Granberries

It’s time for them again – the most pleasurable task these days offer: to meander on a bog in all its autumn glory and gather them…

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Like tiny cherries but sour – and after the first frost sour-and-sweet. – Cranberries, you correct me now and I insist: granberries – exclusively collected by grandparents despite a stiff back

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for the famous (and also exclusive) squash-granberry pannacotta.

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In preparation

After a few frost (-5) nights – just enough to kill off every sensitive plant in the garden  and cause morning havoc for the drivers –

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it has turned warmish again; we are hoping there would be no frost for a couple of weeks so that we could get fresh funnel chanterelles for another exclusive item

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Spicy funnel/wetland chanterelle jam; as you can see we recycle the jars

The sensitive plants were harvested (barely) in time

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Not tomatoes; chillies that were told in the blurb to be early – hah!

and processed.

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Simply admired and nibbled.

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Sweet pepper Tangerine Dream – tastewise nothing to write home about but easily the most decorative one we have grown.

Even sold – this beauty reposes now on display in the venerable market hall of Kuopio.

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One Too Many

The majority of the not-so-sensitive vegetables is still to be harvested; maybe even today – if the fog doesn’t clear off. If it does – well, there is yet a good granberry patch downhill to be visited.

 

 

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From day to day

Two days ago we realised something had to be done – and quickly. True – the autumn crocuses were visible for the first time in three years (even if still horizontal)

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and the sunflower planted by Tuftie and growing almost in the flowerbed was looking glorious

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but the forecast was Cassandra-like predicting disaster. So we went into action; even the last squashes are now upstairs, peeking curiously out and fraternising with the garlic.

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A small part of the total squash harvest

Astonishingly, there was a harvest of the cauliflower and calabrese, too.

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A ten litre bucketful of tomatillos, another of beetroot, a few litres of green and purple beans (the waxbeans are much more sensitive to cold), lots of ripe and almost ripe peppers… Come evening, Pekka spread frost fabric on the remaining peppers and tomatillos.

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The frost was fairly mild and the fabric helped; yesterday morning was beautiful and so we decided to have the possibly last good excursion this year. A bog, of course, and one we have never visited before, some 50 km from here.

Through a mossy spruce forest with lots of beard lichen

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till you come first to a pine bog,

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then to an open sedgy bog,

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and then to a small forest lake.

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That seen, it was easier to face this morning, after a truly frosty night,

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although the most appropriate early morning photo (of their frozen greenhouse) was sent by Alexandra, with the simple but ominous words: Winter is coming.

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Mind you, she seemed to be delighted of the fact…

 

 

 

Handfuls

The present (or ever-present) subject of the media interest is how many (five? six?) and how many-coloured (four? five?) handfuls of vegetables you should eat daily for a life worth living. Can’t say we have paid much attention to the often passionate discussions in and around (especially around) the subject but as our habitual guinea-pigs were coming to have a lunch with us we decided to give it a try and began pondering the options.

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Kiwano? Only one either way if you don’t want to eat the pith – and nobody wants.

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That’s plenty of handfuls but only two colours…

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Four colours, the balance rather heavily on the chillies; might not be quite to their taste

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You COULD consider that as five but they are all orange-yellow inside, except the white ones.

Then the inspiration struck: there was an item that had been promised for a long time and that the girls had been looking forward to.  May we proudly present their lunch?

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From the owl towards the bats and beyond: tomatoes, cucumber, cauliflower Romanesco in whortleberry sauce, sweet peppers, (frankfurters) and the most important: mash made of Violet Queen potatoes, absolutely without any E numbers but with a click of butter.

To round it off, an uplifting story in the style of Per Aspera Ad Astra, or A Mushroom Hunter’s Life Is Not Always An Easy One.

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“Have we got a power saw in the car?”

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“I wonder whether…”

After a lot of scrabbling and digging

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“Yes – I thought so!”

Why is there always such a lot of those one doesn’t want?

dav

And yet,  at the end of the day, a treasure trove carried home; plenty of handfuls for the winter.

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The Queen

Yesterday morning was totally mild: the air was mild, the wind was mild and the sky was mildly blue; a perfect and rare late August day. We were discussing the day’s chores.

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“I should gather the ripe chillies”

“Yes.”

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and make a new batch of chilli oil.”

“Yes. And I should harvest the ripe squashes so that the plants would concentrate on the ones still growing.”

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“Yes.

On the same principle, I should harvest the largest kiwano.”

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“Yes. And I should make Baba Ganoush.”

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“Yes. Let’s go and see whether we can find wetland chanterelles somewhere.”

“YES!”

So we did. It is of course understandable that wetland chanterelles grow in valleys, on bogs where the water stays – but do they need to be SO much valleys?

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“You mean down THAT one?”

