Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nursery campain wrap up 1

Funbo Plantskola

This is the first nursery campain wrap up.

Bloomingwriter (Jodi DeLong) in Canada holds a record I suspect will be hard to beat. She has adopted twentyfive nurseries. You can read about them in two blog posts here and here. All nurseries are companies outside "bigbox bullies" with helpful and competent staff. I don't know about you, but reading these posts makes me yearn for a trip around Canada. Visiting plant nurseries is an excellent way to get to know a country, and a seed envelope (oh, I admit it; a lot of seed envelopes) is an lightweight and nice souvernir*. She has even found a nursery with train memorabilia...

On the swedish side we find my own post on Funbo Plantskola, a small family company with a big love for gardening, sqeezed in between road 282 towards Almunge and Lennakatten preserved railway. A small wink to Joppe with the blog Joppes Gröna Rum (blog in swedish) who's found a small café with ties to gardening in Öhr, Småland (swedish region). As a former perpetual student at Uppsala University I fall for cafés, and will link to the reportage "outside the campain" once it's written.

Finding good nurseries is a feat. Mostly you find them by hearing about them from other garden entusiasts. Note that Bloomingwriter has spent years digging up the nurseries she writes about. If you're out of hearsay the phone catalogue is a good tool - remember that many nurseries still don't have a homepage (on the other hand the phone catalogue may be online). In the long run you can use blogs to find good places. Do some sunday excursions and adopt the worthy according to these rules. (I'm hoping I'll have a nice logo and a central homepage for this campain up next week.)

*Do check the laws on importing plants and seed from another country. A rule of thumb for residents in EU is that you can brings seeds but not plants from outside EU's borders.

And don't forget the poll in the margin ;-)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Funbo Plantskola (nursery)

If you want perfect displays, visit Plantagen (or any other swedish gardening mall).

If you want persons who know gardening and love plants, visit Funbo Plantskola.

It hard to tell why you can feel the love in this place. Some plants could look better, and some places are overgrown.

The display pond of Funbo Plantskola

Still I have the feeling that the entire place would look like the display below, if the owners were given the chance. The staff and the owners are compentent and very helpfull. When I asked for nematodes for my selfwatering containers the owner phoned someone with better knowledge when she herself didn't know the answers. She was also ready to order a new Polstjärnan rose for me, but I had already seen the fun collection of other climbing roses they had and declined the offer. (At the same occasion we learnt that the favorite snowcone of the staff was Geisha.)

If you want the ordinary garden plants like strawberries, red and black currants, tagetes and others you'll find them here. It may be a good idea to make the visit early in the summer, since the nursery is close to many villa suburbias and since gardening is a trend in Sweden right now. Neither do you need to walk far to find the special in the assortment.

I fell for the figs in the greenhouse (someone bought the plant with fruits before I returned with my camera. Is that a way to behave? Destroying a perfect motif like that...) You can also find different sorts of verbeneceae, fuchsias and geraniums. Their motherplants are placed in the back of the greenhouse one on two big worktops. Different spices, chilis and tomatoes are available too. For some reason I didn't buy myself a new ordinary basil. The one I have in my gardens are thai basil, and I'm not sure I want to make pesto with liqorice flavour.

There was a second greenhouse. Half of it was filled with plants for sale, and half of it was marked for other things like test cultivation of tomatoes.

Small display showing perennial of the year through the ages.

This is where you find the big whine (and the worktop of the staff).

In here you find a sofa and some armchairs to sit down and rethink your garden, or your purchases (or just to hear your slim wallet cry softly). Note the style of the furniture and the truly authentich 70s style of the cushions.

My husband, ignoring the garden gnome tomato dealers.

This is one exemple of the care showed to customers. Visiting a nursery with a twoyearold can be a trying experience for child and parents/standupcomedians/eventplanners alike. At Funbo Plantskola you find a sandbox. And if there was only a sandbox it would have been quite the ordinary. This one is filled with toys. You don't have to bring your own or convince your little one plastic glases will work just as well.

To be honest my little one cared more for these.

Five blue budgies.

As I write this I realise I didn't take so much photos outside the greenhouses - which is natural for an indoor gardener. This is one of the welcome displays for visitors.

As you can see there are wheelbarrows available for anyone intent on big investments, and the outdoor garden are walkable. A small place, and still you find surprises around the corner almost everywhere. I found several trays of Rügen strawberries, impossible to find at bigger chains. Together with my little one I tasted the raspberries growing wild beneath the rose desks, and then I meditated over the whines.

I've dreamt about growing whine for a very long time.

