Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

In Tuscany we know plenty of ancient sayings that remind us that working the land is not a joke.

“The soil needs constant care, attention and sweat”, emphasizes Riccardo Baldesi, from Castellina in Chianti, who has been cultivating the land for all his life and knows a lot about it. We’ve met him in his garden and asked him to unveil the arcane secrets of producing great tasting vegetables.

“First you have to work the soil with a hoe and remove all the weeds. Fertilizing the soil is the most important thing, so plants can have all the nutrients they need to grow, “explains Riccardo patiently.

“Then – he says with a smile – as we say in Castellina, you need to go to the market and buy the seedlings from Adelmo. Make some small ditches to plant the seedlings”.

Riccardo reminds us that the best time to plant is when the ground is warm. It’s a bit early now, but in a few weeks we can already harvest and taste onions, salad, leeks, fava beans and garlic.

Summer offers a greater variety of vegetables: chard, green beans, cucumbers, aubergines, peppers, potatoes and many others: “The tomato plants, as they grow, are tied to the reeds, so they do not break”.

To avoid diseases it’s necessary to spray the plants with copper once or twice a month. “For the courgettes I use sulphur because they can suffer from the same disease as the vines” Riccardo patiently explains.

“The vegetable garden – he concludes – must be facing south. I water it in the morning, when the plants are fresh, and they remain wet all day. Some people prefer to water the evening, there’s more than one rule”.

Jessica Nardi