Oslo Garden

A blog about gardening in Oslo, Norway


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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….

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From Pot to Plate

Even with a small outside space it’s possible to grow fruit and vegetables in pots.

I like the idea of stepping outside and picking my own fresh produce and this year I decided to give it a try. In mid May, I sowed some lettuce and carrots directly into pots outside. I potted up some of the chard, kale and squash seedlings that had been hardening off alongside those intended for the school garden. I also sowed some peas of my own after seeing how nice the school one’s were…

This is what they look like now….

The containers planted with beans, squash, peas and carrots were grouped together, against a south-west facing wall. As a result they would get a lot of afternoon sun but perhaps more importantly for the beans, they were in a relatively sheltered position. One of the pots was planted with the same batch of climbing bean plants that had been planted at the school, so this was a bit of an experiment to see which beans would do better: the ones at the school’s open site versus mine in pots but in a sheltered position.

As it turned out there were uncharacteristically strong winds in spring and the beans did suffer in both locations so, as a precaution, I sowed another climbing bean in June which was another experiment to see whether leaving it so late would mean a smaller harvest. I put it in a large pot together with two squash. So far this  seems to be a good combination. The bean plant is a bit behind the others of course but they all seem happy enough together and one of the squash is now even fruiting. Finally, after having lost the label earlier in the season, I can see the variety of squash it is- Gold Rush Squash!

The pots with kale, chard, lettuce and strawberries are, in contrast to the others, positioned where there is less (intense) sun, receiving dappled shade from the nearby apple trees for part of the afternoon. This seems to be working out well for them. You’ll remember the strawberry plant that had looked a bit forlorn earlier in the year. It is now fruiting and sending out runners voraciously. You have to keep your eye on it, as it’ll sneakily send out runners when your back is turned! I’ve already trimmed a lot off as they say that you’ll get more fruit if you do, but I have decided to let some grow so I can give away some mini strawberry plants to the school later on.

Strawberry runners

Strawberry runners

Kale and chard have been a bit of a revelation as I’d never eaten them before last year! They are super easy to grow and, like lettuce, you can pick leaves gradually and they’ll keep on producing more so you end up having a constant supply. In both cases, small tender leaves make a delicious and nutritious addition to salads and bigger leaves can be fried with garlic. Absolutely yummy! Here’s a simple recipe for chard:

Cut out the main red ribs of the leaves, cut in half and set aside.

Roll up the leaves and cut cross-ways, producing strips.

Chop an onion and slice some garlic.

Fry the onion and then add the garlic in olive oil until softened.

Add the ribs and fry for about 3 minutes, then add the leaves and fry for another 3 minutes until wilted and soft.

Serve!

Do you have any recipes?