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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Sowing in sunglasses

While we may be enjoying the beautifully warm and bright Spring weather, it’s still too cold to sow our vegetables directly outside. It is, however, the perfect time to start them off indoors. This year I made my first sowings  just before Easter (end of March), the year before that it was in mid February. Ok ok, so I’m new to blogging, it’s taken me this long to tell you that! But it’s still not too late now to start sowing to get a harvest of vegetables in mid summer.

Here in Oslo the (frost-free) growing season is relatively short (May-October- ish). So rather than wait until it is warm enough to sow directly outside, you can extend the growing season by sowing seeds inside first. Once the soil has warmed up sufficiently and risk of frosts have passed, you can transplant them outside.

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Certain vegetables will prefer to be sown directly outside, carrots for one (but there’s nothing to stop you trying!) but for the most part this can be done with most vegetables.

When potting up, I have found it helps to add some vermiculite to my potting compost (usually called here ‘så/kaktus jord’), to lighten the soil even further, about at a ratio of 1:2 (soil). My pots were reused lego packaging and I sowed a 1-3 seeds in each individual pot depending on the size of seed. Then I put them in a small propogator and gave them a good watering with a watering can with a sprinkler head (turned up so the water comes out more gently), before putting the propogator lids on and setting them on the window sill. You don’t even need a propogator: a pot with a clear plastic bag over the top secured around the pot with a rubber band will do the job just as well. Adjust the ventilation or loosen the band if too much condensation is forming.

Amazingly within the first week, there were first signs of sprouting seeds.

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A few weeks on, some of the seeds were ready to be potted into bigger pots – below are the beans racing ahead!

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As you can see they are straining for light so I have made a reflector using cardboard from a cereal packet and some kitchen foil. Placed behind the plants it reflects the light from the window and provides another light source so that plants don’t end up leaning towards the one.

Whilst these seedlings are getting bigger, it’s time to sow another batch. By keeping some seeds back and sowing again a few weeks after initial sowing and so on, you get the bonus of later harvests, thereby potentially giving you a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.