At home with: Elin Unnes

At home with: Elin Unnes

Elin Unnes is the journalist who left her job as editor-in-chief of the cool magazine Vice to devote more time to farming. Now she is completely addicted.


• Age: 32 years.

• Family: MAN.

Bor: Apartment in Stockholm's inner city.

• Make: Is a freelance journalist. Writes mostly about music but also five organic garden tips a month on the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation's website. Have the blog One year with the lottery at


When I lined up ... to the allotment I was not at all interested in cultivation. But while I was waiting, I went to the library and the librarian dropped a book Lena Israelsson in the hand of me. I was completely taken by how she describes plants in a way that makes them so alive. This is how I try to write when I write about music.

I feel so cool ... and powerful and at the same time so vulnerable when I grow. Through it I have learned how dependent on nature I am and at the same time that I can make nature do as I want. I have also realized how fragile the world is, how easily even crops are destroyed if it rains heavily

in a week.

Cultivation is addictive ... I can not live without my cultivation pyramid that I have at home where I grow my plants. I bought it on the internet and thought "2,000 kronor - as found". When I have sown in it, I go there several times a day to see if anything has grown.

My dream is ... to become self-sufficient. I have a picture of myself as an old woman who has dried, frozen and pickled vegetables throughout the apartment and the money in the mattress. I want to feel independent. There is so much knowledge about cultivation that has been lost and that we should now take back.

I am inspired by ... Ruth Stout as written The Ruth Stout no-work garden book. She managed to live a year eating only vegetables from her own garden. But then she also ate mostly raw yellow onions in December. The TV show River Cottage and the book Edible estates by Fritz Haeg, who turns lawns into kitchen gardens, are also cool.

In my vegetable garden ... is the favorite combination densely grown black cabbage ‘Nero Di Toscana’ med chard ‘Bright Lights’ and some marigolds, so fucking nice! Stewed black cabbage and black cabbage soup are so delicious!

In the evenings... I lie and read Runåbergs seed catalog. I love their cultivar descriptions. Now I have a stop buying seeds. I have already bought about 50 vegetable seeds and as many flowers, even though I actually think that flowers are astonishing, apart from those that are medicinal plants.

I do not like...

that many garden bloggers reduce grows to decoration. I drown in all the lace curtains, flower arrangements and braided hearts of moss and apples. It's so puttinuttigt. To me, plants are something powerful and cultivation something quite brutal.

Elin Une's best garden tips - "Do nice things closest to the house, and shit in the rest!"

Elin Unnes is the rock writer who changed to a grower. She has previously worked as editor-in-chief at Vice and Rodeo, written about popular culture in large and small for both SvD and DN - but after she got a allotment, a new interest was born. Her interest in gardening became an obsession, she became an acclaimed blog (The secret gardener) and has now released three books on cultivation and gardening. In March, she released In the company of immortal growers - and in the next issue of Residence she shares her best garden tips. We are already sharing Elin Une's tips - for you who want a garden as wild as a messy rock song!

On May 2, you can listen to Elin Unne's lecture "Bohemian gardens - immortal growers" at Medborgarskolan in Stockholm, read more here.

What does your "garden summer" look like? Do you have any special projects or dreams for this summer?

»Terraces, terraces, terraces! I built a 70 square meter, terraced vegetable land last summer, and want to double it this summer. It's like pallet collar cultivation, elevated by two, plus a lot of new challenges. As each terrace is raised, the soil becomes super fluffy, and warms up yet earlier in the spring, thanks to the sloping south facing position. The slope also allows me to use the natural pressure created in the rain barrels at the top to create a drip irrigation system. At the same time, I have to figure out how to solve problems with the highest terrace drying, while the lowest one is submerged. It's like math, engineering and cultivation, at the same time. «

What is your best tip for increasing the well-being factor in the garden?

No one carried land in the country. It is called cover cultivation, and if you have never seen it before, it takes about two weeks to get used to it. After that, everything but cover crops looks completely buttoned up and naked. You can cover everything, including ornamental plants, shrubs and trees. In Paris, all parks are covered. In the winter, everyone leaves their Christmas trees in the nearest park, and then the municipality chips up the Christmas trees and spreads the spruce chips in the flower beds. It smells like Christmas right into March. Cover cultivation not only makes the cultivation look more embedded and cozy, it reduces the need for water and manure, and makes worms and microorganisms thrive. And the more animals in the garden, the higher the well-being factor, even if they are underground! «

Photograph from Elin Unne's allotment, photographed by Calle Stoltz.

How and why did you become a gardener?

