Flowers · Garden Design · Gardening · Growing Vegetables · Poland

How to Grow Organic Food – See How it is Done in the Garden I Have Recently Visited.

Beautiful trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), also called trumpet creeper growing in front of the garden beside and above the main gate and supported by the metal fence.
Beautiful trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), also called trumpet creeper growing in front of the garden beside and above the main gate and supported by the metal fence.

I have visited this beautiful garden in August 2017 while traveling in Poland for a few months. The garden is own by 2 ladies – mother and daughter and located in the South West part of Poland, a few hours drive from Breslaw (Wroclaw) and close to the Sudetes (Sudety) mountains. The closest bigger city is Klodzko.

The Design of the Garden and What Its Owners Are Growing There.

The garden consists of two main parts – recreational and agricultural, which are about an equal size,  around 2 acres each. On the first part stands a medium size garden shed and a small camping trail used to store kitchen related stuff they might need to cook and eat outdoor.  They are surrounded by some fruit trees, many flowers and a lawn with a space for chairs and a table. This is an area where the owners of this garden like to sit to relax and enjoy the outdoors, nature and good company. Food is often served here during summer months and some could be cooked in the nearby house since the garden is just a few steps from it, or done on the fire pit grill.  There is running water close by to this area as well.

Among the flowers and flowering shrubs, there are a couple of beautiful clematis, a variety of begonias (grown in pots displayed in front of the shed), some roses, geraniums, hydrangeas, as well as many annual flowers like zinnias, petunias and many others I don’t know the names.

Beautiful blue Clematis climbing the side of the garden shed.
Beautiful blue clematis climbing the side of the garden shed.

 

Another closer look at this beautiful Clematis.
Another closer look at this beautiful clematis.

This year was particularly good there for growing grapes and they got a very nice crop. Grapes were growing on one of the fences in the recreational part of the garden. You can see how beautiful they have already looked in the beginning of August.

Grapes growing along the fence in this organic garden, Poland, Sudetes area.
Grapes growing along the fence in this organic garden, Poland, Sudetes area.

 

Close-up on grapes growing in this organic garden.
Close-up on grapes growing in this organic garden.

On the agricultural lot of about 2 acre the ladies organically grow many vegetables and fruits trees and some fruit bushes, as well as strawberries. On the left side of this area there is a small greenhouse in which early crops of tomatos and some other tender vegetables are grown to protect them from harsh weather.  The walls of this greenhouse are made of plastic.

I was surprised to see that they was only left one single branch on each tomato plant. The plants are grown from seedlings the owners of this garden purchase in early spring. Then as tomatos grow they are supported by tiding them up to the metal wire which runs about the plants. It was very interesting growing method and much different from the way I grow tomatoes in our garden.

 

Interesting way of growing tomatos in this organic garden, Poland.
Interesting way of growing tomatos in this organic garden, Poland.

There were several tomatos varieties this year and among them very popular in Poland tomatos called “Malinowki” (they are raspberry colour and in Polish “malina” is raspberry). There were also 2 kinds of cherry tomatos, as well as some yellow varieties and one kind of bigger size tomatos “Bawole serce” (“Buffalo Hearth”).

The climate in Poland is generally more mild than in Toronto, Canada area where I live. There are some parts of Poland with more continental climate (particularly on the East side the country), with more extreme temperatures during winter and summer months. Also the winters in the higher mountain areas in the south of Poland are usually longer with more snow, especially in Tatra mountains.

I think the climate in the area where this garden is located (south-weest of Poland) is pretty similar to USA/Canada zone 6-7, but the days grow shorter a bit faster than where I live  since it is much further north. The winters there could get quite cold because these area is close to the mountains, but usually they are not as cold as where I live. For example this year we have here very cold temperatures, most of the time around -15-10C or even below -20C and this year most of the time they continue having temperatures above O C.

Here are some of the vegetables, beside tomatoes, these ladies were growing in their garden in 2017:  beets, carrots, parsley (grown as root vegetable and herb), cucumbers, leeks, root celery (celeriac), some kale, onions (at least 2 kinds), garlic, a variety of salads and maybe some other vegetables I didn’t notice in this so lush looking garden. They were also growing a variety of legumes, including peas, which were sown early in the season since the prefers cooler weather. They also have beans (some pole beans and a few bush beans) in 3 different colours – green, red and yellow. These ladies were even able to get two crops of some beans sowing the second crop in the end of July, so they could have a fresh supply of green beans for the whole summer.

