Kruidentuin

Last year, Mike and I planted cilantro, basil, and two types of mint. This year we are expanding our herb garden or kruidentuin. We also picked up peppers and tomatoes. Of course, I picked the rainiest day of the weekend to go to the garden center on the other side of town.

Mike started tomatoes inside in a small container. We didn’t realize how many plants we had until they were transplanted into larger pots. Currently the tomatoes, mint, and bell peppers are flourishing. The hot peppers never sprouted. Oh well.

tomatoes and mint

peppers maybe

Town Market

Farmers’ markets are one of my favorite food related things. In the US, most farmers’ markets last from May/June to about September/October. For Mike and I visiting the local farmers’ market was always an event. We would plan to eat a meal there, try a new food, and bring back some goodies for at least one more meal. Often we would pick out interesting or unfamiliar foods. To this day one of my favorite finds was a middle eastern bakery. After moving to the Netherlands, I was very excited to find out that our town has a market twice a week.

From what I can tell after living here almost seven months, pretty much every town in the Netherlands has a town market once or twice a week. The town market is very similar to the American farmers’ market but the town market is often bigger and for some people their main source of food shopping. You can find produce, herbs, breads, eggs, cheese, fish, worst, nuts, seeds, tea, coffee, even potted plants, linens, and clothing not to mention an array of things for your bike. Our market also has a fry stand where you can order a cone of fries with your favorite sauce and perhaps a kroket if you are really hungry.

At first, I didn’t do a lot of shopping at the town market. For a couple reasons:

1. I was convinced that it was going to be overpriced or higher priced than the supermarket. This is generally not true, the prices are about the same if not a little less at the market depending on the item and the seller. In my experience the town market produce is often better quality and more varied than the supermarket.

2. It was winter, a balmy winter with no snow, but still colder than Texas where I had spent the last two to two and a half years. Yes, I was a wimp.

3. I didn’t speak any Dutch and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand people. Most sellers speak at least enough English to conduct their business but I didn’t know that at the time. Now I know enough Dutch to make my purchases without resorting to English.

The present
I have noticed that some things are way easier to find at the market than at the supermarket. A couple times the supermarket was out of a veggie I needed but at the town market the same veggie could be found in several stalls. I usually plan my shopping around going to the town market and what is available seasonally. One of my recent town market hauls included raspberries, cucumber, and salad greens.

Garden Makeover

When Mike and I moved in to our house it had been empty for three-quarters of a year and the garden had gone to seed a bit. I could tell the garden had potential but it needed a little work to make it lovely.

I mentioned to my friend, Belen, that I wanted to do something with my garden and was a bit at a loss for exactly how to get it to look like the garden in my head. She generously offered to help me out.  We went over the plan for the garden and she suggested plants to help me get the right look. After a few texts back and forth, we settled on a day to make the plans a reality.

Before the big day, I had picked up a few tools,  some weedkiller, and found some empty planters in the shed. The day of the garden overhaul Belen arrived with trimmers (in every size imaginable), extra potting soil, brushes, miscellaneous tools, and flowers. So between the two of us we had everything we needed.

First we got rid of the weeds in the flower beds and between the tiles. While I finished weeding, Belen also re-potted the flowers she brought with her and a bunch that were being squished by some bushes.

Repotted flowers

After the weeds were gone, we trimmed the trees and bushes. We decided to dig out the big bush in the back corner to make room for the Hortensia. After a trip to the tuincentrum (to pick up more soil, citroenmelisse, and a Clematis), we planted the Hortensia and the Clematis. Belen made sure that the Clematis would grow in all directions to cover the lattice.

Trimmed

New garden

Clematis
Clematis
Hortensia
Hortensia

Here is the final result:
After

Thank you so much, Belen, for your generosity and hard work.

Garden Progress

So I have been very remiss in working on my garden for a variety of reasons. However, now I am starting to work on it so the past doesn’t matter. Except that it does matter because that means I have more weeds to remove. This week I picked up weedkiller, a couple garden tools, and some potting soil. Tucked away in the shed I found a large watering can, some empty planters, a hoe, and a rake.

Gardening tools and 20 L of potting soil.
Gardening tools and 20 L of potting soil.

If you want a reminder of the garden before here it is:
The garden (tuin in Dutch) in its current state.

Below are my current improvements to some eyesores before I get into the weeds.

Table:
Unfortunately, the table isn’t mine (part of the house we are renting) so I can’t refinish it. My solution: buy a bright table cloth to put over top.


Seating:

The garden was lacking seating so I grabbed two plastic chairs from inside. A friend very kindly dropped off a lounge chair she is no longer using. Boom! Now Mike and I can eat or read in the garden.

Pots
I tossed broken pots and dead plants. The empty pots are now home to my herbs (so far I only have mint and coriander since I use those the most).

Re-potted herbs: mint and coriander
Re-potted herbs: mint and coriander

Next step is weeding and cleaning up the tiles.

Herb Garden

Even though it is winter, plants and flowers are available everywhere. I recently began my own small garden of herbs I use regularly: parsley, cilantro, and mint.

Mike will tell you that I am really bad about caring for plants. I once let a cactus die from under watering. So I am pretty sure he thinks I will kill my garden or he will be left to care for it. So far I have been good about watering my plants. I am really going to do my best to let my little garden flourish.

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