It’s been a while since I posted, both due to my lack of ideas of things to update you guys on, as well as some personal sadness in having my friend Elizabeth die of cancer. I have been spending the past week feeling quite sad and so haven’t had the energy to write a blog post.
Our allotment though continues to grow (weeds as well). We have harvested approximately 3kgs of red currants as well as the saskatoon berries and some raspberries.
The raspberries are from shoots that have come from our neighbour’s plant on the allotment. I really don’t love how rapidly they invaded our hugelbed but we will have plenty of canes to replant when the time comes.
We have also harvest 3 large heads of pac choi (these probably should have been harvested a bit earlier), and our garlic harvest. Though I feel unsure as to whether we have grown enough garlic to cover our yearly consumption, it’s still lovely having our own fresh garlic to enjoy.
Images: A lovely male pumpkin flower , our first cucumber of the year (Northern Pickling) I am very excited about these,as we have had some difficulties growing these with frost damage, voles eating up the seedlings and aphid issues in the past so I am pretty chuffed about getting to harvest these and hopefully fermenting them for pickles.
The corn silks have been pollinated and are starting to wilt and turn brown, which is a good sign., some of the pac choi harvest and a female pumpkin flower 🙂
It’s been a quiet around here since my trip to Finland, which while it was good to be able to go away; our trip wasn’t at the best time for anyone who gardens. Planting was somewhat delayed because of us going overseas and not having anyone to help water at the allotment so I had to delay planting some seeds, and seedlings.
When we got back we discovered that one of the pumpkin plants had been eaten up (likely by voles) which we have seen scampering around the allotment. I have since then bought an organic seedling from a plant store to replace the one that got eaten, as well as planted some other seeds/seedlings (beetroots, broad beans, some beans, cucumbers, mizuna salad and probably other thing that I’ve forgotten right now).
Thankfully because we had bought some fabric to cover the plants and protect from frost the plants survived without too many issues the cold weather than came in early June. Which I have learnt is that this cold snap in end of May/ June is fairly normal for this part of Sweden, it’s certainly been a learning curve over the past few years for someone from an area that very rarely experiences any sort of frost/cold weather.
The first image is of the invasive ground elder that covers one of our allotments which we try to kill off by covering with black tarpaulins and then by cutting back the weakened plants.
The second image is of my new favourite garden tools courtesy of an ebay seller in japan (though I believe they might have been made in China). They work amazingly well even in our heavy clay soils. Because my husband is left-handed I bought him a left handed lie to test out which he approves of.
The second row of images is of our pickling cucumbers and the painted mountain corn (which looks rather short and stocky) but I’m hoping the combination of the warmer days and the cover might still give us something to harvest.
The final row shows the development of colour in our red currants and our saskatoon berries. I am looking forward to getting to harvest them once they are ready.
I forgot to take a photo before we started to dig up this new garden bed for corn and pumpkin. It has previously been overgrown with knee-high length grass and dandelions as well as moss, nettles and wild garlic. Needless to say it was pretty heavy work trying to break up all the grass roots, especially because we have heavy clay soil. It was covered with black tarpaulin over winter (seen at the front of the bed) and newspaper.
Thankfully we have a grelinette (broad fork) which helps to break up the heavy sod much more effectively than a shovel or a regular fork.
The pumpkin and corn seedlings are now covered to help reduce the wind and sun and to provide some extra warmth during the nights.
My husband and I will be in Finland for a few days this week and so our planting has been a delayed somewhat because I don’t want to plant seeds/seedlings without having someone to water them.
But fingers crossed the corn and pumpkins (as well as some beans) are able to establish themselves without too many problems and that we get some rain while we are away.
Visited the allotment again today to start weeding all the ground elder (kirskål) which covers one of our lots as well as all the dandelions which seem pretty proficient this year. I took down a 18 cm Japanese hand sickle I bought on eBay to test out.
It works quite well, so I think I might invest in a left handed version for my husband. The seller has a variety of different types but as I haven’t got much knowledge of the different uses for them I opted for a basic grass/weeding sickle. Makes removing the ground elder a lot easier compared to just pulling it out, even using the push mower fails because it just flattens them to the ground rather than cutting them off at the base.
