Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good soil....?

 Hm, I've upgraded my account to the new, better and full of features Blogger (*ting*), that's why I've been silent for a few days. I'm playing around with the new features and so far I've been able to lost an entry to the blogdemons. Ah, well, it was only an image and no text, so it isn't hard to reconstruct, but it is slightly annoying.

The image? Well, have a look; these are two of my sallad pots.  I've planted them at the same occasion, used the same soil - cheap seedling soil from Coop in Sweden. The access to light is somewhat different - one is placed in a southward facing window. The other is placed elsewhere, but close to the purple and creepy light that is supposed to be good for plants. I like to believe that's something that counts.

Yes, it the wiltering pot that is placed elsewhere. When you touch the soil you can feel that it has become compressed into a hard cake - a wet one choking the roots of my little plants.  The southward pot has soil that is fluffier and more forgiving. But I did use soil from the same bag, didn't I? Why does it behave different in one pot but not the other? The quality of the soil has to have something to do with it, as well as the light and my watering technique.  This calls for more research! (Horaaaaaaaay!)

Friday, January 26, 2007

First losses

All my little garden rockets have died :-(. The blame is probably on my brilliant selfwatering pots with drainage. They are tricky to water since they overflow and makes small plants float up from the soil, and the holes leaks water when you are trying to move the pot which reduces the contents of the tank. Hm, I may tinker a bit with the construction, but in the future I'll probably stay content with classical self watering pots.

If I was a rich girl I would buy these babies. Anyone having a rich familymember to share could leave a small comment on this blog ;-)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This is what my small herbgarden looks like right now. I grew tired of all withered leaves hanging around, and cut the plants to the height of about one inch (more than actually; three centimeters). The herbs seems to do fine with the extra light. The leaves are greener and a lot of new ones are growing on the tiny branches. For my inner eye I see something dark green filling the pot to its brim.

The saladgarden still looks the same. *Sigh* I get the urge to shout "GROW!!!!!!!!" and drench them in growth hormone.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Plastic pot garden

This is what my little garden is looking like right now. I took the picture while I had gathered all my pots for a watering round. Eventhough I'm using saucers to catch surplus, the inbuilt tank in each pot makes it hard to calculate the overflow, so I decided to work on the sink to be on the safe side. As you can see the plants are still tiny - I would say this is the boring phase of the cycle. The plants have sprouted their first two leaves, and don't seem to be interested in growing any more. I'm pondering thinning them a bit. When I sowed them I wasn't sure of how many would grow, after all they all were old seeds, thus I sowed quite many in each hole. As you can se from the picture I didn't need to worry.

Watering is troublesome, though. I'm using an indoor watering jug that distribute the water in an single jet of water, rather than sifting the fluid through a sieve. When the jet hits the soil it digs a deep hole and can in unfotunate cases dig up several of my little plants. I've tried to prevent this by moving the jet around, but that does only work to a part. If I can't find out anything else I may need to borrow the little one's toy jug.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Let there be light!

Oh well, I keep a large selfwatering pot with mint and sage in my kitchen window. Last thursday it looked like this:

Hardly an uplifting sight, is it? This is the consequence of mild neglection and too little light. But there are sollutions. Clas Ohlson (a swedish hardware chain) are selling these:

Don't ask me why it's called "Megaman", I keep thinking of it as "the hiphoplamp". According to the container it's perfect for givning ailing plants extra light. Since scientifically reliable studies special plant lamps (roughly put; they shine a lot with light that plants like) aren't necessary, you can do well with normal fluorescent tubes, I only wanted the screen. But when I opened the package a plant lamp was enclosed - thankyou!

As you can see, this lamp was supposed to be used as a ceiling lamp. I wanted to use it in the window, which meant I had to add some length to the cable and change the plugs. I was taught to do this at school, and I DON'T WANT ANYONE WHO ARE NOT ABSOLUTELY SURE ON WHAT SHE/HE IS DOING TO TRY THIS AT HOME - HIGH TENSION KILLS! Anyway, with the addition of a timer, set to 5,30am - 7,30pm since I've heard plants need light for 12 to 14 hours, my kitchen window now looks like this:

My crappy plant is now bathing in slightly purple and icky light. The wonders of technology....

