Sunday, June 28, 2009

Between Gardens and Dzialki

It's a sad day. I think my digital camera died.

Recently, I've been starting my own little garden on the balcony. There's a smattering of herbs and flowers, and a few ambitious projects like cucumbers and peas. They're doing well (especially the cukes!)
Small-scale gardening is somewhat of a passion here. Many, if not most, families have dzialki: small huts on tiny plots of land on the borders of cities where people eke out various amounts of vegetables from small beds. A lot of dzialki simply serve as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city (we call them camps up in ME.) Others serve more as a gardening patch, much like a liberty garden back in the '40s.
Dzialki occur in rather large clumps, like little suburbs. The buildings can be a big as a cabin to the size of a garden shed. They are a common sight from the train as it departs urban centers. During the communist era, there was a law that employers had to provide dzialki to their workers. So, companies bought up huge areas with like 200 dzialki; the only catch was that the workers couldn't build on the land or sell it, they were only allowed to go there and relax. Some of these sit almost in the middle of Warsaw, in Mokotow and such, prime real estate. Now, investors are waiting for the law to be changed, so they can snap up the dzialki from the aging workers and sell it for huge profits.

On the way to Arkadia to buy some lucky bamboo, I noticed a fairly large cherry tree with branch reaching over the fence and hanging over the sidewalk. The tree was at the border of someone's dzialka, which was right across the fence (along with many other dzialki.) Its crop was just beginning to ripen, and it wouldn't be long until bushels and bushels could be plucked from its lower branches. It struck me because my family has the very same type of cherry growing behind my mother's garden, at the fringe of the woods. The cherries are small, fire-engine red, and taste very tart. Eat too many and you'll get the shits for a few days.
I picked a couple ripe ones, intent of tasting the quality of the tree. I didn't eat them because they were actually rather filthy, on account of the natural grime and dirt that will cover everything next to a major road and walkway.

It's doubtful that I'll be able to enjoy any of the cucumbers or tomatoes I've grown. Since they were planted so late, I'll be leaving just before they start to ripen.

No comments: