Sofias Country Gardens
The vegetable garden 2017
Summer to me is all about the kitchen garden. I have to admit I am a bit obsessed with my small vegetable paradise, and each year I spend a great deal of time preparing the soil, planning my planting scheme and selecting seeds. The picture above is from last year, and below from this year at the same time of month. As you can see I have rotated the vegetables from one place to another according to my plant rotation chart.
I spend quite some time weeding in order to give my plants room to develop, and then I mulch the beds with grass cuttings from the lawns. Below are pictures of the seedbed before and during the process. It looks messy, but the plants grow surprisingly well. Below are pictures of the same part of the vegetable bed, one from mid May and one from late June.
There is much to gain from taking good care of the baby plants when you try to cram everything into a tiny spot as I do. I plant in layers, and below you can see tiny little beetroot seedlings between broad beans around midsummer.
As the beetroot grows its fruit downwards and the beans above ground, they are quite happy bedside companions. The beets I like to harvest while they are small and tender, but the beans I'm happy to let grow large and succulent. They make excellent companions on the dinner table too!
This year I tried a heritage variety of peas, the traditional Gråärt (Pisum sativum var.arvense) that has been cultivated in Solberga county, Sweden since the 1600's. It grows tall and needs support, and the taste is much less sweet than modern peas. It is best used dried in pea soups, which I love to make but usually I substitute the bits of bacon with duck.
My Mangold five colours mix that I had pre cultivated in spring grew like weeds (as it always tends to do) and after using baby mangold like spinach, we started to discard the leaves and just boil the stems like asparagus once they grew to a certain size.
I felt a bit bad as it is a terrible waste of good produce to throw away so much, but then again all plant material goes on the compost and is recycled in the garden as perfect nutrient rich soil. This year I made a point of harvesting both carrots and beetroot while they still were small and sweet.
I love the beetroot mix with many colours, and as they are at their most beautiful when raw we just picked them lightly in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and had them as such in salads. The carrots we mostly caramelised with butter, simply because it is so delicious!
This year I was lucky in that almost all the seedlings I had pre cultivated in spring survived, but it meant I had such an abundance of kale that I had to plant half of it in my new flower boarder. Luckily it is our favourite vegetable and lasts long into the autumn!
Lastly I will leave you with one of my favourite pictures from this year: my goddaughter and I busy harvesting dinner in the garden.