Tuesday, 10 June 2014

June 2014. The summer has arrived in Iceland, after 2 years!!!

I am much more happy now. The weather has been great and I returned back to my gardening projects.

Warm loving crops

Recently, I transplanted outside tomatoes, corn and beans.

I transplanted the pots during the last week of May and the first week of June. I adapted plants to cold conditions by middle of May, and they survived some minor frost. The April was rather mild, but May brought one last frost around the middle of the month, down to -4ºC. As June came, quickly the weather warmed: the night temperature increased from around 0ºC to 6ºC, and the day temperatures from 8ºC to 17ºC.

I transplanted plants into the sheltered spot against the house walls, and also against a new plastic windbreak protecting the frontyard beds from northern winds, facing southwards. In both spots, the day temperatures are increased by a couple degrees.

Varieties. These were 3 varieties of corn (earlivee, blue miniature, painted mountain), 2 varieties of beans (hestia bush and provider), several varieties of tomatoes, a couple of zucchini, and quinoa.

Corn. The corn plants were in milk packages, sown in mid March, and transplanted out 2 months old, in mid to late May, with 35 cm, two plants per pot, 6 pots per variety, and they survived well a minor frost (under a fleece). Stalking is critical, to prevent them of being broken with the wind. They are well in advanced compared to last summer, and took about 2 weeks to recover from the transplant shock and the cold conditions. The earlivee variety is even beginning to tassel. It looks like the painted mountain corn will be the next one. Some plants were planted against the windbreak but most were planted in the sheltered spot. Overall, corn seems to be set to be the happy surprise for this summer. In total, I have about 1m2 of corn.

Tomatoes. The tomatoes were in trays but already up to 25 cm high (mostly sown in mid March, transplanted out 2.5 months old, in late May to early June). The plants survived well the minor frosts, protected by a fleece, but some were damaged. The plants were and are rather leggy, since they were in a tray, so this experiment is in disadvantage compared to last summer, when a transplanted flowering siberian tomato produced a small crop. Currently, the plants recovered from the cold shock, and two varieties seem to be heading for flower buds: Early Chatah, Latah and Coldset. In addition, some varieties seem adapting better to cold conditions, like Glacier, Vodar and Sub Arctic Plenty. . The varieties Polar Circle, Polar Beauty, Earlinorth, Siberian and Beaverlodge are smaller. The varieties Skorospelyi Sibiriski and Siberia, although rather frost hardy, do not seem to be in the best shape, as they became rather leggy plants.

I also got from the community's greenhouse, some plants already fruiting, which I now transplanted into the garden as well (variety is tiny tim). I have no idea if my non-flowering seedlings will set fruit or not (I should have given more proper care to the tomato seedlings, I was overwhelmed with too many varieties to test), but I am sure I will get a clear idea of which variety is the quickest to flower and set fruit, under the Icelandic summer.

Beans. The beans were in small pots, 2-3 plants per pot, 3 pots per variety, some already cropping (XX cm), some were seedlings (20-30 cm), and several extra seedlings of the provider variety (10 cm). All sown around late March to April, and when they were transplanted out (late May), up to 2 months old, they suffered leaf burns caused by minor frost (even under a fleece), and haven´t recovered yet (it has been about 3 weeks); some show minor signs of recovery (the smaller provider seedlings). It looks like beans take a longer time to harden, but overall I guess some transplant will flower and set pods on themselves, if the summer is rather good. I am preparing new seedlings now.

Quinoa. While I lost most quinoa to spider mites, some 10 cm seedlings (sown in mid March) were planted out (2 months old) in late March, between the lines of corn in the sheltered spot. It is not good looking due to wet weather. I sown seeds earlier in the spring but lost all of them to frosts and mostly due to wet weather. Compared to last summer, when quinoa set seed in a container outdoors, this summer I had a complete failure with my quinoa plants. I should have given more attention to the quinoa project.

Winter rye (sown in August last year) is now flowering (since first days of June). Both in frontyard beds and in backyard beds, where there are only 3 hours of direct sunlight. This is 2 weeks in advance compared to 2013. The perennial rye is also starting to flower (plants that survived the winter). Newer seedlings are just 10cm just like year, and will be planted this week. This is very promising and it seems I finally might had some rippen rye. I have about 3m2 of rye.

The barley and wheat varieties, sown in early March, vernalized outdoors in April (when 1 month old), transplanted out around early May (when 2 months old), are now around 20 cm. Some varieties are faster than others (Peters Wheat, Kamut wheat, April Awned). Slower is Winter Red Wheat, Spelt, Stone Age, Durum. The Himalayan barley grow a bit faster than the Schrene variety. Triticale Shade is also growing very fast. The wheat and barley are around 2 weeks in advance compared to last year, and while this is not much of an advantage, it means that at least I might have some barley and wheat, if the summer is good. I have 1m2 of barley, and about a total of 3m2 of wheat.

The oats are similar to last summer, and I hope to produce a better crop than last year, with more viable seeds. I have about 1m2 of oats. They were planted out around mid May.

Potatoes. The potatoes were planted out in mid May (survived undamaged frost -5°C under several layers of fleece) and late May. They are now 40cm tall, and a couple weeks in advance to last summer. Self-seedling and sown turnips and kale are comparable to last summer (between 1 and 10cm). I have no swedes, no pack choy, no carrots, no spring onions. I have about 6m2 of potatoes.

Other crops. In the rest of the garden, I have transplanted some broccoli, celery and salads (after mid May, when frost was nearly over). They are around 5 to 10cm tall. I have broad beans and peas, growing since May (they tolerated down to -5ºC), with 30cm and 10cm respectively. We have a lot of spontaneously grown (self-seeding) pak choy, cumen, turnip and kale. Couldn't find seedlings of rocket or valerian salad.

Perennials. In terms of perennials, the chives and good king henry are producing a mass of crop; I am still hoping to establish the groundnut, the siberian pea shrub, the walking onions, the multiplier onions, ramps, earthnut pea, miner's lettuce, turkish rocket, skirret, chinese artichokes, comfrey and borage. I lost the crambe, the indian ricegrass, most multiplier onions, and almost all perennial rye. A new perennial is japanese wineberry. The scorzonera and sunchokes are growing fast, but I do not know whether they will make sizable roots. The lovage and the mints are now established and large plants. Nice established flowers include the daisies, the aquilegia, pansies, poppies and the clematis climbing vines. The cherry tree was a big disapointment because it didn't flower (the likely causes were the fact I haven't pruned it, the harsh winter, and the last summer was too weak).

Photos will come soon!