How to get there? Well, by car is certainly an option. The nursery have parking lots, and is close to one of the bigger ways out of Uppsala. By close I mean; take way #282 towards Faringe, drive some ten kilometers, turn right and you're there. If you can't take the car there are out of town buses, ie bus 809 from Uppsala Central station, step of at bus stop Bärby in Gunsta and walk from there. The bustrip takes 12 minutes and the walk about 5.

Yo man! Want a deal on tomatoes?

In the summer you can make it a picknick (garden furnitures and icecreams available) and go by Lennakatten. The nursery is placed right beside the tracks and if you are lucky you'll see a steamtrain pass during the visit. If you go by the train you step off at Bärby and walk about 200 meters (roughly 220 yards). When I have traveled the train has had an cargo wagon used for prams, but I suspect that if you ask nicely on the way out or when you buy the ticket you'll be allowed to transport bigger items in there too.

If you haven't guessed it already Lennakatten is the preserved railway of Uppsala (ie. not attched to the ordinary railway system). An entusiastic association drives railcars and steamtrains between Uppsala and Faringe. The last time we visited Funbo Plantskola we were lucky enough to see two steamtrains puffing their way along the tracks. I really tried to get a good picture, but those ironhorses can be fast for an old digital camera.

This blog post is part of the Campain for Adopting a Nursery. Adopt one you too.

This was my adoption reportage of Funbo Plantskola. Now I hope to see more, and that's not because I want more of places like this to visit, oh no! ;-) Tomorrow I'll do my first weekly campain wrap up. And I added a new poll just for the fun of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Poll wrap up

Yo man! Wanna buy tomatoes?...

The poll about what to plant in the gigantic pot is closed since a few days. My wrap up have been delayed by a balcony project though. We are halfway through furnishing the balcony with a pergola, fruit garden, playground and pool.

Well, the poll. A long time I thought it would end with a tie between the international readers of Indoor Gardener and the swedish readers of Parkettodlaren. Strawberries for the kiddo took the lead, closely followed by ulluco and ordinary houseplant. Then some more votes were cast and the result was

Indoor Gardener; Strawberries
Parkettodlaren; Ulluco

If you combine the votes of both blogs the result is

Strawberries 4 votes
Ulluco 4 votes
Potted plant 2 votes
Potatoes 1 vote
Tiger nut 0 vote
Put it away 0 vote

A tie in other words. Since ulluco is extremely hard to come by in Sweden I opted for strawberries. Today I bought ten new plants at Funbo Plantskola (as well as I shot the picture of the garden gnomes). Now I only have to sterilize ca 50 litres (12 gallons) to plant them. This will take time, since I only have two soil pots, and the biggest of them holds 5 litres (1.2 gallons).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The campain for adopting a nursery

Photo "New Dawn", photografer "yamada*", you find his profile and more of his photos here.

In Uppsala there's a nursery called Rosendal (not to be mixed up with Rosendal in Stockholm). It was there when I moved to this town, and for a few years I had the peculiar habit of getting this yearning in spring. I wanted to go to Rosendal for no reason at all - and every time I got there they had started to sell their yearly breed of fuchsia cuttings. Sure, I love fuchsias, but they can't call to me over several kilometers (miles), can they?

Then a big gardening chain called Plantagen ("the Plantation") swept over Sweden, and among other places opened a big mall in Uppsala. Pretty soon Rosendal was bought by another gardening chain called Blomsterlandet ("the Flowerbed") and the assortement changed. Rosendal is now an gardening mall, were you find basic plants, garden furniture and outdoor grills. It's not all that bad. You can buy the most common plants to reasonable prices, and mostly you know enough about these to not need to ask anything about them (eventhough the employees may well know a lot about gardening). And I found borrowing a porch swing handy when the little one needed some comforting.

But the thing lost was the gardening joy. Old Rosendal was owned by someone who loved plants, and that made it's mark on everything. You could see it on the care for the place, you could see it in the displays and most of all you could see it in the choice of plants. Every time you went there you found the plants of the season with a little extra something - some plant that's grown in a too small amount to be profitable, but someone bought it and displayed it anyhow, just for the fun of it. I'm still disappointed that I didn't buy mini papyrus in container when they had it - just to mention one exemple.

Eventhough I enjoy a trip to Plantagen every now and then I can't help missing the old Rosendal. This day I talked my husband into buying the new plants for the balcony from Funbo Plantskola (Funbo nursery). I've heard about this nursery from friends, who's taken this as a new place to go since Blomsterlandet devoured our Rosendal. They have a good homepage (only in Swedish unfortunately), but look a bit dull when you pass it by, so I haven't got around to get there eariler. I had no idea about what to expect when I went inside the gates.

