The Garden: Expanding Up and Out

A week and a half since my last garden update, but these super-long northern summer days mean that we’ve had more than two weeks worth of sun in between. And it shows! You can practically hear the plants growing. I’ve already harvested three colanders full of salad from my box of lettuce and it’s still going strong. The extremely short nights (it doesn’t really get dark anymore, just this twilightish sort of glow for a few hours between midnight and 3AM) mean that the soil is never really cooling down, so the plants are fast forwarding through their development like I’ve never seen before. I’d been worried about getting my crop of tomatoes in before the autumn chill hit since I’d started them so late, but if things continue like they have been it should be no problem at all.


My first bowl of salad. I’ve been harvesting about this much every few days and it looks like we’ll have another couple weeks worth before they start to give out. By which time the rows we’ve started in the veggie patch at the parents’ house should have kicked in. They haven’t been showing any signs of wanting to bolt yet, despite the warm temperatures. I’m going to cross my fingers that this continues — they’re getting a northwestish exposure and tucked towards the shady end of the balcony, so they’re getting the benefits of warm weather without too much direct sun. The white plastic and heavy leaf cover have been keeping the roots cool and the water levels constant, so they should be happy little lettuce plants.

Having greens this fresh and convenient on a normal basis is going to spoil me come winter. I wonder if we’ll be able to grow them inside? Must look into this. It’s also nice to be able to clip just what we’re going to eat, so there’s no waste. I’d always feel bad when we couldn’t finish a bag of store salad in time, because they came in such large bags and there were only two of us.

More garden harvesting, the veggie patch gets planted, and a mini floral tour of Rauma, behind the cut.


My strawberry plant is going crazy now. It’s really enjoying the several hours of full sun it gets hanging out there on the more exposed side of the balcony. There’s several clusters of flowers and berries coming out of every direction. It produced only a few runners early last month, and I pruned all but two, which are now rooted baby plants at the base of this mother plant. I’m guessing the low incidence of runners means that this is an everbearing or day-neutral plant. Aren’t the pink flowers cute? We’ve even gotten a few adventurous bees visiting them, though I still pollinate them daily by hand to be on the safe side.


Two more strawberries, picked just this morning. Our berries are medium-ish — not huge like the supermarket ones, but not as tiny as an alpine either. They’re long and conical with a bit of a neck to them, so they sort of resemble bullets. I don’t suppose anybody out there is familiar with the countless strawberry cultivars around and could identify these guys for me?


My ranunculus have sprouted! It’s been a month since I planted the bulbs. They grow like weeds once they’re up, so I’m hoping to have cut flowers in another month.


My first roses are starting to open as well.


The seedling patch has been whittled down since I last posted. This was partially due to a week of summer rain causing a massive case of damping off amongst the more delicate seedlings. I culled out the weak-looking ones so now I’m down to 5-6 good plants of each variety, which is about perfect. I’ll be transplanting half of these to the veggie patch in the parents’ backyard, and putting the rest into containers to grow on the balcony. That way, I’ll be able to test plant viability in different locations and figure out my seeding plan for next year.


My veggie patch! Only one corner is filled at present, but they look happy! It’s nice and sunny for most of the day, which should be ideal for what I’m growing there. I’ll have two staggered rows of my 3 varieties of cherry tomato in the back, then four trios of different basil types running along Β the front. We’ll also seed a few rows of salad down the right end.


Speaking of herbs, I have had to hang my pots in the kitchen, due to kitty nibbling. Only two up for now, since I was able to screw hooks into pre-existing holes for them. I think I’ll be able to put up 5 small pots in all, though, if I stagger them carefully.


A pot of cat grass, which I’ve started making available to the felines on a daily basis in hopes of curbing their houseplant-munching tendencies. Misu isn’t really buying it, but Coco loves to chew on the stuff. I’m going to have to sow them much more thickly in the next pot, because she’s pretty rough with the grass and ends up pulling out a good portion when she’s chewing on the tops.


And now, a series of shots that are not really from my garden, but are close enough that I see them on a very regular basis. These are the tall foxgloves growing in the border outside our apartment. I adore foxgloves.


Don’t know what those little golden flowers are, but they sure are cute. I only ever managed to grow one foxglove plant successfully back in Cali — probably because they’re not really warm climate plants. To see so many of them here, self-seeding and growing rampant with hardly any care, is fantastic.


A closeup of the flowers of a foxglove that snuck into another plants’ enclosure.


The building is also lined with a row of these ginormous pink rose bushes, which I’m told are grown mostly for their rose hips. They’re leaving a pretty scattering of pink petals everywhere and the smell is lovely.


And directly to the left of our front door, there is a large peony plant. This was from a couple weeks ago — the buds had been set since we arrived in May, and I was dying to see what the flowers would look like.


They opened last week! So gorgeous and fragrant.


I have to stop and smell them every time we come and go.


I haven’t given in to the temptation to pick one yet, but I know that somebody else has because the most perfect one on a nice, straight stem was gone after the first day. They probably thought nobody would notice, but I’d had my eye on that particular flower as well πŸ˜›


The boy’s mother also has a peony bush that started blooming a few days ago. They’re neon pink!


And finally, some water lilies in the canal from when we went walking in old town today. They’re in huge clumps all up and down the waterways. I won’t go into too much detail about the months of toil and frustration I went through trying to get water lilies to grow in my tub garden back in Cali. Mental note to try water gardening again next year, if this is the result I’ll get.


  1. That is the best looking batch of lettuce I’ve ever seen! I’ve forgotten how green and appealing it can be. Too long spent rifling through the brownish stuff they sell at the grocery store, and too far from my grandmother’s garden :/

    • Well, thank you! This is probably the first time I’ve ever had extended success with lettuces, since SoCal weather was always a bit too extreme for them to survive past one small harvest. It really does make it hard to go back to store-bought, after you realize how much better it tastes when served within minutes of coming off the plant πŸ™‚

      I’m so excited to finally be harvesting from my own garden — I’m going to make iced tea from my own plants tomorrow!

      Grandmother’s gardens are the best! But baby greens are stupidly easy to grow, even indoors. Do you have a sunny windowsill where you can put out a few pots to sprout?

  2. stumbled upon your blog while looking for a recipe using my NewZeal greenshell mussels…and ended up reading thru a bunch. Lots of shared interests. I’m particularly into growing my own garden of late out of pots since I have no yard. I live in Germany and am hoping to grow my rucola/arugula plant indoors this winter. It was not clear to me if you had success growing yours indoors last winter. If so, I’d be interested in the variety and whether you grew from seed or a plant. Lately my basil plants that I buy at the organic place seem to die and I’m not sure why. I used to have such success with them…so that’s also a concern of mine. at any rate, I love what you’ve done here and think why can’t I have one of these considering all the cooking/baking/gardening I do. Ahhh guess I’d have to fault the 4 kids who take up most of my time.

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