We picked about 25 litres (approx 12 kg) of blackcurrants today from the Rosendal bushes which is probably about half of the yield from up there, maybe less. The branches are weighed down with fruit. We've been picking blackcurrants from the bushes down here in Oventrask to eat, on an as-needed basis but there are still quite a lot to pick, and the redcurrants are beyond ripe so they need some attention too. Tomorrow I will take all the blackcurrants to Espoo and freeze them - we simply don't have time to make jam, juice and jelly while the honey harvest is happening.
I also picked the first french beans today, just a handful, but they have to be picked or the plants stop producing flowers. I have also picked maybe 8-10 cucumbers and we have been eating bucketfuls of home-made tzatziki - I definitely over-did the garlic in the batch I made tonight. Lots of tomatoes too and carrots and beetroots. We will have courgettes by the weekend (they are in the vegetable garden not the polytunnel).
Regarding the polytunnel, we are a bit worried about the number of small squashes that are rotting on the plants. Google led me to believe that the shrivelled fruits are not pollinated. So I have placed a box of beeswax + honey in there to attract some more bees. The foliage is so dense it is possible that the insects are just not finding the female flowers. Of course, I could pollinate by hand...
Today I picked carrots, beetroot, garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, courgettes and potatoes (Annabella) and took a pretty pic of the whole lot and then my phone froze and I lost the photos :angry: But we had a nice meal this evening with dips (tzatziki and a cajun style spicy dip) and raw veggies. I'm not completely happy with the carrots, they tasted a bit "dry" - not woody, but they lacked the juicy sweetness that home-grown carrots should have when they are at their best.
The vegetable garden is doing well but it needs watering nearly every day as we are in the middle of a heatwave and a drought (the Finnish call it "helle"), at least the weeds aren't as rampant as they were.
So, I took advice from various books and websites about misting the aubergines and also tapping the flowers to release the pollen and... it works. We now have LOTS of baby aubergines! I have no idea how fast they grow or when we can hope to eat our first moussaka but things are looking good! I just hope I don't have to pot them up and carry them all indoors at the end of August when the evenings start getting chilly.
Peter and Tom are busy making a new shed for Tom's smithy project. It will also be used for storing machinery in the winter and maybe for sheep next year. It's versatile.
Meanwhile I am entertaining Scruffy (who is being an angel) and have started cleaning out the sauna. Peter fixed the oven which was in need of some TLC and I swept out the floor and we've decided to paint it, orange. Or maybe grey. We haven't voted yet. We took Peter out for lunch at KW in Karis (located in the old cinema) as it's his birthday and he's worth it! Really nice lunch, a kind of open sandwich/bruschetta thing with lots of trimmings and then strawberries and ice-cream.
In the polytunnel we have hundreds of butternut squash and pumpkins that have set on the plants. Yippeee! The watering system is working well now: it still has to be turned on and off manually but we can water almost the whole tunnel with two sprinklers in the centre of the tunnel. The growbags have to be watered manually and so do the cucumbers, lettuce etc which are in raised beds.
We have picked and eaten the first cucumbers and also about one kilo of tomatoes with a lot more to follow.
In the garden the first beetroot are big enough to pull (bigger than golf balls, smaller than tennis balls). The french beans are flowering.
The strawberries we very disappointing this year.
This evening before I watered the garden I put chicken poop fertilizer over almost everything (except the carrots because they are in a plastic tunnel but will do them another day) and except the blueberries which, apparently, prefer ericaceous feed.
And, I planted a climbing rose against the front (south-facing) wall of the cabin. It's from our local nursery "Tahvoset" and it's a pale pink rose called "New Dawn"
Tahvoset is virtually our next-door neighbour so I am fairly confident that the rose will survive the winter. It is labelled zone I-III which is OK as we are in zone Ib - ie one of the warmest zones in Finland. All plants sold in Finland show the hardiness according to the zones which go from I-VIII, zone VIII being in northern Lapland.
