Having our big garden means also a lot of things to learn. Of course, as a kid I observed my grandfather and my father gardening, but honestly, I was never really a gardening expert. Even our lawn back in Hungary looked abysmal, once I even got from a good friend a small piece of artificial lawn to have at least a small patch of green. On the other hand, it is also true that I always enjoyed nature, when deciding on what to study, I was hesitating between International Relations and becoming a Forestry Engineer. I choose the former and was never unhappy with that decision, but now I have the opportunity to also do a nature job. The first success story is our lawn in the backyard, well, it is not an English lawn, but why should it, it is in the middle of Banana plants and some orange trees. We cleared some of the land, bought in the local farming shop the one available type of lawn seeds and thanks to the climate it grew 10 cm in three weeks. Further experiments started with sowing potatoes, radish, carrots then came peppers, beans, cucumbers and zucchini and last but not least parsley root, key ingredient for Hungarian meat soup. I must put an emphasis on experiments, we just cleaned some patch from the weeds, slackened the ground, sewed and waited. Again, the climate and fertile soil helps, we continuously harvest radish, potatoes should be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks. On some other patches though, we cannot remember in which order exactly we sewed what and, as vegetables and weed grow equally fast, we cannot really unweed until the plants grow to a certain size as we might pull out some sprouts. Now it is time to overcome the experimental phase.
Despite the favourable conditions to grow vegetables, the choice of locally grown vegetables in the shops is very limited. I am not sure about the reason, probably breeding cows is more profitable, probably the difficulties of exporting excess production to other islands or the mainland does not encourage larger scale production. Luckily there is the newly renovated market hall in Horta where some of the farmers offer their products and on Saturday’s most of them are bio farmers. Even better, there is a thriving community promoting organic farming, offering courses introducing long standing professional farmers to organic techniques but classes are also open to newbies. This weekend a presentation was held about vegetable juices, honestly, I never liked those, my grandmother used to drink them, and their taste never convinced me. This time though vegetables were mixed with fruit and it was amazingly tasty, something to try out in the future. Afterwards, a friend introduced me to a small producer who showed us around in his newly established organic permaculture farm. It was very inspiring to see the varieties of vegetables grown, imagine a botanical garden, but instead of exotic roses and orchids you have beans, salads cabbage and so on. I am already looking forward to reorganizing our new garden and step by step moving from the trial and error gardening to a thought through method. I think you can easily tell from the pictures which one is our experimental garden, and which is the professional one .