I thought I had it tough!

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” – Helen Keller

Like most gardeners I’m never really happy with the weather, a few sunny days and and we want rain or a bit of rain and we need sunshine. Of course, I’m in one of the wettest areas of the UK and 200 metres up a hill so maybe I do have it worse than some growers.

So it was with interest I watched a video about a lady with a market garden in Norway. Norway is a country of contrasts, the south actually has warm summers and in Oslo there are a lot of pavement cafés in summer. Not so many up in Trondheim.

Snow Norway Skigard Fencing

Where I stayed Nr. Roros, Norway in February – Note the green roof which is quite common in the area.

The north of the country is actually in the arctic circle – from top to bottom the country is just over 2,500 km (1500 miles) long. Compare that with the 874 miles between Land’s End and John O’Groats, almost double.

Market Gardening at 62º North

This market gardener grows vegetables outdoors 600 metres above sea level just 20 miles or so south of Trondheim at 62º North. That’s a similar latitude to the Faroe Islands – well north of John O’Groats and even the Shetlands.

She can usually rely on the snow being mainly gone by the end of June and staying away until Mid-September. Even then she gets frosts every month of the year. Imagine that, only able to grow for 3 months or so and then with the certainty of getting a frost. What’s more, she’s really cheerful!

She grows crops that you’d expect to have a chance in those conditions like beets, carrots and brassicas but how she manages to get courgettes and strawberries is beyond me. One of her main crops is salad leaves. Mizuna and baby lettuce leaves – incredible.

She doesn’t get problems with cabbage whites or carrot flies but it appears nowhere is safe from the dreaded slugs. She controls the slugs with ducks – but she has to keep them off the salads.

My Visit to Norway

I actually stayed with a friend near Roros in Norway which is at a similar latitude. It was February and very cold. One night it hit -30ºC (That’s -22º F) and my friend told me it had been as low as -40º which is the same in Fahrenheit or Celcius.

Farm Nr Roros Norway

Farm Nr Roros Norway in February

I remember asking him if he’d just planted some fir trees at the edge of his garden last year. He explained they were 10 years old – things grow slowly in that climate.

It’s quite a long video, about an hour, but I found it fascinating so maybe you will. I hope so.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
7 comments on “I thought I had it tough!
  1. Richard Wells says:

    How very interesting and what a delight she is too.

    • John Harrison says:

      I must admit that if I’d not seen it on a video I’d not have believed you could grow so much there. It’s lovely to see someone totally engaged and happy with their job.

  2. Alister Brooks says:

    What wonderful Video really enjoyed it and how delightful the young lady was. We in New Zealand have got it so easy compared to you.

  3. Peter says:

    Wow what amazing adventure. You have done very well to follow your dream & watch it Grow. I have just come back from the outer Hebrides which is all sheep farming for centuries & came across a guy a bit like your self. He started to grow vegetables. They said they would not grow but sure enough they are growing through hail & storm. So I wish you all the best. It’s good to grow your own & show the world you can do it.
    Best Regards
    Peter in Scotland

  4. Hetty says:

    Very interesting thankyou. It’s crazy that here in Scotland we have so much land, but seem to import so much of our veg. The apples have been falling off the trees this year, I hear that is also the case in England, yet, they are being imported from abroad and are ridiculously expensive to buy in the shops.

    Scotland has at least a semi temperate climate, we should be growing much more even further north. Small farms are better for the environment, and produce more food per acre than mega farms, that’s a fact.

    People need to take back their land because it is in the hands of the few, who stole it for their shooting estates, they are wrecking the eco system here in Scotland.

    There is a Scottish government initiative for people who want to start crofting, small holdings I guess. It’s something more people should know about.

    • John Harrison says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Hetty. I believe the main problem with industrial agriculture is that it makes sense economically because it gets a free pass for the environmental costs. As for land prices / ownership – perhaps a land tax would be in order rather than massive subsidies for the big farmers. One on a sliding scale, perhaps. Like £5 per hectare up to 20 ha, then £10 up to 100 ha and then £25 after that.. It’s complicated to solve these problems but we need to do so if we’re to have a future.

  5. lesley powles says:

    Loved seeing the video but need to see maybe a few times more!

    Woodchip does deter slugs, they don’t like rough surfaces or well rotted woodchip for composting.

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