Spring and summer are the most anticipated period for city residents not only because of the start of the vacation season but because this period is the busiest time for those who have their own dachas, or country houses outside the city.
Many families who have houses in the city suburbs, prefer to grow their own organic products. Some people, enjoy relaxing in their summer cottages, understand that they want to spend more time at their dacha and so buy houses in the suburbs.
The Kazakh capital has a strong continental climate and cultivation here requires a lot of work due to the frequent threat of frostfall and the strong winds. Gardeners have to be vigilant when protecting their plants from sudden temperature drops. As a rule, work on summer gardens begins in April.
Nur-Sultan resident Viktor Semenov believes that gardening is good therapy because living in a city adversely affects mental and physical health. “Humans are connected to nature and that’s why we feel more comfortable in a natural environment. Our body begins to recover, gains more energy and starts to feel better. We are desperate to leave the city for a weekend”, he said.
Semenov’s parents bought a summer house when he was a kid. Initially, they started to plant only berries, greens, flowers and trees, but they began working with vegetables later as well. Later, they bought a house in the suburbs and moved there as a family.
“I am now 37 and we still live in this house. Our garden is divided into two sectors – one of them is fruit trees and the other part is for vegetables, herbs and spices. My parents are now retired, but they enjoy working in the garden. Physical activities and proper nutrition are the best recipe for a long and healthy life. Natural biorhythms and active lifestyle are vital in this stressful life. I am grateful to my parents that they instilled a love of nature in me too,” he added.
Semenov said that physical activities and fresh air bring him only pleasure. It is more useful than spending time on the dance floor or playing billiards because nature gives people energy.
“First of all, your dacha is your own special place to go to for solitude and relaxation. Second, you can plant your own vegetables and fruits. Third, gardening activities may become a hobby or you can start running a business by selling home-made products. Nowadays people prefer healthy bio food grown without chemical treatment and the use of GMOs. Instead of supermarkets, they prefer to buy products from the dacha,” he said.
Fall is also a very important season for all gardeners as people start making preserves with vegetables and berries. Pickled vegetables and homemade jams are an essential part of the traditional cuisine.
“Our family is always glad to open a jar of pickled vegetables full of vitamins during a cold winter. We usually make sweet homemade fruit beverages. It is called kompot in Russian. Kompot can be made from fruit or berries, or a mix of both. We also make spicy and sweet sauces,” Semenov said.
Ayan Temirova has her dacha located near the village of Koyandi. It is situated approximately 10 kilometers from the city. She feels that running a garden can be a challenge when you have a busy life in the city, but spending time with family there is priceless. “Of course, it’s not an easy thing, but hard work and fresh air have a positive effect on our body and your soul,” she said.
Her passion for gardening goes back to her childhood memories.
“I grew up in a village and I remember as school children we used to help locals during their harvest campaigns to gather berries and apples in the farmers’ garden. When we moved to the city, we decided to have a dacha,” she said.
Temirova has a big family and she is happy that her kids spend the holidays outdoors. The dacha is also a good place for family gatherings and celebrations in summer.
“We grow various vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. All-natural products are grown without fertilizers. Some friends say that everything is for sale in supermarkets – so why work so hard? Sometimes we get tired and children do not always want to work. But they fail to understand that this is something that keeps us united as a family. If only you knew what happiness it brings us to share our home-made vegetables with family and children,” she said.
When the Ismagulov family moved to Nur-Sultan eight years ago, they decided to have a house with a garden. Both spouses had made careers as civil servants. Now they dedicate their time to growing and cultivating plants.
“People who have their own gardens are truly obsessed with this activity. Keeping a garden requires enormous patience and hard work. Only hard work ensures a rich harvest and tasty vegetables,” said Kabibolla Ismagulov.
He said that there is a whole community of gardeners in the area and they exchange ideas and experience. At the same time, each gardener has its own little secret growing techniques.
“In fall, before the first frost comes, garlic, carrots, onions and strawberries are planted,” Ismagulov said while sharing some tips on cultivation. “These plants have vernalization requirements and must be exposed to a certain number of days of cold temperatures. Despite the snowy and cold winters, these plants are the first to sprout in spring. Carrot seeds sown in winter makes it possible to have carrots in June-July. We also do not use pesticides and fertilizers as we believe in organic farming.”
The Ismagulov family are proud to have their own garden. “Our friends joke that we eat too many vegetables. At the same time, we promote a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition. We do gardening for our family, not to save money or something else. We enjoy the process, it is part of our life,” he said.