»I have been interested in the environment and nature all my life, but since farming was part of my homework when I was little, I never thought it could be something you did voluntarily. But sometime before I turned 30, a friend took me to the most decadent allotment lot I've ever seen, and I decided to get my own lot. Has been more or less obsessed with cultivation since then. «

Rainbow corn from Elin's latest book, photographed by Thomas Klementsson.

Do you have any tips on a little unknown vegetable or flower that is fun to grow?

»Perennial rocket! Not at all unusual really, but it's like arugula with superpowers. Everyone says that arugula is so easy to grow, but it never worked for me - there were two small fessy leaves, then a long flower stalk and then that super annoying yellow flower that signals that everything is gone. One year I tested perennial arugula and it works! The first year you sow in the same way as arugula. The following year it comes back by itself, at the same time as the nettles approximately, and if you harvest all summer, it does not bloom. Then it goes on like this, year after year, without having to do anything! «

Isn't it a lot of work with a garden? How do you increase the glorious and reduce the hard?

"This is actually something we have to stop with, completely. I do not mean to blame people who think that gardening is difficult, but it is COMPLETELY unnecessary. Nature has taken care of this since the beginning of time, so if you drop the ball a month during a summer, nothing bad will happen. On the contrary. Stressed growers often make such sickly bad decisions: I have seen old apple trees cut in half, and wonderfully wild ivy that has been torn down and exposed some poor embarrassed old stone wall. If you need to rationalize, think like this: for every uncleaned, unfixed square meter in the garden, biodiversity increases. Do nicely closest to the house, closest to the door, right where you sit and have coffee, and shit for the rest for so long. «

How do you decorate your garden?

»Quite random. I'm lucky to know those who design the Massproductions brand, and they have explained to me that their black Ten chairs and tables will look elegant and dramatic in my wild garden. And then I have parents-in-law from Öland who pick up sheep traps from there a little now and then. And since I grow near Södertälje harbor, it's easy to get hold of reconditioned oil drums that I light fires in. A bit like that. «

Have you planned any new purchases this season?

»An electric lawn mower. Last year I lived as I learned and completely ignored mowing the grass in my new, 2000 square meter garden. At the end of the year, the tick invasion was so total that I thought about getting an anti-tick necklace like that for my husband. It was also a bit stressful to pulse through the grass because a very nice adder lives in our crawl space. On sunny days she lies and roasts on a rock, but when it is overcast you never really know where she is «.

The herbarium

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"Worth reading is just the first name."
All about Garden

"What a wonderfully interesting and instructive book."
Plaza Interior

Becoming interested in growing vegetables is like ending up with your ass in a dustbin, treacherously easy to sink into and completely impossible to get out of. Becoming interested in herbal growing and wild plants is much more labyrinthine. Some plants can be swallowed, others are useful in moderation and a few can cure a sick heart or stop a healthy one, with only a few milligrams difference.

The Herbarium is a science fiction book and cultivation manual about medicinal plants from cress and sage to powdery mildew and wormwood. A book that explains both how to extract hydrolate from lavender flowers, how to make your own absinthe, and whether plants can see, hear and read your thoughts.

A bunch of pressed favorite plants and all the infusions, macerations and spirit tinctures that make their magic available to humans. Because as most herbalists already know: One's medicine is the other's cocktail.

Elin Unnes is the rock journalist who started living a secret double life as a grower. She has been the editor of magazines such as Darling, Vice and Rodeo, and writes regularly about music for Dagens Nyheter. Nowadays she also writes for Allt om Trädgård. She has previously written the book The Secret Gardener (2014), which was named Swedish Meal Literature of the Year in the Kitchen Garden Literature category and was described as The most interesting and instructive book I have read this year by Jan Gradvall in Dagens Industri.

Photographers are Valdemar Asp and Lina Scheynius, designers are Stefan Fält.

"Elin Unnes is back. Hooray!"
All about Garden

"A fascinating scientific storybook and cultivation manual for medicinal plants such as watercress, sage and wormwood."

"With an entertaining language swirling like a bumblebee drunk on powdery mildew, Unnes pollinates the book with science and non-science, magic and folklore, curiosities and her own cultivation experiences of good and evil. The result is a charming tincture with potentially deadly bitterness for anyone interested in the links between plants, medical history and magic. "

"What a wonderfully interesting and instructive book."
Plaza Interior

"The new book The Herbarium: Plants for Food, Magic and Medicine by Elin Unnes is described as a combined science fiction book and cultivation manual."

"The author and grower Elin Unnes is the woman who can talk to plants!"
The ladies World

". the magically beautiful cultivation book The Herbarium."
Books & Dreams

"The photos of plants exposed to electricity are absolutely magical."

