After we came back from sunny Estonia, I travelled home to attend a certain life jubilee party for my Dad. It was great to see all the family (and I mean really all of them) but also to spend some days in the haven of my parents’ house.
They live at the edge of a small town and their house borders a meadow with a forest. My old room has a beautiful view and every time I am in there, I feel very connected to nature. The view changes by season and I can definitely say that the autumn is my favourite. But, the upcoming shades of green did give me a ‘spring’ in my step after the grey winter.
My parents have a vegetable garden, not because it’s cool or trendy but because growing their own food was always part of their life. As a child, I learned all about the seasons in the garden. From a seed to a fruit-bearing plant to its decay. A circle of life.
The preparation starts in the cold of winter. Seeds are planted, nourished and sprouting. In Spring, the little seedlings are replanted in individual pots and moved to the greenhouse before they arrive to their final destinations. My Dad plants the tomatoes and peppers seedlings into yogurt pots, yep, the perfectly-sized vessels for the job. He is also a master of reusing – he uses the same yogurt pots for 14 years now! Every year, they are filled with fresh hummus and little seedlings grow to strength in them, then the pots are cleaned and stored until the next year. Each of the pots has a list of its ‘babies’ written on it – Slava 2013, Tornado 2014, Sant Pierre 2015, Cour di Blue 2016…
In the polytunnel, little lettuce seedlings have already found a home and are bringing their first harvest. Little red baubles of radishes peaking their heads from the soil waiting for to be eaten. Peppery and crunchy, they are amazing in a salad, on a sandwich or just like that, eaten there and then. From the seed to the mouth in two months. Ok, maybe a little longer than a trip to the groceries to pick a pack of them but the flavour is incomparable!
I think I caught those green thumbs of my parents. I love seeing things grow and I started collecting yogurt pots 🙂 Back in March, I planted a few tomato and pepper seeds in two little trays and they sprouted! I was so happy! Encouraged by that, I got some pea seeds and planted them outside in our little garden patch we dug out last year. I was told that they don’t mind cold – a very important feature for anything grown in Ireland 🙂 It worked! They sprouted and little pea shoots are forming now and doing their own thing. You should see the smug smile on my face…Definitely encouraged and eager, I have re-planted my tomato & pepper seedlings into my own yogurt pots just so that they can grow to strength and eventually replace the peas in the soil. Have I mentioned how satisfying is to watch things grow?
I know that I have a long way to go to be anywhere close to a self-sufficient farmer but hey – you have to start somewhere! Compared to years of experience my parents have, I know very little – for example, did you know that potatoes should be planted at a ‘lady’s foot’ distance? Or that tomatoes and peppers should not be planted near each other? There is so much to learn…but I think that until I move into a house with a huge garden, I’ll be fine. You can be too – try growing a few herbs on your windowsill or a strawberry plant in a hanging basket on your patio…even if they won’t bear any fruit, they are lovely to look at!!
Did you start on your own urban garden? Let me know how are you getting on…leave a comment below!