Updates from our first two growing spaces. In general things are looking good, with no real disappointments besides some slow developing aubergines and broad beans that didn't survive the dry spell [update: actually it turns out that half of them did survive!].
In these two spaces we've sown a mix of garlic, onion, tomatoes, mangetout, broad/runner/french & soya beans, corn, cabbage, beetroot, carrot, parsnip, turnip, artichoke, celeriac, zucchini & kohlrabi.
Elsewhere in the garden we have a potato patch, a smaller area for more beans, and about 40—50 other tomato plants, root veg, aubergine, wild garlic, peppers, chillis, asparagus and artichoke planted around amongst the wildflowers, wild strawberries and rasperberries, shrubs, fruit tree's and old ornamental garden plants.
The Swedish for this kind of practice is “Samplantering”. It gives a dense, lush forest garden vibe to the space, and it's fucking killer for biodiversity and getting your shit pollinated.
Have settled on Sigurd Knight / Sigurd Claymore from the always wonderful as the typeface for the Sofiebergsvägen project.
The above is a combination of stylistic sets, trying to maintain a balance between the more ornate elements on offer. I'm not sure I've ever published anything that didn't use a sans-serif for the title — or at least a heavy slab — but I really wanted to work with a font with a different kinda display character for this. Sigurd is my perfect match, plus I love the design info behind it:
“Inspired by the hero of the Nibelungen Saga, Siegfried, Sigurd is a font family gathering its inspiration in the shapes of swords and feudal armours. It aims to be an elegant font family yet deeply strong in its design construction.
The design process started from an old scrap of letters found in an obscure set of the Eda stories.”
Very minimal kerning applied so far. I'll come back to that later when I have the cover layout set for print.
Honestly, it's a struggle to get anything done outside once the wild strawberries are out. They grow everywhere and I swear that for every one you eat, three more appear in their place the following day.
The cherries have also ripened this week. Most of the treeline from the meadow up to the fence around the garden is dense with cherry tree's, so we don't have to fight the blackbirds too much to gather them. There's almost too many to go around!
Midsummer evening walk.. crossing boundaries.. walls and trails and tracks...
Divination customs surround Midsummer, appearing in folklore records across the European regions. The rituals are often variations on sacred flower gathering rites, involving the collection of dew drops, or the picking of a certain number of herbs and wildflowers, followed by a small ritual which promises to grant the practitioner a glimpse of the future. Given the fertility connections at the Summer Solstice and Midsummer, this is often divination centred on love, marriage, children and families.
Here in Sweden the most well documented custom involves silently gathering nine different flowers whilst walking backwards, then sleeping with them beneath your pillow. In some variations the flowers must be gathered over three different crossroads, whilst others involve the backwards crossing of a matching number of physical boundaries, such as streams, walls and fences. The more elaborate practices share similarities with the ritual of the Årsgang which is also recorded as being performed on Midsummer eve for divination purposes.
With all our nearby streams and paths, hedges and walls, old abandoned roads and local railway tracks — plus our abundance of wild flowers and herbs — I'm already thinking about how to construct a personal variant of the flower gathering walk; weaving a living tradition for future Midsummer celebrations.
Our first Midsummer in the house was a small but enjoyable affair. There were six of us altogether: we skipped out on the dancing and the more energetic pagan frenzies, but there was food and drink and flowers and singing. We all went on a walk to gather wildflowers to make wreaths to wear, and we took down an aspen tree to communally decorate the Midsommarstången (Midsummer pole / Maypole). Traditionally you're supposed to use birch, but maybe we can start our own regional variation. Aspen leaves do give that lovely soft trembling sound in the wind.. like a warm background drone machine.
It was probably a good idea to take a relaxed approach, given how tired the both of us have been lately. Next year, when we're a bit more established here in the house and on the land, perhaps we can plan a more extravagant celebration.
It only takes a month for the situation to turn around. After the cold and wet Winter and the late coming Spring, we've now had a couple of weeks of dry 30-degree heat. The region is on forest fire alert which is always concerning, but so far we've managed to keep everything sufficiently watered. We only have two IBC tanks for storage though and they don't last so long when you're growing as much as we already are.
The water table in the land is very low as a result of this weather, which means the well is at risk of running dry. To offset all this we've entered water scarcity mode, catching every drop we can and recycling it back around for the plants. This kinda closed-loop system is good practice anyway; we already recycle all of our urine for watering, may as well recycle stuff like pasta and rice water too.
We're also thinking to start taking a trip to the lake in the mornings to fill up extra water canisters there, since it's an abundant resource on the doorstep.
Storms HAVE been making their way across the region but they keep breaking just before they reach us. We did get one, which hit — fittingly — on the Solstice. Standing in the pouring rain has never felt so good, or had such a.. feeling of a gift to it. I don't think you feel this connection until you're relying on the rain to keep you alive — I mean okay, we still live in fucking Sweden, we can drive to a shop in town and BUY water before we dehydrate and shrivel up — but still, ya know, a huge storm breaking over a dry and cracked land, when you've been hoping and praying for it.. well it's got that Biblical feeling innit.
In general, life here in the forest, coupled with our early attempts to close loops where we can, really pushes home how much a functioning part of an ecosystem we are, despite our best contemporary efforts to disconnect ourselves. It's easy to lose sight of this simple truth.
Ummon asked a monk,
“Where have you come from?”
“From Nangaku,” he replied.
“Usually,” said Ummon, “I don't entangle people with words,
and bamboozle them with phrases; come a little closer!”
The monk went nearer, and Ummon shouted, “Be off with you!”
closer or nearer if you refuse
to answer the question it's a shame
and everyone will sympathise
after all it was already too late
to come closer under such rudeness
night woods in winter
barest branches growing on the moon
what entangles what