Monday, August 1, 2016

Gardening and homesteading update

Our gardening season isn't exactly going as we had hoped so far and we are learning some pretty hard lessons.
Hard as in nothing we had sown on the spot has germinated. Nothing. Greens beans, salad, turnip, endive (Cichorium endivia), spinach... Nothing came up. Well, 2 or 3 spinach seeds did, but that was about it. We are having a whole lot of forest ants in the garden. Maybe they collect the seeds???
It has been very dry so far as well. Lake water levels are about 30cm lower than usual and rain has been absent, except for the occasional heavy showers on the occasional rainy day we had so far.
I did mention before that the ground is like concrete, so the lesson about composting has been learned here already. The places where I applied the raised bed-principle fair much better. Here the plants look far less parched and pathetic and are positively flourishing. However here we are facing other issues. The kale species, whilst not being completely eaten...yet... look like they have been shot with buckshot. Not a single leaf intact and no heads in sight, yet either. The potatoes look miserably dry as well, but our accommodations for watering them are not adequate yet. We can pump up lakewater, but that is very cold and I do get the feeling our plants do not like stone cold showers. Which brings me to our next mishap; the greenhouse with peppers and tomatoes. We have learned that we need to water those much more frequently, but without a hose. We need to devise a solution for watering them around the base. The peppers are being attacked by some insect that drills holes in them too, but I have not yet identified that bug(ger). I am reconsidering growing these crops as it is as they take up a lot of room, require a lot of care with little to show for (now).
Beans, peas.... they are a miserable bunch. No harvest there this year, other than the stuff we can use for resowing next year. But!! The Californian poquito beans I got are growing well and look promissing! I hope they ripen before the cold season comes in.

The radishes we planted are completely useless. They went into bloom practically overnight. So we are turning this mishap into another lesson; how to collect and store seeds until the next season.
The broccoli I reported going into bloom turned out to NOT be broccoli at all! It was rapeseed. Someone messed up at the seed selling company, filling satchels with the wrong seeds! We do have 2-3 broccoli plants, so I am guessing they mixed up the seeds. Lesson for us; keep track of what we sow!!

What is doing fine so far, then? The onions and garlic! They look amazingly well. Onions nice and round. Camomil did amazingly well too. The companion planting thing I have little to say about, other than it looks good. A whole lot better than boring rows of similar crops. The places we planted a bit more tightly reduce the need for weeding considerably.
Squash and pumpkin are doing well too as is the corn. The 3 sisters work very wel together. No sign of pests and very little weeds. The same as with the poquitos here; I hope the season will last long enough.
And then there's the fruit. What an abundance this year! Amazing! Raspberries, blue berries, gooseberries, both red and white... loads of 'em! But sadly I must admit we did not pick many so far. We simply lack the time. Working, building and all the everyday chores make that we simple do not have enough waking hours to take care of all that abundance. We did not even get around to go out and pick strawberries!!! I am really hoping on being able to make up for that the next week, when I'll be off work for 6 days........
There's another lesson in this for us; take better care pf the chaos of summer. We need to plan and get organised!

Well, not all is lost yet.........

As far as the homesteading goes.... there isn't much to report there yet. No fancy jam 'n jelly-posts, no preservation going on. However the bees seem to be thriving and soon we'll be helping them prepare for winter. The construction of a large chicken coop and run is well under way and we plan/hope to have all that up and running very shortly.


  1. Wow, I am thrilled to hear that the Poquito beans are growing! I have to call Ed and tell him. Ed is Anna's husband. Anna is the fine old lady who taught me how to make rag rugs. She was my only friend at The Ranch. And then she passed! Ed and Anna told us about Poquito beans and gave us the recipe. Anna was from the Gavrileno-Tongva native American tribe and grew up near Santa Maria. Ed (and Anna) would be so pleased and amazed that the little Poquito beans that they recommended to us found their way across the Pacific to Sweden and are growing in Swedish soil. You know Poquito beans are special to the region around Santa Maria, California. When I call Ed I hope he has his hearing aid turned up. There I am yelling into the phone and there Ed is yelling back "What?"

    1. Californian beans, recommended by a native American, sent over the Atlantic to be grown by a Dutch guy in Sweden....
      Transatlantic Anna-bean association.

    2. Love It! Transatlantic Anna-bean Association!

  2. PS I've had the same no-luck with gardening this years. But next year! I did OK with potatoes that came from the store and sprouted. My tomatoes are very robust and lots of flowers but no fruit. yet. It's been SO hot I guess the flowers fall off. I got a heat tolerant variety and put up a sun shade but still no luck. Only 3 carrots and 3 corn plants came up and they are struggling along. I just planted these as an after thought and I planted too late.

    I have my big garden bed prepping for fall planting with loads of compost. We just planted 4 pomegranate trees. Next year! Things will be different.