Oslo Garden

A blog about gardening in Oslo, Norway


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First visits to the school kitchen garden

It’s still early days at the school garden. I’ve only made three visits so far, not falling into the trap I did last year of being so eager to plant out some vegetables it ended up being too soon and the cold weather took its toll on them.

So far I’ve sown:

April 26

  • four rows of lettuces
  • one row of Calendula flowers in beside the lettuces

May 1

  • two rows of parsnips
  • one row of beetroot

May 8

  • three rows of carrots (three varieties)
  • one row of ornamental carrot
  • One row of radish in between the lettuce

The chives that I overwintered have been transplanted alongside the rows of carrots. These plants are now in their second year, looking nice and healthy so I’m hoping I’ll see some lovely flowers from them this summer.

What I’ve sown/planted and where is according to my school plan but I’m already thinking I might amend it slightly. I may move the lettuces over to the area underneath the Uchiki kuri squash’s climbing frame. I recently saw pictures of this idea and it seemed an effective use of what would otherwise be dead space.

Plus it means that in the space that’s freed up I can grow some more beans and peas and possibly, if there’s room, another summer squash.

By the time of my third visit, the lettuces and calendula were beginning to emerge. Between the visits, the soil temperature in the raised beds had increased from (barely) 5 to 7 to 12 degrees celsius. I’m keeping the remaining beds covered for now and will be back soon to transplant some of the vegetable and flower seedlings currently hardening off at home.

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Preparing the raised beds

Before any serious planting takes place, I’m beginning to prepare the school’s raised beds. When I first filled the beds three years ago, I added some cow manure to the soil but since then, the beds have only had a mulch of leaves and newspaper and a top up of soil added to them. The soil in the beds looks dark and the level is fine now but this spring, I’m adding some more cow compost/ manure. ‘Kugjødsel’ is sold in bags at local garden centres here. I’m not really sure how unprepared this is (although it doesn’t have a discernible odour when you open the bag). Cow manure isn’t as high in nitrogen as other manures (chicken or horse) however it’s typically recommended to leave some time between adding the manure and using the bed (how long will vary depending on the type of manure). I’m only adding it to the squash bed for now as they are heavy feeders and it’ll be at least 4 weeks before any seedlings are planted out. Hopefully that will be long enough to prevent any root scorch.

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There’s been a fair amount of rainfall in April and the soil is still a little wet. It registers at about 2-3 degrees celsius so it’s got a way to go before I start sowing.

I cover the beds with a black weed membrane to stop weeds from taking over, and to warm up the soil so that I can sow earlier and get things going sooner. When I come back in a couple of weeks I’ll test the soil again to see if it’s ready for some direct sowing.


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School garden: Year 2, planting begins

Over the past few weeks, I’ve begun transplanting seedlings that I sowed indoors in March and April into the school raised beds as well as starting to sow directly outside. Once the snow had melted, I began by covering up all the beds with a dark weed barrier material which would stop any weeds from sprouting and help accelerate the warming of the soil in readiness for growing. Before I did that I took a peek under the sheets of newspaper that I had laid over the soil way back in the autumn. Although it hadn’t broken down significantly during the winter, it was soggy and beginning to decompose since the snow had thawed. What was also noticeable was just how many worms there were, all lying under it! These little creatures would be vital in turning this ordinary paper into goodness for the soil.P1010830

Caught on camera yesterday in between radish and salads

I monitored the soil temperature by periodically taking the temperature of the soil using a soil themometer and returned a few weeks later to add some compost to the soil. There is always a tendency for soil in raised beds to sink, so each year it needs to be topped up so that it keeps its structure and nutrient content. Nutrients lost through leaching and uptake by hungry plants need to be replaced so there’s enough for the new plants coming in. Homemade compost is great if you can make it, but Continue reading