An update from Sara!
A lot has happened since I last updated! Read more about what's new in my life and garden here. I hope you want to keep following my gardening journey!
Hello gardening friends around the world! How are you all doing? It's been a while since I wrote something new, and I know you might be curious about how I'm doing and what's been happening in my gardening life. Better late than never, here's a little update!
For any new readers, I might as well catch you up on who I am. My name is Sara Bäckmo, a vegetable grower and garden influencer in southern Sweden. I've been growing my kitchen garden at home at Skillnaden's since 2011 and I have been writing about gardening for almost as long! I deeply enjoy sharing the gardening life with like-minded people, especially since most of us garden alone, and not together with others. My gardening is the foundation of my professional life, but it has also brought me many new friends and contacts.
My English channels have been a bit quiet lately. I needed to make changes to my work routine in the fall of 2021, when I took on a big project. At that time, I couldn't manage content in both Swedish and English. But that will change soon! And the blog with live on with new name to really incorporate all the new aspects of my life: Sara at Skillnaden's. Read more about how this came about further below. Now, lets get into some of the things I've been up to lately:
My family and I live in Småland in southern Sweden, in our large red house in the countryside. I'm married to Philip, a psychotherapist and author, and together we have four children. They've grown so much! The eldest son is fifteen and has both a moped and a mustache. The middle children are 13 and 11 years old, and the youngest is 7.
We've added a new member to the family – a furry four-legged one. Captain Dunder is our latest Newfoundland dog, a black and white one. He's 1.5 years old and weighs 72 kilograms. We still have our loyal Captain Kuling, a black Newfoundland dog who is 8.5 years old. Add three cats and two guinea pigs to the mix, and we have our hands full!
I work mostly part-time (just like my husband) to be able to be at home with the children and do more of the things that we want spend our time on. Such as cooking good food, sleeping in when needed, growing vegetables, reading, walking the dogs, and taking care of our children.
Taking on a flower farm and nursery!
This has been my biggest professional project so far – taking over the local flower farm and nursery in January of 2022! From working solely online in my company, I became the owner of a beautiful, traditional, and meaningful little nursery in our village. It's now called Skillnaden's Flower Farm and Nursery. At Skillnaden's, we grow plants for vegetables and flowers to sell, we have a cut flower garden with U-pick, we grow plenty of alliums and bulbs, and create flower arrangements for funerals and weddings. Most importantly, Skillnaden's has become a wonderful place to meet garden enthusiasts that want to learn more and meet others with similar interests. And since this wonderful place has become such a big part of my life, the blog Sara's Kitchen Garden will be called Sara at Skillnaden's to reflect the change! A lot of the new content I'm sharing on my blog and social media will be created here at Skillnaden's. I hope you will enjoy the change!
One of the greenhouses at Skillnaden's flower farm and nursery. Photo: Anna Broette.
Working at Skillnaden's flower farm and nursery has taken an incredible amount of time because there's so much to learn and a lot of physical work to be done. I do however have three amazing colleagues who help me out. We look forward to developing the flower farm and nursery so that we can sustainably run the company in the future!
Plenty of visitors came to the flower farm and nursery this summer. Photo: Anna Broette
Skillnaden's flower farm and nursery seen from above.
Online plant shop
As I started to work with Skillnaden's, I realized that we needed to find new ways to sell plants and garden-related products online. So this year, we have come a long way figuring out how we can move some of our products to the web shop. It's really exciting! And also a significant challenge. Fortunately, I have the best followers who cheer me on and help me come up with new ideas. Right now, we're mainly focusing on growing starter plants that the customers can continue to grow at home.