I entered their greenhouse and fell in love immediately. You have to fall in love when you see rows and rows of wellkept potted plants. And when I found a healthy wine heavy with grapes in the next greenhouse I was sold completely. Growing wine in Sweden is hard and considered very exotic. For a while I just walked around the plants and plantations with a happy smile on my face.

On the other hand I couldn't miss the fact that there were overgrown places and parts that could use a bit more care. Since some plants were spotless (I assume they sell well and that care is concentrated to them) it's not a question of classical neglect. Rather the nursery recieves less customers than it need to keep the economy up, ie. no money to hire enough gardeners. This reminded me of the paradox in gardening Sweden today; gardening is trendy right now, quite the go, and this means that nurseries like Funbo and old Rosendal are forced to close down (or join a bigger chain and loose their soul). Plantagen and Blomsterlandet are too strong competitors, not because of their assortment or competence, but because of their handy location that people never get the idea to go somewhere else.

We're loosing something in this process, namely the possibility to grow a garden with something special. Eventhough the assortment of Plantagen is big, it's also only the normal plants. Unless mini papyrus in container gets trendy, you wont find it there. Perhaps not the end of the world, but admit that life becomes a little bit more dull this way.

Swedes have a tendency to do just like anyone else - in Sweden. This means I can't really say if this phenomenon is international or just local. However I'm starting up the campain for adopting a nursery on Indoor Gardener too (it's very much needed in Sweden). Do like this; find a close by nursery not linked to a bigger chain, visit it and see if it's good. If it is, buy some plants and add a link to it on your blog in the same way I've done (look in the right margin). If the nursery don't have a homepage just display the adress and opening hours and add something about their assortment. Write a post about the nursery on your blog, and mention this on a commentary here at Indoor Gardener.

I'll do a weekly wrap up, linking to your nursery posts. It's permissible to adopt a nursery already 'taken'. Do spread the campain to garden bloggers I haven't reached. (Heh. I realise this means you can save a nursery and do some shopping in the same time - if only all good deeds were this fun :-) )

Unfortunately I didn't bring the camera to Funbo Plantskola this time, you'll have to wait a couple of times for my reportage. This time I bought the rose "New Dawn" which will replace my old rose on the balcony - and some extra strawberries for the kiddo.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

There's a fine line between a seed and a weed...

Photgraf "color line", you find his profile and more of his photos here.

I've been surfing gardening blogs and learnt the amazing fact that ground-elder or goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) is grown as a decorative plant in some places! After pinching myself several times I've realised that this plant may have its benefits - for an indoor gardener. Indoor gardening are done in containers and requires vegetables that grows willingly and can stand some rough treatment (ie. weeds). Furthermore tender leaves of ground-elder are said to be a delicacy. You cook them like spinach, but they taste a bit different.

Said and done. I made a search for "kirskål" on Impecta (one of the best swedish mailorder seed companies), using the swedish name you see here and not the latin one. Absolutely no hits was the result. Since I believe that if a plant can not be found on Impecta, it's not possible to by it in Sweden at all, so I dropped the search. Of course, any swedish gardener trying to grow ground-elder on purpose would soon be visited by an angry mob waving torches and pitchforks. And for a good reason.

Well, if I really want ground elder I do have gardener friends that would happily give me both seeds and plants. Probably after asking
"Are you insane?!"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Alaska Scarlett can't take criticism

Apparently it pays off to complain on the blog. Today two of my alaska scarlett raised above surface.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Selfwatering containers are gold...

To the right a perfectly healthy garden, to the left no Alaska Scarlet seedlings

Yesterday I donated blood for the first time in my life and I feel tired, much to my own surprise. Somehow I always think that things that are stressfull to the body wont affect me. After all I lost half a liter of blood (a pint) and was entitled to chose a small gift. Unfortunately the donors' giftshop doesn't have containers and other gardening related items, so I got myself a steel thermos instead. I've always needed a thermos free from tea and coffee residues. Now I can drink my hot water in a more environmentaly friendly way since I can boil and save a bigger amount at the time.

To celebrate my valiant sacrifice to humanity I went to the library and borrowed books about composting. I meant to borrow one - as you may remember my ration is one gardening book and one language course, but the first composting book I found was rather thin. After a small quest I found two more that were thin too. When I realised that I wont be able to visit the library two weeks from now I kind of lost it. I borrowed all the books about composting and four more. Plus a language course.

