Happy to feel alive

A bit sunburnt. It's all good.


A visit to the capital

The cob of a grain is called tähkä in Finnish and that's the name of her daughter.


How to grow trees on a balcony. Part 2.

For the winter:
Some tender tree species can be moved inside for the winter, but many need a period of cold. A good option is to winter the tree in the garden with the container buried to the ground, if possible.
For the apartments that have no garden or a semi-cold storage space you need to choose a winterhardy tree that can be kept on the balcony. In a container the roots are vulnerable to cold and freezing, so it is good to choose a tree that is 1-2 zones more winterhardy than where you live. Cover the container for the winter with e.g. bubble wrap, also from the underside, and moved to a sheltered spot e.g. close to the wall.
The covering should be done after the tree has started it's winter dormancy, meaning after the leaves have shed, the soil has frozen a little and a longer cold period has started. During the spring the covers should not be removed too early. On warm days, start with taking the covers away first for the days only. During the cold spring nights the plant needs to be protected and covered also later. Check if the plant needs watering. The soil should not be too dry or wet, start watering more again as the growth starts again.


Growing trees on a balcony. Part 1.

While working at a garden centre I was often asked about growing trees on a balcony. Secretly I thought that must be a special type of torture to confine such big plants to small spaces. I wish I had had the booklet by C. von Walden and L. B. Sjölund at hand then. Not only for their practical knowledge on the subject, but for then I'd have known how beautiful small-growing trees can be on a balcony. Since the booklet is in Swedish l thought I'll share their tips with you.

The basics of letting a tree grow in a container are:
  • Choose a small-growing tree suited to the amount of sunshine / shade on the balcony.
  • A crafted tree benefits from a support such as a bamboo stick.
  • The bigger the container, the better (as long as the weight of the tree, container and the soil don't go over the carrying capacity of the balcony, that is). The size of the tree top reflects the size of the root stock, which can help in choosing the container. The minimum size is 50 l.
  • Of the container materials wooden, concrete, zinc, rubber and fiberclay pots are fine. Clay pots absorb moisture and thus don't protect the roots from freezing during the winter that well. Also the container needs to have a hole for drainage.
  • Trees need a lot of water = watering. On a sunny summer day be prepared to water twice a day. On a windy location the tree dries faster, so place it on a sheltered spot. The size of the container is important for the watering also; the bigger the container, the easier to keep the soil from drying.
  • The first year fertilise the tree with a slow-release fertiliser. The next year supplement that with liquid fertiliser also. If you have fresh cut lawn clippings, cover the soil with that. It fertilises and helps the soil keep moisture.
  • Replace the top soil with new soil every spring. It's good to take the tree out of the container every third year and prune the roots and change as much of the soil as possible.
  • Cutting instructions are the same as for a tree in a garden. Cutting can be more heavy to keep the tree compact.
For how to keep the container trees alive through winter, and some specific plant suggestions, please be patient, I'll return to the subject.


Today is a great day for manifestos

As is any day. I love manifestos.

On agriculture:
Why we farm, a young farmers manifesto
Young farmers, a call to arms!

A manifesto in action:
Guerilla Gardening

For the perfectness of it: Coded Language by Saul Williams


Update on coconut oil usage

So many uses coconut oil should be brilliant at. And I admit, most of them I didn't try. I didn't try using coconut oil on my face (experimenting with the skin on my face is too awkward). I did not leave it in my hair for a conditioning effect. Sounds like a greasy result. I only used it as a cooking oil when I ran out of olive oil (did give a nice flavour to my popcorn though, unlike olive oil). The best, and almost only, experimenting was to use coconut oil in the sauna. It really did leave my skin very soft afterwards.
I was just happy to use the oil as a simple, good moisturiser. I still would be. But then I ate it all. Not that I like the taste, I don't. It's the jar of dry carob powder I bought, the crawing for that stuff is bad.
I mixed the carob with my barley fake-coffee, or just with hot water and honey, actually only with honey as well. I also ate the stuff straight from the jar, and mixed carob with vanilla and coconut oil for some consistency plus maybe added some hot water and ate it hot or cold. Now, a week later, all of the carob and the rest of coconut oil are gone.
I wouldn't really encourage you to try any of the mentioned receipes at home. I'm sure there are better and more skilled ways to use carob (or coconut). But if you can, please, do explain me what is it with carob powder. Maybe it is the magnesium I crave for. Could it simply be the sweet, raw taste of carob? Making me go so far as to tolerate the taste of coconut oil as well.


Metsänkylän navetta

Sunday tea at a lovely cafe Leivintupa. They serve great tea in an old loghouse that has been used as a sauna and a place for baking the farm's bread. There's also a shop for recycled building materials in an old barn (now you know where to get that framework of an old loghouse).
The real reason for the visit was really a herd of alpacas they keep. The camera battery died a second before a close-up picture of a white and rather muddy alpaca. They are the most adorable creatures! A good reason to go back there on another Sunday.


Signs of spring

I've been assured that daffodils can take a -10 C. It does still feels questionable to leave them outside to flower in the cold spring air. It also feels festive and hopeful: Summer will be soon.
I plan on taking my tete-a-tete daffodils to the porch for the night, so the plant has time to get used to the temperature. Tricks for taking care of daffodils here in finnish.