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oboy, oboy, oboy!

My seeds from Impecta has arrived. Impecta (link in swedish - sorry, no english version) is pure gold, but why do I always fall for such fishy plants? This time I really made an effort, and still icicle plant, tiger nut and purslane turned up in the batch. What on earth do you do with purslane anyway? I amused myself with looking them up in Wikipedia (in swedish) and half of the plants wasn't even there. But I did find carrot. Carrots are reliable.

Tomorrow and on Saturday I'll be out at Sigtunastiftelsen discussing the roles of religion in peace and conflict, which means I can't play with my seeds for two days. I do hope to be able to make some more self watering containers tonight, and perhaps describe the procedure in a bonus entry. Untill then you may enjoy a picture I took a couple of days ago. It's an gigantic self watering box with winterridden strawberries. A proof that I do gardening outside too - on my balcony.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Then what?

As you may see I've been absent from this blog a couple of days. I've come to a "then what?" stand still. My little salad gardens are growing great, and I'll probably be able to harvest from them in about a week or so. What I could do is to finally set those sprouts I talked about a few days ago.


...I suffer from gout. In other words: my kidneys can't take everything anymore, and when they can't take it they release an acid containing of needle shaped crystals into my blood. Those crystals do first settle into my left 'big toe', and then they amass in my fingerjoints. Imagine typing and for every painful hit you know that your cartilege is ripped by needles, cartilege that you absolutely need for keeping your fingers movable and that your body can't rebuild. I do a lot to avoid a gout attack.

Gout is something you get if you are fat, likes pastries and drinks alcohol. I happen to be a teetotaller, but being slightly fat and with a liking to good food applies to me. The interesting thing is that I can eat as much fat and sugary food as I like, as long as I don't eat podded fruit. All my attacks have been triggered by pods; lentils, beans and the last one was triggered by alfalfasprouts. Alfalfa is a podded fruit too, and even if I was naive enough to think that sprouts wasn't as "strong" as pods my body knew better. I got a low intensity attack that lasted for a week. A week without blogging! I'm that kind of person who lives via the net, and keep at least three live blogs.

Alfalfa is the only sprout seed I keep at home at the moment, the bag stands in my kitchen looking inocent. I guess I'll set some only if we are expecting a lot of guests. Meanwhile I could set some sunflower sprouts. Hmmm, I wonder if Impecta sells those seeds in economy packs....?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's alive!

Jay! My salad mixes are growing. The first green little leaves managed to surface yesterday. I'm wandering from windowsill to windowsill, looking at them jumping with enthusianism. Oh yes, I've seen this many times before, but that doesn't matter. Every time I'm transformed to a kid with a box full of toys. Heh, you just bury some seeds in the soil, and then they are GROWING! What a concept!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Why do I grow vegetables indoors?

I have a feeling you're asking that question, my dear reader. Why do I grow vegetables in plastic boxes and buckets indoors when there's alottment gardening available? Oh, and it's possible to buy an entire house to work with a real garden.

Well, the first reason for my choice is that I hate weeding. My parents used to rent an alottment garden where the soil were 100% clay. Clay is fertile, sticks to everything and does not give away anything unless you use brute force. Now, go figure how it is to drag up dandylionroots from that...

The second reason is that I'm fond of salad in a bag - just rip the bag open and pour into a bowl. We spent the summer of 2006 in Antwerpen, and the big market chain there (Delhaize) managed to serve its customers crisp and fresh salads. Then I returned to Sweden and realised what I already knew. Swedish salad in a bag is always a bit fermented and sprinkled with that dark green goo that used to be leaves.

