Weekend Coffee Share – Gratitude & Gardening

Welcome to the Weekend coffee share! Can I get you a cup of coffee? Or tea? How are you? Would you like to sit down at my balcony and enjoy a hot beverage with me? I’m thinking that you probably want to choose something hot to drink, it’s currently in the 40’s. We’ve had some really beautiful days this week, but it is definitely moving towards fall.  

After a rather intense week at work I decided to start the weekend by meditating about all the things I’m grateful for; my children, good health, healthy food, clean air, clean water, friends, a home, a job, access to great education, and living in a peaceful country made it to the top ten on my list. No news really, but I needed to remind myself a little extra this week. Working in a socioeconomically disadvantaged area is both challenging and immensely rewarding. 

I have spent time finishing the hügelkultur bed I’ve been working on at my garden plot. It’s a traditional way of building a very healthy garden bed from rotten logs/branches and plant debris. You usually build it in the fall, to be able to plant in the spring. (Some beds are left to decompose for several years.)

At the top of the beds there’s compost and soil. I’ve build the beds with branches from berry bushes, plant debris, and all the garden compost I accumulated this year. I will bury all my bokashi material from the winter, in the beds as soon as they thaw in the spring. At the very top I will add some more organic soil before planting. This will be a huge bed with several different sections, for different types of vegetables like squash (perhaps three sisters,) broccoli, spinage, chard, cabbage, carrots, and beets. 

I will take these covers aways before the snow comes, it is mainly there to keep the deer and rabbits away. They are very active this time of the year.

In the first few years, the heat-producing composting process warms the soil in a hügelbed, making the growing season longer. Something that is hugely beneficial here in Sweden. The decaying branches are a source of long-term, slow-release nutrients and they also help to keep excess nutrients from filtering into the groundwater. The wood becomes like a sponge that stores water to be released when needed. Hügelbed soil is self-tilling over time. As woody material breaks down, tiny air pockets open up, allowing air to reach the plant roots. My plan is to continuously feed my bed, and keep it highly productive for years to come. I’m planning on adding at least one big hügelbed at my garden plot every year. 

This is not all the gardening going on in my neck of the woods. Perhaps you noticed from the photo at the top that my balcony still has some veggies growing? The cabbage and broccoli is an experiment, and I am not sure that they will have enough time to get fully developed. I am going to plant them earlier next year. 

The celery keeps coming, even though I’ve been cutting it down many times. I love celery! I have some mint and oregano as companion plants to the celery. They seem to thrive together.

Last week I read a book written by a famous Swedish gardener, about winter gardening. I liked the book a lot! I am going to try three winter crops that she recommended, then again perhaps I got started to late this year, but I am going to try anyways. The crops are; winter portulak (miner’s lettuce,) spinage, and lambs lettuce (Lewiston corn salad or mâche.) I started them from seeds this week. I have the glass windows at the balcony closed 22hours/day at the moment, only opening for ventilation during the warmest hours in the afternoon. As it gets colder I will have them closed longer, only to ventilate when absolutely needed, and I will protect the pots from frost with non-woven fabric. When it gets really cold I will wrap the pots in old blankets as well, to insulate them. Growing your own food is so exciting! I want to keep expanding my garden/gardens a little bit every year.

Winter portulak (miner’s lettuce,) spinage, and lambs lettuce that I started in pots at my balcony this week.

On a completely different subject, tomorrow it’s election day in Sweden. The election have been the main topic for a long time. Segregation has become an increasing issue in Sweden these past few years, then there’s the energy crisis, rising costs of living, how to deal with the climate crisis, different views of how to prioritise education and healthcare. Lots to consider. It’s actually three elections all taking place tomorrow; it’s the closest area around the town where I live (like a city council,) the region, and the whole country. The region has a big responsibility when it comes to healthcare (among other things,) so it’s very important to vote in that election. I do feel that I have educated myself enough, and I am ready to vote. Hopefully good things will come from this election.

Thank you Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share. How is your week? What are you up to this weekend?

Love,

Maria

Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s a lovely, peaceful Saturday morning at my house. There is a soft rain outside my window. I have one window slightly open to be able to hear the sound of the rain. Looking out the window I see that most of the birch, and aspen trees are green, some are starting to turn into beautiful yellow, and red, but for the most part they are still green. It looks very lush outside. There are signs that fall is approaching though, the temperature is cool at night, in the upper 30’s. Daytime temperature stays around a comfortable 60F. Summer is hanging on by a thin thread. I rode my bike up to my gardening plot earlier this week and even though everything was very green, I wasn’t met by a jungle of new growth. I actually feel comforted by the slower pace that nature guides me towards. It’s wonderful, and well needed, a contradiction to how fast the rest of the world moves. Fall is meant to be enjoyed. 

I’m sorry I got distracted, how would you like your coffee? Or perhaps I can offer you some tea today? There’s some freshly baked full-grain ciabatta straight from the oven, if I may tempt you with a breakfast sandwich to go with your beverage? I prepared the bread dough yesterday, and it’s been slowly rising in the fridge over night, to be baked in the morning. It’s such an easy way to give weekend mornings a little extra sparkle. How are things in your world? What are you up to this weekend?

Riding my bike to work yesterday morning I stopped for a moment and enjoyed this gorgeous view.

I have some wild plans of tinkering around the house, do a little gardening, and read some books this weekend. I’m going to take out all the warm weather crops, and continue building a new hugelkultur bed at the gardening plot. 

My squash plant earlier this week. I was given a tiny plant in mid July. I planted it right before an unexpected heat wave, I believe that caused the plant to stress a bit, and that might be the reason why so far it only produced male flowers. I’m hoping there’s still enough hours of sun shine and warmth for some female flowers (= harvest.) I haven’t got a single squash yet, but the plant is healthy, and the soil perfect. Still hoping.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

-Audrey Hepburn

Speaking of farming, I adopted one avocado tree and one mango tree from a crowd farming project this week (this particular project only deliver to European countries, but the concept exists in other places around the world.) It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’m starting out with two trees that I can not grow in my region, and if it works well I’ll adopt other trees as well. I almost adopted a pomegranate tree, but decided to wait and see how this works out first. We would love to adopt olive and fig trees as well. The farmers that grow the trees I adopted this time, two different farmers, have their farms in Spain. They are both connected to this organic farming project. By adopting a tree you support their organic farm, good sustainable farming techniques, and get a part of their harvest (you can see the minimum harvest you get on the site.) There are no middle hands, you get your produce straight from the farmer. They take responsibility for coordinating the delivery in a climate friendly way. There are many farms to choose from when you decide to adopt a tree, and some allows for visits. Spain isn’t that far away and perhaps my daughter and I visit one day, it would be a very interesting vacation. My daughter LOVES mangoes, always have. When she was an infant and first started to eat solids, mango was her number one favourite. She laughed out loud when I told her that I adopted a mango tree in her name. I’ll keep you posted about the progress.

I hope your week is fabulous! Thank you Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share.

Love and gratitude,

Maria