Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring on a Windowsill

   Spring has not yet come here. The bright green seedlings are growing on all windowsills at my home.
In my other post I told about seeds that I bought for the garden.There were some packets of tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers seeds, flower seeds of lobelia and petunia, Dianthus and campanula (Blue bells).
In the first days of March I thought what the best way should be to sow in the soil or in
expandable coir pellets. And I decided to buy both, soil and
pellets. Most of the seeds were sown in pellets then I continued sowing, pouring soil in plastic or paper boxes.

I was told that the hybrid petunia seeds poorly germinate and I had to use only coir pellets. So I've sown 5 seeds of petunia 'Gloriosa' (first photo) in the coir pellets and my own simple petunia seeds were sown into the soil. The photo shows that petunias 'Gloriosa' are still weak, and the garden petunia seedlings are strong enough (photo below).

Tomatoes were three 'cherry tomatoes' varieties. Surprisingly, they've rapidly germinated and now one variety of tomatoes 'Richy' outgrows the others

Over time, I've noticed that pellets began to rapidly dry up on sunny windowsill. I didn't know whether I should keep them watering constantly. So I've added soil, now moisture is keeping better.
The lobelia seeds are very small and were sown very tightly, I need to separate seedlings soon (below, in cells). 
I'm glad Monarda seeds were perfect and I have nice and healthy seedlings (in a plastic pot)

 Begonia tubers wintered well in a cool place and now are growing in a light windowsill. I think begonias will bloom soon, and I'll move them blooming to the garden.

I've picked up milk boxes, cut them and planted Gladiolus bulbs there. Gladiolus bulbs have also begun to sprout. I have to plant gladiolus in large garden containers later.
Here are growing dahlias. As I showed in my other post, I bought red and white dahlias. Since sprouts appeared on their tubers I've planted them in pots. Now, they are drawn to the sun and waiting for to be planted in the garden.

When the warmth come and temps are high enough my plants will be moved to the garden.
What did you sow and how are your seedlings grow?  
Where do you sow: in cells, pots or in expandable coir pellets, my friends? 

 And now what is new in my garden? The Blackbirds arrived!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shrovetide, Samovar and Scarecrow, Part 3

Shrovetide week comes to an end, and people traditionally drink tea with pancakes.  (See Shrovetide Part1 and Shrovetide Part 2 ) In the old days a samovar used to boil water, it was always in any at home. This kitchen item came to Russia more than 200 years ago. 
I have never had a samovar in my home, but I read that it was necessary to put burning coals in a samovar center pipe. 

Here are some photos (Internet source) of samovars. The white samovar on the left is electrical one, porcelain. The next one has a small tea pot on top.The typical samovar is a metal one in the center below. The other painted samovars are souvenirs.

It was a tradition to fill a small teapot with tea leaves and boiling water from a tap and then to place it on a top of a samovar. I can imagine how delicious tea was with pancakes at Shrovetide, when it was cold or snowstorm outside.
Here are some traditional scarecrows made nowadays in different areas of Russia. This Shrovetide I decided to make my own scarecrow and to burn it in my garden.

Some typical scarecrows made ​​of straw or wooden sticks, dressed in different clothes and shawls (Internet).
To realize my idea I prepared sticks, some rags for clothes and  the scarecrow’s head. By tradition scarecrow should be dressed in women's clothes (don't know why!).
I've taken some old rags to make the head. Then I've painted her face, put "a dress" on and “a headscarf”.  I've liked it, turned out not bad.

Then I installed scarecrow in snow and  set on fire. Oh. scarecrow was burned well. The tradition means spring will be warm! (I think, in these ancient traditions is something of pagan rituals).

The audience appeared, they all wanted to spring come soon!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Shrovetide Week, Part 2

  I'd like to continue my previous post telling you about the old and re-create Russian traditions of welcoming Spring.
Shrovetide, like any Carnival is inconceivable without abundant feasts, festivals, games but still performances are the main component of the carnival. 

The old picture on the box cover

Celebration of Shrovetide in Yaroslavl, 2012

Church included Shrovetide among its celebrations, as it is held in the week before Lent. At this time, according to the ordinance of the Orthodox Church is not allowed the use of meat, but is permitted consumption of dairy products, including butter and eggs. People were trying to eat dairy products, eggs, fish - and of course, the main dish, pancakes before Lent which lasts 40 days before Easter.

In the villages people made the symbolizing winter Straw scarecrow, they established it on a snow hill and were sledging with songs. Guys arranged fights and a capture of a Snow Town.
Celebration of Shrovetide in Yaroslavl, 2012


 'The capture of a Snow Town'  by Vasily Surikov, 1891

The driving in a sleigh was an integral part of a holiday. The guys who were going to get married, bought a sledge and drove in a sleigh-and-three horses, called 'Troika'. They put the best harness on horses.


  'Shrovetide' by Boris Kustodiev, 1919
'Shrovetide' by Fetisov, 1990
According to the Christian tradition, people asked for forgiveness and kissed three times as a sign of reconciliation at the last day of Shrovetide week, in "Forgiveness Sunday". All Shrovetide traditions are intended to banish winter and to wake nature. Their symbol was a Straw Scarecrow dressed in women's clothes. People had fun and then, with a good conscience, burned Scarecrow and said goodbye to carnival until the next year.
 The old picture on the box cover

  Celebration of Shrovetide in Yaroslavl, 2012

Did anyone of you, my friends-bloggers, drive in a sleigh?
Would you like to drive in 'Troika' in sunny spring day? 

I will show you my burning Scarecrow in part 3, to be continued.



Friday, March 1, 2013

The Week of Shrovetide (Part1)

   In Russia Shrovetide celebration began and lasts for a week in March. This holiday was recently revived and people are trying to re-create old traditions of a Pancakes week. I love celebrating Shrovetide, as the coming of spring and a farewell to a long and cold winter.

Pictures 'Winter' and 'Summer' by Russian artists Klimenko and Nagornaya

Everyone like to go to the nearest park and to watch a straw man burning, to eat pancakes with sour cream or caviar (for every budget). I love celebrating spring arrival and a farewell to winter in my garden. 
Since ancient times festivals were timed to the day of the Vernal Equinox (March, 20-21). The New Year had began. In Egypt, people celebrated the fertility goddess Isis, in Greece the people honored the goddess Cora, Demeter and Athena. The celebrations in honor of the goddess Minerva in Rome were held for five days after the Equinox.
With the adoption of Christianity in Europe, the pagan holidays were filled with new content, keeping however a lot of archaic features. In pagan Russia a Shrovetide week began in the Vernal Equinox, and was the heir of an older festival associated with the cult of spring bear

 Picture 'The Sorcerers' by Russian artist Panasenko

As for a pancake that was the symbol of the sun and life, it became the main Shrovetide week delicacy.

How is the Shrovetide Week celebrated in your country?

to be continued....