Monday, April 30, 2007

Evil twins

One of the reasons I wanted a citrus bush is that they smell so good when they bloom. We gave my mother in law one and it perfumes the entire flat with a scent of orange and jasmines every time. That's why I was surprised when I started to smell liquid manure around my calomondin.

First I blamed the farmers around Uppsala. In this place you're never far from a field in need of fertilizer, especially not in the spring. Then I started to think over the fact that the smell was located around my citrusbush. Lastly I started to look, and found a shy flower under a leaf.

It does smell like liquid fertilizer, but better. As if liquid fertilizer was an evil twin of a smell, and that smell was calomondin. I have mixed feelings, but prefers to take the flower as a kind of flatter; I do some things right at least. If I continue in this way I'll soon have new little citrus fruits for my marmalades.

Things are progressing in my seedlin boxes; the ordinary nasturtium have 'hatched', and the strawberries are on their way. Soon I have the entire collection firmly stuck in the boring phase.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The first salad

From left to right: carrot tops, common purslane and turnip tops.

When I started this experiment I had an idea of neat pots with vegetables growing to the right size and then stopped, kind of. Whenever I felt for it I could harvest a salad or perhaps some tigernuts to give my family healthy eating and my friends allergy friendly culinary experiences. Whenever I felt for it...

However, the project is more and more coming to this:
"Oh my GOD! The basil/purslane/turnip/carrot will soon ask for citizen rights! We have to have a sallad before they are taking over the flat!"
That's why we had a salad today.

The salad was a bit heavy on the turnip side - turnip tops are hairy and will probably do better in a warm dish (prepared "like spinach", no doubt). The son made faces. I was more prepared and mixed my greenery with the rice and got a kind of pilaff that was surprisingly filling. Can't recommend the taste, though, I'm looking forward to the day when my nasturtiums have grown big enough to loose some leaves. And perhaps I should sow some more purslane - and some more carrot tops would be nice too. Ice plant will be interesting to taste as soon as the plants are grown. Add some strawberry sticks to that...

If you ever read an article about a flat where the windows were burst by a galopping djungle, then you'll know it's about mine.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What's in a carrot...

So I was featured on the frontpage of Uppsalatidningen, and got at chance to count my collection of chins. The hubby and I are discussing in which way we are going to loose weight this time (we became goldmembers of the Weightwatchers three years ago, and then I got pregnant...). To leave questions about my weight the article was good. I've nevered been interviewed by real journalists before and was a bit nervous. How would I look in another person's eye - or two persons' since there were a photografer involved. And the text turned out to be very good, as well as the pictures. Since Uppsalatidningen is a free newspaper we picked three copies, just to be able to send some to elderly relatives that might be interested.

To grow seeds in leftover cardboardboxes for eggs and boxes for takeaway turned out to be a good idea. They are easy to handle and watering the seeds is a piece of cake; you only remove the cardboard and pour a small amount of water in the plastic box - just enough to cover the bottom, return cardboard and let it soak for a while. Seems to dry out fast, though, I may be forced to water twice dayly. I hope my little seedling will grow so fast that I can replant them into bigger pots soon.

Newly 'hatched' seedlings:

  • Tigernut (two out of six, perhaps a few more will sprout, but one of the nuts are definately going moldy).
  • Alaska Scarlet, nasturtium (six out of six)
  • St Clements, nasturtium (five out of three, I put two seeds in each bowl if I have enough of them)

This week I harvested the first carrot that actually looked like a carrot. It was about five centimeters (two inches) long, and slightly orange. I haven't planned for the carrots to grow much bigger since this will shorten the time it takes between sowing and harvest, and I have a vague memory of baby carrots tasting sweeter. Hm, I'll think twice about this. After taking its' picture I ate the carrot and some of the tops since I now know that the tops are edible too. To tell you the truth the tops tasted much better than the carrot - that was bitter as ****.

Now I have two mysteries to solve; why do my carrots taste bitter, and why don't we eat carrot tops, when the tops actually tastes good? What have I missed?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The sage, the hubby and the wardrobe

I manicured my sage yesterday. The reason was that I expected a visit from a journalist and a photografer who wanted to write an article for Uppsalatidningen (local weekly paper) - about my indoor gardening. I spent the forenoon looming over my plants making sure they would behave. The journalist and the photografer turned out to be very nice. The only thing that bugged me was that my newly sown seeds hadn't come up yet. Seedlings are photogenique. The photografer took some pictures of the soilfilled boxes anyhow. (I have to add that she, like every good photografer, had a kind of feeding frenzy, photografing just about anything that could pass as a motif and didn't fought back.)

