Yambol City Farming Begins

Yambol City Farming BeginsSo, the City farm was laying fallow in Yambol and needed more than just a bit of elbow grease to get it up and running into a food factory. This was the main reason I came to Bulgaria to produce my own organic food from the land. Now the opportunity had been given for me to do that locally and it was about to begin.

All my tools for growing were in the village farmhouse, there were a few tools in the factory outbuilding that I could use but the most important tool was the Bulgarian ralo (рало). This was a tool that every Bulgarian that works the land or garden has. It is one of the biggest discoveries for me since coming to Bulgaria and would never be without it as it is like a multi-tool for the land doing the job of a spade, fork, trowel, pick axe, axe, hammer and mallet all in one. I now have three of these, having spent 10 Lev on my third one to be kept on site of the City farm. I could quite easily write a post solely dedicated to this tool and how to use and maintain it.

The potatoes seed still in the boot of the Lada and my farming outfit along with the traditional blue dungarees and matching jacket, thick knitted Bulgarian socks fitting snugly into my Bulgaria rubber galoshes and I was off.

Five minutes later I was on site, they knew I was coming as a local resident who called Maria (surprise! surprise!) was waiting for me. She is a typical village woman who happens to be in town albeit the outskirts. In typical bundled layers of woollen clothing and headgear because there was a slight wind on this warm and sunny day she didn't waste any time in putting my potato planting to rights. What I didn't know was that she had been instructed to teach this 'green' Englishman how to plant potatoes. IYambol City Farming Begins thought I knew having done it in the village on many occasions, but I apparently hadn't a clue after extensive instruction from a woman who has been working the land for over 50 years in the same way she had been traditionally taught.

After just a couple of hours the potatoes were sown and the ground that had been worked looked just needed a couple of wooden crosses and would replicate a graveyard. Having said that, the amount of bones that were dug up was quite amazing, I assume they were human bones as they were fed to the numerous security dogs around that barked at any movements made from non-familiar faces.

Yambol City Farming BeginsThe technique used for sowing potatoes seemed quite complex at first, there were many stages of preparing mounds moving half of it laying the potatoes then the fertilizer and building the earth mound back again and finally slightly flattening and smoothing the top. Alongside each elongated mound are water channels that had been made both in line with the mounds and channels bordering the length of the whole patch. Each channel is dammed at teach end creating an effective reservoir system when watered.

The afternoon session was finished with a simple task of planting 60 lettuce seedling simply using my index finger as a dabber. Once the soil had been worked with the ralo as a forking tool, the sold was very easy to work with. the biggest problem was lucerne, an animal feed herb that is perennial with roots dug in as deep as half a metre.

This was only the first session and will now be a daily trip for me on my bicycle as everything I need to farm is on site now. There is even more excitement looming as we return to the village farmhouse this weekend to tend to sowing sweetcorn and more potatoes on the land there. This really is a dream being fulfilled right now thanks to the generosity of Galia's family giving this land to us to work on.

Galia was there watching all this from the office window, this was her first outing for over two weeks confined to bed. It was a lovely day and good that she could get out and catch up with news at work. She won't be working for at least another few weeks and improving every day.
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