Bulgarian Gardens, Gardening and Homesteading
Do you like gardening? You may be coming to the righ place. Gardening is popular in the rural areas of Bulgaria and even in city backyards. And it's often not just grass and flowers, but also fruits and vegetables. There are very few places here where regulations will stop you from gardening anything you want (except Cannabis).
What Do Bulgarians Garden
Most Bulgarian gardens include several fruit trees. Apple, pear, plum, peach, apricot - these are the most popular. There are gardens with only grass and flowers but Bulgarians have good traditions in growing vegetables. Spring gardens usually are full of salads and onions. In the summer you'll see a lot of tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, zuccini, pepper, potatoes. Autumn is usually the time for collecting the crops but you can see spinach, cabbage, turnips and leeks. Oh yes, and since everyone pretends to be a wine maker, everyone grows a lot of grapes.
The majority of gardens here are between 1/8 and 1/4 acre. Only the very rural areas normally have larger homesteads. Larger gardens are usually considered farms.
The climate here allows gardening nearly everything from the temperate climate. Many fruits / vegetables were already mentioned above. Some tropical perennials can be grown as annual plants. Some hardy tropical fruits like oranges and olives have been grown in the Southernmost part of the country. I don't know how successful though.
Cool-loving plans grow well in early spring and late autumn. Winter is a non-growing season with very few exceptions like leeks and some types of kale. But you can overwinter many vegetables - like onions, spinach, garlic, and some salads. They will usually survive the winter and continue growing early spring.
Gardening here is impossible without watering. Summers are hot and dry (except the last one was not) and vegetables can't survive through without watering. Most fruit trees and bushes will also need to be watered once in a while.
Bulgaria has many mountains and mountain villages. The weather conditions in them are often harsh and the growing season may be much shorter depending on the altitude. If you plan to purchase a house for a homestead you should definitely check the location and the elevation above sea level.
A lot of gardeners here extend the growing season with greenhouses. Depending on the exact location you can grow salads and cold-hardy greens in the winter, and some locations allow growing even cucumbers in unheated greenhouse. Very often greenhouses are used for seed starting or hardening the seedlings. Sometimes you'll see tomatoes and cucumbers growing in hoop houses even in the summer to protect them from diseases and hail.
The typical American cold frames are not very popular here but you can use them for overwintering spinach and similar hardy greens.
What about more self-sustainable homesteading here? No worries, it's a good place for this. In the villages there are still plenty of people who raise goats, sheeps, and even cows. Chickens and rabbits are raised even in city backyards.
If you want to homestead and provide most of your food here you can combine gardening with raising animals. Most plots do not exceed 1/4 to 1/2 acres unless you buy agriculture land (but then you'll lack the community services and utilities). But 1/4 acre should be enough for a small orchard and vegetable garden, chickens, rabbits and maybe even beekeeping.
In order to preserve your produce you need to account for two things: the really hot summers and the really cold winters. You will need some kind of basement and maybe root cellar. Most homesteaders here can a lot of food from summer and early autumn and prepare various kinds of pickles and sauerkraut.
In short Bulgaria is very good place for gardening - good weather, low regulations and mostly good land.
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