Vegetable garden – notes for next year

Petunia keep the pest away while the broccoli's thriving

Petunia keep the pest away while the broccoli’s thriving

I have now planted all my little sprouts out in the garden. I’ve built two more lunawood boxes (read more about building the box here) and a small add-on box for the largest one (it now looks sort-of like a ship). I have planted carrots, leeks, broccolis, sweet-peas, petunias, dill, coriander (cilantro) and courgettes (zucchini). I can proudly say that everything is alive and growing. I have learned very much the past month or so, and I thought I’d list some. They’re good to remember next year!

Courgettes are growing, after a few mishaps

Courgettes are growing, after a few mishaps

  • courgette plants are very crisp and easily break. I broke the main stem of two of my three plants and I thought they were doomed. But I placed them in a glass of water and after only a few days the stem had already developed new roots. I replanted them inside and let them have some peace and quiet for a few weeks before planting them out. They’re thriving!
  • do not underestimate the power of sunshine. I know very well that plants need sunshine and water to grow. I have few windowsills that are bathed in sunshine and thus my sprouts have only had a few hours of sunshine every day. They were growing well so I didn’t think much of it. Until I saw my neighbours plant, a courgette plant I gave here that I had planted at the same time as my plants, and although smaller than mine, her had five large flowers when mine has just started to develop the flower buds.
  • petunias keep pests away from plants of the cabbage family. My six broccoli plants are still without larvas and other yucky creatures, despite the many white and yellow butterflies that have visited out garden (those butterflies lay eggs that devour the broccoli).
  • carrots need space to grown. That is why I added the extra floor to my boat-box. That way they’re planted above the other vegetables and can stretch further down into the ground.
  • tomato plants benefit from having marigolds and basil planted close. These are apparently good companion plants, and marigolds also help keep some pests away from the tomato plants. They all also require sheltered spots with much sunshine.
  • start planting early. February is probably a good month. Then the plants are big and sturdy for when the warmed days arrive. And seeing the new life spring to life in the dark, heavy months of winter helps fight of depression.
Sweet-peas are climbing and needed support

Sweet-peas are climbing and needed support

 

Filled vegetables


Filled vegetables - recipe. Delightful Chatter

I was born and raised in a family and a nation (or even part of the world) that is largely fed on high-carb diets. We’re amazing at underground veggies. Root vegetables can be and is used in so many different ways. Above the ground veggies on the other hand is something still a little exotic in this part of the world. And there are of course reasons for that. Living on the coast far north wind and rain is more common that not. Root vegetables are safe, they grow here, just like the sheep.

Above the ground vegetables are thus sort of a little intimidating. Honestly, ten years ago I had never tasted a courgette (zucchini), paprika is something I knew three uses for: diced in salads, sliced on top of cheese on a slice of bread, or on our (I call it ours, it’s as Norwegian as komle!) Grandiosa pizza. Google that last one, it’s not something we eat often and not something I’ll blog about. But I think youtube would have some treasures for you.

However, trying to incorporate as many vegetables in our diet as possible I have to turn to the above ground types, and find new ways to use them. One dish that blew my mind, thankfully not literally, was a dish I was served at Lou Pistou in Nice last year. It was typical for the area, very simple, and just soooo good. The recipe was no secret, so the wonderful, lovely lady explained it to me. I have now tried making it myself, and this is too good not to share.

Filled vegetables - recipe. Delightful Chatter

You need vegetables that you can fill, and I believe anything goes. Try making a local version! I had onions (those are a must), courgettes (zucchinis), aubergines (eggplants) and peppers (paprika). You can serve this as a full meal (mine was served with a salad – and  talk about getting your five a day!!) or you can something with it (fries, rice, or similar). Here’s what you need:

Serves 4:

  • 2 onions
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 peppers
  • 250 grams of ground beef
  • four slices of bacon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • thyme, oragano or basil
  • two good handfulls of parmiggiano (or similar cheese)

First boil the vegetables for about five minutes. Put the whole veggies in the pot. At the same time you fry the bacon in a pan. Afterwards cut in half and scrape out what’s inside (throw away the insides of the pepper). Use the now empty and halved veggies as serving bowls. Finely chop everything else and mix together. Fill the halved veggies then bake at 200 degrees celsius for about 35 minutes.

