Oslo Garden

A blog about gardening in Oslo, Norway


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A very determined carrot

When we grow vegetables as annuals, it’s easy to forget what their true life cycle is. Take the carrot. It is a biennial plant; in the wild its life cycle is over two years. The first year it grows a fantastic tap root and this is what we usually harvest. But if left to its own devices, it will use this root as a food source to over winter and, in year two, it will continue to grow, produce flowers and set seed.

I grew this carrot from seed last year, and it was harvested in the autumn. I trimmed back its green top and stored it away in my fridge with the intention of eating it at some point. Just in a plastic bag, nothing fancy. But then I forgot all about it.

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Not one for regular meticulous fridge cleaning, it had got hidden by other items piled on top of it. In a mad bout of spring cleaning, I rediscovered it and, to my surprise, noticed that there was a tiny bright green shoot emerging from its top!

I put it in an empty pot to see what would happen. The shoot grew bigger. So I tossed in a handful of soil left over from some sowing I’d been doing, and fed it some water.  More shoots grew and got bigger, developing into some fine feathery leaves. Eventually I re-potted it and had to prise away a mass of young roots that had formed and attached themselves to the pot itself. Such was its incredible rate of growth in just a few weeks.

So, the carrot is currently in my cold frame. I have high hopes of seeing some lovely carrot flowers this summer. Perhaps I’ll even try saving some seeds.

Then I will have seen it through its complete and wonderful life cycle.

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October garden update- late bloomers

Whilst garden-wise things may be slowing down now, October has got to be one of my favourite months here. A perfect blend of dry crisp bright days and beautiful rich autumnal colours.

Daytime temperatures are now hovering under 10 degrees celsius.  The sun sits lower in the sky and this means that my plants, even though they face south, receive less direct sunlight before it disappears behind buildings or trees. This is how my garden looks today:

The Dahlias are straining for the sun and many of their buds have yet to open. I’m not a Dahlia expert but I noticed some of the leaves look like they are showing signs of frost damage.

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The last two nights have seen temperatures drop to around freezing. It may be time to sacrifice the buds and cut the plants back and store the tubers until next year…

Back at the end of May I was given some Cosmos bipinnatus seeds by a neighbour. They are only now beginning to flower and it’s great to see them- pink and white. There’s something about the plants I like: feathery foliage and open flowers that make them very uplifting.

I wasn’t sure the plants would flower before the colder weather set in. So even though these won’t have time now to reach their full potential (Cosmos are typically prolific bloomers) I’m glad I’ll get to enjoy a few flowers for a little while at least.

The Antirrhinum continues to produce lovely velvety purple flowers but, like the Cosmos, won’t get to produce alot of flowers. I reckon I’ll grow both again next year to enjoy them over a longer period.

Some of the other smaller plants are also providing some late season colour: the Sedum cauticola with it’s lovely dark pink flowers against blue-green foliage; the Euphorbia Polychroma, true to its name, now bursting with yellows, pinks and fiery oranges;

the magenta dwarf Astilbe peeking out from under the straggly geranium, and the Ophiopogon ‘Niger’ which has produced flowers for the first time since I bought it 2 years ago!

On the veg front, the chard and kale continue to produce. Unfortunately I’m now three chard plants down after I discovered some had been uprooted, probably by over exuberant little hands (the pitfalls of growing in a communal garden). I like to think that these little green fingers may one day become big green fingers!

I didn’t have so much success with the squash this year. The plant had developed powdery mildew and frustratingly I had to consign it to the compost bin even though it had so many undeveloped fruit still on it. Other than perhaps not enough watering, the plant may have been stressed in its pot. I noticed that this patty pan variety of squash seemed to want more space than other regular courgette squash I’d grown last year.  If I grow them again next year, I’ll be sure to find/make a large growbag to give them space to spread out much more.

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In contrast, the carrots did well. It was a really fun project for my daughter who sowed the carrot seeds, watched them grow and, much to her delight, harvested them yesterday.

We decided to harvest the beetroots too. They (variety Robushka) turned out small and oblong-shaped, perhaps as a result of being grown in a pot. Then again, whenever I’ve grown these beetroots they’ve always turned out oblong rather than round!

Well that’s it for now apart from to mention that my poor winter seedlings are languishing on my window sills as they wait paitiently for me to finish making my cold frame….I’m almost done! But more of that coming soon!


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August’s new discoveries

Oslo enjoyed a bit of an Indian summer in August after an unusually cool and wet one, and it was nice to be greeted to warm weather returning to the city after a trip away. Unfortunately the weather took its toll on some of my garden plants which were looking a bit weary and water deprived. 20150818_122222As I performed emergency watering and general maintenance procedures, I made a few discoveries…

Slugs love peas! My pea plants had been absolutely ravaged and pretty much decimated. I found two of the critters lurking in the pots and was amazed to see how small they were. How much damage even modest sized slugs can make to a crop is incredible!! I had become a bit complacent about my vegetables but I will have to think up more cunning ways to stop the slugs from traversing my pots next year…20150818_121826Sometimes carrots go straight to flower. I hadn’t even ever seen a carrot flower before. And despite it being a rather lovely flower, it unfortunately meant there wasn’t a substantial carrot at the other end of it.

The purple carrot wins the prize for most delicious taste but funniest shape! I pulled up three lovely carrots that more than made up for losing one and coincidentally there was one from each of the three varieties I’d sown: Purple Haze, Atomic Red and Milan. Purple Haze’s incredible colouration, along with its incredible flavour, made it the coolest of the three.

A flying saucer has landed. The summer squash Patty Pan ‘Sunbeam’ with its fluted edges was a lovely surprise hiding beneath the big squash leaves. It had fared much better than the Golden squash courgettes, which unfortunately were shrivelled to only finger size possibly due to lack of water.

Chard and kale are machines. Well not literally, but they are stalwarts and grow fantastically well. The rainbow chard in particular looks good with its vibrant yellow stems.

Climbing beans need more protection. Even in a relatively sheltered position facing south-west the climbing bean plants didn’t produce a large harvest so back to the drawing board for next year. In the meantime, I picked the mature pods and ditched the tired looking plants from one pot and will wait to see what the other batch will produce.

The lilac blue Geranium is still flowering profusely alongside the bright yellow Coreopsis and new colours are coming through from the Dahlias. How lovely it is to see them emerge. But do Dahlias grow into monster plants or what?!  They are enormous! I hadn’t factored on how big they would become. They rather take over the space and as it turns out they also need a lot of support. Had I staked them properly there wouldn’t be so many wayward stems splaying out in all directions. It will make any attempts of flower arranging very interesting indeed…

Finally, some of the annual flowers I sowed late are beginning to take shape and blossom. The lovely velvety deep red petals of the Antirrhinum majus (Løvemunn) are beginning to shine. The Cosmos has produced nice bushy foliage and I’m just waiting to see what colour their flowers will turn out to be….