vegan organic gardening

Hej allihopa,

The last week we had about -22 °C here in Sweden. I was actually planning to pick some sticks and old weeds in out little garden, but with all that snow it is not really possible.
Instead I thought I write a little recap of our first garden year here in town.

Seeing this makes me so happy. We still can pick some kale in our garden. The last weeks we just had some vistors (deer) who ate the best parts.

Like I wrote before here on the blog, I do work as a organic gardener a bit outside of town. When I moved to Sweden I lived my first 3 months on the farm I am working at. I lived in their beautiful guest house you can also rent over Airbnb.
After the three months I moved in with my partner Victor, in his very small one room apartment. That one was way to small for two people in a long term. Our plan was actually to move a bit outside of town, because we really wanted to have a garden. But we both don't have a driver´s license and car. So it is not that easy to find something suitable. But in the end we found the perfect apartment for us. It is a big two room apartment in a typical grey wooden house in town. It is perfect, by foot it takes 10 minutes to the center, 5 minutes to the culture house, where we participate in a lot of projects and around 6 minutes to the garden café I help with in the garden group.
We have a huge collective garden with four apple trees, rhubarb plants, black and red currents, raspberries and black berries. Even though the garden is for all the people in the house no one is using it. Behind the garage was a huge part that had no other function then a green waste tip. The only sign of someone used to grow veggies there was a small strawberry bed.


We had so much rhubarb, we couldn't eat it any more. So we placed a box outside on the street with rhubarb for free.

A bowl full of sunshine. Fresh berries and flowers from the garden


Last spring we started to grow veggies on maybe a bit less then half of the "future" veggie garden. We started in removing the old strawberries. We kept two lines but those have to go this year, there were not that many berries on and also it is not the best tasting strawberry sort. Besides of this we grew in our first year, potatoes, garlic, chard, spinach, radishes, green kale, zucchini, pumpkin, beans, cucumbers, some beets, carrots and different eatable flowers. It was more a test to see how good the soil is, which parts we have to focus on in getting more nutrition in and which ones have the highes nutrition amount.
Our kale, zucchinis and cucumber grew amazing, we had so much we couldn't eat anymore. A lot we gave away to family, friends and neighbours. They grew on the former green waste tip, the soil there is amazing, nearly pure compost.

Into the woods. The kale plants reached in the end my waist.

Different carrots. My favourite ones are the deep red ones.


My favourite eatable flower - love in a mist.

We had soooo many cucumbers.

I made a huge batch of pickles.

This represents the whole seasons so well. The first fresh potates, carrots, fresh garlic, kale, parsley and eatable flowers.

The old strawberry part is the one with the lowest amount on nutrition, and very very compact soil. The carrots and beets turned out really tasty but not very big. This is the part we will have our potatoes this year, hopefully they will make the soil a bit more loose.
We still have some potatoes left and also they grew really good. We had eight old heritage sorts. In general all the veggies we grow are old heritage sorts. I think it is so immense important as gardener to try to preserve these old amazing sorts that give so much more taste and diversity then hybrid sorts ever could. Read more about this important topic on the save our seeds homepage
 Anyways the potatoes turned out so beautiful. We had dark violett ones, pink ones, mixed yellow pink ones, pale pink ones and "normal" ones. The only negative thing are the snails in our garden. We were a bit too late in picking the last potatoes and some got really eaten by small snails.
 For the coming year we have to stick to a weeding plan and try to pre- cultivate even more inside instead of seeding directly.
 But more about the coming garden season soon :-)

Carrot-bouquet

I love dahlias so much, they are even eatable.

A part of our garlic harvest. The coming season we will have more then the double amount and four different sorts.

One of the best things. Home grown tomatoes are so much sweeter. For next year we plan more varieties in colour and form.

Lets talk a bit more about how we grow our veggies. We of course grow them organic. We don't use any chemicals on them. All the seeds we use are organically grown.
Victor and me are both vegan because of ethical reasons, keeping animals means for us taking advantage of another species. Also keeping animals is always connected to capture and life/death decisions. Using animal menure would also mean for us we have to buy it somewhere else extern ( cause we logically don't keep animals ). Therefor it also feels much more natural to work with what we have instead of just buying things in. Besides I think it is a super interesting project to try to grow our own veggies in a vegan way and a great example that animal menures are not necessary if you take good care of your soil.
 But where do our plants get their nutrients from?

  • crop rotation
We divided our veggies in four main groups. 
Group one give nutrients or is more or less neutral ( doesn't take any nutrients out of the soil ) there we have beans, peas and later in autumn a green menure.
Group two needs a high amount of nutrients like tomates, kale, cabbage, squash, pumpkin and cucumbers.
Group three needs a medium amount of nutrients like chard, carrots, beets and sallat.
Group four needs a low amount of nutrients like potatoes. 
Those groups rotate like the following:
Year one we grow beans, peas and green menure in bed 1.
Year two we grow in bed 1 kale ( which needs a high amount of nutrients).
Year three we grow carrots in bed 1( medium amount of nutrients).
And in year four we grow potatoes in bed 1. In year five we start with the same crop as in year one. 
Like this you make sure to not take too much nutrition from your soil. And keep it alive.

  • plant menures ( waters)
We make every second week a new menure with different herbs. We use mainly nettles and comfrey for our plant menure here you can find an easy explantion on how to do it.
It is best to spread it in the late evening, idealy on a sunny not rainy but also not super hot day, and don't forget to mix it with water.

  • algomin
I believe this is the swedish name of the brand we use. It is a alge-based ferilizer. This one we just use when transplanting or planting the first plants outside ( like zucchinis, kale )

  • compost
Of course we also use our own compost. And this one contains just green waste, old veggies, peels and coffee. We have a very simple compost bin. I honestly would like to get a better system for the coming year. 

This is about it. We already have plenty of more plans for the coming seasons. We would like get started on a bokashi compost and we also want to work more with mulching. Last year it was sadly impossible because of all the snails.
Let me know what the gardeners here think, any tips, ideas or maybe topics you want to read about?


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