My gardens have been neglected these last two days. I'm sitting in the sofa corner feeling good, faint and beautiful. They're fine anyway. The selfwatering containers are doing an outstanding job. On the other hand my Alaska Scarlet won't raise above the soil. When I soaked nasturtium seeds they've grown in about two days, now I've waited for five. That's a big difference. The most frustrating thing about it is that the osmocote balls looks exactly like a seedling trying to get above the surface. I confuse them every time I take a peek into the container.

Don't forget to vote in the poll on what I should grow in my giant terracotta pot. Interestingly enough the standings are the same on Parkettodlaren and Indoor Gardener. In both polls the strawberries for the kiddo takes the lead.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Still not a vegetable, though...

I have a friend who knows a good pot when she sees one. This one has been standing at her home with a gigantic houseplant inside. Unfortunately she's moving to another part of Sweden and has gifted me, a very happy indoor gardener, with it (this is not a manipulated photo - I do fit in there).

Now I'm pondering two things. A; where to put it, since I don't have a spare corner for it, and B; what to plant inside. I've decided to ask you to help me come to a decision. To the right you find a small poll, you have a week to answer and the help is deeply appreciated. The pot is deep enough for potatoes, although the fruits are poisonous (twoyearold in da house). Or perhaps I should call the Uppsala University Botanical Gardens and ask if they can sell me some ulluco to plant, so I can try this mythic plant at last. Another alternative is to buy loads of strawberryplants to satiate the sweet tooth of my son even during the winter. On the other hand, if I plant tiger nuts I can provide him with a toy lawn and the family some cooking oil (if I ever can figure out how to extract it).

Thankyou Irene, Johan and Anders for all your precious gifts! We'll miss you much in Uppsala - good thing we know where you live... :-)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tiger nut haircut

First a photo from my own balcony. It's more minimalistic than the french balcony I showed you a couple of days ago. I had other things to do in April and May when I normally plan and plant my outdoor stuff. The strawberries had survived the winter and the pansies were coming along nice, so I decided to stay content. Right now I think it's boring and am planning the autumn and next summer (wine or blackberry, hmmmmmmm...). The chair is a gift from the company where my hubby works right now. They gave him two for the summer, and since they seemed to match the balcony I left them there. (If anyone from this company reads this I wouldn't be ungrateful if you decided to give us a complimentary folding table ;-) )

Today I made some major works on the garden haunted by thrips. After three weeks of treatment with soft soap spray it looked like this.

The common purslane had turned quite old and the nasturtium seemed to consist of withered leaves, eventhough green ones where budding at the end of the branches. The only things thriving was the tiger nuts, so I decided to tear everything away except them.

It's a shame throwing away such big heap of things that would do better in a compost. The longer I'm working with indoor gardening, the more I feel the need for composting. Unfortunately my flat often is too warm for a vermicompost, so I've started to look for ways to use a real one indoors instead. Colleens (In the Garden Online) variety seems promising, eventhough I have a feeling I'll have to store it on the balcony. (Since there are flats without balconies I feel like it's cheeting using mine.)

I gave the tiger nuts a haircut too. They looked like a dull tuss of grass (and that's what they are) so I decided to spiff them up a bit. Don't you think this hairdo looks nicer on the windowsill? I'm not sure the plants will survive the stress being cut down like this but the prognosis is good; tiger nut is a weed to fear. In the rest of the soil I sowed the last of my Alaska Scarlet nasturtium seeds. This time I didn't put up with 'frills' like putting seeds in water 24 hours and presow them, I just put them into the soil and covered them up. The last thing I did was to sprinkle osmocote tab fragments over the surface, and then realisie that they looked edible. I spent quite some time trying to cover them up without disturbing the seeds (twoyearold in da house...).

I took this picture to show how I've started to document my cultivations. I'm not sure on what to do with the facts gathered, or if I should copy them to something else, like a notebook. These days I'm only documenting to get a feeling for how long it takes between sowing and harvesting and how different kinds of soil and fertilizing are affecting the plants. (I haven't made a note on this box, but I do know that this contains the cheap seedling soil that packs together and suffocates the plants if I'm not keeping it moist.) Note the green line between the dry and the wet part of the barrier between the soil and the leca; it's algae. This is the last time I fluff the soil, sow some stuff and tell myself it's gonna work. The next time I'll have to empty the box, sterilize everything and start a new garden from scratch. This is something that will be an indoor gardener routine.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Meme; how do you take your coffee?