But the main reason is that I'm fascinated by the thought of growing things in barren places. The thought of growing food in deserts, on windswept islands and on spaceships wakes the inventor within me. And the inside of a concrete house is one of the most barren places I can think about; dry air, no soil whatsoever and little sun. That's why I'm building my gardening pots out of plastic boxes, and dream about traveling to the stars.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Me vs plastic sack

It worked out well. I could drill holes in plastic buckets and plant in them whith a two year old around my feet. But he wasn't exactly amused. He wasn't allowed to play with the leca, and mommy was busy instead of watching him.

Well, I've discovered the disadvantages with storing soil bags on the balcony. They suck water like sponges. Out there, in a broken HOLbench from IKEA (one of my other great plans), I keep two 50 liter plastic sacks of seeding soil. The soil was meant for my grand scheme of tiger nut plantations, and has been forgotten there for a while. I grabbed the top sack and lifted.

The sack didn't move.

With a better grip I hauled.

The sack didn't travel a milimiter

With A Better Grip I Hauled.

Nope, no movement.


You couldn't even see a difference.

Now, this was getting ridiculous. I wanted the soil inside. Planting seeds in zero degrees is nothing for me. And I'm not a weak woman. I can gladly lift my husband, weighting 80 - 90kg. But he helps out with the lift. The sack didn't.

I looked at it. It seemed to be happy where it was. Outside the bench a plastic box (from IKEA - why change a winning comcept), once a cover for the christmas ham, had been forgotten. A plan began to take form.

With an extra HARUMPF! I heaved the sack over the benchlid and dropped it into the box. Hah! Now I could drag the sack across the floor even without breaking it and cover the flat with black fluff.

Victory is mine!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The perfect plan (?)

Being a mother, especially to a toddler, means that you don't have as much time as you used to. By all means; my little one spends his time at daycare, but he quits in the middle of the afternoon, and we are supposed to spend the rest of it together. Today I realised that it is possible to dig dirt and wield containers while the toddler is awake. He may even think it's fun. And suddenly I had lots of time tending to my indoor garden.


Tomorrow I'll introduce him to the joys of drilling holes in yogurt buckets and fill them with leca, tulle and soil. As a second thought, perhaps I should wait with the vacuuming of the flat until afterwords...

I did a quick search for seeds and found my purchases from spring 2006 in a box. There were

  • Garden nasturtium
  • Perennial wallrocket
  • Salad Leaves (from Thompson & Morgan)
  • Baby leaf blandning ("Baby leaf mix")

Apparently I've planned this for a while without managing to cut the mustard. Hm. Time flies while you are distracted by other things.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Indoor gardening on teh interweb - two tidbits

Blogger was totally locked up when I tried to blog yesterday. Perhaps a good thing. I hadn't looked for my old seed cases, so there wasn't much to report. True, I still haven't looked for anything, but I can see a case of cress looking at me from a shelf covered with cardboardboxes as I write this.

What I did do yesterday was to surf the web for articles and link collections. Indoor gardening is completely unknown in Sweden - except for the traditional potted plants that are grown for amusement and not for food. In England and the USA on the other hand there are enough insane people (I count myslef to that category - we have fun ;-) ) to put up a few webpages and sites on the topic.

Water Gardens and Hanging Plants for the Indoors
This was my first favourite. A collection of short and instructive articles on container gardening - both traditional and food. No pictures unfortunately.


The authority in this article seems to be one of those organical food fanciers, but it is a good one and offers a lot of food (heh) for thought.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


So, I've started. I've made an inventory over my assets and mindmapped what ought to be done (tm). I've tried to translate english plant names to swedish with varying grades of success, and ordered the following from Impecta

  • Tiger nut
  • Carrot "Amsterdam Forcing 3"
  • Sallat "Tom Thumb"
  • Loose leaf (?) "Frissé d'Amérique"
  • Radish "Rapid Red 2"
  • Turnip "Snowball"
  • Portulaca oleracea v. sativa 'Grön'
  • Ice plant

Tomorrow I'll start a batch of alfalfa sprouts again and search for my old seeds - maybe there's life in a few of those little things. And I have finally found a purpose for all my sturdy and usefull yoghurt containers.