An abundant crop of young red beets was growing in this organic garden, Poland. The beets and their greens are collected when needed and used to make salads, beet soup and very healthy fermented beets drink ("zakwas"). The beets are harvested from the field no later than sometimes in the end of September before the first frost, or they could get bitter in taste. Preserves are also made from them for the winter months and some beets could be chopped and frozen for later use in a variety of dishes.
An abundant crop of young red beets was growing in this organic garden, Poland. The beets and their greens are collected when needed and also preserved for later use.

The beets and their greens are collected when needed and used to make salads, beet soup and very healthy fermented beets drink (“kwas”- kvass ). The beets are harvested from the field no later than sometimes in the end of September before the first frost, or they could get bitter in taste. Preserves are also made from them for the winter months and some beets could be chopped and frozen for later use in a variety of dishes.

Here are 2 kinds of onions these ladies were growing – white and purple. They were already collecting them at the beginning of August and then letting them dry a bit on the plastic sheets in the sun to make cleaning them easier.

Young white onions drying out in the sun to make them easier to clean and store in a cool place for later use.
Young white onions drying out in the sun to make them easier to clean and store in a cool place for later use.

 

Here are purple onions drying out in the sun before they will be stored in a a cool, dry place.
Here are purple onions drying out in the sun before they will be stored in a a cool, dry place.

 

Organic corn growing along with zucchini and cucumbers.
Organic corn growing along with zucchini and cucumbers.

The ladies were also growing very healthy looking corn plants, along with zucchini and cucumbers. They said they like to grow cucumbers at the bottom of corn since cucumbers appreciate some shade.  Keeping in mind which plants like each other and which don’t is very important, and these gardeners certainly follow this rule keeping a printed table with the compatible and not compatible plants in their shed, so they can refer to eat as needed.

Close up of zucchinis growing at the bottom of corn plants.
Close up of zucchinis growing at the bottom of corn plants.

A variety of herbs is also grown in this garden. I have already mentioned some like parsley, but they also grow at least two kinds of mint, oregano, dill, chives, lavender and perhaps some other herbs.

Beautiful young corn and the lush organic garden visible in the back.
Beautiful young corn and the lush organic garden visible in the back.

The Growing Method They Use.

The growing method used in this garden is totally organic. The original soils is clay, but it was greatly improved over the years since this family started cultivating it more than 60 years ago.

They fertilize the soil with composted caws manure usually every third year and next year they use very well done compost from their composting bin. They have 2 bins and it takes about 2-3 year to have the compost done as they like. First they fill out the first bin then leave it for about 2-3 years. In the meantime they are filling out the other bin.

They add  a variety of left over plant material to the compost bins and occasionally a layer of soil. They also make sure it is kept moist at all time, but not too wet. Sometimes they also add there a bit of agricultural calcium, which makes soil less acidic and lighter.

Once the compost is ready, they put it trough a big sieve before they add it to the ground to make sure there are no big pieces, just very fine, light soil.  If they see too fresh looking compost on the top they remove it and add it back to the bin, so it can stay there for one more season.  Composting pile gets hot and there are earth worm working on it making a good soil.

Occasionally the ladies are also able to get some more or less composted horse manure. They could add some to the compost or take about 1/2-1 kg of it and add it to a big bucket with water and mix well, so is very well diluted. Then they sometimes use it to fertilize some young plants like tomatoes.  Very little goes a long way because it is still pretty strong and one has to be careful not to burn the plants. It is best to try some on one or two plants and see if it is OK or needs to be further diluted, or perhaps composted longer.

Organic beans growing in this garden. Look how healthy they look!!!
Organic beans growing in this garden. Look how lush and healthy they are!!!

In the third year they usually add some agricultural calcium to the soil, which they feel the garden needs. It helps not only to make the soil lighter and more alkaline, but also kill some insects and plants’ pathogens.

The soil is moved a bit each tome they add the additives to the ground and long time ago when the garden was not surrounded by fences yet and there was no shed or trailer, every couple of years or so they were hiring a man with a horse who came and helped to move the soil when adding caw’s manure.

Later, at least 40 years ago, the fences were added around the garden and since then they have moved the soild by hand just doing it gradually with a spade or garden fork. It is a very hard work, but when done gradually it could be done. Recently they have hired some help to do that, but only in the last year. I think working in the field and eating mostly organic food keeps these ladies healthy and strong, despite the fact that one of them is over 85 years old and the second one in her early sixties. They both still work in the field, but the older lady says she prefers to start in the early morning to avoid too harsh hot sun.

