For forage

We have definitely migrated from Sahara to the dry season tropics – late dry season when you keep looking up for clouds, any clouds that might bring rain; and all you get is dry thunder.

Nevertheless, as long as our groundwater spring delivers (fingers crossed!) the garden looks, if not exactly lush, at least a functioning unit. There might be more aphids and cabbage caterpillars than we’d choose to have if we’d have the option but by and large the situation is promising – there is a sense of achievement when dealing with the early harvest items.

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Enough to eat freash and something for the winter, too.

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Enough to eat fresh and plenty for the winter(s)

We ate yesterday the first stem broccoli (brokali) and the secondary stems are already well on their way.

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I told Pekka he should weigh the stems so that we could see how expensively we eat – but he wouldn’t do it. Can’t understand why not; on Saturday in the supermarket we came across this item:

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Stem broccoli, € 23,27/kg! It’s not even fun, just ridiculous for a broccoli tasting broccoli.

So, with all this and more to work with, achieve and admire – why do we don our foraging outfits to spend a sweltering day in the middle of nowhere?

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A foraging outfit, by the way, is NOT a camo dress but the whitest one you have – doesn’t absorb heat and thus attracts fewer winged rattlesnakes.

Why wade in a bog fighting twin-lobed deerflies when you know your haul will not be more than 2-3 litres of cloudberries (we saw the amount a week ago when they were not yet ripe)? Especially when we still have a lot of last year’s ones in the freezers.

Easy. Because of the feeling you always get there. It’s not achievement, it’s simply gratitude – you don’t need bucketfuls of berries or mushrooms, just a single one will awaken it.

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It’s given free – it’s up to you to appreciate the gift.

 

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Cloud Dew Sun

Well, we have still Summer. You might want to remark that, after all, it’s July so what else could we have – but, believe me, after three previous snowless periods we are convinced we could have anything but.

This morning the weather was warm and cloudy, the grass dewy – it was altogether a nice morning (disregarding the horseflies and midges). We took stock of the situation: everything sown – scorzonera not yet visible above the ground but nothing we can do about that and we’ll harvest it only next year, anyway; almost everything planted (about 40 sweet peppers waiting still for our judgement and actions), vegetable beds so-so weeded and not in need of immediate watering after the weekend’s rain squalls…

Looking at it closely:

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Onions growing; spring onions sliced in the freezer

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Latinos beginning to provide dinners

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Pointed cabbages getting their points – no help needed from us

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Sweet peppers grooooowing…

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Melons – OK, at the moment one melon – expanding

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Ricinus flowering

Seeing that everything was managing pretty well without us  (and that the sun had come out) we decided some foraging might be useful – or at least fun. We ate the first chanterelles two days ago

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but surely there should be something else worthwhile already?

We headed towards a bog – very early for cloudberries but at least we could see whether there would be any this year; there were a couple of disheartening frost nights at the time of their flowering.

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Well, yes and no – we inspected four bogs, three small and one large one. One small one will yield a tolerably good harvest in a week’s time; now we got the first ripe ones. Otherwise nothing; all flowers have been frozen.

Nevertheless, we didn’t feel too disappointed; a summer bog is a lovesome thing with its scent of wild rosemary (quite heady even outside the flowering time), its dragonflies

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and its moorland clouded yellows (let’s again disregard the horseflies, etc.)

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And of course the sundews – be it sunny or cloudy…

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Post-Midsummer

Midsummer was – as expected – steadily windy and wet, slightly unexpectedly wet also inside (leaking roof). Now we have returned to normal variable weather – warm, cool, sunshine, clouds, rain, wind. Most of the garden seems to thrive on that – only the newly transplanted calabrese needed extra cosseting and much extra water in yesterday’s sunshine.

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So far surviving…

The shallots are beginning to swell.

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The peas are half their usual size at this time – and flowering

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The Latino courgettes are still meditating, Soleil has started the production.

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You know, it’s always astonishing when the blurb for a new cultivar proves to be true (must be my suspicious nature).

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Luxury F1: “A wonderful, heavy cropping, all-female variety for unheated greenhouses. Fruits are of excellent quality and flavour.”

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Pepper Sweet Heat: “Early and prolific, with loads of sweet bells.”

Not that the old varieties are far befind – hot pepper Gusto Purple outdoors

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And a Bulgarian hot pepper planning to beat all the F1s

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Yesterday we took some time off from sowing, planting, weeding, mulching, etc, and went hilltopping. We didn’t expect too much as the Poplar Admirals aren’t flying yet – but saw nevertheless quite a lot.

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Blues

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Heliconians

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Old and new greenflowered wintergreens

Old and new lapwings

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Try to catch me – I’m lame! Don’t pay any attention to THOSE!

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Outsize legs…

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A broad-winged damselfky watching…

 

Weather – Mediterranean vs. Finnish

What’s the difference? Obviously the lack of the Mediterranean Sea around here – and in the nearest future also everything else as the Midsummer is approaching with its traditional Finnish weather: cool and rainy. Up till now it has been hot and dry, so much so that even the dinosaurs have tried to find a waterhole.

