Digging December

2020 was the Year of the Trench for me (all dug by hand, good training for digging more trenches)! I completed digging a 40m long trench along the “driveway”. 30 years after I planted many trees and bushes along the driveway, some of the trees – ash, elm, lime, beech and birch in particular – had become quite large and my annual vegetable beds were full of roots. I also dug about 60m of trench around my cultivated areas at the Væres Venner Community Garden, this time to keep couch grass (kveke) from reinvading. There’s a steady stream of runners along the path next to the community garden. I really must get round to putting up that sign: “Too much energy? Please come and help”!
I’m writing this on 20th January at 11 am and in an hour from now the temperature will rise above 0C for the first time this year, in stark contrast to December when there was no significant frost until the last few hours before New Year. Unusually, I could do whatever gardening and planting I wanted to throughout December as my daily exercise in between writing. As my garden is on shallow soil and I want both to grow food and have trees around me, it is difficult to get the balance between the two. My solution has been to dig narrow trenches down to the bedrock to physically stop tree roots invading the cultivated areas and robbing water and nutrients. I cleared out some of the older trenches (they are actually useful for trapping autumn leaves which I use for various purposes):

Cleared trench along the northern boundary of the annual vegetable beds on the north side of the house

I also dug a new trench along a bed next to the south side of the house where my oldest Hablitzia tamnoides is, filling in again with large stones and using the good soil in creating a new bed for perennial woodlanders on what used to be the “lawn” and also for filling my one and only a raised bed. 

Finished; this used to be where we parked the car back in the 80s, now colonised by a Hablitzia plant

Here the trench is has been infilled with stones and the edging stones have been replaced. I also cover this bed with leaves and jute sacking as there are a few less winter hardy edibles here and there are also a number of pots underneath too.

I also use this bed along the south side of the house for storing pots with plants that haven’t found a permanent place yet or are on their way to the community garden.
…and finally, I always cover the sea kale (Crambe maritima) bed with leaves and jute:

Dandelion shoots in the living room

This bucket was planted in the autumn and stored until now in the cellar. Within a few days of bringing it up into my living room there are usable shoots. Garlic bulbil shoots are seen behind.

Nowadays, I LOVE the taste of dandelion although in my youth I found it so bitter that I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to eat it. I think the reason is a combination of giving up eating sugar and getting accustomed to eating bitter plants. In addition, nobody ate a dandelion salad alone. The following box from my book describes various methods og de-bitterizing dandelions if you want to benefit from one of the most nutritious and valuable plants on the planet but find the taste too bitter:

Tubers and roots; December 2020

A gallery of pictures of tubers and roots which were harvested in December when I had a blog-free month!

Brrrrrrrrrr

It wasn’t until the last day of December towards midnight that the air temperature finally sank significantly below zero (C), an almost frost free winter month is becoming common up here. However, since New Year it hasn’t been above zero and today was the coldest yet with “sea smoke” forming on the other side of the fjord where it was maybe 5C colder. Due to the wind blowing from the east across the fjord, the air temperature increases due to the relatively warm water. Makes for a nice view from the office now that the sun is also back now.
 

Basking again

Apologies to all who contacted me wondering if I was alright as I hadn’t posted for a month! No alarm…I’ve been very focussed on writing a series of 10 articles on perennial vegetables, completed earlier this week!
Finally, we could “bask” in sunshine again this morning after a few days of overcast and snow meant that we wouldn’t witness the return of the sun (due around 10th January). It doesn’t rise above the southern hills for 4-5 weeks here….a great time of the year as we get several hours of red skies each day.
The firs(t) of many sunrises in 2021:
The sun’s rays reflecting from Malvikodden:
Fully risen through trees in the garden:
A few pictures from when we were in the midwinter tunnel (aircraft contrails have been an unusual site):