Life | Work in progress
The original purpose of this blog was to document and share my journey as a soul-searcher. I think the main reason I haven’t done that lately (apart from the fact that our internet situation is still kind of a non-situation and I haven’t felt like staying at the office just so that I can spend more time by the computer) is that some things are still too new and fragile to share yet. I need to manifest and live them before I can share them. Does that make sense?
But spiritual growth for me is nothing separate from physical growth, and I see our garden as a big part of what I want to accomplish in this life. So lately I have been thinking that I want to document that part more, even if it’s just to be able to see how things evolve from one year to the next.
Last year, our first, felt like a struggle. I was working full-time, and often felt too exhausted to want to o anything at all after work. We picked the heaviest, most clayey spot on our entire land to grow vegetables on, and nothing much grew besides potatoes. This year we’re only growing potatoes on it – and we dug out another bed (much better soil) where we grow other veggies.
We built a greenhouse last year, and the tomatoes and squash grew into a jungle. The cucumbers died, we watered them with cold water. I made tomato chutney and jam, and lots of squash cheesecake. At the end of the season I got hold of another (a „real“ greenhouse) through the Swedish equivalent to craigslist. The previous owners sold it for next to nothing because a storm had destroyed a lot of the glass. So this year we have two green-houses.
The tomatoes I pre-grew all died because I didn’t think to harden them before planting them into the green-house. Luckily, a much more experienced gardening-enthusiast down the street sold their excess tomato plants. That way I even got hold of a couple of exotic specimens they had brought home from a vacation. No suqash this year, I simply forgot to pre-grow it. Cucumbers, though, and melons!
We have been talking about chickens, too. Haven’t gotten further than getting books from the library, though. That’s one of the things that I like about gardening (besides lovely „free“, organic food): there will always be another chance, another spring, another summer, more time to grow.
Northern gardening lesson #1: Pregrow everything
This is my second year growing stuff on actual soil, not just a balcony and a kitchen window sill. Last year’s lesson: pregrow EVERYTHING. I learned that one by not pregrowing anything except for tomatoes. And those still didn’t ripen fast enough before it got too cold. In my defense, we talked to our neighbors before getting started, and they all said that they never pregrow anything, they plant right in the soil. The rule of thumb up here is not to plant before the summer solstice (21 June), since it can still get below freezing before that (doesn’t happen often but still). That’s cold, man! And obviously summer doesn’t last longer around here just because it starts late, so … you get the picture.
So yesterday I planted 192 plus seeds – melon, cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, egg plants, the works. Excited to see what lessons this year has in store for me. If I had to guess now it could be: don’t let your cats use the land you want to grow food on as a litter box during the winter if you don’t want them to do their business there during the summer … But hey, I might be wrong.
When I was growing tomatoes on the balcony of our apartment in Gothenburg, I decided that I would call it a success if I could get just one tomato out of it. I even insisted on taking the plants with us when we moved. They survived, and we got more than one tomato (not a lot more but hey). So I tried to approach this first year growing on our land with a similar attitude: I wanted to be happy with whatever we’d get, and take it as a sort of reference point for next year.
I am actually really pleased with the result, all things considered, and amazed by how much you get, even when you don’t put a lot of work into it, or sometimes not even any work at all. Like with all the lingon and rowan berries we picked and made jam from, or the two (!?) apple trees that produced so many apples this year that we couldn’t even process all of them.
I am beginning to suspect that this notion of scarcity is something less natural than I have been led to believe, maybe a result of the food industry as it is today. It seems to me that the natural state really is abundance. It might take me some time to get used to that, at this point I am pretty still mourning every single apple that’s lying on the ground, not being made into jam, sauce or chips …
Let it grow
It has been quiet around here, I know. I think our slow internet connection at home is the main reason, but also I went through a rough patch where I didn’t feel like I had anything to share here. Things have turned around faster than I could have imagined, and I am feeling inspired and determined to breathe some life back into this blog.
We finally finished building our greenhouse last week (no pix yet), and sowed a bunch of vegetables on the patch of land Peter has been preparing – with more help from his family than from me, ehem. I blame the long office days due to the commute … so, thanks Birgitta, Stefan and Felix! The patch shrank somewhat from our original megalomaniac outline when we had to face the reality of the hard physical labor involved when preparing the soil … Pix soon to come.
Also, I seem to have found the holy grail (yup, once again) when it comes to health/nutrition. It comes in the form of two books (by the same genius authors, Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon), namely Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat, Lose Fat. I know, the latter sounds like it’s just another dieting book but it is really more about health in general than (just) weight loss. Hopefully I can keep the momentum, and write an entry just about those (which is the least they deserve).