At least for me the wetland chanterelle is the queen among the mushrooms.

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and, like royalty, it’s not easy to get your hands on.

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Sadly, the normal way of finding it is to look back and see you have trampled a group of them.

It is not very common here as it grows only on lime-rich bogs and thus we were very proud to find some 25 litres of them; especially as we had never before visited that location.

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I can assure you that the way uphill to the car, with two full 10 litre buckets and a plastic bag, was still worse than rambling downhill so we were pretty exhausted when we were at home.

The chores? Well, I did harvest in the evening some eternelle flowers for the girls…. Would that do?

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Shared dinners

August is the month of plenty – right? In a way yes; if you take a broad view it’s easy enough: you just get up (or rather down) and grab anything promising in sight…

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Getting nearer, there is a problem: at the moment the burning question is not what to eat but how to get it; you might not be the only aspirant for it. Take any dinner preparation and you see me in the middle of the veg patch in serious negotiations.

“Let’s make a deal –

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you get the outer leaves

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and we get the inner ones to make casseroles”

Or “Sorry but I’m sure you’ll understand we need that for dinner.”

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He/she didn’t – the sting still hurts…

Or even

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“Beg your pardon – I thought I’d have a few apple mint leaves for the aubergine but I’m sure we’ll manage without them…”

So what do we eat?

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Cabbage casserole

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A stir-fry of red onion, carrots, sweet peppers, chillies and dried ceps (with aubergines fried in non-mint-flavoured oil)

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Garlic beans, grilled sweet corn (aloe vera helps a lot with bumblebee stings), potatoes and Parma ham

And mind you – I resisted the temptation to negotiate with the potato blight!

As for the dessert, the discussion within the family is still ongoing: when will it be and will it be kiwano or melon?

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Colour in drought

We have been harvesting onions – never before have we seen such deep-rooted ones; they must have reached halfway to China. And no wonder when you look at the soil; the colour of drought, isn’t it?

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It is not that we don’t try. As the spring/well has nowadays alarmingly little water this is an everyday sight in our yard (today twice to the lake and back again).

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More than 200 litres of water – and it will not last long.

What do we get with that? Colours to see and enjoy – and to eat.

Vegetables

Early and lovely

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Bountiful

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Delicious

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Flowers

For butterflies

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For the little girls’ winter decorations

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For ourselves

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For fun

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For sheer beauty

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Fur a surprise – never before have we had lilac frowering twice the same summer.

And here we come to the other aspect: the blaze of colour behind the lilac is not a Forsythia flowering a second time; it’s not even a bed of goldenrods. Unfortunately, it is a birch turning yellow and shedding its leaves – and not the only one.

I must admit I don’t too much like rosebay willowherb (especially not in the garden) – and yet I’m sorry

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Never before have they looked like this in July.

Every day you wonder how long some plants will manage to stay alive.

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Squashes at 14:10 today

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At 16:40

No, it is not our watering – though Pekka did water them a lot. It’s simply the shadow of the trees giving much needed relief at the temperature of +30. Must admit there are moments when I feel like they must feel – though I do hope I don’t show it quite so clearly.

 

 

 

Southern delights

They say that human memory is shorter than the time between elections; in my case it seems to be shorter than the time between rains – can’t really remember when it rained last time. Midsummer? A week after it? Everything is tinder-dry and I’m sure sparkling eyes would cause forest fires.

Add to that the daily temperatures of 28-33 and you understand we feel like being transferred far south from our normal location. We are eating fresh beans like never before in July (actually, they manage very seldom to start flowering in July).

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The two sisters bed is flourishing and flowering

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The first Justynka squash is already of edible size if not yet colour

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If the leaves are anything to go by the pollination will be adequate

Even the New Zealand spinach has decided to grow (it usually doesn’t)

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There are lots of lovely butterflies hovering in flowers – as opposed to last year.

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A silver-washed fritillary

So everything is lovely in the garden? Well, not exactly, no – there are some southern aspects we would be happy without and the foremost of them is the diamondback moth. It cannot overwinter here – but give us a hot summer and southern winds and it’s here in hordes like tourists in Bali. A week ago we had promising stem broccoli

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Now

and cauliflowers

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Now

Apparently we have to survive next winter without Brassicas.

There are other similar type drawbacks, too – many lovely butterflies (and moths) have from a garden point of view unlovely caterpillars; we have – unfortunately empirically – ascertained now that the the silver-y moth caterpillar thrives on sweet peppers. It’s a scant consolation that the larvae don’t survive the Finnish winter – they manage to do quite a lot before their demise.

And of course, the whole garden would rapidly become only a memory without constant watering. At the  moment Pekka is down by the lake filling as many jerrycans as will fit in the car – that should see us through today…

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I almost forgot to tell – the first gentians are open! They are marsh gentians.