The deep roots of Burträsk family's green gardening

The carrots from the 2023 harvest, including the varieties White Satin and Bolero, are expected to last until April.
The carrots from the 2023 harvest, including the varieties White Satin and Bolero, are expected to last until April.

In response to the increasing frequency of reports on war, escalating food prices, and climate change, there has been a growing interest in cultivating one's own food. Norran is keenly attuned to this trend in 2024 and is actively participating by making monthly visits to the Sandlund family in Ljusvattnet, near Burträsk, delving into twelve distinct aspects of cultivation under the banner of "The Gardener's Annual Cycle."

Ljusvattnet 1 februari 2024 17:30

In the midst of the winter of 2023/24, characterized by sudden snowstorms followed by temperatures dropping to minus 30 degrees Celsius, the upcoming growing season may have been overlooked by many. But for the Sandlund family, meticulous planning is already underway.

In 2010, Anne and Anders Sandlund bought a house in Ljusvattnet, and although gardening was not their initial motivation, the village's strong agricultural identity sparked a newfound interest.

– Suddenly all the possibilities were there, so we thought we'd give it a try, says Anne.

In the garden, three wooden frames, each measuring 1x3 meters, were introduced. These frames were filled with grass clippings, leaves, old silage and cow dung. Carrots, lettuce, radishes and beets were then sown.

– I thought, 'How am I going to do all this? It's huge!' recalls Anne.

The Sandlund family (Sigrid, Anders, Signar, Anne, and Sven, along with the jämthund Gorma) is looking forward to the 2024 growing season. And with a monthly visit, Norran's readers can join in!

Through diligent efforts of watering, weeding, and covering with grass clippings, the first harvest came in late summer. While not everything was a success, the carrots stood out as a great success.

– It was the first time I was proud to grow something edible. I was hooked, Anne says.

Throughout the years, the Sandlund family's pride has flourished, mirroring the emergence of three children who have grown alongside (not literally!) the flourishing crops.

When the garden became too small, the family expanded by plowing a plot of land across the road. In this new area, which slopes down to Lappsjön in a bowling-pin shape, 40 meters of beds were created.

– In the end, we couldn't eat all the vegetables or store them Then the idea came up to share the harvest with others, with people in our community, says Anne.

One of the driving forces behind the decision was a commitment to a more sustainable form of consumption - eating locally grown vegetables that haven't been sprayed with chemical pesticides and traveled halfway around the world.

For several years, the Sandlunds have sold surplus vegetables,, although they scaled back a bit last year during their youngest child's first year of school.

This winter it's been a full-time job clearing the path to the vegetable store.

In the coming year, they plan to expand cultivation and sell surplus products in the local area.

Growing in Norrland and Ljusvattnet has both advantages and challenges. The long winter and cooler climate allow for a shorter but more intense growing season with fewer garden pests than in southern regions.

The bright summer nights, however, pose a challenge, as some vegetables flower too early, while others benefit from these conditions.

Harvesting broccoli may seem like a distant possibility now, but it will happen later this year.

The light sandy soil allows for quick drying in the spring, but it does require enriching the soil with compost and increased watering.

– But you can grow many more vegetables and flowers than you think, if you are a little inventive. The season can be extended in many ways, says Anne.

Balancing their conventional jobs with cultivation, Anne and Anders see it as a way of life, a constant presence in their thoughts. It encompasses how they grow, store, preserve, and ultimately use and consume their food throughout the year.

Thus, Norran's readers are now ready to embark on a vibrant, flavorful, and educational journey in "The Gardener's Annual Cycle" throughout 2024.

– We want to inspire and demonstrate how much can actually be cultivated on a small farm in Västerbotten, concludes Anne

Month's veggie: Carrot

Selecting the appropriate variety based on the climate is crucial to ensure timely harvesting. Bolero and White Satin are well-suited for Västerbotten, offering good storage capabilities and remaining edible until the following April. 

Sown directly in May and covered with permeable non-woven fabric, these varieties benefit from careful thinning and consistent irrigation, particularly for larger carrots. Does not require too much nutrition.

Labor intensive: 7 out of 10.
Usability: 9 out of 10.
Cultivation time short/long: 6 out of 10.

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