Growing Things

yellow flower

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.

great grandfather riley
My great-grandfather Riley was a market gardener

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!

Me and a friend in my garden with a sunflower – 1990s

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.

herbs and tomatoes moscow
The balcony herb and tomato garden in Moscow

But at other times in Moscow I focused on growing house plants – much less stress!

The future

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.

6 planters

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!

basil sprouting
Lots of little basil plants sprouting

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.

~ Cheryl  

Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

18 thoughts on “Growing Things”

  1. Cheryl, So nice to see your basil and green onions growing. I’m sure the other herbs will do well with your green thumb. I enjoy growing plants and herbs, too. I have a few house plants that I rescued from their near death state. I used to grow beans, tomoatoes, zuchinis, peppers, etc. #senisal

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    1. Hi Natalie, I’ve just seen some coriander peeping it’s little head up through the soil, so it’s looking good so far. Isn’t it great growing your own vegies? And house plants are great too, the more the merrier! And they’re really good for our mood too. 🙂

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  2. Hi Cheryl. It sounds like you have a lot of experience growing things. There are 2 plots of land that we own at our apartment on the hill. I haven’t decided exactly what to do with them yet, but I definitely want to grow flowering plants and maybe some herbs and vegetables. Somewhere in there we’ll have to find the space to build a doghouse for Rosie. She’s definitely a keeper and she’ll need a place to go when we’re traveling.I think I told you that I also love trees and would love to plant a minerature red maple in the front. I’ll have to get some tips from you when the time comes to plant, as I don’t have alot of experience. Let me know how your herbs turn out. Take care. xx

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    1. Hi Christina, yes, I’ve had a lot of experience growing things. And I’m feeling a bit impatient not having some land now after so many years with just a balcony. Glad that you’ve got some land of your own to grow some things. Flowering plants are nice too, but I always feel a bit sad when they die at the end of the season. There are some flowering plants that you can eat, so maybe consider some of those! So nice that Rosie’s still with you. The herbs are slowly starting to appear, but nothing to boast about yet. 🙂 xx

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  3. Hi Cheryl, I mainly grow flowers now as I live in such a hot climate. However, we had a huge vegetable garden when we lived in the midwest and actually had a tiller as well. We also had wild blackberries that I would make into cobbler every spring. I miss my fresh butter crunch lettuce and all the other veggies we grew!

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    1. Hi Rita, It’s nice to grow anything, really, whether it’s flowers, trees, vegetables or other plants. I would like to see more people growing things! I’m looking forward to fresh vegies from the garden, although I’ll probably have to wait another year or so before I can realise my dream of having a garden. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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  4. Your garden looks amazing all the beautiful plants. My grandfather worked at the Markets in Perth, he was also a butcher in Leedervile which is only son took on. My dad also worked at the market gardens in Perth. During the day he was a traveling grocer he had an old bus fitted like a shop. I think when I was 7 he sold that and did lawn mowing until he retired.

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    1. Hi Bree, how interesting that your grandfather worked at the markets! I love that your dad was a traveling grocer. I remember as a kid there was a travelling fish shop we used to call ‘Mr Snapper’ (I don’t know if it was the real name or not). How wonderful those ‘old days’ were! It’s ok if you’re hopeless at growing things if your housemate looks after the plants. I’m sure you have other skills and talents! 🙂 Thank you for visiting Born in a Car. Enjoy the week ahead!

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  5. sorry above #Senisal….by the way I am hopeless at growing things I leave all that up to my housemate! lol..I seem to either water too much or too little.

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  6. I’m reknown for my grey thumb – plants come to die at my house! But….I have managed to successfully keep a nice little mix of plants alive that I got for Mothers Day, and we have a good assortment of almost-impossible-to-kill plants in our gardens (agapanthas are my go-to).
    I tried the spring onion thing a while ago but hated the smell of onions that seemed to pervade the kitchen – I decided they were cheap enough to buy at Coles that I didn’t need to bother with growing them myself. Glad you’re finding some time for a little bit of gardening again.

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    1. Hi Leanne, it’s funny how some people can’t grow things and others can. Well, not funny but you know what I mean. I’ve met other people over the years who wouldn’t even think about putting a plant in the house (or the garden!) because they don’t have a green thumb. Glad you’re managing to keep your Mother’s Day plants alive! I’ve got the spring onions on the balcony right now but it’s going to be too cold to leave them out there when winter shows up so I’ll see how we manage to live with the onion smell. And thank you, yes, I’m so happy that I’ve got time, and good weather with some sunshine, to grow a few things. Can’t wait to start it all on a bigger scale but the small balcony pots are enough for now. Have a lovely week!

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    1. Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by. I love the idea of re-growing my veggie scraps after I’ve cooked with them, I’m going to research what others I can do this with.

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  7. Hi Cheryl. I am a bit late commenting as I have subscribe to your blog several times but I don’t receive your posts. I subscribed again today. Hopefully, it will work this time. Anyway, another beautiful post! My mother grew all her vegetables including potatoes when I was a child and she did so in her eighties. She also had lots of house plants. I don’t remember going to a grocery store or market to buy fruits and vegetables. We lived off the land.I miss my parents so much. Not a day go by that I don’t think of them. I wish I could go back in time and appreciate them more and their hard work. You’re doing well with your gardening. Nothing like fresh herbs. I used to have a little garden here but too rocky… nothing grows. I gave it up.I used to have lots of house plants but I only have two now. Keep up the good work! I enjoy readind your posts. Breath of fresh air and sunshine. Wish you were near.

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    1. Hi Yvonne, I don’t send out emails every time I post, but maybe I should. I do send out a newsletter about once a month with links to the posts I’ve published since the previous newsletter. I think you probably get those ones. I’ll see what I can do about sending emails with each post, I’m sure it’s possible and not too difficult, just need to find some time to do it.
      I love that you have such great memories of your mum growing her own food. What a wonderful childhood you had! It’s true that we don’t appreciate our parents and grandparents until they’re gone, I think we’re all the same like that. Thanks for the encouragement with my little garden, all the seeds are sprouting now and I think I’ll put some photos in my next newsletter, so keep your eyes out for that in your mailbox!
      Thanks for your kind words, I’m so pleased that you appreciate and enjoy my blog. I love hearing from my readers, from all over the world. Maybe you’ll visit Bulgaria one day, would love to meet you. Take care and stay positive!

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      1. Cheryl, thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my comment. I undestand that it might be time consuming to send an email to everyone regarding your posts. It wasn’t meant as a reproach. As I don’t receive your newsletter there was no way for me to know that you had posted and I don’t want to miss any of your posts.I would love to meet you one day. We have many things in common except the fact that I don’t like where I live… it’s complicated. Take care and keep sharing your life and adventures!

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      2. Hi Yvonne, I think there might be some kind of automated system I could use to get emails out to everyone each time I write a post, I’m going to look into it. Currently I’m writing only about twice a month, so if you check back every 2 weeks you’ll probably see something new here.
        I also didn’t like where I lived (Australia) which is one of the biggest reasons I left to go and live in Russia. It takes courage and lots of planning to leave your country, but I have to say it was one of the best things I’ve done in life. My life now is so interesting and I’m learning more about the world and about myself, which I don’t think I would have done if I’d stayed in Australia. Keep in touch, I’m glad that you’re enjoying my stories. 🙂

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