Dill - one of the herbs also grown in this garden. It could self-sow each year if some plants with seeds are left in place. Dill is great to be added to a variety of dishes and in Poland is always used when making naturally fermented cucumber pickles.
Dill – one of the herbs also grown in this garden. It could self-sow each year if some plants with seeds are left in place. Dill is great to be added to a variety of dishes and in Poland is always used when making naturally fermented cucumber pickles.

Besides the above mentioned additives added to the soil, each year they also use cover crops in the fall and dig them in to fertilize the soil. They use a variety of plants especially selected for this purpose and change what they plant. One year it could be a mix of different plants and other year just one kind like for example clover, mustard or alfalfa. They are able to dig it in about 20-30 cm into the ground before winter.  It adds more hard work for them, but they say it is well worth it since it makes the soil lighter, more fertile and can help to control and kill some pests.

Crops Rotation, Perennials, Fruit Trees and Shrubs.

I have asked the owners of this garden if they rotate crops and indeed, they don’t grow the same plants in the same spot the next year, with the exception of strawberries, which usually grow in the same spot for about 3 years before they move them to another location. It would be hard to move them and start over each year. These gardeners seem not to have any particular method of crop rotation.

Besides rotating crops of course they grow some perennial plants like decorative shrubs, as well as fruit trees and shrubs and those stay in the same place. The fruits they grow, besides already mentioned grapes and raspberries are a few different kinds of apples, sweet and sour cherries, black, red and white currants, aronias (a genus of chokeberries), gooseberries and some American blueberries (blueberries don’t grow there too well because they prefer more acidic soil and even addition of such didn’t help much so far).

Lots of parsley is grown in the garden and hey sow it each year in spring. Then the greens are collected as needed and roots are taken out from the ground at the end of the season. They are either, cut into small pieces and frozen, or dried, so they could be easily added to a variety of dishes, particularity soups. The surplus of parsley greens are also dried and stored in jars, so the supply can last for a long time and usually till the fresh parsley is available again.
Lots of parsley is grown in this garden and they sow it each year in spring. Then the greens are collected as needed and roots are taken out from the ground at the end of the season. They are either, cut into small pieces and frozen, or dried, so they could be easily added to a variety of dishes, particularity soups. The surplus of parsley greens are also dried and stored in jars, so the supply can last for a long time and usually till the fresh parsley is available again.

Can These Gardeners Grow Enough Food in this Way?

These ladies are able to grow so much organic food for over 60 years, even when they were working full time.  Before they even used to grow their own potatos, but now they don’t do it anymore. Beside this garden they also take care of other smaller garden, which was left over for them to take care after the grandmother has died. Now both ladies are already retired so they can dedicate to gardening even some more time. It allows them to grow enough organic vegetables, legumes and fruits, they hardly need to buy any food during the summer, fall and well into winter months, except potatoes, meat and dairy. They grow so much food they often share it with visiting  other family members and friends. They also make many preserves and dry of freeze some of the food.

One of the annual flowers growing in this garden. I think it is zinnia.
One of the annual flowers growing in this garden. I think it is zinnia.

I Hope This Article Will Inspire You to Grow Your Own Organic Food Or Maybe You Are Already Doing It?

Here you go. I hope you find this article helpful and it will inspire you to organically grow a lot of organic food in your garden in a similar way. Perhaps you are already doing it. Please share with us the insights your might have and tell us about what you are growing and how you do it.  Thank you.

What Has Inspired Me to Write this Article – the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – “Growth”.

I was inspired to write this article by the past week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge prompt – “Growth“.  I think this article works very well for this subject.

Following and Sharing this Blog.

If you like this blog post, please share it with other people who might be inserted in reading it as well.  Thank you. I  encourage you to follow or subscribe to my blog to receive automatic updates, so you won’t miss future posts.  I look forward to your comments.

The Copyright, Usage Licence and Fine Art Prints.

All photographs and this article are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk unless otherwise mentioned. I you would like to use any of them in your publications, on your website, or purchase these photographs as fine art prints, please contact me.

My Other Blog – Light Vision.

If you like this blog, you might also like to visit my other blog – Light Vision, where I write about photography, art and travel. Thank you for visiting, liking and sharing my blogs.

Other Articles You Might Also Like to Read.

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  4. Roses Blooming in our garden – Part 2.
  5. How to Prepare Roses for Winter.
  6. Memorial Day Rose.
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  9. Black Beauty lily.
  10. Visiting Niagara Park’s Botanical Gardens, Part 1.
  11. Visiting Niagara Park’s Botanical Gardens, Part 2.
  12. A Beautiful Italian Garden For You to Visit – “Giardino Sigurtà” in Valeggio sul Mincio, Northern Italy.

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