Growing vegetables was my main motivation for buying a farm in Sweden. I have had a vegetable patch before, both in Northern Norway, as well as in my previous garden in Tønsberg. I have also had a greenhouse before. Yet, although I had grown food with some success before, my ambitions always seemed to exceed the available space. I often ended up searching for places to put my way too large amount of seedlings.
At Bliderud I have plenty of space for growing food. However, I was eager to establish a vegetable patch for growing food as soon as possible. Even so, I was not prepared for the plot size my husband prepared. He tilled an area that measures 20 m x 50 m, which is 1000 m2.
-That’s so you won’t run short of space, ever, he laughed.
Somewhat daunted by the size, I was not sure if could manage to fill up the area. But four years later, there’s only two patches at the bottom that hasn’t been planted yet. My initial idea was to plant berries and fruit trees in that lower part. However, when it rains, the soil is drenched, so I’ll have to find another solution before I drown the roots of my plants.
The first planting
Knowing most plants need some time to settle before I can expect any harvest, I was eager to get some plants in the soil. I planted 30 raspberry bushes in October 2018. This was followed by black currant, rhubarb, and a large strawberry field in 2019. Later, several raised beds made of pallet collars was raised to make beds for vegetables. I also tried sowing seeds directly on the ground, just to lose everything in a variation of weed that grew much faster and was better adapted to the conditions than what I wanted to grow.
The area we chose for the vegetable patch is close to the house, and according to our neighbour, a former owner grew potatoes on some of this land. However, a later owner had tilled and sown the field with grass for his racing horses. The grass is extremely hardy and propagates through underground runners. It is almost impossible to get rid of. But as if that isn’t enough, we have buttercups and other plants that spreads willingly.
Our neighbour, who in every way has been very friendly and helpful to us, shook his head at the scale of our gardening project. – You’ll never get rid of the weeds, he claimed.
As if weed isn’t our only challenge, we have very heavy clay soil too. When we dig about half a meter into the soil we hit a layer of solid clay. This makes the ground very moist when it rains and very solid when it is draught. According to our friendly neighbour there is drainage in the fields, but maybe the clay has seeped into the pipes, because the water tends to collect on top of the fields when it is raining.
That sums up some of our challenges. Well, apart from slugs, deer, and all the ordinary wildlife that want to feed on our crops. But, we’re not ready to give up yet.