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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Spring Garden Prep

Alright, so we’re a little upside-down and inside-out on our daily, weekly, monthly, annual routines here at 3-D. No excuse. Well, actually, lots of excuses, but you don’t want to hear them, I’m sure.

That’s how we are planting fall flower bulbs… in the spring. Because they’ve been kept in a cold place all winter, Benedetto has fully assured me that they have a fairly good chance of actually blossoming later this spring.

That’s what he said.

And he tossed in some mathematical formulas, such as 80 (bulbs) x 30 days to the power of 3, the power of 3 most likely being the variables of sunny days, amount of water, and kind words spoken around the garden. Since these are lining the front walkway, the kind words will be more like people talking on cell phones while walking their dogs who smell our fresh mulch, and lift a leg.

We’re sunk. Nobody except the urban turtledoves coo-cooing. I guess I could sing Fre`re Jacques very softly to them while the bulbs snooze. “Dormez-vous! Dormez-vous….”

The kids were so into preparing the garden. I was the same at their ages, really holding my own in the zinnia and carrot categories. It’s something inside the Russian soul—cultivating the rich earth with vegetables or flowers.

Maybe we like manure or something. I loved to ride horses, too, and the smell never bothered me, having to muck out the stalls.

Every Russian had a story of a dacha, a country cottage (alright, shack…) where they planted cucumbers and watermelon and sunflower seeds, amongst fragrant flowers destined to grace a rough wooden table. Weekend trains and buses would fill with city folk heading for the country, despite having to go visit the well to fetch water, and of course, the outhouse facilities at the edge of one’s postage-stamp-sized plot. It was the simple country life that great writers, and thinkers, and musicians enjoyed, allowing the creative juices to flow, probably from a lack of bathing or electricity.

City-dwellers that we were, our family could still seek to recreate such a soothing scenario, our very own little pseudo-sahd (garden).

We found a community mulch place, free for the taking, and the children helped Benedetto load up a few big trash bags full of shredded wood chips. Actually Benedetto and Petya shoveled the stuff, while the kids tried their hardest to keep the leashed dogs out of it, their olfactory nerves nudging overload. I meanwhile, did double duty from my perch in the SUV, making sure that my makeup still looked immaculate, while watching to see if lightning would strike a nearby truck, landscape contractors who were not allowed to use said community mulch, but who apparently did, anyway.

Once home, the children dug trenches and inserted the bulging bulbs, me shaking my head, wondering who in their right mind would plant bulbs in the spring, while patting them on their heads, and murmuring encouraging endearments. They were so proud. With the temperatures wildly fluctuating between almost freezing at night, and downright hot during some days, it only seemed right to cover the sleeping beauties with a modest layer of mulch.

“It will keep them toasty,” I nodded, not really involved in getting my own hands dirty, but there to cheer them on.

The spring rains came right on schedule, hot on the heels of the planting project, the children overexcited and imagining tulips popping up tomorrow, if not sooner, a` la Jack in the Beanstalk. I wracked my brain to think if there was a Russian folktale equivalent, such as Boris and the Beetroot, or something. The one where everyone and his uncle tried to pull out the enormous turnip (Myshka za koshku, koshka za Zhuchku…) was too pedestrian, no flight of fancy there. (I’m sure there’s many a day at your place that you have a cat holding the dog, holding the granddaughter, holding the old woman, holding the old man, holding the turnip, and finally the cat calling the mouse over to help pull….)

For our fairy tale fable, we would have to settle for the soil itself, the magical moments of turning over the eager spring earth with earnest hearts and hands. We’ll see what happens.


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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Hey, I’m half Italian, half English-Irish-Scots, with a culturally confused partly-Russian soul! My idea of a lovely sight? Rows and rows of green things, vegetables, fruit, flowers, growing. Our previous house had the perfect FRONT yard for that, but not the perfectly accepting neighbors.

    Our permanent home (God willing) is in the woods. We get sun on the roof, sun on the deck and sun on the driveway. I’m thinking of relocating the square foot gardens to the driveway. Vika is thinking along the same lines, it appears.

    So sing to your bulbs, (Bai-yu, bai-yu, bai-yush-ki! just don’t threaten them with the wolf or Baba Yaga!), if they don’t bloom this spring, they might bloom this autumn. In any event, if the bulbs aren’t eaten by grazing animals, they will bloom NEXT spring.

    Our kids are (I kid you not) starting tomato plants from seeds!
    And UKROP. Get that ukrop into the garden ASAP. How can a Russian live without ukrop? Chuck and I also consider potatoes, onions, garlic, beets, cabbage, parsley, tomatoes, strawberries, and currants Russian food requirements… Lots of opportunity here!

    Yesterday I told Vika that she will become a great gardener, just like her maternal great-grandfathers, the Italian and the E-I-S, and her maternal grandfather (Italian), aunt (EIS) and grandmother (Swedish).

    The gardening gene skipped me, mostly, just like the sewing gene skipped my mother and aunt.

    I’m hoping to pass the sewing gene on to my daughters. We’re working on that.

    And they are hoping to convert me to a gardener.

  2. avatar Rebecca says:

    Excited to now be able to comment on your blog! Tulips are my favorite – I hope Benedetto is right and yours grow beautifully. You’re inspiring me to attempt to garden again, although the last time I tried we wound up with carrots that were the diameter of a drinking straw. 🙁 Things are tough to grow in the desert where we live. Either that, or I really really don’t have a green thumb!

    • avatar admin says:

      Drinking straws are good… we like drinking straws… all your flavored waters can now have a carrot flavor… could be the latest health craze! I’ll have to do a Part II sometime and tell of all of the urban predators to gardens and how we’re fighting an uphill battle here, lol. Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca!

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