"When Elin Unnes writes about plants and herbs, it is much more exciting than when others write about clubs and adventures. Two years ago, Elin Unnes released her already classic cultivation book, The secret gardener. Now comes the sequel Herbariet."
Jan Gradvall, DI Weekend

"Do not miss this one!"

"To-do list: Read Elin Une's fantastic book The Herbarium."
Borås Tidning

"I loved Elin's previous book The secret gardener and her quote flowers are quirky, here we are devoted to vegetables. After discovering that most flowers are also edible, that there is a whole plant world out there that can close wounds, stop your heart and open your third eye. A little science, a lot of housewife tips and a great dose of magic! "
Malin Persson, Elle Decoration

"The book is full of humor and a lot of aha and huh? Experiences."

"After the successful book The Secret Gardener, rock journalist and grower Elin Unnes has plunged headfirst into plant magic. This is about potted plants talking to each other and with us, about wise old women and evil doctors. In between, you get recipes for both quince jam and rose vodka. And on a rinse aid for those who want to stop using hair shampoo. "
Eskiltsuna Kuriren

The secret gardener: stupid tips for old growers

This year's Swedish Meal Literature 2014 in the category Kitchen Garden Literature.

"The most interesting and instructive book I have read this year."
Jan Gradvall

"Quickly written and with wonderful pictures of Calle Stoltz - a must for passion growers!"
Imke Janoschek, Residence

"Ever since I joined a (large) garden, I have been looking for good books on cultivation. But everyone is so boring. Except Elin Unnes, who feels more like a beautifully worded novel."
Jenny Petersson, Helsingborgs Dagblad

We new-age growers are kind, stubborn, skeptical, curious and do not care so much about what others think. We grow to eat and to feel independent, but also to make vegetables fascinating and beautiful, and to draw rock-hard boundaries between the beautiful and the functional is uninteresting because most flowers are sweet and also have medicinal properties.

Once you have become interested in cultivation, which occurs, without exception, the first time a seed you have planted in the soil grows, there is no return, where you are stuck.

But what happens next? What problems does an urban grower face who is fascinated by self-sufficiency? How is the crop best preserved and how do the vegetables taste best? Is it really possible to pick fresh rhubarb in the middle of winter? And why should one never germinate flaxseed?

With the help of the four ancient techniques of drying, acidifying, pickling and pickling in spirits, the path goes from the most efficient cultivation and tips on the most nutritious vegetable varieties to the very best food and cures for both hay fever and bed bugs.

Elin Unnes is the rock journalist who started living a secret double life as a vegetable grower. She has been the editor of magazines such as Darling, Vice and Bon, and writes regularly for music for Dagens Nyheter. When she got a allotment just outside Stockholm, she became interested in a wild cultivation interest and started blogging under the pseudonym The Secret Gardener. Nowadays she writes for Allt om Trâdgеrd and sees a super-early potato harvest as one of her greatest achievements.

Elin's blog The Secret Gardener can be found here.

Stefan Fдlt is a designer.

"With a sharp pencil, not too common in garden books, and fanatical enthusiasm, Elin makes this book something really special! Humor, passion, knowledge, tips, beautiful pictures"
Elle Decoration

"Fun, interesting, fun and with an incredibly nice photo."
Garden life

"The book is stylish, entertaining to read and bursting with tips for those who want to grow vegetables in the city."
Monika Stеlberg, Beautiful Home

"Very enthusiastic. Nice, and maybe a little provocative pictures. But a relief from all the cute and cool garden books."
Eva Johansson, Vдsterviks-Tidningen

"In The Secret Gardener, Elin Unne writes thrillingly about the grower's worries and joys from spring to winter."
Lina Wallentinson, Buffet

"I've never been interested in growing before, but after reading The Secret Gardener, I suddenly start glancing at our patio and wondering what would work there to grow in pots. Elin's book gives perspective and sets thoughts in motion."
Jan Gradvall, DI Weekend

"Here you get the best tips and tricks."
Caroline Swartling, Gеrd & Torp

"Through a high-dose cultivation fanaticism, she has acquired a great deal of knowledge, which she now generously shares in the beautiful newly released book The secret gardener. Here one knows that life is too short to spend the winter gnawing on a yellow onion, and that one can therefore forget to become self-sufficient in self-cultivation, but, one can come a long way in

Smells good

The book also tells the story of the perfume and it is full of fun recipes. Did you know, for example, that elderberries can be used to make everything from body oils and cleansing milk to syrups and potpourri?

- It is comical that I have written this book. I who long claimed that "vegetables are cool - flowers are quirky", says Elin.

