10. March 2010 · Comments Off on More wildlife sightings · Categories: Home · Tags: ,

The snow has compacted and hardened up, so it’s a lot easier for the deer to get around the neighbourhood, and we’ve seen our locals in the garden a couple of times.  We used to have a usual gang of three, but now they’re four!

Four deer in the garden

Our local gang of hooligans

The weather has  been warmer, with positive temperatures quite a few days in the last week.  On Saturday it was really warm in the sunshine, so we sat outside for our morning tea.  Anneli had one of her favourites, cottage cheese with orange chunks.

Anneli enjoys her morning tea

Anneli enjoys her morning tea

I’m still working on getting the new blog up to date, in particular getting my photo gallery in place and getting the photographs back into my older blog posts, which is a bit of a tedious job.  It’s all coming along though, thank you for your patience!

25. February 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: Home · Tags: ,

One evening last week, we could see an owl in the trees behind the house. It was pretty dark though, and it was on the wrong side of the trees, so there was no photo opportunity. I was still quite excited since I’d never seen an owl in the wild before.

Imagine my delight when I took some dishes into the kitchen this afternoon and saw not one but TWO owls having a nap right outside our kitchen window.

Of course I ran for the camera. I had to open the door to get any decent photos, which woke the little fellas up. They looked at me with big round eyes for a bit, and then one of them flew away. The other one is still snoozing in the tree.

Click here to see a few more photos.

21. February 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: Home · Tags: , ,

Just when we thought it couldn’t snow any more … we get another 25cm overnight.

I was getting worried about the roof above the deck, which had a very thick layer and was starting to look decidedly curved. So Linus got up on a ladder and knocked off a lot of snow.

We’ve also been growing some impressive icicles. This is our prize winner, which is currently just over 140cm long. There is an ice staligtite growing upwards towards it from the deck, so we’re hoping they will meet in the middle.

05. February 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: Home · Tags: , ,

The night we got home to Sweden it was a brisk -16°C outside. Our luggage didn’t manage to catch up with us until the following day, and it contained all of our winter clothing, so we had to make a chilly dash from airport to car and then from car to house.

And it was snowy. Oh boy, it was snowy. It was a proper winter wonderland. But the best part is, it has kept snowing since then!

Here’s a bit of our front garden. In some spots, the snow comes up to my knees.

We had one day recently when the temperature soared to a tropical +2°C. Things started to melt, and the snow on the roof over our deck started to slide down over the roof edge. Then it got cold again, so it froze in place, and now we have this awning of ice hanging down:

Linus has had his work cut out for him, shovelling the path so we can get down to the carport.

The fjord has totally frozen over. We have seen plenty of people out skating, and walking their dogs on the ice.

We don’t have any skates, otherwise we’d get out there and have a go too – it’s a pretty rare occurence in this part of the country to have such solid ice on the sea. It might be another 10 or 20 years before have the chance to skate to an island!

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.

02. December 2009 · 1 comment · Categories: Home · Tags: , ,

No snow yet (none that sticks anyway), but this morning we woke to a winter wonderland frost. Here are a few snapshots from the garden.

A frosted marigold:

Chilly outdoor furniture:

A frosty rock:

A frosty plant:

The view at sunrise:

05. October 2009 · Comments Off on Pumpkin harvest · Categories: Gardening · Tags:

We harvested our pumpkins about 2 weeks ago – here is a shot of 43 delicious baby bear pumpkins. At the time this picture was taken, we’d eaten 4 pumpkins already, making a total harvest of 47.

Here is the whole lot posing on our outdoor table

And here is our little pumpkin posing with the other little pumpkins. When the inevitable questions begin, we will use this photo to back up our offical stance of “we found you in the pumpkin patch”.

13. September 2009 · Comments Off on At last, aerial photos · Categories: Home, Photography · Tags: ,

Finally I have gone through the photos taken during our wonderful scenic flight over Onsala. It was unfortunately quite a bumpy flight so I didn’t get a lot of sharp pictures. Luckily Dad scored a really good one where we can clearly see Kinna and Anneli on the deck of the house.

Here is a picture showing our house in relation to the beach:

And here is one showing the border of our property:

All the pictures above can be clicked to see the full-sized version. And you can view all the photos here.

25. August 2009 · Comments Off on More garden goodness · Categories: Food, Gardening · Tags:

Our pumpkins are ripening!

These are a small type of pumpkin, but it looks like we’ve got around 30 of them.

And we’re really looking forward to trying one. We’ve also had ripe tomatoes to harvest:

And they are super delicious 🙂

Speaking of delicious, I made my honey a birthday cake on Saturday:

It was my first time baking kladdkaka. This might be Sweden’s favourite type of cake – a dense, sticky, chocolatey delight that you’ll almost always find in cafes here. I used a recipe from Leila Lindholm’s book, ‘A piece of cake’, and it came out wonderfully.

10. August 2009 · Comments Off on August garden update · Categories: Gardening · Tags:

We’ve been enjoying the fruits of our labours in the garden. Delicious baby broad beans:

… and some crazy carrots:

… as well as big beautiful beetroot, peas, fresh herbs and the first few padron chilis. Then there were the smultron, which we didn’t have to labour over at all:

The red squirrel has been enjoying our wild hazelnuts:

And a little frog was spotted enjoying the shade under one of the tomatoes:

I’m hoping that little guy has not been eaten by the snake I saw lurking around one of our vege patches a couple of weekends ago. It was a viper, quite common in Sweden, but the first time I have ever seen a live snake “in the wild” so it came as a little bit of a shock!

Now here is some floral eye candy: