May 30, 2023
- So, we made pictures for social networks - now we get to work: dig, plant, fertilize!

– So, we made pictures for social networks – now we get to work: dig, plant, fertilize!

Photo: Maria LENTS

Crisis on the doorstep? Are products getting more expensive? The average Russian immediately remembers plan B: there are “six acres”! The historical experience of the Soviet years and the “hungry” 90s testifies: if you plant your own vegetables and potatoes, you will not be lost.

So it is, but a lot has changed since then. Including the cost of a personal garden became far from Soviet. Is it really possible to feed yourself from your beds now? And what should gardeners take into account so that instead of a harvest they do not “grow” continuous losses? We discussed these issues on KP radio with Andrey Tumanov, a well-known Russian gardener, chairman of the non-profit organization Gardeners of Russia.

Andrey Tumanov.

Andrey Tumanov.


– Several friends have already told me about grandiose plans for this May. Country lawn – goodbye. Instead, there will be potato beds. Does it make practical sense? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy potatoes in the store later?

– It depends on how you count. It can be calculated in such a way that amateur gardeners will have a list of expenses – just guard! And you can organize your activities in such a way that you don’t need to buy anything special.

You can also look at the question from a different angle. Do you know how much environmentally friendly products grown in the traditional way cost today? Yes, three or four times more than the one that is grown industrially! Therefore, the products from your garden, about which you know how they were grown, are not just “something to eat”. This is a very expensive product! I will not sell my potatoes to anyone, even if there is such an opportunity. Eat this potato and soak up the happiness and warmth of last summer.

– But it’s romantic again. Let’s get back to costs. What are the minimum necessary for a gardener now?

– It depends on who. A completely new gardener needs to buy a shovel and a chopper. And we, gardeners of the middle generation, already have everything. I have about fifteen different shovels. What will I buy? Well, except for fertilizers. And then, exclusively mineral. I make organics myself, from waste. And so much can be done, if not almost everything.

Would you like to tell me where to get, for example, free carrot seeds? Take a carrot. You stick into the ground. It is desirable that it be of a certain variety, and not a hybrid (in the supermarket, a variety is often written on the price tag – look). In a couple of months, you will have such umbrellas that look like dill from afar, but you definitely won’t confuse them with dill. In autumn, from umbrellas – you need to crush them with your hands – you collect seeds. And in such quantity that it is also enough for a neighbor. Of course, experts will now beat me for such an anti-scientific approach. But germination, as a rule, turns out to be better than that of many store-bought carrot seeds that have already lain somewhere for several years.

“Wait, it’s all too easy. But what about the stories about the fact that we don’t have our own seeds for a number of crops and there will soon be nothing to plant?

– “There are no seeds” – it does not happen. We can talk about the loss of varietal properties; that there is a risk of rolling back to the 70-80s of the last century in terms of productivity. But not that we will die of hunger because there are no seeds. How did they live in Soviet times, when there really were practically none in stores? They bought from grandmothers, from bags grown on their knees, as I just talked about carrots. I remember my first turnip seeds, bought like that – 20 kopecks per spoon. And everything grew!

But you don’t worry about the seeds, leave it to the deputies, who just want their drafts bare. Here you need to understand what, for example, “Dutch seeds” means. Yes, they are Dutch selection. But only parent pairs were grown in Holland, from which someone then grows seeds in completely different countries. Mostly warm. Just growing cucumber seeds in India is incomparably cheaper than in the same Holland. Not to mention the Arkhangelsk region. So there will be “Dutch seeds” for you, the only question here is logistics.


– How not to spend money in vain in pursuit of your own harvest? What to save on, what not to save on? You look at the counters in the country hypermarket – there are so many things there …

– Yes, you can easily save on the same seeds. I’ve been looking here recently, basil is for sale – 50 kopecks per bag. For the sake of interest, I bought – what will grow out of it. Do not believe it – 90% germination! And before that I bought basil for 150 rubles. Germination – 10%.

Therefore, the first advice – do not look at the big price. There is, for example, one company – it has such a marketing chip, to set the highest price on the market for seeds. A package of 5 seeds (namely seeds in pieces, not bags) – 380 rubles! Believe me, these seeds are no different from those sold for 50 rubles. But even a poor person will think: you should buy a couple of bags of these expensive ones – they must be some kind of special.

And such a wiring goes on all fronts. Here’s another example. Yesterday I was at the garden center. There are two jars with a preparation for feeding plants. One jar – 30 rubles. And next to it is a “pure organic product” – 380 rubles. If you give both jars to the chemist, he will laugh. It’s the same thing, just the jars are different. I won’t go into scientific details now, but when they write “pure organic”, “non-GMO”, in 80% of cases they play on your feelings, in order to suggest that this is something special, of better quality. In fact, you just need to turn your head. Let’s say you buy organic fertilizer. What can be there at all, except for “pure organics”?