I also managed to get the cover back on the plastic greenhouse (polytunnel/plastväxthus) which I can say is probably a fair bit easier with 2 people! hah everytime I would get it about half way the wind would blow and I’d be try to hold it to keep it on. This was also an ebay purchase from a while back. It was quite cheap and despite the frame being pretty flimsy it’s still holding together (3rd season this year). Looking forward to getting some thing planted out in it :).
This is a front left hand view of the allotment which shows how isolated it is. It is surrounded on two sides by a rape seed farm and just to the left is the railway line. Behind it is a small field and then a closed off yard that the municipality (kommun) uses for growing trees for planting in the suburb.
A problem with the isolation of the lot is that we can’t leave any valuable tools or even furniture down at the allotment because members have had it destroyed or stolen. A few greenhouses were burnt down last year as well, probably by people using them to party in and then leaving a bbq burning or cigarettes.
It is unfortunate because whilst we would like to have a beautiful allotment, at the same time we don’t want to encourage people to stay down there when we aren’t there.
The ups and downs of allotment gardening!
Here are the corn seedlings, they all seem to be fairing well and enjoying the sunlight on our balcony. I don’t leave them out on our balcony overnight just yet because it’s still dropping to around 4-6 degrees C.
This is one of the pumpkins who seems quite happy and healthy unlike the soil to the right which is an older chili plant which seems to have some white fungal growth. I will be replanting it today and covering with new soil to see if that helps any. Though it’s no problem if it dies because I have newer plants (2 I was gifted), and some I have planted earlier in the year.
This is the first time I’m growing burdock…and haven’t actually ever eaten it other than in as a flavour in artisanal soda, but it will be interesting to see if these take off once they are planted out on the allotment.
I love to garden, but I don’t love going to our allotment. The neighbours we have are a mixed group, we have some great ones like this fabulous guy from Iran is extremely talented at growing and is always happy to help out, and our direct neighbours are a really lovely older Chinese couple who are happy that I love coriander and often give us bunches of chinese vegetables… but there are others who unfortunately make me incredibly uncomfortable. I won’t go into details but it’s not really a place I feel particularly safe at, which is a huge disappointment because gardening is something I really enjoy.
Because we live in a rental apartment, and it is difficult to get allotment gardens where I live we decided to continue gardening but try to find ways of making it so I felt more comfortable being there. I tend to go quite early in the mornings to avoid people being there however I needed to drop off some cardboard for covering weeds, and so I went around lunch time today.
This was the first time I have been since winter so it was exciting to see how the garlic was coming along and to see the saskatoon berry bush in flower.
A panorama of one side of the allotment taken on my mobile phone.
Hoping to get the pallet collars (pallkrage) down there in the next few days to put inside our small greenhouse and get some more weeding done, as we have an invasion of ground elder (kirskål) to deal with.
On the weekend we planted four new types of organic white garlic bulbs- Theridrome, Messidor, Messidrome and Vigor, plus the purple Sabadrome and Sprint (Primor) varities.
‘Thermidrome’ produces ivory white cloves of garlic in summer. The bulbs are ready when the leaves begin to turn yellow. Gently lift with a fork to break the roots and leave to dry in the sun for a few days. The bulbs should keep for several months. Plant individual cloves in a sunny spot during the autumn for the best-sized bulbs.
Comes from French production, producing large white bulbs with excellent flavour for all culinary uses.
Messidor is a softneck autumn planting garlic which shows excellent vigour with fat juicy cloves and it grows well in most parts of Northern Europe.
White bulbs with purplish reflections of 12 to 17 beige cloves.
It will be exciting to see how they grow and which grow best in our hard clay soils.
Sorry for the long absence, despite unseasonal warm tempetatures we haven’t
been doing all that much gardening and I have been ill for the past month on and off.
It looks like the cold weather might be coming this week but we hae already
started planning our allotment and looking forward to trying some grow lights
as well as some new plant seeds.
Our experiment in growing the painted mountain corn worked a treat! Plan on growing more next year now that we know it does well in our climate. Quite frost resistant and does well even on our windy lot.
This is the painted mountain corn we planted on the allotment, it seems to be growing fairly well. I need to go down and do some weeding but I am fairly happy with this first attempt with growing corn.