But I was about to talk about sage. I have found a recipe that requires big amounts of sage, but I hadn't the time to use it this day. (Basically you drench a chicken in bacon and sage, and bake it in the oven wrapped in dough.) I decided to dry my surplus instead. To dry herbs you need darkness, special containers and an airy space. Those special containers are very hard to fit into a normal flat. Perhaps I should have given up the idea.

But we do have a walk-in closet. It's dark. Perhaps not airy, but we do go in there ever so often (and I could swing the door a couple of times each day...). I had no possibility to build those special containers, so I made bouquets out of my sage (and mint) instead. Then I placed a pole on the shelves in the closet, crossing the empty space between them and tied the herbs to it. This morning when my hubby went in there he shouted.
"Arrgh! I'm attacked by wild sage!"
"It happens to be garden sage." was my reply.
"Can be wild anyhow!"

Today the iceplant and broccoli seedlings have showed their pretty little faces, and the Alaska Scarlet are comming along too...

Ah well, there are plenty of other pretty pictures for this article.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sowing, April

I finally did it. I've sown a new round of seeds. The nasturtiums and tiger nuts needed soaking, so the round stretched over three days.

The first day I put seeds in water and made sowing boxes for all my plants to be. I've found out that cardboardboxes for eggs, when split into four parts, fits into a plastic take away box - and since those boxes have transparent lids they make out perfect (?) mini greenhouses. In an attac of being minute I portioned the other seeds into their egg boxes, put them into their respective take away box and labeled them carefully. The iceplant seeds were ittybittytiny.

The second day I sowed everything except for the tigernuts - they needed some extra soaking time. Preportioning iceplant seeds turned out to be a mistake. The cardboad boxes needed some soaking too, since they would suck up moist from the soil otherwise. In other words I needed to empty the boxes in order to put them in water - and how do you do that without loosing the minute seeds among the grains on the table? I poured them onto the lid and with some extra detective work I only lost one of them.

With a plastic spoon from Max (swedish hamburger chain) I distributed soil into the egg compartments and put seeds on top. Those where then cosied with a thin blanket of extra soil and then I put on the lid upside down to ensure some ventilation. Since I have a twoyearold in the house I secured the lids loosely with some tape. I removed the lableling from the box and put it on the box instead.

The third day I sowed the tigernut, using the same method as described above, although I had very few nuts to use and had to be economical.

What I sowed this time was

  • broccoli
  • ice plant
  • nasturtium

    • Garden cress
    • St. Clements
    • Alaska Scarlet

  • strawberry
  • tiger nut

Now I only have to sit and wait....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Plans and pesto

Yesterday I logged the basil and made a litre (a quart) of pesto. Today I have a headache, since I'm sensitive to garlic in those amounts you eat when you try ti finish of large amounts of pesto. Heh, I knew what I did and I have to admit that it was worth it. Pesto is freezable fortunately, and our friends on the potluck today all agreed that if you have to priorotize between nuts and garlic you choose garlic.

Today I've planned next round of sowing. Ie. I've spread my seed bags over the table top and written down the names of the plants to sow on the backside of an envelope. I concluded that I need to document more of my efforts. This week I've had my first bigger harvests, but I'm not sure when I sowed them. If I'm not sure on how long the interval is between sowing and harvesting I can't accurately calculate sowing cycles and how to overlap the 'generations' of the different sowing boxes. Next sowing round will in other words be properly documented - och the backside of an envelope, since old envelopes are an infinite source of paper (as well as documentation is an infinite source of notes).

And I wrote a small wish list to myself on what to buy from Impecta next time.

  • Strawberry sticks
  • Sugar plant
  • Okra
  • Sorrel

I'll see if I'll be kind to myself next time I get money...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ethical dilemma

I've stumbled across an ethical dilemma I didn't expect. The only ethical debate I can remember in gardening is wether to use pesticides or not, and most people seems to agree on "use it as seldom as possible".


