Today I weeded around all the blackcurrants bushes (we have maybe 30, maybe 40) because the currants are almost ready and I hate getting stung by nettles while I'm picking (usually without gloves). It is back-breaking work but useful because today was a sunny day and the sunshine reaches the lower berries once the weeds have been removed.
We've decided to start the honey harvest so the berry picking will have to fit in around all the other work. It's going to be a very, very busy week.
The first batch of blackcurrants will go straight to Espoo on Monday morning where it will be frozen as we just don't have time to make crème de cassis or blackcurrant cordial at the moment. Some of the rest will go to REKO in Ekenas on Wednesday.
The last kilo of strawberries.
Some more broad beans.
Carrots. Garlic. Onions. Timo (end of).
The blackcurrants are almost ready, as are the first aubergines. The tomatoes ('Shirley') are huge but not ripening yet, same story with the red peppers. The red gooseberries are another week or two away.
We've eaten a few leaves of kale which I stirred into some fried potatoes with chantarelles and garlic. They are really tasty but I just wish they would speed up a bit.
We have signed up for REKO which is an organisation that operates on a similar basis to the AMAP in France (which has a suburban farm on the outskirts of Sainte Geneviève des Bois that we visited in August 2013). In Finland REKO operates through Facebook, so Peter and I will just have to bite that proverbial bullet!
In a nutshell, an event is created on REKO's facebook page and then producers offer their produce and buyers reserve what they want and everyone meets up once a week on a carpark in Ekenas to buy/sell. We don't have much to offer at the moment but hopefully the blackcurrants will be ready by next Wednesday and I have already ordered some sausages.
Here is a brief explanation in English
And here is a link to the Facebook page (closed group).
REKO has its own website (in Swedish) here.
We picked about 15 litres off the two bushes that were at the top of the row in Rosendal (they had not been covered by nets). I think we can easily wait a few more days before harvesting more. They are not exactly dropping off the bushes yet.
Down in the Ovanträsk plot the blackcurrant bushes are in the same state of readiness - ie they can probably tolerate a couple more days of sunshine. I will pick 10 litres off the ripest bushes to take to REKO on Wednesday. And then we will decide whether or not to keep the rest (which means buying another freezer) or sell them.
That is, two sunny days in a row. So we did some outdoor tasks such as weeding and shifting more hay and straw into the sheep shed ready for the rain that is forecast for the rest of the week. I pulled a few young carrots which we had this evening mixed with Timo (new potatoes) broad beans and cauliflower.
I picked a few more litres of blueberries and found a few chanterelles. Also a couple of cucumbers, some more garlic to make more tzatziki (the last batch disappeared when Tom's friends turned up).
It's that time of year again and I got two new books. Actually one of them was a present from me to me but the other was from Peter!
This one came from my visit to Mary Kuusisto's incredible garden in Tenala, Raseborg.
She grows exotic plants, mostly in pots, which live indoors through the winter and gradually move outdoors for the summer. When I was there I saw lemons and melons and a vast selection of edible plants and fruits that I had never seen anywhere before and certainly not in Finland.
I bought a Stevia plant (used as a sweetener, a substitute for refined sugar) and Mary gave me a Purslane plant in a small pot which flowered in our polytunnel the day after I got it!
I have since bought some cucamelon seeds (Melothria scabra) which I will try and grow in the polytunnel, taking them indoors for the winter and hopefully getting fruit next summer.
We found this book at Sara's Secret Garden shop in Fiskars.
A great find! Lots about foraging and also some easy recipes. I think I will start with the yarrow because we have plenty of that.
The aubergines are getting quite big so Peter put a frame around the egg plant box to support them. I've been misting them which is supposed to fix the pollination (or something like that). The plants are very bushy and covered in purple flowers which are being pollinated partly by the wild bees and partly by me.