What would a post be without some pix? Exactly.
In May …
In June …
Castration, crafts, and germination
Totally not motivated to sit at office any longer on a Saturday afternoon, even less motivated after discovery that cute cat pictures still on camera, not computer. No other recent pictures, so words only. Bear with me (hate blog posts without pix, worse than posts with only cute animal pix).
Writing about cute animals instead. Cats, ours. Minus one penis, luckily not holding a grudge – phew! Enough about cute cats.
Officially a member of Stöde Form now (only took 6 months, not due to elaborate application process but to simple procrastination process). Working at the store/café once a week and getting lots of tips and inspiration on gardening and mushroom picking. Great stuff!
Purchased seed starting set. Want tomatoes and peppers, need greenhouse, though. Planning on planting tomato and pepper seeds tomorrow as motivation to build greenhouse.
There. Update in 150 words or less.
All yellow | The fall collection
Yup, it’s definitely fall. I am still not used to the fact that that doesn’t mean gray, rain and mud (hello Bremen, ’sup Gothenburg). Nope, here it means yellow, sun and more yellow.
This is what our little corner of the world looked like yesterday:
Indestructible | Plant life
The deal with the house has felt so right and so real the whole time to me that making the down-payment (this past Monday) doesn’t even seem like that big of a milestone. The house has felt like ours the whole time.
Not even the fact that we’re still waiting for an appointment with a chimney sweeper (who, we hope, will tell us that everything is OK because otherwise things could suddenly take a turn towards pretty pricey …) can change that. Like I’ve been saying: I have come to the conclusion that I’d rather be excited about things than worried even if not everything is settled yet. If everything works out, then great – I did not waste any time worrying. If things don’t work out – then at least I had those moments of excitement and happiness. Anything can change at any time anyway, so.
The plants in our apartment, which we once again abandoned for a trip up north, remind me how powerful and amazing life is. If these little guys can bounce back like that, so can I if for some reason things with this house don’t turn out as I imagine …
Let it grow
While we are spending more and more time dreaming about our new home, and especially the prospect of being closer to nature, we still do enjoy our balcony. Especially now that the plants are growing more and more, and you can see a change every day.
… and I wonder how far they will make it until it is time for us to pack.
We’re not there yet, though, so in the meantime …
The great indoors
While I have been dreaming of the real deal, these little guys here on our window sill and dining table have plotted a plan to take over the kitchen. Looks like they’re succeeding, too.
So much is going on, and frankly I feel like I am going to burst if I can’t tell you soon. There’s just a few people I’d like to tell in person before I put it up here – and also, everything isn’t quite settled yet, so it’ll have to wait a little longer.
What I can write about, though, and post a few pix of is Midsommar (summer solstice), and our visit to Peter’s family in Sundsvall. Not too many, I’m afraid, since I took mostly pix of people and as you might have figured out by now, I am not too much into putting those on public display. Anyway.
Peter’s family had rented a house in Dalarna where we all met. I don’t think it gets any more Swedish than spending Midsommar there. It was beautiful, even the weather was mostly great.
We went to a local bear park with leopards, and tigers, and bears – oh my!
Neat to see these beasts without having to worry about getting eaten. But I always feel bad for these guys, and a little guilty for going to these kind of places …
We checked out a waterfall called Storstupet. On our way further north, Peter and I stopped to see a second, even bigger waterfall, called Helvetets vattenfall (hell’s waterfall). It was amazing – and I was camera-less, sorry.
One of the things we did in Sundsvall was visit Peter’s mom’s cousin, who lived in a really nice house with a gorgeous view of a nearby lake.
She had an adorable nine-week old cat that just looked like a black blur in every single pic I took (didn’t want to freak him out with the camera flash). I managed to get a pic of the dog, though.
And there were lupins everywhere on the side of the roads.
Incidentally, I have been „addicted“ to lupin coffee ever since I discovered it at my sister’s (she bought it because it’s caffeine- and gluten-free, thought it tasted awful and gave it to me – thanks, sis!). I wonder if I could make some myself …
Not finding any recipes so far, but some interesting articles:
Funny: one of my thoughts when seeing these flowers way up there in the north was that they reminded me of the Mediterranean region – without having any recollection of having seen them anywhere I’ve been there. According to these articles, they do have their origin there.
Anyone know how to make lupin coffee? Lemme know, please!