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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


Thought I’d stick up some photos of our harvest last month. I didn’t bother keeping track of the weights or quantities, but we are getting a fair amount of fruit this year. Berries of all kinds flourished while our apples didn’t do so well. The vegetables were something of a...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I just finished up a 7 day photography challenge over on Facebook — the husband tagged me to do 7 nature pictures and I ended up narrowing it down further for myself by deciding to do only flowers in the blue-purple spectrum that arrived on our property without my aid. I had so much fun...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


Even though this year’s midsummer was mostly spent inside due to it raining all day, I had a chance to nip out in the morning and snap some pictures for my mid-season garden tour. This was the year that I was FINALLY able to get some major work done in my vegetable ...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


The best part of having a large garden is planting lots of flowers for cutting. Thanks to the mild winter and prolonged spring conditions, the garden has put out more flowers this year than I’ve ever seen. In fact, there are a few that we’ve never seen bloom before — or at...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


The in-laws took Blob for the afternoon and I was finally able to make some serious progress with my veggie patch this weekend. Behind the mound of soil, you can see two herb boxes which have been cleaned out and moved into their new positions for this year. The one on the left is filled with...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

We’re 2/3 of the way through spring, so here’s my first garden picture roundup of the year! Mostly spring-flowering bulbs and some rhubarb right now — the fruit trees are just starting to break bud and should be flowering in another week or two. Just got back from visiting a...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


So here’s something that I’m super excited about — this past week, I got my hands on not just one, but TWO, dwarf citrus plants that I have been trying to procure for years. The left is a Meyer lemon and the right is a Nagami kumquat, both already bearing fruit. The lemon has...

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The Garden

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

And here's the other half of my summer garden pictures, dealing with various flowers encountered during our first summer in the new house. The previous owner was an avid gardener, so there were plenty of flower beds already established and filled with random little surprises. Also, a few wildflowers that I'm hoping my ever-knowledgeable Finnish readers will be able to help me identify.

I started putting out flower boxes on the front porch.
Little blue flowers next to the well.
Volunteer violets in the veggie patch.

Purple wildflower I have yet to identify.
Some late double narcissus under the lupines.
Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens).

The perennial bed outside the computer room. I’m slowly going to redo this.
Can’t remember what these are, either.
They look like some sort of Tagetes?

Primulas hiding in the borders around the gazebo.
Stand of irises near the pond.
Another Anemone species in the perennial bed.

Row of hostas down the walkway to the gazebo.
I forget what these were, but they were colorful!
The lupines are crazy hard to get rid of and pop up EVERYWHERE.

I mean, they’re very pretty when in flower, but then you need to deal with all those damn seedpods.
Rose bush. Only hard climber varieties seem to survive up here.
Bearded iris in flower.

Dutch iris, I think?
Daylilies! Lots of them! They’re edible, y’know.
Random daisies near the water barrel.

White climbing rose that blooms around midsummer.
Gorgeous wildflower that I would like to identify.
Another wildflower I’d like to identify.


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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

One of the things I love most about spring in the north is the bonanza of flowering bulbs that burst out nonstop the minute the snows recede. I spent several years back in Cali trying to coax reluctant daffodils and hyacinths into bloom through rigorous refrigerator chilling regimens before finally giving in to the fact that I would only ever have them as cut flowers. Tulips and snowdrops never had a fighting chance. In our Finnish house, though, it's a completely different story. I am already plotting elaborate flower beds and making wish lists from internet bulb suppliers, even though planting time isn't until this fall.

Last May, some friends took me to a family property that was pretty much covered in these flowers, all naturalized after decades of letting them grow where they wanted. Seriously, huge tulips that just kept coming back, year after year. My mind boggled. I brought back a huge bouquet with me and want to create a similar effect in our borders, though it will probably take a long time to look as established as that old cottage garden did. I regret not having taken photos of that garden now, but here are the flowers at least.





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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Hey, WordPress has an integrated push-to-Twitter feature now! One less plugin to worry about, pretty cool. For all I know, this could have happened last year, but it’s new to me :-)

So yeah. We have a few mature apple trees. We knew this meant we would be getting some fruit in the fall, but I don’t think we really comprehended exactly how much that would be. Turns out, the answer is “more than one person should try to pick with a plastic grocery bag while balancing on a chair and stepstool.” Below, a pictorial timeline of last year’s apple experience.

