Oct 24, 2009

The Garden of Eden

     In the village of Eden there were originally ten farms. Most were dairy farms, some also had sheep and other animals. Now, we are the only working dairy farm here. Only one generation ago the village was alive with families, children and activities. There was a school, a store, even a small cafe, all of which are now vacant.
     Although it was a farming community, kitchen gardens were rare. Each farm had a root cellar (jordkällare -- yord-shell-ah-ruh) attached to a log building called  källarboden (shell-arr-bo-din).  The jordkällare was used for storing potatoes, perhaps a few carrots or turnips, but nothing more. In the log building they stored the brined and salted pork in barrels, smoked goods hanging from the ceiling, fishing nets and tackle, churners, wooden milk buckets, bee-keeping supplies and all equipment related to food production.  There simply was not enough time when much of the farm work was still done by hand, to tend an extensive garden.

On our farm we have several gardens. A  large vegetable garden measuring 15x30 meters flanked with black and red currant bushes, and several gooseberry bushes. You can see some of them covered with the blue netting behind the garden to keep the birds away. There is also a 20x40 meter garden for potatoes and 1200 strawberry plants. On one side of the potato/strawberry field is a line of 31 mature rhubarb plants. On the other side are three rows of black currant bushes, about 100 in all. Out on the fägata (fair-gotta), the common pathway that was used by multiple farms for taking cows back and forth for grazing, there are wild raspberries.  In the surrounding forests, free for the picking, are lingonberries and wild blueberries, and in the bogs  there are hjortron (cloudberries) . They grow one berry on each plant - that's why they're called "Norrland Gold" - and they look like a small peach colored raspberry.  Along the roads in the village you can often see small wild berries that look like mini strawberries called åkerbär (fieldberries), growing freely.

      This year we had great success despite the cold, wet, summer (the wettest in fifty years in this area). Hans bought an Earthway Precision Garden Seeder which digs the trench, plants and spaces the seeds (so terrific when it comes time to thin), then covers them and firms the earth down all in one operation, as you walk along behind it. It was just great and made it possible for us to get our planting done very quickly and efficiently.  They say here that "Everything has to happen between the hägg and the syren".  The hägg is a beautiful tree with fragrant white flowers that blooms first in the Spring and the syren is the lilac.  You usually have about 10-12 days maximum between those two bloom times to get the garden plowed, fertilized, tilled and planted.  It is a real trick!  I kept track and from the rhubarb plants being completely under snow to them going to seed was 16 days one year!  You really have to move fast to get it all done. 

     Once the seeds are in the ground, the garden is covered entirely with large white net sheets called fiberduk (feeber-dook) to keep the warmth in until the seeds germinate, and also to provide protection from the birds who swoop down and peck out the seeds. When you see that the plants are safely up and thriving the fiberduk is removed and put away until next year.

     Another big change this year was that we ordered all our seeds from Lindblom's, an excellent ecological seed company in Kivik in southern Sweden. This insured that we were getting the right seeds for our part of the country climate-wise and also that we had the varieties that would store well in our root cellar for the winter months.  The advice and expertise that Lindblom's shared with us as we planned our garden was invaluable. We saw such a difference right from the beginning in that the seeds germinated faster and were much more vigorous.  This was a summer that would have been challenging for even the heartiest seeds and they performed beautifully.

     In the three summers I have been here we have experimented with various planting methods and found that some of our vegetables do very well with more densely planted wide rows (i.e. cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower) and some are more successful with the traditional single, dual or triple rows (i.e. carrots, spinach, beets, etc.)  We have had fun with some new vegetables and varieties that were unfamiliar to me,  like pink, white and yellow carrots (they were fun colors but they didn't taste good!), a herb garden - that's the basil in an earthenware planter in the picture below -  and a leafy green vegetable called Mangold which we loved.  If you look closely you can see that it is somewhere between spinach and chard in consistency, but has brilliant yellow spines and stems which makes it a beautiful addition to any salad bowl.  It can also be steamed as a hot vegetable.  In the herb garden we followed the advice of the Heirloom Gardener magazine and started small....we had basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, thyme and sage.  I loved having the fresh herbs right outside the door and learning to use them.  It made a delicious difference in our food.  And of course we also had the staples such as carrots, spinach, red and yellow onions, lettuces, leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, peas, green and yellow beans, the huge field of potatoes, dill, parsley, kale, beets, parsnips, turnips, etc.                                      
Quite a project!!

All in all we had a wonderful year with our garden.  We learned a lot and were so blessed!


emilie said...


That is the most beautifully amazing garden I have ever seen. And it's so fun to see you standing in amoungst the crops.

Gorgeous photo!

Lauralee said...

Fun to see your blog. I'll look forward to your regular entries to learn more about your life in Sweden. Can you also grow tomatoes or is it too cold?

Abbey said...

So fascinating! Thanks for sharing. I'd love to hear more of your history.

midnight hysteria said...

your garden is absolutely awesome ... you surely have to be on the ball to make a garden such as that in the area in which you live ... i, too, want to know if you can grow tomatoes ... i love your banner with the verse from 2 nephi; it really says it all1

thank you to emilie for letting us see your life ... you seem happy and content!

the emily said...

That is amazing! I love the order of your garden and the red buildings. It all looks perfect.

JON LIZ & MAX said...

This is Jon Ahern (Matt's Bro). What a beautiful blog/garden! Looking through your posts has brought back some good memories of Sweden (especially all the berries). Your Swedish seems to be coming along very well. Have you been taking courses in addition to being immersed in the culture?

MStevenson said...

Love you and miss you. It was so fun to get to know our new family in Sweden! The cousins were so fun...we still laugh at things the boys said. I was just thinking the other day how beautiful the Temple was that day, how special it was we could be there with you, how super cute you were crying and smiling at your new hubby...

MStevenson said...

Oh, and thank you so much Auntie for the package you sent us! It was so thoughtful of you! Hilly sleeps with his pillow, Welly tried to ride his moose. And need to find someone who can translate those recipes for me! There's a potato dish and a dessert in there that looks so good!

Thanks again!
I have some pictures of the boys with their gifts I'll have to track down your email address so I can sent you them!

Our's is

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog, especially looking at the beautiful photographs.

Just curious, though ... what is "2 Nephi 5:27"?