Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Home for July
Swededaddy's nap spot, the hammock
We are home in July. We worked on our chore lists and traveled in June, and plan to travel again come August. So this is our month at home, July. We are savoring the sweet summer at home, doing a bunch of nothing. SwedeDaddy is home on pappaledig, which means he is not working and we all are just together. We sleep in, eat pancakes, work in the garden, and swim. I think I left the house to do something other than pick something up at the store or go swimming for the first time in two weeks when we went out picking berries. It is enough for us that we can open the house and use the whole space around us with out having to suit people up in snow gear or keep things closed up as we must in winter. We have a nice big fenced yard, and so in summer, our house becomes a lot bigger. We mostly eat on the porch, and the kids run in and out all day.

Swededaddy takes stroller walks - bike rides to the grocery store with the girls
They feed the ducks
At home in the yard, SwedeGirl jumps on the trampoline
Eager to copy her sister, SwedeBaby gets a turn on her own trampoline. She has this until she is big enough for the large one
They play with the kids in the neighborhoodThe flowers are blooming all over the yard. I transplanted these from the abandoned garden we found....I had tried to grow some from seeds so I was happy to be gifted with this short cut!
I planted these from seed. I planted lots flower seeds, and it has been so dry precious few have bloomed.
The Roses. We are grateful to those who lived in this house before, the planted such pretty landscaping, and we have lots of roses.
The peonies were amazing this year
And this is a healthy big old stockrose, right next to the garden
It attracts bees

I have always loved these, so glad I have these pretty blue flowers in our yard. Hortensia, I think.
So we just hang out close to home......

We have had friends over for a BBQ, here is the dad playing in the back yard. This backyard set up has been good- the kiddie pool, slip n slide, and swing set next to the garden. There is a lot of hose time going on in the back yard wit hall the gardening, and when the kids are not swimming they fill the watering cans with pool water and go water the garden. Great fun for the baby, and she is doing something useful which makes her feel important.
Water spray
Splashy Swimming
Slip n sliding.....
Pool water in watering can on the way to the garden....
I found two matching elephant watering cans at various yard sales and thrift shops. This pink elephant is so cute, huh?
We have not gone many places, but when we do it is usually to swim in the local pool or lake, It usually ends in ice cream, too. We have had some sunny sandy swimmy days at our favorite nearby lake shore.

Walking in the woods. We were on a mission to collect elder flower to make saft/ elder cordial, but we were late in the season and got very few flowers, then let them go to far before we did anything with them. Oh well, next year.
Our favorite big old tree. It looked like lovers this day, the female to the right and a male to the left.
This little grasshopper hopped onto Swedegirl and stayed with her all afternoon. Here I was grasshopper sitting while she climbed the tree....
Grasshoppers were our 'animal medicine' guide on our move to Sweden. Animal medicine is a native American idea that if you are open and receptive, animals will show up in your life as a messengers of spirit, and by noticing the nature of the creature, you are being an offered a lesson for your life journey. Grasshoppers are the symbol of an opportunity to take a big leap forward, and leave old karma behind. They are considered good luck. We had a huge 3 inch grasshopper hop on us one occasion as we planned what it took to leave Florida. It was so distinct we both thought, oh, this is an animal messenger moment! While this little guy was not making such a big statement with his size, the fact that he let himself be our 5 year olds pet for about 5 hours straight left an impression! This little guy was a fun reminder of our totem grasshopper from when we moved, as our two year anniversary of arriving in Sweden is tomorrow. When I told my incredulous best friend I hoped to move, we noticed we were standing under a poster that said leap of faith. We made the leap. And here we are.

And ready for the next leaps.
We can take it!
It is my mantra, my intention to increase my capacity for joy, love, adventure, and abundance....
The Garden
This is our second year trying our hand at vegetable gardening. Last year the garden went in in early June and that felt late, as the tomatoes did not ripen until September. So I vowed to start earlier. I eagerly tried to start seeds in our raised bed in April. I struck my shovel to the bed to turn the dirt, and it gave a clunk. It was still frozen solid. So I waited a week or so and planted some kale, carrot, and radish seeds in early May. May 11th I put in some onion bulbs.
May 13th I had sprouts, things were looking good.
We waited. And waited. The carrots took 21 days to germinate. They came up and I felt hope. The onions greened up. But the radish and kale seedlings were not doing much.

