Apartment Homesteading

Glory Days #4: The Dog Days of Summer and We Need To Talk About Autumn

The fading summer garden…

Before I begin the garden update, I just want to say thanks to everyone who reached out to me after last week’s post. Your words of encouragement regarding Darling Daughter going to förskola / preschool soon were so kind and uplifting. I was also heartened to hear how so many Swedes actually feel the same way that I do. Perhaps you can take part in my effort to make stay at home parents feasible and normalized? 😁

Now back to the subject at hand. It feels like a long time since a garden update, even though it’s only been a little over a month. There’s been a lot going on here at These Wandering Roots. Besides the emotional conundrum about early childcare, I’ve been offered a (very) part-time job at a local cafe, Dear Hubby has been working weekends, even though it’s his vacation, and I’ve taken a few sewing commissions, as well as teaching online yoga classes. Between all that and a very tight budget that leaves little for plants or dirt, the garden has fallen to the wayside. 

Surprise Volunteer Pea!

Being a northern climate, we are already moving towards fall. The weather here has fluctuated greatly the last several weeks. We’ll boomerang from hot sunny days to cool cloudy days to thunderstorms to days of heavy winds and back again. The peas finally succumbed to over-watering, as their pots are some of the only ones not covered by the roof, and thus are hit by ALL the rain we get. We couldn’t move them either because that’s where the trellis was. However, it looks as though a mature pea actually dropped in the soil and we now have a new pea start! It hasn’t yet set any flowers but Jag håller tummarna (lit. “I’m holding my thumbs” – the Swedish version of “I’m crossing my fingers”, hoping for the best). 

Still some tomatoes coming…

The tomatoes and cucumbers have been holding on, though very little fruit has come from them. The tomatoes will grow fruit that will then stay green on the vine until warm weather comes along and ripens them fuller. However, it seems like they are particularly susceptible to the heavy winds we’ve had here, and the winds will snap off green tomatoes before the sun comes back. The cucumber has produced a few flowers and baby fruit, but these eventually wither and die. I’m not entirely sure why although I suspect it’s been too cool for them. The variety we are growing is actually called a växthusgurka (“greenhouse cucumber”) here in Sweden, but I thought I would try it anyway. 

Is that a new cucumber coming in?

The pepper has done great. We harvested several peppers a few weeks ago, and have another one almost ripe. I think it’s had an easier time in the wind because we’ve kept it so well pruned. 

The mints and lemon balm have also flourished. I recently harvested each plant pretty heavily (of which OF COURSE I forgot to do a before and after photo…), but as you can see, they are already coming back. I love the mint family. 

L-R: Pineapple Mint, Chocolate Mint, and Lemon Balm, post-pruning. Already coming back!

So some thoughts for next year’s summer garden: 

  • Plant peas in better draining pots (such as terracotta).
  • Devise a way to support tomato plants better. Train them up a trellis on the wall?
  • Consider purchasing a small greenhouse or maybe just a transparent cover for cucumbers.
  • Grow more from the mint family! 
  • Grow more pepper plants!
Bonus shot of our indoor Pothos on a rampage…

In addition, the sudden crispness to the air has me thinking about fall, and I’ve been considering planting a fall garden. I’ve never had one before so it will be a new experience. Our average first frost date is the last week of October, so we still have around 60 days in our growing season. I might sow some Calendula flowers, see if I can get some blossoms in time (they usually flower in 45-60 days). I’ve been thinking about planting more peas, since they do so well in cool weather. There’s also a large variety of cool weather plants, such as carrots, kale, and cabbage, that I know do very well here. 

How do you transition your garden from summer to fall? What are your favorite fall crops to grow?

These succulents share the sun with the balcony garden.

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