06062012moreappleblossoms
06062012 appleblossoms
06062012 bigappletree

06062012 mediumappletree
08012012hedgie
08012012hedgie02

08012012hedgie03
08312012 appleharvest
08312012 appleharvest01

09022012 appleharvest
09022012 lotsofapples
09102012 apple harvest


I’m still trying to pin down the exact names of the varieties, since I was mostly told that they were “the typical old-fashioned Finnish ones” and that there was one for cooking and one for eating. The tree that I managed to harvest (more or less) had tart light green apples that turned yellowish as they matured. I rather liked them raw. They were mostly juiced, with some made into compote.

applejuice01

Some juice-making activity going on up there. I had a juicer attachment on my stand mixer, so decided to juice first, then cook. This helped me to avoid having to strain a boiling-hot pulpy sodden mess afterwards. Since I was going to be storing (well, freezing) the juice for a while, I figured giving it a good boil would make it keep better.

applejuice02

I also tossed in a tiny bit of citric acid to help the juice keep its color and for any incidental preservative properties. All that foam at the top of the juice is from impurities coming to the surface during the cooking. That got scooped out before bottling.

t_appjuice03

Homemade apple juice! I’ve got about 15 of these 1.5L bottles in the freezer. It’s a little bit sour, so I do mix in a splash of simple syrup before serving. This stuff is especially good served hot and spiced during the winter.

Finally the actual totals for the 2012 apple harvest:

8/31/2012 – 2730g + 3660g + 2620g + 3840g + 4900g
9/01/2012 – 6.4kg
9/02/2012 – 6.4kg + 4.4kg + 6.1kg + 8.1kg + 5.7kg + 7.4kg + 5.4kg
9/03/2012 – 5.2kg + 6.1kg + 7.9kg + 3.5kg

For a total of 90.35 kg or 199.188 pounds of apples. That’s about 4.15 bushels. Furthermore, consider that I only picked about 2/3 of total apples on one tree, and threw out/discarded at least 1/3 of what was picked. Yeah, that’s a lot of apples.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Because it’s July and suddenly I can’t keep up with all the stuff there is to do out there! With prime berry picking season just around the corner, it’s about to get really crazy here at Casa Kerfuffle.

07022012 chickweed
07022012 spinach
07032012 chickweed

07032012 lettuce and spinach
07032012 strawberries
07032012 wild strawberries

07042012 chickweed
07042012 cilantro
07062012 strawberries

07072012 mixed greens
07082012 strawberries

The actual numbers:

07/02
210g chickweed Stellaria media (frozen)
160g spinach Spinacia oleracea “Campania F1″(frozen)

07/03
400g chickweed (frozen)
150g lettuce Lactuca sativa “Salad Bowl” and “American Brown” & spinach (frozen)
1400g garden strawberries (eaten)
10g wild strawberries Fragaria vesca(frozen)

07/04
540g chickweed (frozen)
60g cilantro Coriandrum sativum(frozen)

07/06
2080g garden strawberries (half frozen, half eaten)
30g wild strawberries (eaten)

07/07
540g mixed greens (spinach, 2 lettuces, chickweed, purple deadnettle Lamium purpureum) (frozen)

07/08
2000g strawberries (half eaten, half frozen)

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

For the past several years, I’ve sighed wistfully upon seeing various gardening blogs put up their weekly harvest tallies. I’d sadly poke at the few pots next to the kitchen window and make mental lists of all the things I’d grow if I actually had a decent piece of land. Well, guess what? This is the first year I’ve actually had the space to do a proper garden and I’m going for it! The timing’s been a little off, since we just moved in a few weeks ago and I’ve barely had time to do anything but throw some salad seeds into the soil between unpacking boxes. Still, there’s a healthy population of already established perennials scattered around our property and my veg patch has taken off since the weather warmed up recently. So I’m looking forward to increasingly frequent weigh-ins as the season progresses.

Just two for this first week, though:

This was technically from last weekend, but I didn’t feel like posting with just one picture. I cleaned up our rhubarb patch, which was threatening to engulf my greenhouse wall. I took probably half of the stalks, chopped them into bite-sized pieces, bagged them into recipe-sized portions and popped them into the freezer. The final haul was 15 1-liter bags of chopped rhubarb. Didn’t weigh it since the scale wasn’t unpacked yet at that point :-P

This afternoon, I did a much-needed plucking of the spinach row in my salad patch. Finnish summers are ideal for spinach, I suppose — moist, never too warm, and mildly sunny. It’s like a never-ending spring, from my Californian perspective. And with an average of 20 hours of daylight in the summer, you can bet the plants are in overdrive. According to the seed packet (thank goodness I dumped my pictures here even if I’ve been too busy to update Folia lately), the variety I’m growing is Campania, a particularly fast-growing and disease-resistant hybrid. I’m going to have to sow three rows of this stuff next spring, because I definitely go through a lot of spinach in a year and this is just so much more attractive looking than the frozen lumps we’ve been getting at the supermarket. Slightly cheaper, too, I’m willing to bet — we’ll know for sure when I do the end-of-season tallies.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Bought another aloe at Plantagen last weekend. Can’t have enough of these guys, I think.
I will definitely have to invest in more fall bulbs if they all do so well here.
Did I mention some tulips made a guest appearance? I suppose we do have the sort of weather they enjoy.
View of my cleaned-up greenhouse interior. Still looks pretty tame.

