Monday, 25 July 2011

Gardening and Permaculture in ICELAND

Permaculture is in fact possible in Iceland, a polar climate.

I first moved here last year, and did grow two small gardens in Reykjavík, which is by the coast, and with a ever cool and often rainy climate. One garden was successful with carrots and radish (carrots grow very well in the cool polar summer) although potatoes were very small. Another garden was cultivated with herbs and diverse vegetables. After the harsh polar winter, I was surprised to visit the area again and found out that some plants were alive and nicely growing again! These were mints, chives, rhuibarb (a almost native vegetable in Iceland), and even some celery plants!

This year, I moved to Sólheimar ecovillage, which is located in southwest Iceland, with a milder polar climate: summer are short, cool but generally fair, the winters have much snow. I am growing both indoors, a south facing conservatory, and outdoors, in a southwest facing exposed location and a northeast sheltered location.

Indoors I grow the seedlings, dwarf varieties of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, a ginger plant, swiss chard, rucula and diverse herbs (spring onions, thyme, salvia, lemon balm, hyssop, savory, oregano, marjoram and basil). I also grew some zuchinni and cucumbers but even with big pots, these did not crop good.

Outdoors, I grow several beds: one with onions, carrots and beets; another with celery, fennel, broccoli and chicory, another with turnip and other greens, and another bed with a beautiful combination (companion planting) of swiss chard, beets and kohl rabi (below).

I found very difficult to grow the brassicas, radish, lettuce, fennel and spinach, because the 24 hour daylight, often induced their bolting. Initially the peas were also not growing well. However, they are now cropping good, as the weather is warmer. What is growing perfect are the carrots, celery, beets, kohl rabi, swiss chard and onions. Below is the bed with beets, carrots and onions.

The most beautiful is two beds with wildflowers to attract wildlife such as bees and butterflies and provide plenty of color. Some examples of the flowers include cornflower, anemona, buttercups, tagetes, scabious, love in the mist, and poppies.

In the shadowy northeast location, I am growing some beds with oriental brassicas, which are faring better (but recently have started bolting too - picture below), and the naturalized Icelandic vegetables, lovage and rhubarb, which are grow easily and very well.

The potatoes there are growing better too, I think it's because the soil is better and the location more sheltered from the cool dry winds. I also made an edge with some shrubs, berries, potentilla and other flowers. Unfortunately, there were some Jerusalem artichokes but these were accidentally cut by a neighbor mowing. More picture to follow soon.

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1 comment:

  1. HELLO :) I am looking to meet other permaculture folks in Iceland and do something here together,!! my contact info is and phone number (354) 865 2694, please be in touch xx Anya