I'm one of the few, perhaps the only one, in Sweden trying to grow vegetables indoors on a larger scale. This makes my research interesting. Mostly I pick parts from books and homepages on slightly different topics. Gardening books for small gardens have lately been my best source for facts in swedish. And since reading in the maternal tounge (eewww) provides advantages when studying facts I prefer to do so. The problem is when being the lone swedish doing a thing there isn't many homepages to find on the topic.

On the other hand I've discovered a group of swedes that do grow plants at home, plants that aren't the traditional potted plants. They grow drugs.

During my walkabouts on the swedish web pages I've stumbled across at least one forum for drug gardening, completely open and searchable by Google. Up to this day I've refused to follow up those links. I'm a teetotaller and so sensitive to stimulantia that I can react on herbal tea*. In general I'm not missioning this standpoint, though, it's completely clear to me that most people can handle booze, and in that case I think they can enjoy a drink or two. But I find it annoying listening to or reading a text where someone sports the view that drugs isn't that dangerous and it's up to the individual if she/he wants to get stoned. Especially since it's often quite clear that the person in question wont listen to anyone with other views, but rather to hammer in hers/his own.

I'm not amused, as you can see, and many drugs are illegal, both to have and to grow, so what do I do with all my hits on drug fora? These people have to be experts on growing stuff in small and dark places. Isn't it to overdo things when I experiment to get to know things others already have learned and that is possible to read about in a few minutes?

Maybe. I don't know. I've seen drugs destroying several people. I feel like this is the wrong way to get gardening knowledge.

*I'm always reading the content before I'm buying any herbal tea. There's a general view that herbs are mild and not dangerous, but it's important to remember that opium poppy and cannabis plant are herbs - they are by far not alone among herbs with a strong impact. Many 'strong' herbs can be find among our common spices.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Curiosity stage

I can't resist posting a picture of the greenery part of the chicken casserole I made yesterday. All green parts have been grown in our flat. I put purslane, french tarragon and a turnip leaf in there. They look so good before the cooking has reduced them to green threads.

My gardening has reached the curiosity stage. I drink tea from my own mint ever so often and will soon cut the basil forest to make pesto. Small citrus fruits are occupying our kitchen while waiting to become marmalade. Or rather season marmalade, since their own taste are much too bitter. I think I'll dry the sage and hand it out in small bags to my friends - I have way too much of it. This stage is nice, but it's far away from supplying an entire family with vegetables. The good thing is that I'm now able to make a first count on how long it will take me to get everything going in full harvest cycles.

I think it'll take about two years, although the mileage will vary.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

It's beginning to grow on me...

I couldn't resist posting a better photo on my pansies. The last one's got a horrible reddish tint. Turned out they weren't that much of a bummer. Pansies are edible, and thus they have a place in this home. I haven't tried them yet, though, since I'm not sure how much poison and other muck the retailer have used on them. In my copious free time (ahahah*) I may some day call them and find out.

I'm definately starting to get a surplus. The basil will soon ask for citizenship or house mimmoths unless I'll find out how to make pesto soon. I still haven't found out what to do with the sage - and even the tarragon are putting on airs.

And of course; I didn't come around to replant the purslane. I have to stay content thinning it out instead. But I wont need to worry about finding a purpose - it can be used as spinach...

You may have noticed that this blog have hiccupped the last week. I've gotten a new job, and are rearranging my schedule. I'm trying to cram five entities into a time space where only three can fit. Believe or not - I'm about to make it. Jay!

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Small Garden Encyclopedia - review

I admit it, currently I'm buying books with pretty pictures to look at. This is an ideal one. You gett colourful flowers and the tools are either shiny new or eastetically worn (I'm particularly impressed by the hands that are replanting plants and digging in soil without getting even a speck on them). Every opening covers a task or a tool (if you call a vermicompost a tool) connected to a small garden. You get work instructions for almost anything; garden design, vermicompost, container gardening, damm building, you name it...

The part on container gardening was a bit weak. It's more about painting baskets and arranging flowers than how to water or which container to chose for what environment. You do get a small recipe for a self waterer and tips about water keeping crystals. You get more interesting stuff on that topic in the part covering conservatories. Anyone who really wants to grow vegetables indoors should take a look on the vegetable part (surprise). Here you get valuable instructions on intensive using of the soil, advice I haven't found in any other book for beginners (I do suspect you can find more in 'heavier' books). I also found the advice on how to grow big vegetables/plants in small spaces helpful, which is another indoor gardener problem.