White dicentra, which will go where there pink one goes.
Pink dicentra I got on sale last week. Don’t know where it’s going yet.
Repotted peony. Still don’t know where it’s going yet.
My 2 year old calamondin has once again been repotted and is enjoying its new greenhouse home.

The clivia T’s granny gave us has been repotted and is now also in the greenhouse.


The droopy lavender I seeded last spring is now looking much happier in the greenhouse.
I put in 9 rows of “cold weather crops” the first weekend of May. We’ll see when they sprout.

Parsley, purple carrots and cilantro.
Leaf lettuce, spring onion and salad dandelion.
Leaf lettuce, mixed carrots and spinach.
I also plan to plant my cucumbers directly into these bags once the weather warms a bit more.

My first (and probably temporary) raised garden bed. Made from… bed frames :-)
There’s a few different types now, but I totally will continue adding varieties starting this fall.
I love narcissi. Can’t get enough of them. Always wanted a giant bed of them in my garden and now I have some!

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

The evenings are still just a couple degrees above 0C, but daytime temps are now between 10-20C and very sunny, so it’s definitely spring. Everything is budding, flowers are starting to appear and butterflies are everywhere. I’ve started cleaning up the garden and grounds best as I can, though I’m sure it will take at least a few years before everything is under control. So far, I’ve cleaned up the dead matter from the perennial beds around the house, pruned two raspberry hedges and a grapevine. Definitely have the beginnings of a huge new compost heap in the corner of our lot as a result. Most of the seedlings I started (as well as a good portion of my houseplants) have been moved to the greenhouse and we broke ground today on a new raised bed.

Small narcissi (pretty sure they’re Tête à têtes) alongside our driveway.
Larger narcissi alongside our driveway. There are also white ones.
Another view of the daffodil bank.
Not sure what variety these big ones are other than some sort of trumpet. We’ll see next week.

Siberian squill circling one of our fruit trees.
Snowdrops ringing another small tree trunk.
My greenhouse! It will need a bit of patching up and repainting in the next few years, but it is made of window glass, so it’s pretty sturdy.
Rhubarb, starting to grow leaves. Last week, they looked like bright red dinosaur eggs.

Two days later and you can see how much they’ve grown. Soon, they will be in a pie!
The buds on the grapevine in the greenhouse are about ready to break any day now.
Some of my cucurbit seedlings.
More seedlings. I always plant double since they are prone to dying when transplanted.

First leaf on my baby pumpkin :-)
Pumpkins moved to the greenhouse.
More baby squash in the greenhouse. They look so happy!
Baby squash at my kitchen window prior to the move.

Tommi’s grandmother gave me this clivia our first year here. Finally, it has a chance of flowering again.
I seeded this lavender last spring and it hung on to dear life all winter. Now it’s starting to perk up.
I bought a new pink peony but still haven’t decided where to plant it.



There is a little pond with a bank of iris and daylily along the sides. Need to clean it up still.
Currant and gooseberry bushes all in a row, starting to break bud.
More currant bush buds. We’re going to have a LOT of fruit.
Our covered strawberry patch, in need of a bit of TLC. Plants are starting to leaf out so need to fix soon.

The left side of the raspberry thicket. Pruned down to the just the one year canes after a day’s work.
Right side of the raspberry thicket. LOVE raspberries, so am happy there are so many.
Raspberry buds.
A horsetail shoot — these have been popping up amongst the right raspberries.

Pepe, the neighbor’s cat. He hasn’t quite grasped that his family moved next door.
…so he still keeps coming to our door instead and following us around.
He’s a sweet little guy, though, and will hopefully be taking care of any rodents for us.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

I’m going to start confining my gardening picturespam to once a week, since I know it can easily get out of hand otherwise. I am keeping more detailed almost-daily notes on Folia, for those who are interested.

As you’ll see below, all my seeds have sprouted with unprecedented speed, so I guess they are as eager for spring to begin as I am! Some of the cucurbits are quickly outgrowing their little yogurt cup starter homes, so I’ve started transplanting them into their own seedling pots. The first batch to get potted up were the Kaempe Melon pumpkins. If they are still looking perky tomorrow morning, I’ll repeat the process for the rest of the bigger seedlings. And yes, I am indeed enough of a geek to have slapped QR codes on the sides of all my seedling pots. They link back to the individual plant history pages I’ve set up for them on Folia. I’ll thank myself once these babies are all mixed up in the greenhouse and garden, and I’m pretty sure the people I swap with will be just as amused.