Elin Unnes grows all kinds of herbs in her garden. Photo: Jessica Gow

At the beginning of her farming career, she was entirely practically oriented, high on the idea of ​​becoming self-sufficient. Only useful crops bothered.

- But pretty quickly I realized that it's damn tricky to fix your own olive oil, your own coffee and saffron in our climate. And at the same time I discovered what sensuality and world wider it is with fragrance and beauty.

Thus, the flowers were also welcomed into her garden, which she herself describes as follows: “it is not the garden that provides sustenance or food for the day. Without the one who gets the idea of ​​dizziness (…) where reality suddenly seems so much bigger than what the eyes can convey. It is also a garden you cannot defend yourself against, for the only way to remain blind to it would be to stop breathing. ”

Book formats

Typically one cheap edition of a book. Hard back, less good paper and print quality.

The binding is important for quality and durability. Hardcover and booklet books are of GOOD QUALITY, while hardback and paperback are CHEAPER EDITIONS.

In the world of farming, there are some of the craziest, funniest, wildest and most inspiring crazy pans you will ever meet. The world's most visionary gardeners are everything from aristocrats and dethroned princesses to lawbreakers and hermits in caves. I like to think of them as kids in a schoolyard, different small gangs that from time to time merge and then split up again. Sometimes quarrels arise, but really they all have the same goal: to grow and cultivate, together, in parallel, with the world and nature around them.

The Growers is a personal story about some of the world's most bohemian, outstanding growers and their lives. A kind of secret story, which can only be seen from the outside, in retrospect, but also an odyssey through vegetable land and flower beds, a collection of all the knowledge that the world's most outstanding gardener has to teach us: grow beach cabbage like Derek Jarman and squash like Masanobu Fukuoka, create garden rooms like the White Sackville-West and bind bouquets like the Constance Spry.

It is both a kind of anthology of the poetic wonders that man and nature can accomplish together and a concrete cultivation book: a kind of best of garden with tips and knowledge taken from growers in the bohemian elite.

Elin Unnes is a music and garden journalist. She has been the editor of Darling, Vice, Bon and Rodeo, and writes regularly for Dagens Nyheter and Allt om Trädgård. She has previously written the highly acclaimed books The Secret Gardener (2014) and the sequel Herbariet (2016).

Grönsakslandet Sveriges Radio

Bella Linde and Elin Unnes talk about the passion for cultivation, about why it is necessary to cultivate and how you can get most of what you need in a vegetable way on a completely normal residential plot. Producer is Estrid Bengtsdotter. Responsible publisher: Ulf Reneland

End of season in the plot

It is now, like this at the end of the growing year, that Elin hectically wants to put all the seeds that just go (or maybe go) to avoid longing for so long.

A rhubarb tuber overwintered in a pot indoors can offer chlorophyll, albeit in a limited amount already shortly after the spring winter. Because apart from that, we dedicate ourselves to singing the praises of the cabbage. And think of all that is left to do.

When it feels like it's starting to run out

Bella and Elin have a bit of mixed feelings about the fact that the growing summer of 2015 will soon be over.

On the one hand, it is that problem with where and how to store everything you have harvested and seeds that are taken care of. If you now have something left. An alternative is to share. Another to just ignore everything, take a taxi to the tavern and finally relax.

Yes, now harvest harvest prevails at least. The salary for all the effort and cultivation. But if you do not want to be lazy, there are of course some labor-intensive investments to be made for the coming years.

For example, prune shrubs and trees. Bella gives tips on how and Elin has tricks on how to get them to reproduce.

So far, the summer may not have turned out quite as planned, but should there still be something to harvest? What grows at Bella's home and how has the growing season gone so far?

Elin greets Bella Sörmlandsparadis, is offered a completely home-made lunch. And notes that growers are better people in many ways: they throw away less food. And commits fewer crimes.

And the bright future is ours

Bella invites herself to a colonial lot inspection at Elin, who has returned to the mother earth. Among nematodes - evil as well as good - they have a winding conversation about things that can be eaten and that so late about how to deal with the summer's invited and uninvited guests. Maybe with the help of what Elin calls the flower country's equivalent to the motorcycle gang's goalkeepers - Tagetesblomman is someone who takes the pacifier for others.

The closing section of the vegetable country is not really coming yet!

First, Elin must come home and check the status of the allotment, which has been completely abandoned. With her, she has plants pre-cultivated in Paris. We hope they survived the transport! And while waiting for that, Bella takes the opportunity to answer listener questions and be happy with listener tips. It is about, for example, the - in-country problem - what do I do if I want to grow in the country but mostly live in the city? Bella offers ideas on what you can model in parallel. And get yourself a spread that is about sheep wool.

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