Confirmation and bunad galore

We celebrated my oldest niece’s confirmation last weekend. She is fifteen and as a Evangelical Lutheran tradition we then celebrate her becoming an adult. Her life doesn’t change much at fifteen, but traditionally this is the age from which you were considered an adult. 18 is the age where you’re legally considered and adult in Norway.

The tradition involves weekly church meeting throughout the school year, although this varies from place to place. There are also non-religious confirmations based on various secular organisations, where obviously the church is not involved. The confirmations has long traditions in Norway, and was introduced during the 16th century, during the 18th century if was made obligatory. The confirmations coincided then with the last year of school and the confirmation became a religious exam, as well as a requirement for getting an apprenticeship. Today it is a matter of getting to know your religion, becoming more reflected, growing up and also the family party.

My niece was two when I met my husband and when I met her for the first time. It has been amazing watching her grow into the young lady she has become today, and it has happened so quickly. She went from a young girl to a young lady in the blink of an eye. She is lucky to have an amazing mother who can take credit for the level of maturity in my niece. She has done a good job in emphasising my niece’s good qualities throughout her upbringing and focused on the positive in life. But my niece is much more than just the result of her upbringing, she is also very clever, she has a brilliant sense of humour, she is well-reflected and mature for her age. She is insanely beautiful and determined. I’m very proud of her and consider myself very lucky to be able to follow her further in life.

I wish to keep my family anonymous and thus leave you with pictures of some of the gorgeous bunads present on that special occasion.

Planning a vegetable garden

Planning a vegetable garden. Delightful Chatter

Sweet peas shoot up quickly

I’m so pleased with my boxed herb garden that I have now taken it to a new level. I have built more boxes and I now have my own little kitchen garden. I still haven’t harvested anything, but the plants are growing and it’s all looking very promising. I’m so pleased I’m smiling like crazy whenever I’m in the garden, and I’m there very often now, because of the smiling, but more because of what’s making me smile.

Planning a vegetable garden. Delightful Chatter

Courgette plant is growing to take over the world

I know nothing, or, well, I knew nothing, about gardening. I’ve taken babysteps this year and I have learned much. Every day is a new surprise as I have so little knowledge and thus so few expectations about what will happen next,  every time I see something new or if there has been unexpected progress I’m all excited.

 

Planning a vegetable garden. Delightful Chatter

Carrots look grassy, delicate and thin

I started planting inside in April, and I realise now that January/February is when I’ll start next year. We’ve had a very early summer this year and I should have had larger plants to plant outside already in May. I should still be able to harvest from them all during the summer and early autumn, but starting earlier would result in me being able to harvest in the early months of summer.

Planning a vegetable garden. Delightful Chatter

Lettuce started slowly and carefully – was then killed by the cat – and is now trying again

I started out with lettuce, courgettes (zucchini), carrots and sweet peas. They were all planted from seeds in proper soil in milk cartons covered with cling film or other types of see-through plastic. The plastic was removed when the sprouts had grown to reach it.

Elderflowers

Elderflowers recipe drink - Delightful chatter

The elderflowers are just about to bloom here now, which would mean they have already started most other places. Elderflower drinks are best if made from recently sprung flowers. Recipe here. Go pick some flowers!

Last minute tomatoes 

I have started planting a few vegetables, I’m loving it. But suddenly decided that I would like to try tomatoes as well. And I just have to tell you, if you would like to do the same, that you can’t wait any longer. Planting tomato seeds now will give you tomatoes in late August. If you’re as far north as I am, or somewhere with similar temperatures you should get cracking now. It’s not expensive and it is very simple.

Last minutes tomatoes - planting tomatoes. Delightful chatter

You need a bit of good soil and obviously tomato seeds. I bought two types, one bush plant and one that stretches upwards and becomes about a metre long. I filled soil in some empty milk cartons, but you could use any type of paper or plastic based container. Fill two thirds or three fourths of soil, plant the seeds as deep as said on the package and spray with water. Cover the container with cling film or a see-through plastic bag. The plastic will keep the moist in and also work as a green house. When the seeds sprout and have grown up to touch the plastic, remove the plastic. When the sprouts start looking sturdier and taller, replant them in separate containers. Keep them inside a little longer. Plant them outside in a pot or in the ground at a sheltered place with plenty of sunshine.

