Welcome to our small homestead in Sweden

Gardening Full Time

garden-full-time

After my retirement last Autumn, I’m finally able to be gardening full time. As usual, I’m too ambitious for my own good. Not only have I sown more seed than previous years, but I’m expanding and reconfiguring several flower beds, as well as including more ground into the garden. Accordingly, the greenhouse has received a long due makeover and today I started to dig up the entire pallet garden one more time. 

Yet, although I have the time to work outside, the weather hasn’t been on my side. Snow, rain, and temperatures below zero doesn’t tempt me to go outside. 

Anyway, I must confess I love to be on the farm full time. I don’t miss my job and I certainly don’t miss driving back and forth between Sweden and Norway. Waking up to bird-song without the stress of commuting is a blessing. That being said, this is by no means a work-free life style. We’ve still not completed the new build with the holiday lets and there is plenty of work to be done on the grounds. We do look forward to a time when we have dome most of the construction and can focus on just keeping things going.be Accordingly, t

soil-bags

Gardening plans for 2024

This year, I plan to grow even more food than previous years. I sowed onion, chilies and sweet peppers in January. Since then, I have been sowing more or less continuously. The chilies and peppers are doing well, but maybe half of the onion-seedlings have died. Similarly, I’ve also had problems with the tomatoes. I’m not sure if it’s due to poor soil or over watering (after all, I’m here all the time) or, if it is something else entirely. However, most of the tomato plants seem to be alive, yet, not growing as well as I would have expected.

To challenge myself, I have applied to be part of a food production diary for private garden owners. It is a program within the National Swedish Garden Association that aims to find out how much food small scale gardeners produce in a year. I hope my application is accepted, because that will give me a reason to measure exactly what we’ll get from the garden.

Actually, I have already sown the first seeds in the greenhouse. To be honest, I’m a bit late because I had to dig out the middle section. Since our plot consists of heavy clay, water tended to make it soggy to walk there when it rained. We dug out a 25-30 cm deep trench and filled it with gravel. But, to lead the water out we also needed to dig a ditch to the field outside.sowed

plant-nursery
Gardening full time allows me to fill up the plant nursery with seedlings
plant-seedlings
I have sown perennials like daisies, yarrow, pampas grass, echinacea, hyssop, and a lot more. Unfortunaletly I have also lost a lot of seedlings.

Flower Bed Makeovers

Another challenge this spring is our flower beds. Most of the flower beds have arisen from the need of space for new plants. Unfortunately, due to lack of time, weeds have been allowed to spread and infiltrate perennial plants. In other cases, plants have «drowned» or even died because I have planted too densely. As a result, it was definitely time to make changes.  

last-years-work
The flower-bed we reconstructed last year is looking good

At first, I expanded the with of the flower beds on both sides of the driveway leading up to the house entrance. The new flower beds gave extra square meters to fill with plants that were divided or relocated. 

It takes time to learn how some plants behave when you‚re gardening full time as an amateur. For instance, I have purchased several Veronica austriaca ‘Knallblau’ (firtannveronika). The color is gorgeous, but despite not being taller than 30-40 cm, they flop and need support. Henceforth, I have relocated them to the middle of the flower bed, hoping other perennials will support them and hide them once thy have finished flowering.

flower-bed
Before: The previous flower bed proved to be too narrow for the plants and the weed was spreading.
replanted-flower-bed
After: After digging up and dividing most of the plants, they were replanted and filled up the same flower-bed - with a few additions from other flower beds.

Attacking Weed Problems

Sometimes I feel my garden is haunted by all types of weed. The weed that bothers me most is bindweed (åkervindel). I have dug up as much of the roots as I can and covered the areas with cardboard and wood chips, but to no avail, it seems. Another problem is cirsium (åkertistel), which pops up everywhere. My husband and I do our best to pull the stinging stems up whenever we spot them, but they still seem to multiply.

On the other hand, plants can become weed too. I recall Yellow Loosestrife (fagerfredløs) to be a hardy garden perennial in Northern Norway. Accordingly, when I found a few stems in my garden, I saved them at the edge of my long flower border. Last year, they appeared in a quantities between my rhododendrons. This year, I had to remove two rhododendrons in the attempt to get rid of them, and it was not an easy task. For sure, I will not allow Yellow Loosestrife into my flower beds again.

Plant-moving
I had to dig up a large area to remove all the yellow loosestrife (fingers crossed)
Digging
Excavating the new garden pond

Yet Another Garden Dam

The area between the back garden and the forest used to be a mess of shrubs and bindweed. Furthermore, it is wet almost year round. After we cleared the shrubs and made a bonfire area, we determined it should be a rhododendron or woodland garden, as it receives a lot of afternoon shade. For some years, the rest has remained a wet and messy area

garden-pond
A new garden pond is taking shape. The area was already very wet and the dam filled itself immediately.

Last year, we had a serious rain storm that flooded our garden and washed away a lot of the gravel in the driveway. It was clear that we needed some kind of drainage. In any case, we decided to dig a new dam. Like we didn’t have enough projects on our hands.

To our surprise it immediately filled itself with water. In addition, we noticed that water seep up from the bedrock below. Secondly, we dug a trench to lead the water away whenever there is a flooding again. However, I hope we’ll have long dry summer that drains the pond so we can prepare the edges and maybe waterproof it to a certain level.

greenhouse
Furthermore, in the greenhouse, we’ve removed several tractor scopes of clay to prevent flooding

Gardening Full Time

So, as you may understand, there’s a lot of work to be done. But now, I look forward to the summer to see if our efforts have paid off favorably. I hope to be able ti visit some public gardens as well as the 1000-gardens arrangement. I also hope for a turn in the weather soon.

crokus
I meant to take pictures of the flowering crocuses, but forgot. Now, almost all have finished for the season. Better luck next year.

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