This book gets 7 pots out of 10.

The Small Garden Encyclopedia
Ed. Sue Phillips
Salamander Books Ltd 2002

ISBN-10: 1571458441
ISBN-13: 978-1571458445

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another bummer...

...or whatever I should call them, these three little baskets with pansies I've used as decorations for my Easter table. Aren't they cute? And now (of course) I'm too soft to throw them away. Maybe I'll plant them around my cherry tree and throw them away when my rügen strawberry plants are big enough to be planted there instead.

Yeah, I'll do that!

I hope...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Gardening blog fora in swedish (and english)

I actually mislaid a comment to my posts a few minutes ago. Ie. I published it and didnt't find it afterwards when I wanted to answer the question. Joppe asked if I knew any swedish web fora for swedish bloggers, since he (she?) hadn't found any. I decided to make a short post out of the answer instead.

There is one site that provides blog service and a forum for bloggers that is specifically for gardeners. It's called

Trädgårdsblogg & Gröna sidan
(the URL is

I haven't checked it out much, so I don't know if there are any exchanging of adresses or if they have a directory for gardening blogs outside their own service, but this is the second place where I should go. (The name translates roughly to "Gardening blogs and green pages".)

The first place is

Sweden's biggest gardener forum. They don't have a place for garden bloggers yet, but I have a feeling that many garden bloggers pay a visit there sooner or later, so I started a thread called "Trädgårdsblogg och utbyte av adresser" (transl: "gardening blogs and exchange of adresses"). (It's listed under "Småprat om trädgård", do pay a visit and jot down some lines about your blog if you have a swedish one.)

If you speak and write in english you should start your gardening blog surfing at

Garden Voices

Yes, I'm listed there (and honoured to be, too), and that's where I started when I was a fresh garden blogger (just a seedling so to speak). Lots of interesting gardening blogs to read.

And last, but not least, don't forget our first international gardening blog competition

Mouse & Trowel Awards

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Simply Perfect Container Gardening and Rosie - review

Colourful magazines are the bonbons of litterature; they have glossy covers and you consume them fast. The good things are that they don't disappear after the first use, and that they don't add to your weight (especially true if you walk around while you are reading them :-) ). When I found Rosie on Nordic Gardens I decide to review the magazine together with an english language equivalent.

Simply Perfect Container Gardening
Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications
This is a magazine from the US and one of the helpful ones. For exemple you find a zone map at page 5, which is interesting to international readers too - gardening, as everything else, sprouts international contacts, and the map is useful in when comparing gardening experiences and climates. (Of course I have use for it when I mirror this blog from Parkettodlaren.) I was a bit unhappy with the pictures; I'm a person who flaps through the pages and look at the pictures for inspiration. The quality of the pictures is a tad bad, which gives a hint of garishness, making them hard to look at when you have a headache - or hangover*.

The articles were interesting and I had to tear myself away from more than one of them. Unfortunately no mentioning of vegetables, and I'm not surprised by that. People growing vegetables indoors seldom seems to be interested in aestetics, and this magazines covers aestetics a lot, you get a lot of tips about colour scheming and how to best display eye candy. The only thing about this magazine is that it's a special interest publication from Better Homes and Gardens and will probably only be released once a year. Rats!


Rosie is purely swedish, so I can't recommend an international mother magazine to you. It's a publication I immediately found pleasant. It covers gardening in small spaces and on balconies to a larger extent than any other swedish gardening magazine. On the other hand I don't find much about indoor vegetables, but this is a hobby with few followers here...

Hm, I think I'll email them inviting them to write a reportage of my home, heh.

Well, like Perfect Container this is a helpful magazine. The aricles are a bit shallower, but you get good instructions on how to build your own plant box, and on how to grow potatoes, both outdoors and in buckets. The pictures and layouts are good, which is important for me as a 'flapper'.

Now, I'll enter their contest with "Känsla för jord" ("Feeling for soil" - only available in swedish) as a prize, since that book is on my wishlist. And I will win, won't I?

*Don't you ever believe that teetotallers don't get hangovers. They only come with another name - and you haven't even had fun first.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Big plans - small plants

These are soon ex-plants.

