Quarantine Garden

It just so happens that the last time I had a proper garden was also the last year that I wrote a blog post, 2014. My garden was located next to the asparagus garden, which unfortunately is also no longer in the equation, due to circumstances beyond our control. Our well dried up, which made it difficult to water and it was nearly impossible to access the garden due to all of the gold diggers destroying the agricultural roads.

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Lyubov Varlova – Former Executive Sous Chef at Hilton Sofia, trellising some peas!

Before Coronavirus was a global pandemic, I had been pressuring my husband to build me a greenhouse; 2020 was going to be my year to revive my green thumb. He started building it in January, with the hopes of finishing it for my birthday on February 2nd… It ended up being more like late Valentine’s Day present; the timing, however, was perfect.

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The greenhouse and freshly tilled earth.

On March 13th, Bulgaria declared a state of emergency, and we were going into lockdown mode. Everything that was previously occupying my mind, the distillery, learning French and writing was put aside… panic set in and all I could focus on was preparing for the unknown future. The talks of the economic collapse and worldwide recession or depression set my focus to one of the ways that I can contribute to my family’s wellbeing… growing and preserving food.

The theoretical and practical knowledge of gardening, composting and organic treatments for pests are all in my wheelhouse, I just needed to get to work to prepare our new garden in our village house, well “house” is a loose term to describe it… it has some walls and some bits of a roof, but it is a work in progress… it has been a work in progress for almost 6 years when we acquired the property to store our tractor and other machinery, sort of a staging ground. I had always intended for this to be my replacement garden for the one I lost, but I was hesitant to break ground till the house was finished: to avoid soil compaction and construction debris. COVID-19 changed all that…

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The untamed jungle May 2019.

The plans to transform the yard were ambitious, we first started in 2019. We needed to clear away remnants of stone walls, dead trees, bushes and somehow reclaim the earth from its current jungle state. This was a group effort including my husband, children, and a few workers that help us with other projects.

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Engaging my athletes in agro-fitness.

Despite all the hard work, it is what keeps me somewhat sane in this time of crisis. Nothing is known, yet gardening is predictable… If you plant some seeds and water them, they will sprout. Eventually, you will harvest your bounty and that is the only certainty in my life. Tending the soil keeps the negativity at bay and hopefully tons of fruits and veggies will be gracing my table in the near future.

With anything related to gardening, it is ongoing and never-ending. My days are an everlasting game of wack-a-mole with weeds and stones, but there is this solace or cathartic feeling that soothes my anxiety… the repetition and monotony bring me a modicum of peace. We all need to find it where we can and for me, it is in my quarantine garden.

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