Wooden Shoes and My First Vegetable Garden

A Few Words on Klompen

Visit Netherlands and you will definitely see them everywhere: wooden shoes sold as souvenirs. Coming in all shapes, sizes and colors, the wooden shoes have a long and interesting history, and were definitely not intended to be used as decorations.

Klompen date back all the way to the Middle Ages. The oldest wooden shoe, from the year 1230, was found in Netherlands, on Nieuwendijk, a historic street in Amsterdam.

DSC_5982Originally, shoes were out of reach for common people, and were worn only by the rich, as leather was very expensive. Still, the fancy leather shoes, were no match for the wet dirt found in the Dutch climate, so farmers came up with a one piece, cheap alternative shoe, made out of wood, which gained in popularity, starting with the beginning of the 16th century. Most proud Klompen owners, would have two pairs, one simple, which they would wear at work, and another pair, painted and nicely decorated, for special events.

Worn for over 800 years, we can say Klompen are shoes with pedigree!

Because wooden shoes are safer than any other type of shoe, protecting the feet against sharp objects and concentrated acids, Dutch farmers wear them up to this day, in the garden, or on the field.

My First Vegetable Garden Story

Living in a city for pretty much all my life, I have to start with saying: I don’t know anything about gardening, planting, seeds or caring for any type of vegetable, as I’ve never had the chance to do this before. Even so, I’m always willing to learn something new. As I always come up with crazy projects ideas, about 2 weeks ago I’ve decided to become a ‘farmer’, and start my first mini-garden.

After a lot of online research, I went to the local gardening store, got some seeds, a pair of Klompen (as you can’t be a real farmer without wooden shoes, right?) a lot of courage, and 4 pairs of socks later, I got down to business.

On paper, going from full city girl, to farmer girl looked easy, but I had no idea how hard it will be to get the soil ready for sowing. After I got some tips on how to do it, I realized seeds need a very airy, light soil in order to grow nicely, so it’s not enough to scratch the surface with the shovel, but you have to be serious about it.

my first vegetable garden

Getting the soil ready, the sowing of seeds and the containers

About 3 days later, a lot of muscle pain, and with a huge smile on my face, I was done! The soil was in the containers, the seeds were planted, and the waiting game began. In total, I planted 8 cherry tomato seeds, 5 cucumber seeds, 9 strawberry seeds, 9 carrot seeds, 15 radish seeds, 15 green onion seeds, 6 broccoli seeds, 18 wild arugula seeds, 6 lettuce seeds and 12 onions seeds. Not that bad for a beginner, I would say!

Even if this happened only 3 days ago, I still look out the window a few times per day, to make sure no tomatoes are already ripe and waiting for me to jump outside with my salad bowl, and greet them 🙂

Enjoying a job well done!

Enjoying a job well done!

After proudly wearing my Klompen in the garden, I don’t even know how I managed to live without them, so far. No other shoe is more comfortable (but with 4 pairs of socks, how can they not be, and no, don’t even think about wearing them without socks, or you will redefine the term of ‘pain’ 🙂 ) and more appropriate for muddy soil. They don’t sink and don’t get damaged, so what else could you ask from a shoe? Besides, they make very cute sounds when walking on the pavement. Actually, the first time I heard a farmer wearing them, I was pretty sure a miniature horse was following me around the supermarket.

All in all, my reason to start the garden is very simple: I love to cook, and I put a lot of love into it, as I like to see the person eating my food, very very happy. So, if I can cook with love, why not grow some vegetables with just as much love? They must taste much better (or at least that’s the plan)!

If no rabbit, deer, bird, mouse or mole get to my plants before I do (relying on beginner’s luck I guess 🙂 ), soon enough I should see some pretty plants growing in the garden. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


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