want to grow. At first it was broccoli, but I think that's off the list now. It's easy to grow, and it's in the stores now. (Fresh broccoli used to be one of those hard-to-find items. Not anymore.) My current list is strawberries, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. We had the most wonderful strawberries at our dacha in Russia. I didn't plant any when we moved to Ukraine, because we felt so temporary in Dneprorudnoe. But, as the years went by there--without our own strawberries--I told myself that the next time I had a place to plant, I would put in strawberries right away, whether or not I knew how long we would be there. So, first thing last year, Will made me a raised bed, and I put in strawberries. I think Bogdan got to eat one, before they completely succumbed to hail, slugs, and ravenous ducks? So, we replanted this year. And we'll be replanting again already. Will is reconfiguring the little fences in our yard, so one naughty duck got overnight access to the strawberry bed... and that's all it took.

Asparagus... we've been trying to start it from seeds. It grew okay last year, but didn't come back this year. Bogdan and I started more seeds this year, and he's having great fun watching them grow. He keeps asking when he can eat them, and "five years from now" just isn't a satisfactory answer for a four-year-old. However, I ordered some roots online! Exciting! And I just had to add a butterfly bush to my order, even though we really don't have much room to plant. Those should be coming soon.

And sweet potatoes... I got the idea of growing them because it is so hot here in the summers. But they're almost impossible to find. Will bought a few in Zaporozhye a few years ago, and I planted them at our dacha, but that was while we were getting ready to move, so I never knew what happened to them. I bought one along to Kherson and grew it indoors through the winter, but it died just before spring. Then, just recently, when I was in Kyiv, I saw them in a grocery store, but I couldn't bring myself to spend 150 griven for one sad-looking potato that might not even sprout. So, again, I ordered online. We'll see what happens there. There's a man in Kharkov who collects sweet potatoes. I ordered some sprouts of standard orange and a few purple (echoes of PNG!) from him, but communicating with him has been quite an adventure, so we'll see what happens.

Also, this isn't exactly gardening, but I just learned how to do sprouted buckwheat for salads. Grechka is already our children's favorite food, and they're excited about trying it sprouted for the first time today.


Mom said...

This makes me very read of you and the children sprouting and growing things. We're already fighting the heat, but there's great health to be had from any gardening well as food.

Two yellow sulfur butterflies emerged from their chrysalids this morning...truly "butter flies."

Much love to you all.

Baba Julie said...

Hi! We have planted potatoes for the first time here! One of our neighbors insisted that I should have some of those she was going to plant and then, told me how to plant them. Of course, this was just before my surgery, so Bernie ended up doing the planting. I am excited to see how that goes!

I hope your Butterfly Bush ends up being as beautiful as ours always are! And, we have just started seeing butterflies here! They are yellow and I have no idea what they are, but LOVE to watch them! I also had my first hummingbird at the feeder yesterday. So, SPRING is HERE!! (Of course, the dogwoods, azaleas, tulips, daffodils, etc are just GORGEOUS! We always enjoy seeing what you all are doing, as well!! Love to each of you!!