If you find marigold seeds try planting those as well. Plant them with the tomato plants when you later plant them outside. The Marigolds are good for keeping away certain bugs and pests that could hurt your tomato plant. Basil is also a good companion plant for tomatoes. The petals of the marigold are edible, so with a bit a basil and a few marigolds you’re suddenly growing a proper salad right there in one pot. 

I cut open a tomato here the other day, an organic tomato that had been laying around for some time, and noticed that two of the seeds had started to sprout. The tomato was still good and the skin was still firm. As I had my tomato containers on the windowsill I planted the two sprouting seeds among the rest of my tomato sprouts. I’m very excited to see if those two manage to grow into proper tomato plants, and very curious about what type of tomato plant that will be.

 

The most Norwegian of all days

Delightful Chatter - Norway 17 May

Two good friends parading together

Today is May 17th and that is not just an ordinary day in Norway. In 1814, on this day, our constitution was written up and signed. A little later it was rewritten a little to suit the union we joined with Sweden, but by and large it was significant to Norway’s later split with Sweden and the nation’s independence. This days has been celebrated extensively every year since, and this year, for the 200th time. We call the day simply ‘syttende mai’ which translates to ‘the 17th of May’, and if anyone asks we say it’s our national day, ‘nasjonaldagen’.

I really enjoy this day. It’s always been a tradition, but after the rose parades of 2011, I wrote about them here and here, I’ve learned to appreciated this day a lot more. And also now that I have children who participate I have been forced to look at it all from a different angle which has also improved how I see this day.

Delightful Chatter - Norway 17 May

She doesn’t remember much from her first 17 May celebration, but this year she has learned to shout ‘hurrah’ and wave her flag

The day starts with salutations being made. I’ve never really checked just how early this is done, but I’ve always considered extremely early. The salutations are often cannons being fired or something similar. These are often followed by early rounds of parading brassbands, I’ve often slept through these too. Then, sometime between 8 and 9 in the morning all school children, and younger children, gather to parade. The children group up or line up with their class, their kindergarten or with their brass/marching band to parade the streets for about an hour. Where I lived before it was always the head of the police who fronted the parade, where we live now it’s a fire truck. Everyone is dressed up, men in suits, women in dresses, and a whole lot, maybe even the majority is dressed in their ‘bunads’.

Delightful Chatter - Norway 17 May

Details of my bunad


The ‘bunad’ is Norway’s national costume, and they are different depending on where you’re from. It’s similar in idea, but not in style, to the tartans of Scotland. The embroideries of many of the ‘bunads’ can be traced back to specific farms where the patterns are based on family heirlooms with rose-paintings on or floral patterns on items found in the vicinity or made by residents of the farms. I got mine for my confirmation (a Evangelical Lutheran tradition to celebrate your transition into adulthood – I’ll get back to that in a later post) when I was fifteen. My ‘farmor’ (my father’s mother) embroidered mine and I cherish it more every time I wear it. It really is special to me.

Norwegians are seen as cold and unfriendly, at least through an untrained eye. And in this part of the world, street parades are not very common. And that it is not combined with alcohol can also seem shocking if you’ve spent some time in Norway.  But the 17ht of May is a day for the children. It is mostly the children who parade while the parents cheer as the parade passes. After the parade everybody gather up at school or in the town square, or in a similar area,  there are a few speeches and then activities for the children.

Delightful Chatter - Norway 17 May

Tasty, but a little puncture, a Pavlova cake in the correct colours – red, white and blue

The tradition in our family is to join the parade in the morning. When I was younger I went with my school, now I go with my children. We spend some time participating in the post-parade activities before we go home and eat ‘lapskaus’ (recipe here). When I was younger it was always ‘farmor’ and ‘farfar’ (my father’s mother and father) who made the lapskaus and they had all children and grandchildren over to eat. Now it is my parents (my children’s ‘mormor’ and ‘morfar’) who visit us. Often we also have friends over and there’s usually cake. It’s a good day.

A general rule is also that children are allowed about as many ice-creams as they can today, or the same number of ice-creams as their age. My five-year-old is allowed five ice-creams (poor boy only had two today – he’s still not aware of this rule).