Welcome to our small homestead in Sweden

Summer Season – Highs and Lows

tagetes

The summer season is usually a busy time of the year. Not only is there a lot to do both in the flower garden and the kitchen garden, but it is also when we have most visitors. This year has not been any exception. Optimistically, I sowed more plants than ever before, and through May and June it was a struggle to get everything planted in time. The first guests arrived in May, and we’ve had a continuous stream of visitors through June and July.

dahlia
About two thirds of my dahlias from last year survived the winter. However, there has been few flowers due to the cold summer wather.

The Weed Takes Over

Being hosts to a lot of people meant we haven’t had much time to weed and by August, the flower beds look rather scruffy. Likewise, the gravel paths appear like a breeding ground for a large variety of weed. Suffering from a severe back pain lately, I’m starting to think our large garden is more than we can chew. And, as if the weed isn’t bad enough, we’ve recently experienced the most extreme rainstorm I’ve ever seen. The water poured down and carried away a lot of the gravel in the paths, humorously leaving the weed standing. For a while, we were isolated as parts of the driveway was under about 20-30 cm of water.

Weed pops up everywhere, even in the gravel paths.
wet-summer-season
It’s been a wet summer season. Heavy rain flooded the driveway and carried away a lot of the gravel.
A Wet Summer Season

For sure, the weather hasn’t been in our favour this year. The spring was dry and cold until early June. Then, we had two weeks of decent temperatures before the rain and cold took hold. In July, the temperatures struggled to get above the low twenties, and we were down to between 10-14 degrees at night. On the positive side, there was no need to water since it rained almost every day. The same was for most of August.

rainbow
Rainbows after heavy rain.

Work Progress

parking-lot
Creating a new parking lot for guests.

Due to several reasons, we couldn’t finish the holiday apartments in time for this year’s summer season. Our building project has stood on a standstill since May. Moreover, the surroundings of the new build have not been a pleasant sight. We waited all summer for the delivery of gravel and we finally received about 15 truckloads of sand and gravel last week. To our great pleasure, we can finally create a proper parking lot and finish the landscaping surrounding the new build.

surroundings
Materials and machines have been scattered aoround the grounds for too long.
Stone-work
Creating a parking lot for visitors with motorhomes
Boulders
The truck delivers more boulders to edge the parking lot.
Precision-work
Precision work with a large tractor digger.
Gravel-and-sand
We have bought several loads of coarse gravel and finer gravel to create the parking lot as well as level out the area surrounding the new build.
Trouble in the dam

Last year, I could happily confirm that our dam had attracted more animal life when I saw two frogs enjoy themselves in the water. This spring we saw frog eggs floating on the surface of the water. However, we haven’t spotted new frog life in the pond, so whether the eggs have produced new frogs is uncertain.

I don’t know if the algae problem we’ve experienced has anything to do with this, but the invasion of filamentous algae is severe. We noticed the first signs of algae last year, and the problem has grown substantially this summer. It has resulted in a thick mushy substance on the surface of the dam.

algae
Filamentous alga has taken over the dam and none of our efforts to get rid of it have worked.

We’ve bought algicides and treated the dam in several rounds. Although it diminishes the problem, the alga comes back again and again. I have waded into the dam with a hand net and collected as much algae as I could, to limited avail. At one point, my husband suggested I should collect the algae from our canoe. That was nearly the end of me. Entering the canoe, I toppled over and ended on my back at the bottom of the dam. I struggled to get back to the surface and for a moment I feared I would drown in my own garden pond.

Fortunately for me, that didn’t happen, but we have to find a way to deal with the algae before next season.

No-algae
A view of the dam when I’ve cleaned the algae
Harvest

As usual, we have been growing a lot of food this summer. Unfortunately, not always with great success. For instance, none of the carrots sprouted although I sowed twice. We also planted more potatoes than we usually do, but alas, the harvest has been sparse. Similarly, the garlic turned out very small, and the beets and beans were probably eaten by mice or slugs as soon as they stuck the first leaves in the air.

Plant-cover
A new cover over the cabbage plants prevented cabbage flies, but not slugs.

However, the onions did well, and for the first time we had a good crop of broccoli. We also had a good harvest of peas and broad beans (flava beans). The kale and cabbages that were covered in fleece have also done well, although the fleece hasn’t managed to keep the slugs out. In fact, we’ve had a lot of slugs this year, which given the wet summer isn’t surprising.

Usually, I keep the doors to the greenhouse open through July, but when I noticed the tomatoes struggled to ripen, I closed the doors to generate more heat. Yet, it was not until the beginning of August that we could start harvesting tomatoes and chilies. We also tested the first maize last week, but they are still not fully ripe.

broccoli
Finally success with broccoli. Some of the heads were huge.
onion
Onion harvest

Preservation

Whatever harvest that we haven’t eaten directly, I have tried to preserve. As usual, most of the tomatoes have ended up as tomato sauce, but I have tried out different recipes for preserving cucumbers and chilies. For the first time, we’ve had a good crop of blueberries, which we managed to protect from the birds. I tested out new methods of preservation using a pressure cooker, something that lead to a small explosion in the kitchen and quite a few burns on myself.

But more about the preservation of our harvest in the text Testing New Recipes.

blueberry-cover
Orangery-garden
Wiew to the orangery

Summer Images

All in all, this summer season has been a break from our usual farm activities. We have played some golf, tried out kayaking and socialised with family and friends. We have of course taken care of the produce and done some necessary farm work, like making fire wood and collecting boulders for garden projects. Thinking back, it sounds like we haven’t done much. Nonetheless, there’s been a steady progress in several areas, something I might come back to in a later post.

Meanwhile, enjoy some images from the garden this summer season.

Inside-orangery
Wiew to the garden from inside the orangery
Path-along-dam
I reworked the path along the dam to make it wider.
park.bench
New this season is also a bench where we can enjoy the view to the dam.
boquet
A boquet of the season’s flowers

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