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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

I did the last batch today, so now all my cucurbits/melons/squashes and tomatoes/eggplants/etc. are cozy in their little plastic incubators. I already can see a few germinated pumpkin seeds from the ones I planted Monday! I’ll wait until they actually sprout before proclaiming it a milestone, though :-) But still, pumpkins in Finland! I’m so excited.







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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

My miniature phalaenopsis is having babies! Here, it sprouted both a baby and another flower from the same node.
Another shot of the bonus flower. I’ve never had this happen with my orchids before, so hopefully it means I’m doing something right!
Another baby growing on the other flower stalk. This one has much bigger leaves, probably because it doesn’t have a flower as well.

And the beginnings of a third one :-) I’ll let them all grow until they have about 2 inches of root before separating them.
My rapidly growing seed germination tray.
I had a wildly successful run with these last year, so am planting them again. I’m faithful to those who treat me well :-) These produced bountiful, tasty cukes and were very happy doing it within the confines of the bag of potting soil allotted to them. 4 planted.

I admit to being attracted to weird cultivars. Plus, it would look so cool to have slices of various colored cucumbers on a salad, don’t you think? We’ll see what happens with these. 5 planted.
I hear melons can be tricky. Both the boy and I adore them, though, so I’m going to give it a try this year. They can get expensive at the store and we could probably eat one apiece if it weren’t so spendy. These might actually end up going in the greenhouse, since I’m not entirely sure they’ll crop fast enough otherwise. 4 planted.
I know I already planted the golden version of these, but you know how I get about have rainbow colors. And cucurbits really are some of my favorite plants. They make you feel really accomplished, with such large fruits. Anyway. 9 planted.

Classic summer veggie that I know I should be eating more of. I do like these roasted, so no hurt in planting some. This type in particular looks like it doesn’t even need to live in the greenhouse, which is a plus. 5 planted.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Just more chronicling of my gardening ventures, both indoors and out. The kitchen window has plants in it all year round, though they start looking a little peaky in deep winter. The sun’s back now, though, and I can’t wait to pop some fragrant narcissi and primroses into those hanging pots. Maybe as soon as this weekend!

Playing around with the color filter settings on my new camera.
Three different orchids decorated the window this Thanksgiving.
From left to right, a Miltonia hybrid, a mini Phalaenopsis, and a very prolific Oncidium.
You can see their pretty colors best in the morning light here.

The mini narcissi I had in the window last spring!
I took lots of pictures because i only got to enjoy them for a few days before leaving on a film shoot.
They smelled so nice. Can’t wait to have these again.
My lucky bamboo, numbering three for happiness. Sadly, one died over the winter.

My calamondin plant is going strong. This was from last summer and it’s almost time to find a bigger pot again.
Some chives in a pot for easy cooking access. I’ll have a nice big patch of these at the new house.
I started growing my own lavender in a pot — it’s actually survived all this winter.


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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Tumbling Tom cherry tomatoes. An autumn batch that had to ripen inside.
Another of my balcony flower bouquets. I was never lacking in flowers from those nasturtiums.
In fact, it’s the middle of November and the nasturtiums I planted in May are STILL blooming outside.
Whirlybird Cream nasturtiums and purple Sugar n’ Spice sweet peas make a cute spring bouquet from the balcony garden.

A wider view of my background garden at the height of summer.
A batch of Fanfare hybrid cucumbers from the backyard garden.
Another cucumber batch.
Corn pollen.

Baby corn forming! This was my first time ever growing corn. Another keeper for next year.
Baby bell peppers. These got eaten by the snails really fast.
The cherry tomato plants. They did moderately well but probably should have started earlier.
The cucumber patch. There were only three plants or four plants, I think? Steady supply all summer. Definitely will plant again.

Bush beans getting overrun by cucumber leaves. They also got eaten up pretty bad by the snails.
Three basil varieties, red, lemon and Thai. The pests got to them a bit.
An earlier view of my corn. Will grow more and earlier next year, definitely.
A full garden shot of later in the season.

Batch of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes.
Cutaway view of one of the cucumbers. We were picking them pretty young because they were better for sandwich slices that way.
Northern Extra Sweet corn. Was awesome. Want tons more.


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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Did some much needed work on the plants in the apartment this past week. The two backyard gardens thrive on benign neglect, since they have access to plenty of sun and rain, but the ones here need a bit more attention to be at their best.

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