To do list:
- fertilize the carrots, the fruit bushes (and the saskatoons
- pull up some earth around the jerusalem artichokes
- pick some more strawberries
- buy some ericaceous feed for the blueberries (do not use chicken poop or manure)
Aubergines, eggplant... I started these off indoors in pots in early winter, having never grown them before.
The aubergines are flowering. They are beautiful plants with huge matt-green leaves, veined with purple and the flowers are large, purple eight-pointed stars that hang face downwards.
We have three aubergine plants in each (organic) growbag. I think this is probably too much as the plants are enormous and watering them is very tricky. I had to open up new watering holes at the back of the growbags.
Reading some tips online, I need to mist the flowers and tap them to release the pollen and set the fruit.
We are picking tomatoes now and they are really, really good. Not many make it to the table as I tend to pick them and eat them straight away inside the polytunnel. Within a few days we will also have cucumbers, we have erected a frame for them now so they will climb rather than crawl along the floor (there isn't much space on the floor any more).
I remade a raised bed (in a wooden frame) for the lettuce and rucola. Both are coming through which proves my point that you can't beat shop-bought compost for salad veg.
In the garden we are picking strawberries - some are delicious but some are not nice at all. Not sure why, I need to do some research but I guess it is just the old plants and maybe a lack of water and sunshine earlier in the spring. The best strawbs are coming from the plants I bought and planted out about a month ago!
The courgettes are starting to produce now, I can't wait to get some of the Eight-Ball which are round and will look really good stuffed with minced lamb or with goats cheese and tomatoes.
The redcurrants are almost ready to pick but we'll leave the blackcurrants for another week or two until they are so ripe they are falling off the bushes.
The carrots are doing fine but are still too small for pulling but some of the beetroots are a good size (large golf balls) so maybe I will pull a few and do some pickling and then leave the rest to grow a bit bigger.
As for the potatoes, we are gradually eating our way through the row of Timo - the crop has been really good this year. The Annabellas are not quite ready. I'll take some photos of each next time I go digging.
The french beans are just starting to flower. We spread out the sowing over 2-3 weeks so we should be picking for at least a month!
The borage and oregano are flowering and covered with bees.
We had a huge storm tonight, and we watched it roll in from the sea. The sky went black and the wind came in very suddenly. The thunder and lightning were right overhead so we had to momentarily turn off the TV (during the World Cup final). The rain was torrential - cats AND dogs - but only lasted for an hour or so. The sheep must've been terrified.
We have tomatoes and cucumbers in the polytunnel and should be able to pick and eat them within a week or two. This one came as a plant from the nursery in Billnås. Two of the others came from Lidl and two more came from the market in Karis (but they aren't doing very well). It would appear that paying a bit more for good tomato plants pays off in the long run.
Some of the tiny cocktail tomatoes self-seeded in the polytunnel last year, so I dug them up and put them in pots. They are starting to flower so they might produce something.
This evening we fixed the supports for the cucumbers. The polytunnel seemed to glow as the sun was setting behind it.
A weeding day.
I had to come in for cortisone cream having been attacked by horseflies. I was wearing a black T-shirt... So, I changed into a white, long-sleeved T-shirt and have since been left in peace. It's worth a try: I once read an article that said there had been an increase in cases of malaria in the Far East which was partly due to the current fashion trend of wearing black leggins (which attract mosquitoes). White, beige and khaki are supposed to be good colours for avoiding insect stings. Other websites maintain that wearing different colours has no effect and the white T-shirt advice is just a myth. Bit of a grey area if you ask me.
At last the warmer weather is here and everything is coming on. It has been a long wait.
We have our first pumpkins in the polytunnel, the conditions are perfect as long as we keep watering (nearly all day). The temperature gets up to 47C but we can keep it coller if we open up both ends. The disadvantage of doing that is the through draught which takes away the humidity.