Hawberry (Crataegus laevigata og Crataegus monogyna)

There are plenty of hawberries on the commons, in hedgerows and scrubs. This year I couldn’t resist to pick some of them. When I got home, I found a recipe for ketchup based on hawthorn on Jonathan Wallace’s blog Self-sufficient in Suburbia.

Since I always have to try things a little different than stated in the recipe, I ended up making ketchup from: Hawthorn, kombucha, sugar, red wine vinegar, salt, garlic, black pepper, paprika, chilli and tarragon.

Hawthorn Ketchup

The result was 4 glasses of hawberry ketchup. The taste is great, quite similar to tomato ketchup. This is the first time I’ve used hawberries. With this experience, I could not dream of growing tomatoes for ketchup. It is easier to go out on a nice day and pick the small berries, than it is to grow a similar number of tomatoes from seeds, taking care of them spring and summer.

The process is simple. Rinse the berries, cover them with half vinegar and half water (here I used kombucha and a little vinegar). Gently boil them 30 minutes and press them through a sieve. Kernels and stem residues remain in the sieve, out comes a beautiful red mass. The spices are added and the ketchup boiled again, then poured on scalded glasses. I immediately turn the glasses, to let the heat of the content pasteurize the lids.

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Watermelon Citrullus lanatus, my F1 hybrid (Sugar Baby x White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon).

Today we ate the first watermelon, 3kg.
It was sweet, but seeds were not all mature, so a few more days had perhaps made it even better. I also think the rind is very thick.
For me, watermelon ripeness is bit of a mystery. It does not smell aromatic, so there must be something else to look for.


On the clever internet, I have read that you should harvest watermelon when the tendril closest to the stalk wither. This seems to be the case.

Yellow spot

Elsewhere on the clever internet, I have read that the bright spot where the watermelon is resting on the ground, should change colour to yellow. This has happened, but exactly how yellow should the yellow be??

One should also be able to tap and listen. I did too, and this watermelon had a much deeper quiet sound than the obvious immature watermelons crisp bright tones. But for us who do not have absolute pitch, it’s a bit difficult.

Fresh watermelon seeds

The last method I haven’t seen on the internet. The seeds ought to be mature when the watermelon is ripe. It doesn’t seem to be the case here. Pity I couldn’t see the seeds before I harvested the watermelon.

It is easy to collect and clean the seeds. Spit them into a bowl when eating the watermelon. Afterwards, rinse them in clean water, so they’re ready to dry in a thin layer on a plate.

Will the seeds germinate next year? I believe in the darkest of the seeds will, but the lighter are probably not mature enough. I have to wait and see.

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Melon (Cucumis melo) Farthest North Melon Mix

For a while I have seen the delicate yellow male flowers in the melon bed. Today I spotted two tiny melons. Withered female flowers still attached. The dense hair is very good protection at night, when snails and slugs creep close by.

A few melon plants grow very strongly, outranking the squash sown same date. Others are still small plants. This year I sowed directly on 5th of June. It has obviously been good for the most vigorous melon plants.

Melon bed with Farthest North Melon Mix

One and a half month ago the melons germinated in cold weather, hails lying around

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Dead graft

In the spring I grafted an exiting wild apple on my old apple tree. Unfortunately the grafting has died, although it seemed to grow callus and connect in early summer. Did I store the twigs for grafting under bad conditions? Did I do a technically lousy grafting? Did some happy little bird clean its beak and break the graft? I don’t know, and it shall not keep me from grafting some other time. It’s funny, and does a grafting take on it’s great.

I’ve been told, that some professionals now have grafted this wild apple, to learn if it deserves to be grown in plantations or gardens. If it is a healthy tree, I’m sure we will get access to it for our gardens, at least from some of the specialised nurseries.

Garden with a view

I revisited Merete and Ejners garden. First visit was in spring, this second visit was after the first frost. The garden is situated in a village, with a view over field and wood.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

The huge sage with the wrinkled stems made me think of
the oldest oak in Denmark. Age is an important dimension in our garden plants. Never saw a more beautiful sage.

Kirsten and Merete deeply engaged in garden talk

People fond of gardening always talk a lot, when we meet in a garden. It still surprises me, how different we people can grow our gardens. Even with same plants in same climate. We ate us through the different fruit trees; cooking apples, table apples, pears, prunes, filberts and grapes.

Old grape wine growing in the apple trees

A very old grape wine has conquered the tops of some of the apple trees. In old days there was a greenhouse around it, but since it perished, the grape wine has continued to grow with no protection. Could it be the old variety Frankenthaler?

Leaf chicory

There still is a lot of vegetables in the garden. The leaf chicory was served for lunch – mmm…. We also had leek and a mayonnaise spiced with ‘Susan Delafield’ garlic.
Thanks for a nice day.

Two grafting twigs from a selfseeded appletree in Pillemark on island Samsø

Late this winter I was presented with two twigs from a selfseeded appletree. I rolled them in newspaper and buried them in them shadow untill needed in april. The twigs are far from ideal grafting twigs, but if everything in life has to be perfect, we’ll miss the small secrets of life.

I’ve tried to graft on an old cooking appletree. If I succeed I’ll let you know. My grafting technique is even less perfect than the grafting twigs. However apples are supposed to be very easy to graft – I might have luck.

The selfseeded apple from Pillemark on island Samsø

We have a huge variety of delicous apples in Denmark, and most of them are available if you search them on the internet. Blomstergården offers a lot of the old apples (in danish).
The apple from Pillemark is still interesting, as it is tastefull, probably healthy (being a child of Filippa) and it has a unique shape. We are a few who are grafting this apple – hopefully at least one will be succesfull.

My toolbox for the purpose: Household wrapping, alcohol, rags and bast

Recipes are inspiring, but I never follow them exactly. This time I also didn’t do as supposed to, but I was still very inspired from the grafting course I attended this winter. Basicly it’s an operation on living tissue. Cleanlyness is an issue. With rags and alcohol I wiped clean the twigs, the tree and the hobbyknife (No expensive grafting knife for this little grafting). I cut small pieces of the twig where I could find the most promising buds, taking care not to pollute the wounds by touching them with my dirty fingers. I placed them in T-cuts in the old tree.

Grafting twig placed in a T-cut

At this point I was supposed to use a special wax, hot or cold. I wrapped the wounds in household wrap instead, tying it in with bast. It was an incredibly easy solution, hope it also will do the job. At this point I thought of the curious birds. They would probably tear the twigs, so I decided to hide them in milkywhite plastic, allowing some light to the buds. Now I just have to wait, keeping mysalf away form the twigs for the next three or four weeks. Then I hope to find callus, as a sign of healing and junction in progress.

Three grafts protected under white plastic

Melon, fig and sour cherries

After enjoying a lot of melons we need a little variation. The figs could also do with a new touch. Inspired by the newly aquired “Melons for the passionate grower” by Amy Goldman, I made this combination – half a melon with porto in the seed cave, surrounded by fresh figs and sour cherries in their syrup, mmm…

Guess I never mentioned our sour cherry tree, a clone named Vicky. It’s from the area of Stevns, where sour cherries has been a traditional crop for centuries. Trees would renew, both by seed and suckers – the whole area being a diverse genepool. Every now and then professional growers will find a new clone they propagate for their plantations and for homegardeners.


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