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

 

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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.

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.

 

Boxed herb-garden – a step by step guide with tips

One of the smartest things I did last year was build myself a herb-garden. I thought that if I had plenty of herb easily available at all times I would use more. And I was right. I have been dreaming lately of small vegetable or kitchen garden, but I can’t keep anything alive inside, so I’ve assumed that nothing will live any longer outside. The herb-garden has now, a year later, proved me wrong. The herbs are thriving! And, best of all, they require little to no maintenance. Survival of the fittest is what rules my garden and only the strongest survive.

I wanted to go organic with this, and googled about a bit. Apparently, building a box needs a little more thought than pick a few planks and nail them together, or at least if you want to get picky, like I did. So I found a producer of planks that are not full of all things yucky that will transfer to the soils, the roots, the plants, and to us. I ended up with decking boards(planks) from the Finnish producer Lunawood. Ask around where you are and I’m sure you’ll find something similar to lunawood (maybe with a less cool name).

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I had the planks cut in lengths of 120 cm and 50 cm and simple made a box with them. In each corner I had a small 2×2 (I would think) to support the corners and stabilise the box. And after being told so by Husband dearest I used screws instead of nails. I have no idea why I did this, except that I was told. I did do everything myself though! Yes, I’m a little proud of that. It’s been years since I last used a saw.

I talked to someone from a local garden centre concerning the soil. I had no clue what to get, but I wanted something low maintenance, organic (or as close as I could get) and healthy. Apparently the soil you buy in bags vary dramatically in quality. I bought by the bucket (which meant I actually had to bring my own buckets) rather than the bags. And also some cow manure. It’s supposed to be the shit!

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After placing the boxes where I wanted them I started with a layer of newspapers. This is to make sure what’s underneath the box doesn’t compete with what you want inside the box. Then I added a layer of stones, and here I just took what I had. It’s for better drainage, but it’s not very important unless your boxes are placed on solid rock as the soil underneath will help drain excess water. I have a thin layer, for Justin (Case). Then I added a layer of soil mixed with the manure, about 2 thirds soil and one third manure. Loads of good food for the herbs!

For the herbs I wanted something that I use, and perennial plants, so that they will surprise me with their return every year. I chose rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, chives and mint. All good choices, except for the mint. When they all came back this year, the mind had spread through the entire box! It’s the only work I’ve done relating to the box this year, but I had to dig it out, find all little strings of root and try to get rid of the entire plant. The mint killed the chive, so that is new this year. The mint was replaced with lemon balm. I bough organic herbs from the shop, drenched their roots in water before I planted them in the box. No magic formula or ancient dance ritual. It worked.

I was a little disappointed with the herbs in April when they first came back. But logically they don’t come back full size. Now they’re perfect! Please, if you consider it, give it a go! I haven’t pulled weeds, I haven’t done anything this year except to eat and kill of the evil mint. It’s fun, and I did it, so you can too!

 

 

Flowers in the garden

My husband rarely buys me flowers. Now, I’m not about to complain about my husband not being romantic enough. Au contraire, I’d rather like to point out the love he puts into the work he does in and around the house. You see, he doesn’t often buy me flowers, but he has been spending a few hours working in the garden during the past year. And instead of a bouquet of red roses, that I would have to cut, vase and throw out after a week’s time, I am now greeted by these beauties every time I enter the house.


There are plenty of them. About one metre tall (3ft) and they really do stand out from the surroundings. The leaves on the nearby trees are changing their colours and the days are getting cold. There are few really strong and bright colours left. But these flowers decided to bloom surprisingly late this year and stand strong through wind and rain.

I hope they stick around a little longer. Every day they are reminders of everything Husband does for me, our son, our home, and for himself. The small things in life are what builds our foundations, and lucky for me, those small things are being represented by beautiful flowers in the garden. I prefer these beauties to flowers in a vase any day!

Garden design

Interior design is popular these days, that much I have noticed. And especially in this area, the dominating style seems to be shabby chic, French country style, or something similar to a palette of white and pastels having exploded in a room, together with loads of lace and linen.

Now, I don’t mind the style, it’s just that too much of it makes me barf. I assume there’s absolutely no reason to, but I pity the kids I see dressed in pastels in order to match their parents’ (read: mother’s) interior design. I thought of doing the same to Son. Dressing him up in white, pale blue and light shades of grey. Shoot many photos, before taking him out in the forrest to pick blueberries. Now, that would be a sight!

I have posted about my kitchen earlier, and I probably will again soon (if Ikea will do as they’ve promised). And I have mentioned my bedroom, which I will probably also do again. But except for a few things every now and again, I promise I won’t turn this blog into an interior design blog. And especially lace will be a rare sight! However, there are a few things I would love for my garden. I have spotted a few things while out travelling, and I just have to share them. So instead of going all interior blog on you, I’ll go exterior blog on you! Because I think this would look brilliant in my garden:

Now, this isn’t all that unusual, and doesn’t really stand out (well, it would in my garden as it would cover the entire front lawn). But take a look at this peaceful lion’s wee brother:

Now, that would make a statement! Don’t you think?

This is to be found btw in the city centre of Cracow, Poland

Cheating…

My poor thyme that I mentioned here did not survive the hardship of my inattentive tending. I kindly planted the herbs outside, but after a period of draught in my kitchen window, a period of immense rain and drowning of the plants did not improve their quality (the drowning was involuntary on my part, as the weather gods of our city didn’t eitherapprove of me leaving the area, and thus wanted the rest of the inhabitants to pay for this, and then also my poor herbs).

I have now cheated and bought lemon balm and basil from the supermarket. As you can see though, the rest of my herbs are thriving (except the indian cress which, although vibrant and alive won’t come up with any flowers…). I should cut them down now and make them ready for winter. But summer doesn’t really seem to have started here yet, so I’ll give them another month or so before I look at them again. They are left to the forces of nature, survival of the fittest will be their motto, and only those with good survival instincts will survive. Wish them luck.