Big things are comming up in my indoor garden. I'm about to replant seedlings for the first time. Yepp, that's right; I've been growing stuff ever since I was a kid, and I've never replanted seedlings before. I have vague recollections of trying it out and failing misserably, and ever since the attitude of 'this is to complicated and troublesome' has stuck in my mind.

That attitude drives me crazy in others, so why should I save it for my self? I've decided to replant the purslanes when they are big enough. And they start to reach that stage now. I'm nervous...

Another thing I've realised is that I need to (*gasp*) throw away some plants. That christmas group that I've managed to keep alive, as well as the ponytail palm my grandmother gave me when I was ten has to go. They occupy valuable space, and are not eatable.

Adding to that is my behaviour ever since I read the instructions on how to grow potatoes in buckets. I'm walking around, eyeing empty floor spots trying to establish if I can squeeze in 14 potato buckets in this flat. Potatoes takes about 14 weeks to mature, see, and with 14 buckets I can sow and harvest a bucket a week. Sometimes I really don't know if I'm crazy or a genius....

Monday, April 02, 2007

Bushybrained on the Nordic Gardens Fair

I've always liked garden fairs, ever since my parents used to drag me along to them when I was a kid. To me they are a kind of tivolies where you can see strange things, rob exhibitors on sweets and weigh down yourself with broschures. This garden fair gets a weak three on a five grade scale, though. It's a three since I was very tired (my brain felt as focused as a bush) and I don't know if the bleak impression was due to me or the fair.

This year I could understand those who complains that there's too little of plants on garden fairs. There were a huge amount of things like gardening tools, bubbel pools and design frills present. This made me impatient since I wanted to look at plants and seeds. But I have to admit that most of the stuff really was intended for gardens. My big complaint is that the gardening and growin associations was scuffed away in a small hall to themselves. If they had been mixed in to the mass of reatilers and booksellers the result would have been much more interesting. More gardening pizzazz among the bubble pools and colourfull rubbershoes.

Few exhibitors handed out advertising sweets, and since I was firmly intent on not buying a loot of seeds I bought a lot of magazines instead. I didn't find Allt om Trädgård (swedish gardening magazine) but returned to Hus och Hem (swedish interior design magazine) several times instead. As I said I was a wee bit tired, and they sold a morning gown that looked cosy. On the other hand I found Rosie - a new gardening magazine that seems to be interesting.

And of course I found a lot of interesting plant and seed retailers. The netherlanders (two different companie) occupied two large spaces. A people reknown for gardening and commerce - I shouldn't had been surprised to find them there. What did impress me though is that they take their task so seriously that they had learnt to speak swedish (most dutch and swedes speaks excellent english). Impecta held a monter, showing off their greatness, eventhough they hadn't brought their seeds for tuberous pea. I found another seed seller, explained to be a posh Impecta by my accompaning friend Ann, but they didn't sell it either, neither did frö, who held a monter selling Thompson & Morgan seeds. Lord Nelson, a smålandish firm didn't have it either.

What impressed me most this fair was the big amount of amateur gardener associations. As I said they filled a hall by themselves (albight a small one). In Sweden we have a rose association, a fuchsia association, a geranium association, a koi association, a chili pepper association, a herb gardener association, two associations for ecological gardening, two associations for amateur gardeners in general and an allotment gardeners' assotiation, all big enough to keep monters in a fair said to be the biggest in Norway, Sweden and Finland together. And since I'm sure I haven't covered all associations present I can only say; swedes are an associated people.

"Have I've always been the kind of person looking for things that don't exist?" I asked Ann when we had left yet another seed retailer not selling tuberous pea.
"I tried to explain that to my collegue" she answered "We are the kind that don't just buy a yellow tulip, we by a yellow tulip with red speckles..."
".. true descendant of the bulb that once started the tulip fever in Holland" I added to her description.
"Precisely! And if the pattern proves to be incorrect somewhere, we'll explain that to anyone who wants to hear."
Yes, that's the two of us in a nutshell. And when I left the fair as one of the last leaving, with my wallet empty, a mass of magazines, some seed envelopes and a pelargonium graveolens (rosengeranium in swedish) in a plastic bag as well as a gigantic citrus bush in my arms (I left a trail of citrus from Stockholm to Uppsala) I had the feeling of leaving a twentyfour hour party and I couldn't help thinking
"Was this really a good idea?"