Beautiful flowers from Skillnaden's flower farm and nursery. Photo: Anna Broette
In full bloom! Photo: Anna Broette
Creating New Products
Since I have been growing my garden for many years now, I've come up with so many ideas for new products that I have so far missed in my gardening life. In recent years, I have actually been able to realize a dream project of mine - creating a bag that I can use in my garden. The result? The Garden Tool Belt SARA! I have been wanting a good bag that I can carry in several different ways (depending on what I'm doing that day), but I never managed to find the right product for me. So, I created it instead! This project has required me to learn many new things and collaborate with others in a completely new way. As of this week, all of my readers from the US and the EU can actually order my bag!
On the theme of creating new things, I've also had the opportunity to create a concept garden, in the summer home of non other than the king of Sweden! It was probably the most exciting project of the summer. So many people came to see it, and it was so much fun! I hope that our guests got some new ideas for their gardens, or even got inspired to start growing their own food at home.
The garden tool belt has three pockets plus a phone holder. Photo: Maria Fors Östberg
It comes in several different colors! Photo: Maria Fors Östberg
Growing vegetables at home
But are you still growing something at home, you might wonder? Of course I do! My garden is my oasis, and I never seem to get tired of it. Right now, I'm growing the kitchen garden at home, with 350 square meters of outdoor beds and (currently) three greenhouses. A few years ago, I built a new greenhouse from old windows, perhaps you haven't seen it before? I love the way it looks, but it's actually a bit difficult to grow in due to the poor light and the cold.
I still grow my garden with the goal of being self-sufficient in vegetables, but I had to set less ambitious goals these past two seasons since I took over the flower farm and nursery. It feels like the most reasonable thing to do. Last summer, there were weeds everywhere in my kitchen garden, and I'm currently trying to reclaim some space where I can grow as much as possible next season instead.
Fortunately, I also have my cottage with a small garden – Oak Hill Cottage Garden that I have talked about before on this blog. This little cottage is located on a hill almost exactly between our home and the flower farm and nursery, just three kilometers (less than two miles) away. It's so convenient to go there and grow too. I use the cottage as my office at least one night each week, and of course do some gardening while I'm at it. It's so nice to do some work in the house and take a small break from my busy family life too, just a short distance from home.
Growing vegetables always puts a smile on my face! Photo: Ida Sjöö
Renovating my houses
Now that the children are a bit older than before, I've been able to immerse myself in some renovation projects and truly enjoy it. My Swedish readers have been incredibly interested to know more about my renovating and building adventures, perhaps you would be too? I've saved pictures and writings that I'm happy to share with those of you who are interested, maybe on Instagram? Primarily, I'm renovating the kitchen in my small cottage, but I'm also finishing the bedroom at home. I've even created a new sewing room for myself and built both furniture and things for the garden. It's not entirely clear how I've had the time...
Knitting, Crocheting, Sewing
A final thing that I'd like to mention in this post is that I've picked up an incredibly important thread in my life. Ever since childhood, I've been creative with with yarn, thread, fabric, wool, and other materials. When the children were small, I did knit and sew because it was practical to be able to make my own clothes for them, but this craft wasn't always as enjoyable as I would like. But things are different now! Lately, I've been able to sew lots of new clothes and textiles for my houses. I knit and crochet and create in a different way than when the children were small and I really enjoy it. A fun detail is that my daughter (11 years old) shares the same interest. Some days, we set up our sewing machines on the kitchen table, eat cookies, listen to music, and just sew. So lovely!
I was thinking of sharing the pattern for the arm warmers above with my English-speaking readers. Would you be interested in that?
Well, that's a little update on what has happened since last time we talked. Most things are the same, with some big differences. I'm so happy and grateful that I've been able to create an everyday life that has room for creativity, with plenty of time and just enough energy. I'm doing well and enjoying life!
Now that my new work life routines are starting to become clearer, I look forward to taking you all along my journey going forward – in English again. I hope you're looking forward to it! If you want to, feel free to occasionally check my Swedish channels if you're curious about what I'm doing during the days; many of them have good translation features after all.
Thank you for reading and following me!
All the best,
Sara at Skillnaden's19. December 2023