2021 at Tallbacka
WE STARTED OUR Facebook page and had a good start with our homepage during the winter of 2021. Lots of important things where new to us and we were looking for direction. The greenhouse, plug sowing, schooling out plants, NO-DIG beds, beds made directly on grass, bokashi, soil factories, the list goes on and on. In January, a large map of the garden was completed and was great help with the ordering of seeds and equipment. We learnt more and more about the NO-DIG method during the spring especially about plug sowing and how to harvest and how to lengthen the harvesting season. We started to aim for two harvests during the same growing season and gained valuable experience with different cultivars.
We learnt a lot from our mistakes, the most bitter was the complete devastation a crop of peas. The cultivar was one of the best, Carouby de Mausanne, for which we had built fine, rustic looking supports. But we had sown too late, the pre-summer weather was inclement and the spot we had chosen was probably not the best. The peas didn’t grow and picked up some fungal disease or other and on top of that they tasted awful. The day we pulled out row after row of growth was a sad day indeed. I thought that this would be the last time I grew peas.
The spring was a time off urgency and tiredness. After changing jobs I only had a few days off work for summer holidays. Nalle built two eco-toalets for garden visitors. During early June we were visited by our local horticultural society (Aura Trädgårdsvänner) and for the first time we participated in Open Gardens were for one day a year people open up their gardens to the public. Both events caused worries and stress. At the same time we experienced an invasion of greenfly. The fruit trees were drowning in them and the garden wasn’t in the condition it should have been in.
The “Year of the Pumpkin” project was, however, a great success where the long beds worked well and the clover covering kept down the weeds effectively with the black plastic covering working
well in April and May before planting. Any weeds died quickly due to lack of light. I was apprehensive about the eventual negative effects of the sawdust and lack of nitrogen due to composting but the problem soon proved to be not that big. Watering a few times with the Ema-solution helped the plants to survive the worst. All in all we had 16 different types of pumpkins. They all reached harvest but a few will not be grown again. The best of the bunch were the snake-like Tromboncino, also known as Zucchetta, the tasty and durable Delicata Zeppelin and the Guatemalan Blue ‘Banana’ squash. We’ll grow these in 2022 as well. The best zucchini was Costata Romanesca and the green Black Beauty. The early first frosts of autumn killed of the zucchini first and a week later the winter squash. We would probably have had a more durable harvest if they could have grown a few weeks more.
The heatwave and drought in July racked the summer growth with the temperature staying close to 30ºC for a very long time with no rain. Growth stopped, the plants suffered and the season was cut short in the middle. We watered as much as we dared but this could never replace real rain. The temperature in the greenhouse was of course way over the optimal and it was to hot to even be inside in the middle of the day. The tomatoes stayed ‘just’ alive and that’s about all I can say about them. The chilli seemed OK but only started to produce fruits when the worst of the heat was over. This didn’t leave much time for the fruits to mature so the harvest was rather poor.
We put a lot of effort into cabbage growing with varying results. Growing the plants from seed was easy and when these were planted we protected them from the cold and the bugs with fleece tunnels and planting with Tagetes. We had high hopes for the cone cabbage, two green varieties and the red Kalibos cone cabbage. We also tried new varieties such as broccolini, kailan (Chinese broccoli) and some Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Amazingly, we had very little
trouble with bugs as the plants grew in the fleece tunnels but the tunnels became our biggest problem when the heatwave hit in July. The fleece made it far too hot for the cabbages and with no air circulation the growth was retarded.
In 2020 we gave a lot of thought to the care of our berry bushes and fruit trees and soil improvement so in the autumn of 2021 we invested in 58 m³ of woodchips, mostly silver birch. The aim was to give new life to the bushes and trees by improving the soil around their roots. In other words by suffocating the weeds and feeding the microbes. We treated nearly all the bushes and trees and eager permaculture students from Tuorla did the work in a couple of days, spreading tens of cubic meters of woodchips, compost and horse manure. Firstly, they covered the soil around the base of the bushes and trees with newspapers and cardboard. In the truffle garden they did not use compost, only newspaper and then woodchips and lime as recommended by Lasse Ingmans instructions.
I am very pleased with the expanded flower- and vegetable beds we made in the spring and the completely new NO-DIG beds. The most perfect new bed was placed between the blackcurrant row and the orchard. It’s called the ‘special salad bed’. The grass was first covered with newspapers and cardboard and secondly about 15 cm of compost and soil. Then we planted the bed with among other things buck’s-horn plantain, hollyhocks, orache, good king henry, French sorrel, Tuscan kale, Malabar spinach, perilla, hearts-ease and many tagetes. The bed was very productive and looked good a long way through the autumn, even though we didn’t really make the most of all the possibilities available to us. It was a good start to a garden tour as it was a concrete example of many important things for us: the NO-DIG method of bed-building and the essence of permaculture ideas of growing trees, bushes, vegetables and flowers together. In the bed we could also show off old forgotten salad varieties with modern ones.