In a list-writing mood today (quelle surprise), so I thought I’d present you with an update on our Gardening Bore 2021 antics.
If you’re new here, when we bought our Bulgarian village house it came with a large-ish (1/4 acre) garden – complete with some grass, mature trees and not much else. Over the years, we’ve added a veg garden and flower garden, summer kitchen (complete with homemade cob pizza oven) and a stone terrace dining area. We’re obsessed with our garden and gardening in general. True, we’re not always good at it (there’s been a lot of trial and error, and we’d never had a garden before this), but what we lack in experience and (in my case) upper body strength, we more than make up for in enthusiasm. If ‘enthusiasm’ means watching old episodes of Garden Rescue on YouTube and trying to figure out which one of the Rich brothers I fancy more…
This spring has been Cold (with a capital C), so we’re quite late sowing our seeds. The only things we started in March were tomatoes, parsley, chillies, sweet potatoes and lettuce – crops that either take a while to germinate or need to get started early. But this week we finally took the plunge and sowed almost all of our remaining seeds. Weather be damned. You know that saying ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’? Well I’m gardening for the weather I want, not the weather I have.
Here’s what we’re growing from seed this year (all of which are currently residing in the house until its warm enough to move them outside):
- Tomatoes – as usual, we’re growing four different varieties: Latah (a delicious, early bush cherry and an essential crop for us), an unnamed black cherry (which we grew a few years ago and have decided to return to), a variety called Amish paste (a lovely pink plum that we grew last year), and Feo de Rio Gordo (a huge, juicy red variety that we’ve grown for a couple of years).
- Basil – because you know we like to be self-sufficient in pesto. Weirdly.
- Chillies – something was wrong with our chilli seeds last year and only one of them germinated – one! – but I wasn’t too bothered because we had loads in the freezer to use up. Well, now that we’ve finally used up those freezer chillies, this year’s crop had better work. So far, they’ve all germinated and grown true leaves, which is a good sign.
- Lettuce – for years, lettuce was my nemesis, but I’ve finally cracked it. I now realise I can’t just lazily sow lettuce straight into the ground, in our snail-infested organic garden. There’s no getting around it – I have to sow it indoors, transplant the seedlings into individual plugs and then grow them on until they’re strong enough to withstand the snail army. It’s worth it. Just about.
- Leeks – big old Bulgarian leeks, as usual.
- Beetroots – when I can finally get hold of some seed, that is. (I forgot to order beet seeds last winter and haven’t found them in the local shops yet, curse it.)
- Kale – we usually grow two varieties: a dwarf curly and a big kale. But I liked last year’s big blue kale (called Dazzling Blue) so much that I’ve decided to grow only that, and grow more of it.
- Celeriac – I can’t remember ever trying this before, so we’re giving it a whirl. I like celeriac, and it seems to be having a moment. Yes, veg can be FASHION too.
- Potatoes – currently chitting on a sunny kitchen windowsill, ready to be planted out soon.
- Sweet potatoes – we returned to growing sweet potatoes last year and (even though we can now find them in the shops year-round) I realised I missed having them in the garden. Saying that, our slips are very slow to grow this year, so maybe they won’t work…
- Courgettes and butternut squash – actually, I won’t sow these until later in the month. There’s no point starting these fast-growing, hungry, sun-loving crops until it, you know, stops snowing.
Meanwhile, already growing outside we have:
- Garlic – sown in the ground before Christmas and starting to shoot up.
- Asparagus – which is also starting to come up, meaning I can soon be very smug again about growing asparagus from seed y’all.
- Wild garlic – slowly, slowly establishing itself in a shady corner of our garden.
- Strawberries – we have a HUGE strawberry patch, because fresh, still-warm strawberries are one of life’s greatest treats.
- Rhubarb – surreptitiously brought over by my in-laws in their suitcase eight years or so ago and still going strong! We’ve divided it once or twice to rejuvenate the plant, but that’s all rhubarb ever needs. So low maintenance, and the cats like hiding under it.
- All the usual herbs – sage, rosemary, chives, lovage, thyme, oregano, dill (which seeds itself all over the veg garden), coriander (sown directly outside every year), and last year’s parsley (which will set seed this year – hence why I’ve sown a fresh batch this spring).
- And our lovely old fruit and nut trees that we inherited in the garden: apples, pears, walnuts, cherry plums, and sour cherries.
- I’m hoping to add raspberry and blackcurrant plants this year, too, but that requires a trip to Sofia…
Christ, I was going to talk about the flower garden as well, but this is quite enough list-making for one day. I’ve satisfied my list craving. I’ve scratched my list itch. I’ve got that rosy, post-list glow and am lighting up a cigarette in bed while you snore, exhausted, beside me.
Wait, was that weird? I think I might have just made it weird.
If you’re still here, do follow me on Instagram, where I’ll be sharing lots of photos and videos of our Gardening Bore 2021 journey. And tell me below, what are you growing this year?