Growing your own food successfully is a mystery which only seems to be solved with the passing of time. Inta is a true Latvian so planning in advance is not something which comes naturally. She has to feel what, where, when and how we should plant our fruit and vegetables and if you believe hard enough everything will be ok. I’ve lost count of the number of discussions we had on this subject. However as she has done most of the work, she has had her way with the garden and created a patchwork quilt. It’s interesting she says, no boring straight lines.
So back to February. We had a plot of land which had been ploughed by a local friendly farmer the previous autumn in an attempt to get rid of the weeds which had been there for more years than anyone can remember and no green house. Inta and her cousin took it upon themselves to source and acquire a greenhouse. It duly arrived later that month. What I hadn’t been told was that it was a self assembly job. I also hadn’t been told that it was made in Russia and they are famous for over engineering, hence the reason there are so many Lada cars still on the roads. Not one to be put off by such trifling matters I opened the packed greenhouse in the hopeful anticipation that it was just going to be a matter of clunk click and it would be assembled in no time at all.
How wrong could I have been. Have they not heard of IKEA in Russia? There must have been in excess of 2000 parts and an instruction manual that had been poorly translated into English. If that wasn’t bad enough, I quickly realised that this was at least a two man job. So assembly was on hold until help could be summoned. Some weeks later Inta’s cousins son came to help and after 2 days we managed to erect the frame. Simple I thought, I can attach the poly-carbonated sheets to the frame. Wrong again. Being wrong was getting too much of a habit. I now had to wait until easter until my sister and her husband visited. Two heads are better that one I thought. John is great at diy. Several hours later, I proudly showed Inta a small hinged window panel to which we had attached a poly-carbonated sheet only to be met with “is that all you’ve done”. I did persevere, despite wanting to throw it on the rubbish pile and cursing Russian engineering and Inta and her cousin. By the end of April it was erected and usable. As much as I hate to admit it the greenhouse looks great and has given us more food than we could eat or preserve.
After preparing the soil inside we duly planted cucumbers, tomatoes, chilli, peppers, aubergines, lettuce and basil.
Cucumbers grew like crazy. At one stage we were harvesting between 8-10 a day. Every thing grew well once we learnt how to regulate the temperature and water. Cucumbers just about ending now but tomatoes still producing, aubergines ripening, peppers turning yellow and loads of chilli. Just amazing.
Thanks to our neighbour, Janis, and his tractor we also had reasonable success outside. He arrived in early spring ploughed over the soil and with Inta’s assistance planted 4 rows of potatoes and wouldn’t accept any payment. He said we are neighbours and neighbours help each other.
We experimented this year with our planting and we had some successes and disappointments.
Successes – Potatoes, french beans, squash, carrots, raspberries, strawberries, all herbs, red currants (too many to pick), mirabelle plums (too many to collect, apples, lettuce,
Disappointments – Beetroots, garlic, onions – all very small, cabbages (eaten by a plague of caterpillars)
I suspect the soil needs fertilizing, so that’s another job when we have pulled everything out and turned the soil over which Janis is doing on Sunday.
I don’t know if it’s just psychological or not but food you grow yourself tastes so much better than shop bought. It;s been hard work, particularly on Inta who has done all the weeding to make sure we had a good crop. The effort has been worth it though and we’re having some delicious meals as well as saving money . I look forward to next year with relish.