04. February 2010 · Comments Off on 2009 roundup: Gardening · Categories: Gardening · Tags:

Here’s the final installment in my 2009 roundups, and then I can start telling you all about the snow!

Our move to Sweden came with much excitement about starting a real vegetable garden. The tiny London garden had provided us with bountiful tomatos and lavender, a few cabbages and a handfull of strawberries. That had kicked off an interest and we were really excited to start playing around with our 1400 square metres and see what we could grow.

First, there was much digging to be done. Linus spent many days digging rocks out of the ground and creating 3 vegetable beds. Because of the removal of so much rock, we had to buy a lot of bags of compost to bring the level of the vege beds back up to the level of the ground around them!

Once we had beds, we started throwing seeds around with wild abandon. The first bed contained spinach, broad beans, sugar peas, onions and carrots. I planted a border of marigolds around the outside edge, because I had read that deer will deter marigolds. We have three friendly local roe deer – lovely to look at, but I didn’t want them to eat all our veges. Well, planting marigolds was clearly the right thing to do, because they ate the flowers instead!

We had delicious harvests of broad beans and spinach and carrots. The onions were not particularly successful, although we ate some of them as babies. The peas were somewhat successful, but the plants got quite giant, and we were slow to harvest so some of the peas were a big fibrey and wooden. Lessons learnt: plant more broad beans and spinach, and spread the pea plants out further.
Delicious broad beans
Pretty marigolds

The second bed was planted with brassicas (broccoli, kohlrabi, and brussels sprouts), radishes, daikon, and beetroot. The radishes grew wonderfully, they were plentiful and got very big! The daikon grew very fat but not very long, and were prone to splitting open. I think that we had too much manure in the soil for them. The beetroot were completely perfect and I wish we had planted more. And all members of the brassica family were massacred by slugs. So, lessons learnt: plant more beetroot, give the daikon less poo, and find some way to keep the slugs away.
The great brassica massacre
Big radishes

The third bed was a late starter. We moved some lettuces and rocket in there after they had grown in pots for a while, and I planted some green kale, but this took a while to get going as once again the slugs had a go at the tiny seedlings.

In addition to the three “orderly” vege plots, we had some other plants strewn about the property. We had ample cherry tomatoes from a few plants that we set out against the wall of the house. Linus knocked together a makeshift greenhouse out of a couple of old windows, to keep them warm until the summer really kicked in. It was very successful, but this year I hope we can think bigger, and get more tomatoes!
Cherry tomatoes

And finally, our most impressive crop: the pumpkins. We raised 3 “baby bear” pumpkin plants indoors before planting out in a little bed with lots of horse poo, up against the old stone wall that runs across the garden. A few weeks later we added 2 more plants, but these were really too late and didn’t produce many pumpkins. I tried to keep my expectations low, thinking that this would be an experimental year and we would have many mistakes to learn from. But despite much uncertainty (should we prune the long dwimbly bits? do we need to hand pollinate? at what point in the season should we remove new flowers?) we had an astonishing crop of 47 delicious pumpkins.

Now we’re looking forward to the spring, trying out some new things that we didn’t plant last year, re-trying some of the not so successful things, and having another go with the big successes too.

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