By early July we had radish sprouts that had bolted and a little progress on the thick planting of kale sprouts. The radishes were so pitiful I pulled them all and never took a picture. In a feeble attempt at enjoying the radishes as we pulled them I ate the prize one, which was about 2 cm in diameter. Pulling them was a fun job for the 5 year old, though. She loaded them very purposefully in her wheel barrow. I was doubting the garden was going to do anything, but remembered in my eagerness to start I had not fertilized, so I thought I would give that a try. I was sensing my greens needed nitrogen.
So I pulled everything leaving only the onions in place, and dug in a bunch of fertilizer and compost in to the bed and let the July sun do its work. Things looked better, with the kale thinned and in tidy rows. But the warmed up ground and long sunny days seemed to be the thing that was really making the difference.

I also started applying seaweed tea, a nasty smelling brew made from seaweed harvested from the shore near Swededaddy's childhood home, then soaked in water. It is my secret weapon. The right to collect seaweed from that shore is deeded to farmers, so it must be good for something. I worked on a farm and they always applied fish emulsion to the greens. Seaweed tea smells as bad, so and hopefully it is giving them a mineral boost and the nitrogen they need to flourish.

I love greens and they are not sold widely in stores here, so I am going heavy on the greens in the garden. I also hear they are very resilient.

I have Tuscan Kale. And regular curly green Kale. Look I grew something from seed!!
And Swiss Chard, which I bought as a plant start at the garden store and put in in May. The chard seeds did almost nothing, so it was a good thing I found these plants! It is already ready for cut and come again harvesting.
We have eaten it three times so far...
July 6th SwedeDaddy made a new bed for the tomato plants. The tomatoes dominated the one raised bed last year, and are not supposed to be replanted in the same soil the next year. Ours did get a disease late in the season, so hopefully this new bed will be a comfy fresh start. Here they are July 13th. They are bigger already, I put up trellises now.
I also made two self watering containers and tried some spinach, romaine, and ice berg lettuce seeds in them. We will see how that goes.
We have a yellow tomato, a danish export tomato, a flavorino, some other cluster tomato, and two cocktail tomatoes. Hopefully there is enough time for them to do something this year. I think last years slow harvest may have been the result of me trimming the wrong part of the plant last year, so I hope they produce earlier. There are tons of Swedish tomatoes in the stores, I have concluded they are greenhouse tomatoes. Here is the first fruit on a cocktail tomato, July 13th.
We got some zucchini starts last year and had three really great producing zucchini that made us feel like successful gardeners. I was combing the garden centers looking for the zucchini, and had no luck. I picked up some celery, a yellow peppers, and a sweet melon as that was all they had for plant starts.

Yellow pepper, in a container.
The sweet melon start from the garden center
I never found my zucchini plant starts, much to my dismay!!
They were the one thing that we really ATE lots of last year that made the garden fun!
But I did have some seed packets.... It was so late for seeds, though!!! As a last ditch effort for zukes and pumpkins, I planted the seeds July 10th. Three days later, I was checking them three times a day and watching them change before my eyes.

Zukes really do grow that fast. If you start one thing from seed, start zukes!
So July 13th, SwedeDaddy put in a bed for the zukes.
We are starting to call it the pappaledig garden, since he is home from work on parent leave this summer. We tucked some pumpkins and watermelon in with the greens. The zukes are getting their third leaf now on July 20th. We will see what they do, the Internet says they are 45 to 65 days till maturity. We are hoping everything will grow grow while we are gone on our summer trip, and be ready for eating when we are back in September. The first freeze was not till late October last year, and the greens are best after they have been touched by frost. So hopefully we will have late maturing plants and be able to eat off this a bit this year! Maybe planting late was a good thing this year, as we will be traveling most of August.

The best and worst part of gardening with kids is that they like to play with the hose when you water. My mud monster.
We have a little berry patch we planted last year, the deer ate the plants last year so we had only one or two berries! Now its the kids eating berries here and there from our own little strawberry patch. It only produces enough to go from hand to mouth. But we also have found a little secret abandoned garden in the village, and we picked that berry patch clean. It has a little strawberry patch and a big cherry tree we have been visiting. It has kept us happy until we made our big berry picking trip today.
Baby has had to learn to ask before she pops those berries in her mouth!
Out front, we have the potato patch we started May 23rd. We also started carrots in the front, and they took just a few days to germinate now it is warm, instead of 3 weeks in the spring. I think I am getting why people start things in greenhouses now. WARMTH is key to growth. Maybe this is why the Rudolph Steiner people make a big deal out of keeping kids warm, and having a hat on in winter. Warmth equals growth.
You can see how big the sunflowers are in the foreground, this photo was taken July 6th.
Here they are 13 days later on July 19th
Things change. This is what a garden will teach you.