And the second tip – be afraid of “progressive” advice from the Internet. They are worse than the most harmful chemicals. Better look in your country attic for the magazines “Young Naturalist” for the 70-80s. Everything is clear for children. And how about bloggers? If you tell how you really need to do it right, you will not gain views. We need to come up with some completely idiotic trick about how, without doing anything, to grow a rich “environmentally friendly” crop in two days.

I recently decided to search the Internet for what the moon is made of. The first link got out – aliens live inside the moon. But no one believes in aliens inside the moon. And for some reason, even people with higher education believe that it is impossible to feed plants with nitrogen, because it is “chemistry”, but it is necessary – with potato peels. Well, plants do not feed on the peel, they need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and trace elements. In such cases, I advise you to remember what we ourselves breathe. The air is 78% nitrogen, incomparably more than oxygen!

Therefore, if you want to get a good harvest without unnecessary costs and harm to health, remember: the gardener’s main tool is the head! In any gardener, an ordinary Russian peasant should live. The man is cunning, stingy. Who will definitely ask: “Are you trying to sell me here? No, we don’t need that, we’ll get by with that.” And you will succeed.

Calculator "KP"

“KP” calculator

Photo: Dmitry POLUKHIN


What to plant for a beginner summer resident

– Carrots, beets, cabbage, potatoes, salads, spices – in principle, any summer resident can grow all this, you don’t need to be an agronomist for this, – Andrey Tumanov is encouraging. – But I would advise the very, very inexperienced to start with potatoes. It is a very grateful culture. And potatoes are good as a pioneer.

– This is if there used to be a lawn, and now they decided to plant something edible?

– Or if earlier nothing was planted at all for many years. If you plant crops in the virgin lands that need to be constantly weeded – for example, carrots – you will be tormented by weeds, you will constantly crawl on your knees. And potatoes are only semi-mechanized care, with a hoe. You don’t have to do anything with your fingers. Two or three hillings per season is enough. This is feasible for a city dweller who is used to sitting all day and whose back hurts and shortness of breath begins from physical work. Just do not do anything magical with potatoes according to the advice from the Internet. No need to water it with potassium permanganate or succinic acid. Spud – and that’s it, leave her alone.

By the way, if you are completely beginners and have planted potatoes in virgin lands, your first harvest without any magic will most likely be much larger than that of more advanced neighbors. Everything is simple. The first crop of potatoes on the rested land is the maximum. In addition, beginners usually strive to do everything right. And they don’t plant the potatoes that they bought in the store and didn’t eat, but they buy healthy seed varietal potatoes. It gives an order of magnitude higher yield. Therefore, it turns out that a person does not know how to do anything, and he has a bam, twice as many potatoes as a neighbor across the fence, who has been planting it for forty years in the same place.

How to choose seedlings

– If you are a beginner, it is difficult to grow seedlings yourself for the first time. A city apartment is not the best place for this. Not enough light, too dry, too hot. Go to the garden center. Just not to cars along the roads where seedlings “from TEmeryazevka” are sold. We sell a hundred times more seedlings “from Michurinsk” and seedlings “from Temeryazevka” than are produced there. Go to a professional garden center or nursery for good, sturdy seedlings grown in a greenhouse with the right light and temperature.

And take a pencil with you. You go along the rows of seedlings, and so neatly with a pencil – a bale for a tomato. And look carefully – if anything from that seedling takes off. For example, the whitefly is a rare mischief. If you bring it to your greenhouse, then you will be tormented. This is another reason why I would not recommend buying seedlings anywhere. Our task is not just to plant something, but also not to bring in anything that you can’t eradicate later with any “harmless environmental means”.


Garden in the city

What can be grown on a windowsill

– I personally am a fan of balcony tomatoes. They are the most delicious,” Tumanov renders the verdict. – Because they are always at hand, they can be allowed to ripen to the point where the tomato is already so full that it is about to burst. And straight into the salad.

I have everything in a simple way – whitewash buckets as pots. I make soil in the country, I don’t buy it. Seeds – either donated or your own. No need to bother and spend a lot of money. If you are a beginner, start with early determinate or superdeterminate tomatoes. They will give you maybe a small but guaranteed harvest as quickly as possible. And they are the most suitable for a balcony or window sill: small, compact, not three meters in height. And unpretentious. From fertilizers – well, if you want, use organic matter. I know people who plant dried manure and water it. Or use complex liquid fertilizers.

– And I, for example, grow onions on the windowsill. I haven’t bought it since February.

– You are a good economist. How much does an onion cost in a store and how much does a green one cost? The difference is sometimes 15 times. If you buy an onion, stick it in a pot, or just put it in water, this is a very profitable business.

You can try jusai (Chinese onion – ed.). In the summer it can be grown on the balcony, and in the winter it can be driven out on the windowsill. Greens, the most common type of parsley – without any “micro” – also grow well on the balcony.

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