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Today’s 20 minutes of rain caused general jubilation – if we except Tuftie…

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It’s so horrible with this everlasting rain!

We have diligently watered and mulched the garden and the garden has answered appropriately.

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Pointed cabbage

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Kale “Midnight Sun”

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Leek

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Baby – astonishing for its size

We are already eating spring onions and cucumbers

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In the greenhouse the kiwanos are growing – can anybody tell how they should be cared for? Like cucumbers? Melons? Just overlook them?

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The one of the left is cucamelon (in Finnish “Jungle gherkin”)

There are of course lots of other things to see, not only the vegetable patch. This is again the year for Black-veined Whites (we call them in Finnish Rowan Butterflies) – the whole countryside is full of them.

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Burning bush (Dictamnus) is flowering early

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And so is Burnet Rose – our Midsummer Rose

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Last year it flowered in July…

Yesterday evening’s last prepared bed – I had to choose whether to plant the useful celeriac or the flowers the little girls want to use in their flower arrangements next Christmas. It was easy to decide.

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Sahara weather

Two weeks gone and the weather is by and large as it was then: +26 during the day, +5 at night; not a drop of rain for more than three weeks. A weather type suitable for the hardy plants that don’t mind the 20+ seesaw of the daily temperature but a bit challenging for the gardener who wants to sow and plant everything and jibs at the thought of cucumbers and squashes at +5.

Well, cucumbers HAVE been planted, both inside and out…

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As you can see precautionary measures have been taken

…and the Latino courgettes already show tiny flower buds…

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… but the squashes are still lingering in the greenhouse – and the planting of the greenhouses cannot start properly before the outdoor plants are out…

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Not very difficult to guess the name of this one but, unlike babies, it is not supposed to grow much taller, just to branch out

For the first time ever we we could sow bush beans so early that they germinated in May – and germinated well!

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We are looking forward to have spring onions in two weeks or so…

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… and the first potatoes round Midsummer

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The peas will need support very soon

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Rosebay willowherb is very handy in mulching – if one takes it before it flowers.

The absence of rain causes of course extra work – the vegetable patch can be irrigated with a garden hose but the seedlings in the greenhouses have to be watered with a can – by now I feel I have to lift my knuckles when I cross a threshold.

We had a friend here to help us with the digging and mulching, which was a great help. And we take time to make small excursions – and to look generally around with delight.

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Arrivals

During the last week we have been accelerated into summer – more summer than we had whole last year. Admittedly, there is still snow and ice in the ditches and along the northern house walls but the day temperatures have been up to +26 in shade – and it has been difficult to find shade as the trees are only just getting their leaves. Pessimistically, we are sure there will be a cold spell just when the cloudberries are flowering but, optimistically, we sow and plant hectically everything we couldn’t sow and plant amid the snow. Garlic, onion sets, lettuce, carrot, even an experimental bed of bush beans; the list grows every day. And Pekka’s first potatoes have made an appearance!

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So, summer has arrived although maybe temporarily (well, it always is temporary). What else has?

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Wood anemones to delight the soap bubble blowers

The ruffs have made a welcome stopover nearby on their way to the bogs in Lapland.

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No two identical ones

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The judges watching the tournament

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Unappreciated – the ladies seem to be more interested in food…

The rare Slavonian grebe nests again at the forest pond downhill.

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Our home and garden adder is basking on the terrace

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Note to self: Remind the girls to wear wellies when they come here

The bream was contemplating spawning and we are contemplating smoked bream

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Today we found the first true morels. The chef prepared a forager’s dinner: omelette aux breme fumé, morille et ciboulette – merveilleuse!

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You know what a true summer is – however short? A warm evening between the sky and the water, with whooper swans trumpeting and terns fishing nearby.

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Survival of the quickest?

Well, we still can’t say about the snow that here today and gone tomorrow – it will take longer than that. We have tried to be patient and not to hurry but not everyone is of our opinion.

There is the snowdrop

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and the winter aconite

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And true enough – the early flower catches the bumblebee…

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… although the snow had to melt first. And notice how tidy the bumblebee is!

The crocuses have the sunniest place; they believe in numbers

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… and judging from the results, so do the bumblebees; there is a lot of pollen to carry around.

Not everyone succeeds at the first attempt; every spring the daylilies are a sad sight. Waxy, frozen and miserable and every spring we wonder why they start so early as they don’t seem to be hardy enough for these conditions.

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Then we remember that the same plants were at the same place a quarter of a century ago when we moved here – so there must be a sound strategy behind this seeming misjudgement.

Even the upstairs seedlings seem to look longingly out to the (cold) world.

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You know what? It’s catching, this hurry! We can see the lake from the house; it’s still frozen and white. But on a sudden impulse we galloped downhill, found a place with a bit of water surface and threw into it a wire fish trap.

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Surely the pike is already spawning and moving near the shoreline? And the early fisherman catches – you know the rest, don’t you?