How to prepare soil for planting vegetables and preserve (canning) the vegetables that you produce

By Victoria Kalmykova

My grandmother was growing vegetables that were yummy when I was about 10 years old. That was approximately 1980-81. I was living in Sevastopole, Ukraine at that time. We use to go together and collect cat poop and she would fertilize the soil with the cat dung. (random cat poop will work!) Then she would wait a few weeks before she would plant anything. She would water it from the garden hose once every few days to keep it moist.

My grandmother had a greenhouse out in the backyard and it was covered by cellophane for the walls the seedlings would stay in there until they were about 5 cm tall. She would leave them until they were big enough to sustain themselves in the ground, after the last frost of winter. We grew tomatoes and cucumbers. She would make rows that were spaced 10 cm apart and width about 5 cm. She would plant 3 tomato seedlings per pole and she would time them up gently with soft string, as not to damage the delicate babies.  She watered them once a day in the evening after sunset so they did not burn from the water magnifying the sunlight. The sunshine in this part of the country was very dry heat in early Spring. They were usually planted by May in the ground.

Approximately 2 months later, we had tomatoes and cucumbers! we made yummy salads and my Grandma would preserve many of the vegetables we grew. In the winter in Ukraine, there are not vegetables and fruits in the stores in our local town so if we didn’t preserve some of what we grew in Spring, we had none in the winter.

To preserve vegetables here are some tips:

You start with a pressure cooker. then you wash the tomatoes then dry them up, then you sterilize the containers (glass Ball Jars w lids) for ten minutes. While the sterilizing is going on, you make a special solution for preservation consisting of water, salt, sugar, vinegar, black pepper, a leaf of horseradish, a sour cherry leaf (tart), garlic, leaves of black currentberry. The solution should be not too salty or too sweet, but enough vinegar for preservation. You can tell if its right by tasting it on your tongue. The next step is to boil the solution in a hard boil for 10 minutes approx. Put tomatoes in the sterilized Ball jars and pour the hot solution over them and cover. Then place the covered full jars in the pressure cooker for 10 minutes. That’s it! The vegetables should last approximately one – two years. My grandma stored the jars in our food pantry in a dark location.



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