Berry Week!

This week and last has turned out are the berry weeks, where all the berry bushes in the garden ripen at pretty much the same time. Which also happened to be the week after a long vacation and just when my wife returned to work after a very long break. The best time to go pick a bunch of berries, clean them and cook jam – because it was the only time. In a way probably fortunate, because it is also the kind of thing that, if we could choose exactly when to do it, we wouldn’t get it done.

Thursday Jul 16 was the date for gooseberry, although we had to stop picking because of mosquitoes and to get the jam done before it got ridiculously late. We picked the rest on Sunday and got a total yield of 3½ kg of gooseberry from a single plant (an 8 year old Ribes ‘Invicta’).

To cook the jam we cleaned the berries and followed the instructions on the side of the jam sugar bag: Mix 1 kg berries with 1 kg jam sugar in a pot (using less will make the jam less sweet – vary according to taste), then add a bit of water and the seeds from one vanilla bean (we added  the bean too). Boil for 10 minutes, remove the foam on top and then pour into hot, sterilized glasses. Tighten the lids on the glasses and briefly place them upside down so that the hot jam sterilizes the top of the glass and the inside of the lids. That’s it.

We also got raspberry enough for a couple of glasses using the same recipe (except the vanilla bean).

(I note that what started out as yet another technology blog may be turning into yet another cooking blog – now, that’s  a challenge to myself :  )

Planting the Seeds of 2015

Time has passed since I wrote about sowing the seeds for this year’s greenhouse.

The tomatoes were repotted on Apr 12, the chilies repotted on Apr 21.

The chilies haven’t sprouted well. Out of 60 seeds came only about 20 plants worth repotting – some of them being an actual disappointment (partly my own fault though – I don’t think I compressed the soil in the trays properly when sowing, so either the cells dried out, or I buried the seeds to deep.

Tomatoes were excellent, though. Most sprouted and

  • Bloody Butcher: 11 seeds, kept 5 of 6
  • Black Cherry: 10 seeds, kept 4 of 8
  • Tangidel: 10 seeds, kept 4 of 8
  • Rosadel: 10 seeds, kept 3 of 7
  • Sungold: 5 seeds, kept 3 of 5
  • Tumbler: 5 seeds, kept 3 of 5
  • First in the FIelds: 5 seeds, kept 3 of 5
  • Gardener’s Delight: kept 3 of 5

That is 28 plants and I only need 14, so plenty to give away to friends, family and colleagues.

Now the windowsil is full of plants. Only for few more days though – then I will move the tomatoes to their final spots in the greenhouse.

Sowing the Seeds of 2015

On Thursday Mar 19 I sowed the seeds for this year’s greenhouse. Two sowing trays with 12 rows of 5 pots. One tray for chilies, one tray for tomatoes. Like most years, our favorite cultivars get two rows to ensure we end up with good plants. The trays have dome on top and are placed in a west-facing windowsill.

Here is what was sown:

Chilies 2015

  1. Cayenne Long Slim
  2. Cayenne Long Slim
  3. Lemon Drop
  4. Lemon Drop
  5. Habanero
  6. Habanero
  7. Friars Hat
  8. Jalapeno
  9. Hungarian Black
  10. Tolles Sweet Italian
  11. Goat Horn
  12. Elephants Trunk

Tomatoes 2015

  1. Bloody Butcher
  2. Bloody Butcher
  3. Black Cherry
  4. Black Cherry
  5. Tangidel
  6. Tangidel
  7. Rosadel
  8. Rosadel
  9. Sungold
  10. Tumbler
  11. First in the Field
  12. Gardener’s Delight

All seeds from 2015.

It feels like late in the spring to plant the seeds, however, when looking into my records, it doesn’t look too bad:

2014: Mar 2
2012: Mar 17 and Apr 1
2010: Feb 28 (Chilies), Mar 21 (Tomatoes & Chilies)

and regardless, I can’t sow them earlier than what I have done now.


Mar 24

On Tuesday the first tomato seedling was visible.


Mar 28

Almost all tomato seeds have sprouted and the dome is removed. The tray is turned so that the seedlings get sun from the other side. No chiliis have sprouted yet, but that is not expected either.

20150328 Tomatoes

Mar 31

Now the chili seedlings are showing too and dome #2 is coming off.

About Gardening

I grew up with a garden and when the time came for me and my wife to find our own place, a good-sized garden was also a priority.

We could have made tending the garden very easy for ourselves: Cut everything down, sow grass. Instead we both cleared out and added selectively. Most of the time with a vision, usually with a plan and some ideas and thoughts guiding the shovel.

Some of that may be worth sharing. When we build the terrace some years ago, we were happy to read stories about similar projects posted by other people. So  why not share some stories of my own?

Past projects to tell about could be the building of tiled terraces, creating beds for herbs or rhododendron and pruning Magnolia trees.

There isn’t much planned for the immediate future except just getting the most important stuff done while the family is focusing on its newest member. But even so, moving through the yearly cycle of pruning apple trees, cutting down willows and roses and tending the greenhouse, are all opportunities to involve my 2 year old daughter. I am starting to get her to help carry cut-off branches – good start.