Found fruits on the Squashkins at last. I'm guessing that these "embryonic" fruits are yet to be fertilized as the flowers are tightly shut. Most of the pollination seems to be the work of wild bees. The coriander flowers attract all kinds of wild "bumble bees" and I've watched them at work in the squash plants. The bees will wriggle their way into flowers that are quite tightly shut where they spend several minutes moving around and sucking nectar. I have waited with my camera at the ready, crouching among the foliage, wondering if they will ever re-appear. The bees are completely hidden inside the flowers and take forever before moving onto the next flower.
I am picking 4-5 cucumbers every day and each one is perfect. Saladin is definitely my favourite variety: very reliable and the taste is good too and there are not too many seeds inside.
The rocket is through. I abandoned my attempts at growing rocket in the vegetable garden and now have it in a raised bed in the polytunnel under some net curtains (which I believe came from our house in Budapest!). They germinated really quickly and there are no signs of bugs puncturing the leaves.
Coriander (lots), cucumbers (tons), garlic (masses)... at least there are things to pick, snip and pull!
The aubergines are flowering and starting to produce fruit, so are the peppers (no idea how long they take to ripen though) and we will soon have tomatoes.
In the garden things aren't going quite so well. The broad beans are starting to produce edible pods and there are radishes and of course herbs. The kale is coming on well too, slowly but surely. We have almost finished the Timo (early potatoes) and will soon start on the Annabella. There are masses of currants and gooseberries but they are a long way from ripening. It will be ages before any French beans are ready to pick (not even flowering yet!) and the beetroots look sad - I might even sow some more seeds for a late crop, hoping we have a warm autumn.
We have spent hours and hours and hours weeding over the past few days. It is heavy work when the ground is so wet. I almost gave up and we're still not done but it looks much better than it did. Peter has been working on the veg-plot extension and we are almost ready to erect the new fence. Then we can think about moving things which shouldn't be an issue in this weather. I've been transplanting kale in the rain - no problems.
Next summer we will definitely but ground cover (the same black sheeting we use in the polytunnel) over the paths in the vegetable garden.
Apart from the carrots which are happy under the mini plastic tunnels, everything else is wet and miserable: the beans, the beets and the onions. I have picked a couple of bunches of radishes, and they were fiery hot and delicious.
The strawberries have started to ripen, they are huge, and I picked a couple pf kilos this weekend. I cooked some of them as I am pretty sure they won't keep. It was raining when I picked them. In fact, I amazed they aren't rotting on the plants.
It's cold and very wet outside but in the polytunnel the conditions are almost perfect: not too hot, very damp.
Everything else is doing well. The bell peppers are growing very fast. We hadn't noticed there were any as the fruits are the same colour as the leaves. We will leave them to turn red on the plants.
The tomatoes are doing well too, especially 'Shirley'
I have been away for a while and found the cucumbers sprawling... it took me ages to unravel them and string them up over the frame. They are covered in baby cucumbers, we are going to have a massive crop.
I've been in the UK where we had some hot (and wet) weather but everything was looking dried out and parched. Nice to come back to the lush greenness of Finland. Maybe not the best holiday weather but great for the fruit and vegetables. Can't wait to see what's been happening in the vegetable garden and the polytunnel. Watch this space!
28th June. I am fed up with Weebly... the dates are all weird again and I keep losing text that I've written. It is slow. Maybe the time has come to switch to another platform.
I just wrote a few lines about the weather but lost it all. Anyway - to cut a long story short, we had a huge downpour on Friday which has left the ground saturated, we have surface water on the field and in the garden. Although the berries are doing really well, a lot of the veg are struggling. The beetroots aren't doing so well and neither are the French beans.
Things are really moving in the polytunnel.
The coriander is going crazy and we have basil too. There are flowers on the red peppers and all the squash are starting to produce male flowers, some also have female flowers too. Nighttime temperatures have been 10-12C and during the day it is well over 30C. Thomas has been doing a great job watering everything.