Good things come to those who wait…and remember to water their plants. We had a successful first harvest and we definitely accomplished something with this gardening project. The flower and herb garden attracted a whole lot of insects which was very exciting to watch even though some of the plants suffered a bit – the salvia bush seems to have been pretty tasty for someone as several leaves had holes in them.
The gardening project has also been beneficial to the environment. First we have noticed an increase in insect activity. Pollinators have been busy with the flowers and spiders have enjoyed spinning their webs amongst the plants. It even attracted hares and deer who ate up all the parsley in the fall, they must have been pretty hungry.
Other than that, we did not encounter any major challenges with the growing. Actually, thats not true. We had tomatoes and zucchini growing in individual pots and despite our best efforts, the zucchini ended up not doing so great.
Maybe we didn’t fertilise it enough, maybe the stalks ended up ‘strangling’ the zucchini. Either way, we did not manage to grow many zucchini and the ones that did grow were small and hard. Maybe next year? I doubt it. The tomatoes on the other hand came out really well!
The highlight though (at least for me) were the herbs. They thrived in our garden and as a result, we were able to cook meals with fresh homegrown herbs. We had thyme, lemon thyme, salvia, parsley, rosemary and mint. A lot of mint. The parsley bush was huge but almost disappeared overnight in the fall when a desperately hungry creature came and ate most of it. We had thought the taste would be too powerful but apparently not!
For the next grow, we are discussing a larger garden for more herbs and less vegetables. Jenny wants to try growing potatoes and carrots and I would like to try growing spinach, oregano and garlic. The tomatoes and zucchini were fun to try but in my opinion were not worth the amount of time and effort. Either way, we will be more prepared and better with the next gardening project after having learnt a whole lot from this one.
Self-sustainability is something we dream of achieving. Being able to produce enough food for ourselves would be an incredible accomplishment but before we start a farm, we need to learn how to grow a crop. Potatoes are an essential crop in Europe and especially Finland because of their ability to grow in cooler climates so we decided to grow some. They are also relatively easy to grow – we simply planted our spuds and let them do their thing! Perfect for beginners like us.
We had an old concrete ring on the beach that (if memory serves me well) was a leftover piece of well shaft. It was perfect for our potato garden. We started by emptying the ring of its contents and found a gas lighter as well as a smashed beer bottle mixed in with the soil. This was an unexpected find and we are lucky to have been wearing protective gloves because that glass was sharp and we found shards everywhere. The ring was then filled in with our mix that was sand and soil with a nice top layer of kelp. Next time we might try growing potatoes in straw!
Once that was done, we watered the soil properly and placed seed potatoes in shallow holes which were then covered up. I think we placed seven potatoes but in future grows we could definitely fit more.
As the summer progressed, so did the potatoes’ growth. We had neglected them quite a bit but I think thats mainly because they were placed in an area that we rarely visited and we were also quite confident that they would be fine on their own – we’ve seen potatoes grow in our compost bin without any help from us! As temperatures began to lower, we decided it was time to go see how the crop was. The leaves had drooped and wilted which was a sign that these potatoes needed to be harvested so Jenny started poking around the soil which was now covered in pine cones and needles from the nearby pine trees. One by one the taters started showing up and we managed to get quite a few! They weren’t very big but we harvested enough to last us 4-5 meals which was pretty good considering we planted seven potatoes. However, if we ever plan to achieve self-sustainability (even for just one year), we will need to improve our yields by expanding our potato garden quite considerably.
It was a fun experience to have and honestly not that difficult or demanding. Our biggest concern was the very dry summer when we had limited rain water but the potatoes were resilient and managed to survive. We also didn’t seem to have any hungry animals that were interested in eating the potatoes but that might have to do with how well hidden the grow was. Next spring we will try again but with a larger yield in mind!