Category: "Plants"


by Don  

The word огород means a chunk of land near your house where you grow vegetables, in other words a vegetable garden, although in English we usually just say garden. It might also have berries and apples, but it's essential to have either vegetables or greens. It's a perfectly regular 1st declension noun.


Omigosh, but the Russians love their gardens. If they have a дача, then in the summer months they get out of town and raise as much food as they possibly can. If you'd like to see some pictures of a real Russian garden, take a look here.

— Где Даня?
— Он поливает огород.
“Where is Danny?”
“He is watering the garden.”
Флюра привезла мне огурцы и кабачки из своего огорода. Flura brought me cucumbers and squash from her garden.
За нашим огородом есть речка, на которую мы ходим ловить рыбу. Behind our garden is a stream where we go fishing.
— Что ты делал сегодня утром?
— Я полол сорняки в огороде.
“What did you do this morning?”
“I pulled weeds in the garden.”


by Don  

Всходы is a fun little word. The prefix вс- means upward. The root ход- means go. When you put them together into a word that is only used in the plural, it means sprouts, i.e. the tiny little beginnings of plants that have just come up out of the soil. Here's a sample sentence:

Всходы выдерживают заморозки от минус 3 до минус 6 градусов. (source) The sprouts can stand freezing weather from minus three to minus six degrees.

Under the influence of books like “In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto” by Michael Pollan and “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver, I decided to do some container gardening on my patio. I went to the farmer's market and bought some Green Zebra tomatoes. I liked them so much that I squeezed out some seeds, fermented them and planted them:

Вот помидорные всходы, которые в конце апреля появились у меня во дворе. Here are the tomato sprouts that appeared in my yard at the end of April.


by Don  

Growing up in Arizona, every time the wind blew I would see tumble­weeds. In American movies they are a symbol of the vast and empty West, or sometimes of eco­nomic deso­lation in the country. Despite their asso­ciation with the American West, they originally came from Russia, and their Russian name is перекати-поле, which means “roll across a field.” The phrase is treated as a neuter noun and requires neuter adjectives and verb agreement.

По степи, вдоль и поперёк, спотыкаясь и прыгая, побежали перекати-поле, а одно из них попало в вихрь, завертелось, как птица, полетело к небу и, обротившись там в чёрную точку, исчезло из виду. (Чехов) The tumbleweeds ran over the steppe, back and forth, bumping and jumping; and one of them ended up in a dust devil. It began to spin around, flew up into the sky like a bird, and there it turned into a black spot and vanished from view.
После бури на дворе обнаружилось одно перекати-поле, в середине которого зацепилась жалкая высохшая птица, наверно когда-то искавшая там убежище от неприятной погоды и не знавшая, что там она найдёт только колючую смерть. After the storm in the middle of the yard we found a single tumbleweed, in the middle of which a pathetic, dried-up bird was stuck. It had probably sought refuge there from bad weather, not knowing that there it would only find a thorny death.

In Russian перекати-поле is often used to describe a person who doesn't stay in one place very long. It's mostly a negative description since most Russians tend to be born, live, and die in the same area. Notice that when applied to a person, it takes masculine or feminine adjectives, depending on the gender of the person in question:

За послендие пять лет мой внук Вовка жил и в Архангельске и Нововсибирске и на Камчатке. Он такой перекати-поле, бедняжка, боюсь, что он никогда не женится. Over the last five years my grandson Vovka has lived in Arkhangelsk and Novovisbirsk and Kamchatka. He is such a rolling stone, the poor guy, that I'm he will never get married.
Я вообще такая перекати-поле… вечно езжу куда-нибудь, терпеть не могу сидеть на одном месте. (source) I am such a rolling stone... constantly traveling somewhere. I can't standing staying in one place.

Приствольные круги

by Don  

Every once in a while it's simply a great joy to know an incredibly obscure piece of Russian vocabulary. The wife of one professor of Russian I know prides herself on knowing the Russian phrase for werewolf. (There are quite a few shape-shifters in Russian folklore.) So imagine my geekoid linguistic pleasure when the other day I ran across the phrase that means the circle of bricks or rocks that lie on the ground encircling the trunk of a tree. Such a circle is called приствольный круг. Heck, I don't even know what that is called in English.

I wish I could say that the phrase was connected with some exotic folk tale where Баба Яга the boney-legged witch captured a streamful of русалки mermaids and forced them to dance around a tree until they turned into stone, but in fact it is much more straight-forward than that. The root ствол means the trunk of a tree or bush. The prefix при- means nearby. Круг simply means circle. Thus пристволный круг means “a circle near a trunk.”