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Planning the kitchen garden

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Assorted tomatoes, 2008.

I know it may seem crazy, especially since it has been snowing heavily today, to already plan this year’s kitchen garden. To my defense the seeds for the chili peppers need to be planted already this month so I ordered them today, together with a lot of other seeds.

Because of my rocky garden I plant most of the vegetables in pallet collars. Two stacked pallet collars are enough for most vegetables but if you stack three you get a comfortable working height.

The seeds that I was most happy with last summer will be planted again this year:
Yellow pear shaped tomatoes
Black cherry, tomato
Gardener’s Delight, tomato
Crystal apple cucumber
White Icicle, radish
French breakfast, radish
Performer, spring onion

French breakfast and white icicle radishes, 2008.

I didn’t really like the Bloody Butcher and Tigrella tomatoes, so this year I’ll substitute them with wild tomatoes and Tumbling Tom red. It was too much work with protecting the pointed head cabbage from deers, snails and insects so I’ll skip it this year. The swiss chard wasn’t used except for one or two dishes that I didn’t even blog about. I’ll probably try carrots and beets again this year, I just need to protect them better from the deers that keep pulling them up.


Yellow pear shaped tomato, 2008.

The Physalis plant that I had last year was bought, but this year I’ve ordered seeds for the variant Goldie. I didn’t succeed with the watermelon Sugar Baby as I planted it too late and when I finally managed to get a tiny watermelon after weeks of trying to polinate it with a small brush, it just took a day before I found a large bite on it (I suspect a snail!). However I’ll try to plant another Sugar Baby Melon this year and also Jenny Lind and Sweet Siberian as they apparently do pretty well in a cold climate.

Beet, one of few that wasn’t pulled up by the deers. 2008.

Hopefully my Strawberries and wild Strawberries will survive the winter, but I will still try Temptation from seeds. I’ll also try red onion (Red Brunswick), Pak Choi and two corns: Ashworth and Painted Mountain. I’m pretty sure that the deers will like the corn so I need to make a fence around the pallet collar.

I didn’t try any chili plants last summer but this year I’ll try 5 types: Early Jalapeno, Anaheim, Espelette and Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot. They will be planted as soon as I get the seeds. The rest of the seeds will be planted in March/April.

Most herbs I buy as plants, but try I’ll plant a lot of cilantro seeds as I use it soo much when cooking food. Are there any more seeds that I should try this year?

But first I need to wait for the snow to melt….

Natural candy from the garden: Physalis

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Wow, what an exciting week I’ve had! The weekend arrived extremely quickly and now I’m just trying to catch my breath. Today I picked some of the homegrown physalis fruits that I planted in early summer. Perfect candy with no weird ingredients, just pure natural. If you’re feeling decadent you can of course dip them in melted chocolate….

Crystal apple cucumber

Monday, August 25th, 2008

When I planted three tiny cucumber seeds in May I could never imagine that they would result in something from the Little Shop of Horrors. Actually my husband is a bit afraid of coming to close to the plants :-) This variety of cucumber, crystal apple, produces small round cucumbers that are crisp and sweet. They are very easy to grow and result in a lot of tasty cucumbers. Fortunatly for me, neither the deers or the snails are interested in the plants. I highly recommend growing crystal apple cucumbers and I’ll do so again next year. Possibly I’ll plant the seeds a little bit earlier as the plants didn’t start producing fruits until end of July. The plants are still blooming and my best guess is that I’ll have fresh cucumbers until the night frost, so I’m hoping for a long and warm autumn.

Three crystal apple cucumber plants.

A report from the kitchen garden

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

White Icicle radish, quite strong.

French breakfast radish.

Cute signs (thanks again to Anne for the tip on where to find them!).

Growing tomato.

Some of the 20 (!) tomato plants that I have. I’ve grown them from seeds and I’m very proud :-) I’ve planted Black cherry, Tigrella, Gardener’s delight, yellow pear shaped tomato, Bloody butcher and Tiny Tim. They are all flowering, so eventually there will be a lot of tomatoes.

Smulgubbe, a cross between wild strawberries and normal ones.

Cape gooseberry or physalis.

Blooming wild strawberries.

I’m experimenting with a watermelon plant. Only one of 4 plants survived.

And yes, there is a tiny watermelon growing!

