Beginning of the vegetable season
At this time of year I'm always grumbling about how late the vegetables are when in fact they are perfectly on time. I feel like I'm turning into my mother, who used to sigh and say the classic "the summers were so much better in my youth!" when I first complain about how cold and rainy the spring was, and then about the heat wave that wreaks havoc with the garden. Complaining about heat in a cold climate like ours is like complaining about being too pretty - it's just not ok! - and regardless of if it is too hot or cold, complaining about the weather is simply pointless. It is what it is and there is nothing we can do about it. So instead I make it my evening meditation to water the gardens and find that it is a great mindfulness practice to spend two hours simply being present in the moment. I'm lucky that at each house there are the old wells that collect the winters rainwater so I don't need to feel guilty using ground water.
Mindfulness also comes into practice when things don't go to plan. My first set of kale, brussels sprout and cauliflower were absolutely fine to be planted out in early June, but the second set got eaten by mites and little larvae. It was my own fault, as I left them outside for the two days before planting them under the fleece cover in the kitchen garden. "I'll do it tomorrow" I thought, much to the joy of the insects who immediately jumped at the chance. When tomorrow came, there were no plants to plant... Happily I have found the most wonderful local producer of organically grown vegetables and herbs, Juholan Puutarha in Svartå. I'm really picky about my vegetables actually being chemical free, so it's wonderful to have found someone I trust to grow healthy, happy, organic vegetables. Sometimes plan B is a great plan!
This year I found my favourite potatoes - Purple Queen - and filled up the whole potato lot with the same variety. It's flowers are small and white, so not as decorative as many of the other purple potatoes, but the taste and texture of the spuds are far superior. In case you are wondering, the little fellow on the potato leaf below is a ladybird larvae. It makes my heart sing with joy to find an abundance of these little critters in my vegetable garden, as they are the best defence against aphids. This year it seems to me that there are way more aphids than normal, so any and every help against them is much appreciated. I never spray the aphids, as it totally whacks the system of natural pest control that I've so carefully built up. Instead I think that the consolation to having year with lots of aphids is that next year there will be way more ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings in the garden as there is an abundance of food for them this year.
In other news the results of the empirical research we have been conducting on the farm has finally come in: it is now scientifically proven that the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. Many thanks to my darling colleagues the Finnish rare breed sheep for tirelessly conducting the testing of the grass both inside and outside the fences!