Tag Archives: square-foot garden

Going green: How did a city girl take on gardening

I have already proudly mentioned couple of time that I started gardening. Probably way too many times, no? Well, actually it is really a big deal for me, you know! That’s why even my tiny successes in this connection are a source of my great pride (LOL!)! I was born and raised as a total city girl. Of course I knew that tomatoes and potatoes don’t grow in supermarkets, but that for quite a while was pretty much all I knew about tomatoes and potatoes (giggle). We never had a summer house with a garden, I didn’t visit farms simply because where I was growing up there were no farms available for a visit. The closest I ever got to seeing what does the country life look like was couple of visits to the cousin of my granny who did live in one of the villages and had a garden. What I remember was that it was hot, dirty, I stepped in the cow shit while walking through the field and totally ruined my sneakers, I was bitten by mosquitoes a lot and I accidentally saw how a rooster was beheaded with an ax… So I returned to the city and swore never ever to get myself off an asphalt again.

Now for the last two years we live in the village with a garden (lovely twist of fate, ain’t it?). Our house is adjacent to the field where in spring they bring cows to graze and in the end of a summer they switch cows for horses. So literally when I look outside, at a distance of something like 4 meters (~13 feet) there are grazing cows or horses or from time to time jumping hares or running pheasants. Actually seeing a cat or a dog is nowadays much more rare and spectacular. But I am deviating. Back to the garden.

It felt right to give it a try. We have plenty of space, it is nice for kids to see how vegetables grow, and although I never bothered myself much with “let’s eat organic” and so on – I thought why not. The funny thing is that I started gardening last year still with pretty much of a city girl mentality. I made a Power Point presentation (no kidding!) on different types of vegetables that I am planning to plant… And while doing so I discovered a whole new world that I never knew existing. Like with almost everything I do, I dived right into the very depth – I followed a permaculture design course, read tons of materials about square-foot gardening and companion planting, I was theoretically equipped. No, I still think that it was needed, and especially in my case, but the problem was that although theoretically ready I was far from being ready to actually start. And recalling this brings a smile to my face.

I had my planting plan, I had my boxes (because in the end I opted for the square foot garden and my husband made them for me), I had my gloves, I had my seeds, I had my new rubber boots (fancy green with dots and a bow at the side). And then came the planting season… So I actually had to get myself away from my nice and neat Power Point (ouch!), put on these rubber boots and go digging (double ouch!). It was then that I had an actual argument with my husband who was telling me – “Start, it’s already time, look at the weather!” But I was replying – “I cannot plant now, my Power Point says I have to do it next month only!” A city girl…

In the end I did listen to my husband and went on to plant before the time indicated in the Power Point. And miraculously it worked. My first ever planting season brought me very tasty zucchinis, broccoli, mint, spinach and potatoes, beautiful nasturtium and chamomile for my tea infusions. It was actually an amazing feeling to see how that tiny seed you put in the ground first turns into small green sprouts and then step-by-step transforms into something beautiful and eventually tasty!

This year I am going for more variety but my planting plan is just a scribbling on a piece of paper and no longer a polished presentation. An evolution of consultancy to reality, huh? But most importantly I understood that it makes more sense to look outside and adjust yourself to the nature, rather than try to precisely follow the planting calendar. Besides, I am no longer scared to get my hands dirty if that is needed. And my tomatoes and paprika are already planted in a seed germination box and are ready to be re-planted very soon. So the city girl is definitely evolving!…

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(Re-)discovering myself


I used to be a successful career girl: a lawyer, patent and trademark attorney, as well as strategy consultant and mediator in cross-border civil and commercial disputes. I hold an International MBA degree and I did two years of doctorate in business.

At this moment, I am a happy stay-at-home mother.

I was born and raised in Latvia, yet I am ethnically Russian and culturally homeless. Six years ago my MBA studies brought me to Belgium, where I also met my future husband and settled down. We now have two amazing little kids whom we are raising bilingual: Russian and Dutch. However, they are exposed also to English language, as this is the language I speak with my husband.

I ended up as a stay-at-home mother partly by chance, partly by choice. After the graduation from an MBA I started with PhD in Business for two years attending the Doctoral School in Social and Behavioral sciences and in parallel working as a researcher in a business school. My focus was on risk management in non-financial companies. However, the academic world turned out to be not my cup of tea, as the reality is so much more stimulating than a statistical report with numerous reservations. Also the cooperation with my supervisor was far from being smooth. I now understand why all the three PhD candidates who started with her at different times, quit shortly. It got worse after I said that I want to take not only the 3 months maternity leave, but also the additional 4 months parental leave after my kid is born. I was told that I obviously lack the motivation required for doing the PhD (which was probably true). So I got fired when I was 7 month pregnant with my daughter and in the hindsight that was the blessing which spared me quite some nerves and left me with some extra cash.

After that I freelanced doing mediation and consultancy work in strategy and intellectual property matters; I lectured in risk management; I worked as an international coordinator for one of the mediation associations, assisting them in their internationalization efforts. And then…

Then, I lost my third child when I was 12 weeks pregnant… And it dawned on me. What a hell am I doing? I have changed but I am still pretending to be someone who I am no longer.

What I really want now is to be there for my kids, write, learn, golf, bake,… open a coffee house in the future, one day have my own vineyard and maybe see to apply my mediation skills to a different level (I will come back to that in detail in due time). So I have finally collected myself together, identified my new priorities and goals, and took full control of my new life. And I intend to make the best out of it!

cropped-image1.jpegThank you for reading this and I would be glad to meet you: be it in the virtual space of this blog or over a cup of coffee some day.

Feel free to contact me directly by e-mail: familylifeceo@gmail.com or via social networks: LinkedInInstagramTwitter