Raspberries and wild strawberries from the balcony

Monday, July 9th, 2007


Raspberries on the balcony.
For many years I didn’t have any balcony and was dreaming about one all the time. On all my walks I always had my head turned up in the air looking at other people’s balconies. When we searched for an appartment here in Stockholm my most important demand was a balcony and I was thrilled when we finally bought one appartment with a small balcony but also two separate french double doors (were there is no space for any plants). The balcony is small, 2.8 square meters which is about 30 square feet. Most people would only buy one small plant for this kind of balcony, tops and that would be it. Well, I’ve already shown you my rhubarb plant which by the way is ready to be harvested again. Today I’ll show you my raspberry plant, my two wild strawberry plants and the flowers. The raspberry I bought was and is marked as Allgold, which is supposed to give yellow raspberries but today I finally had to realize that it was incorrectly tagged in the garden center and that it’s a normal red raspberry plant. Here you can read more about Allgold and as you can see it’s far from my pictures… I’m a bit dissapointed but the raspberries are still delicious!


The wild strawberry plants are quite small and therefor planted in two smaller pots and everytime I pass by I pick a sweet red berry. The wild strawberry plants are not demanding at all and just continue to bloom and give berries. I’m not sure how they will survive winter as it’s harder with small plants, but I’ll try to “dress” them warm when snow comes.

Besides of the rhubarb, raspberry and wild strawberries I also have a climbing rose called New Dawn which blooms continuously during the summer, a clematis called Multi Blue which blooms from spring to autumn, a bamboo plant for the cats and finally a Lilac called Palibin which is very suitable for pots. Well, all my plants are suitable for pots and grow very well so I really recommend them, just make sure to have pots and containers that are as large as possible. You can plant pretty much everything in pots, including fruits, veggies and berries. You can imagine how many more plants I would have if I had a larger balcony :-)

And last but not least we have two chairs and one table, so we can eat breakfast in the morning or have a nice dinner outside. All on 2.8 square meters. What do you have on your balcony?


The climbing rose New Dawn and the clematis Multi Blue.

The raspberry plant.


Bowser attacking the bamboo plant, which is safe for cats but not from them.


The lilac blooms and smells divine during spring.

Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Last Sunday I finally decided to harvest my rhubarb plant. As the plant was beautiful it was actually quite sad, but I hope that more stalks will grow up this and coming years. After trimming the stalks I only ended up with 300 grams of rhubarb. So what to do with 300 grams of precious home grown rhubarb? I recalled a rhubarb crumble recipe from the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, apparently a Gordon Ramsay recipe, which I modified and then baked.

I served the crumble with vanilla custard and it was very appreciated by the boys (my husband and his friend). I’ve improvised with hazelnuts in my crumble toppings before and they give a really chunky and delicious crumble. The filling was creamy and tasty but I thought that something was missing, maybe more spices or more rhubarb? Probably more rhubarb! The others just devoured the crumble with ooohs and aaahs while watching the latest episode of Jamie at home.

    Rhubarb and Apple Crumble
    (Source: Gordon Ramsay via Svenska Dagbladet and then modified)

    Filling:
    300 gram fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed from leaves
    400 gram apples
    1 tbsp butter
    1.5 tbsp runny honey
    1 tsp fresh ginger, very finely grated
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1.5 tbsp raspberry syrup

    Topping:
    50 gram hazelnuts
    350 ml flour
    150 gram butter
    2.5 tbsp demerara sugar

    Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.

    Cut the rhubarb in 2 cm long chunks. Peel the apples and cut them in 2 cm chunks. Put the fruit in a sauce pan together with the butter, honey, ginger, cinnamon and syrup. Heat and let simmer for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Don’t let the fruit become too soft though.

    Pour the fruit filling in a baking pan.

    Roast the hazelnuts in a dry warm frying pan for a few minutes. Remove from heat and place the hazelnuts in a clean and dry kitchen towel. Rub the nuts in the towel to remove the outer papery inner skin. Chop the hazelnuts coarsly.

    Place the demerara sugar, butter, flour and hazelnuts in a bowl. With the tips of your fingers rub the ingredients together until you have a crumbly mixture. Cover the fruit with the crumbles and bake for 25 minutes until the topping is nicely browned.
    Serve luke warm with vanilla custard.

Harvesting the rhubarb plant.

Tanuki is in shock. “Where did the rhubarb dissapear?”

Rhubarb pie in progress

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

This is my rhubarb plant, planted in the middle of April in a big pot on my small balcony. I can’t believe how fast it grows, from only 2 stalks to 6 ones in less than a month. Rhubarb is a really easy plant to grow and even if you only have a small balcony I promise you that it will grow (with some help of sun and water of course). I still havn’t decided what to do with the future harvest, but I will probably bake a (small) delicious pie.


This is how the rhubarb plant looked like on April 10th.

Rhubarb plant, one month later on May 10th.

My window garden

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

I have a very small kitchen garden, at the kitchen window. The plants are my babies; sweet cherry tomatoes and nice smelling Basil and Coriander/Cilantro. The Chili pepper plant hasn’t bloomed yet, but I’ m keeping my fingers crossed that I will get some fruit later on. Today I sowed Thyme that I hope will grow well.