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Sunday
Jul272014

Royal charm in Eastern Germany.

Part of what I am trying to do here is to make people aware that there are, in fact, very pretty places in Eastern Germany, and particularly in Brandenburg. (Why would people think that this isn´t the case? Read this post.) I am the first one to admit that there´s still lots to do in terms of decent restaurants, and capable doctors, and HIGH SPEED INTERNET, but the landscape? Pretty spectacular. You totally should plan a holiday there! And maybe stay in this lovely little castle that now is a hotel. 

We came across this place by accident when we did a little sightseeing tour with my mom who was visiting the other weekend. It was blazing hot this day so we just had some refreshments in the castle´s cafe and then explored the huge park a bit. It´s very beautiful there. 

There´s even a fancy little pavilion that overlooks the pond. You could totally pretend to be in some Downton Abbey scene. 

The castle is part of a very pretty little village, complete with a restaurant that actually looked good! 

God, it was hot that day. Still is, actually. How is the weather where you are? I have to say I am looking forward to autumn. I might be a little sick of the heat and the mosquitoes. 

PS: This post hasn´t been sponsored by any tourist agency and/or the hotel. I am just happy to come across beautiful places and want to share them.

Tuesday
Jul222014

In the heat of the summer.

It´s really hot around here. It´s good news for the farmers I guess who have been harvesting the grain from the surrounding fields all weekend long. I will admit that even in the third year here, these huge harvesting machines do scare me. Once all is done though, it´s a very pretty sight. 

Ludwig does not like the heat but he loves runnnig over the empty fields. Also look how beautiful and grown-up my dog looks. 

On hot days like these I am grateful that this old house with its massive walls keeps so cool. Those old farmers certainly knew what they were doing. 

I´ve been eating a lot of what I call my "hippie lunches". Which means that I take whatever looks good in the kitchen garden and prepare it in the simplest way possible: Grate carrots, add lemon juice and olive oil, eat. Fry huge pieces of chard, add an egg, eat. The tomatoes are almost ripe now so I foresee a lot of tomato salad in my future.

The garden isn´t taking the heat well. A week of storms and now such extreme temperatures - it´s not a great recipe for a good looking garden. Lots of perennials which were about to bloom two weeks ago just gave up I think. I´ve been fretting over this a lot but only today I decided to just calm down and enjoy these rare hot summer days. The garden will recover or not. It is what it is, always.

And look, how pretty, the rudbeckia is blooming. I´m annoyed by this plant for most of the season so it is a joy to see everything looking good for once in front of the house. - Stay cool, wherever you are!  

Thursday
Jul172014

The kitchen garden, July edition.

The kitchen garden has really started to produce over the past few weeks. We´ve been swimming in sugar snaps, salads, radishes, cucumbers and carrots. The beets are almost ready too. The zucchini are a little disappointing, but I have a feeling we´ll get there eventually. I´ll harvest the first batch of green beans and kohlrabi this weekend. 

The tomatoes are doing very well. I´ve grown two Ukrainian varieties this year since they are supposed to fare better in our climate that can be rough. So far, things are looking promising.

The cabbage bed is a beauty. As every year, there definitely are some damages from the cabbage fly, but I think there´ll be plenty for the two of us. We are going to eat lots of sauerkraut this winter! 

Hard to photograph but this year´s chard is a beauty too. I tried a colorful variety this year (red and yellow) and it looks so pretty. Tastes good as well of course. After last year´s glut I thought I could never eat chard again but clearly I was wrong. 

Our giant potatoe patch with some runner beans in the background. Last year all of our potatoes drowned and it is a joy to see them thrive this year. Now we only need to figure out storage. Our basement is too wet, so I think I´ll give our barn a try this year. Any recommendations? 

Monday
Jul142014

About the quiet country life. 

There seems to be an understanding that living in the country equals a "quiet life". Whenever I read that somewhere, I have a little laugh. I guess this is true in the most literal sense - it is very quiet here (except on Fridays, when everyone is mowing their lawn). Otherwise, please define "quiet".

Here´s the thing: Living in the country usually involves quite a bit of land and if not big, then at least old houses. And if you care about your house and your garden, you work a lot. Like a LOT. And I am not even talking about wallpapering every inch of your house or creating a pretty flower garden. I am talking about basic maintenance.

Whenever I look on my Instagram feed on the weekends, I think "God these people don´t seem to have anything to do all day". I know Instagram is always deceiving because after all, these are only snapshots of our lives. For all you know by looking at my feed, I am sitting on my deck all day admiring my garden, dog or cats. Not so. Even on the weekends (especially on the weekends), I get up at 6.30 am and work all day long. If there´s a nap involved I call it a good day. 

A garden doesn´t tend to itself. And to be honest, gardening isn´t even fun most of the time. I am usually drenched in sweat and covered in mosquito bites after a few hours. It often feels like an uphill battle, because nature is a fickle thing. One day your garden looks fine and then a storm comes and everything is in pieces and then you have a little cry and spend a whole weekend frantically cleaning everything up (this might just have happened to me). 

I am not writing this so that you can pat my back or anything. It´s just something that has been on my mind a lot lately. All these magazines make living in the country look so romantic and effortless. And lately it struck me that I probably do the same. And I don´t want that. 

HOWEVER. It may not be as "quiet" as it looks, but it is a good life. I wouldn´t have it any other way. Tending to a garden is one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced. But it´s hard. And humbling. I wish everyone would volunteer to work in a vegetable garden for a day in his/her life. I bet people would appreciate their food a lot more. Speaking of vegetables, I´ll post an update on the kitchen garden later this week...

PS: Anyone know what the blue flowers in the last pictures are? The appear in one of my beds every year and are so very pretty.

Monday
Jul072014

The walled garden in its third year. 

I don´t really want to blow my own trumpet, but I do think the walled garden looks pretty good these days. Most of the plants are just beginning to bloom and the beds are getting more colorful every day.

I´ve read somewhere that with perennial beds, one has to wait three years until all the plants are mature and the garden is beginning to take its final shape. So here we are in year three, and I very much like what I see. Take a look for yourself:

Do you like it too? If so, cross your fingers for the next few days - the weather forecast is looking wild for our neck of the woods... storms galore. Please don´t destroy my little garden, weather gods!