I admit it; I fell for this and promised to do it eventhough it's not about gardening. On the other hand it was invented by Stuart Robinson with Gardening Tips 'n' Ideas, a blog well worth reading.

Well the questions are about drinking coffee or tea, or more precisly how to enjoy your coffee or tea.

What's your preference - coffee or tea?

Neither. It's cocoa, not only does it wake you up, it gives the brain some pizzazz too.

Instant or brewed?

Usually I do use instant cocoa, Oxfam's "Cacao". These days I make my own cuppa from scratch using 1/2 dl (3-4tbsp) cacao + 1 heaping tbsp sugar mixed to a batter together directly in the cup with a slick of milk. Then the cup is filled with milk and heated in the microwave.

This is not cocoa for kids.

How do you take it?

Since cocoa do contain both milk and sugar I normally don't add anything. Whipped cream is only nice if the cocoa is really strong (and I don't know if I can make my cuppa stronger and still have it in liquid form). I haven't adopted the american custom of putting marshmallows in the cup. My yearning for exotic things has made me try making cacao from bars (Doplhin 88% recommended) and season it with genuine cinnamon. Tasted good.

Do you have a favourite cup?

Well, I think the cup above fits the purpose, so it's the one I most often use. Favourite number two is the mother's day gift for this year; a pink flower ornamented mug. However it holds 5dl (2cups) so I only use it on bad days.

How many will you enjoy during a normal day?

One. Bad days I drink another one - see the recipe above. Believe it or not, I can go on for days without any chocolate at all...

No, I don't drink coffee or tea during these periods. I never drink coffee or tea...

Does it matter if you don't start the day with a coffee/tea?

Depends if I'm well rested and what I'm about to do during the day. If I'm going to study I can afford leaving the cocoa out. If I'm home with my son I absolutely need it. You can't imagine how fast a twoyearold can be...

And now, dear reader, if you haven't written this already, it's your turn. Do you take coffee or tea?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The good, the bad and the ugly

In general I try to stay away from memes, but I couldn't resist this one. Colleen with In the Garden Online invented it. In short I'm going to show those parts of my garden that didn't turn out quite right. You can't always succeed, aned sometimes the most accidental sowing or planting turns into a beautiful flower. This can be good to keep in mind when the yearning for perfection threatens to deaden your entusiasm. So, here they are

The ugly

Waily, waily! This is my calamondin. The branches in the middle are completely dry, it suffers from lack of iron, and dry spots on the leaves hint at another pest or illness. This is my constant reminder that, eventhough I've learned much, I'm still not an expert gardener. A good thing is that oodles of flowers are blooming right now.

The bad

Yes, this is bad. This is my thrips garden. I started spraying it with soft soap sollution regularly, but the soap burnt the leaves. As it is today I don't which damage are made by thrips, and which by soap. Perhaps I tear it all away - except for the tiger nuts, which grows like weeds.

The good

This is a pot full of things I didn't have the heart to throw away. The pansies are former table decorations sinced Easter. Every advice concerning pansies orders me to pick dried out flowers to enhance the flowering and my reaction to this is
"Do I have to?"
The marble leaves are nasturtiums, "Alaska Scarlet". Two plants were left when I had planted everything I needed indoors. I was tired, had overworked myself and was out of time so I just planted them in this bin on the balcony. No acclimatisation period or any other frills, I just put them there.
"If they live, they live!" was my only thought about it.
I hope they have time enough to sprout some flowers. The red will be perfect against the blue pansies.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

What about knowledge...

You don't need to know much to be an indoor gardener. You need to know how to put soil in a container, put seeds in the soil and to water them. Somethings that makes it all easier is the will to add to the knowledge every now and then. I've recently [re]discovered the library. What a place! Oodles of colourful gardening books for me, just me!.. and all others smart enough to pay a visit :-).

Every other week I go to Uppsala City Library and borrow a gardening book and a language course. The habit have payed off already. For exemple i now know that my calamondin are suffering from lack of iron due to the hard water we have. Soon I'll know what to do about it :-). Besides, it feels pretty good sitting in the sofa looking at pretty flowers while it's raining outside.

And the language course? Well, the only language an indoor gardener needs is her/his own. Plus, of course, it's good to know the latin name of a plant if you need to look for it. But the more languages you know, the more gardening knowledge there is to gain. I mean, take a look at the picture above. I took it in Paris two years ago. People were growing stuff everywhere! Those who didn't own a balcony nailed containers to walls outside their windows. And in a country where people are able to squeeze a djungle into a balcony there ought to be some books written for indoor gardeners as well. Unfortunately few french gardening books are translated into swedish (or english I think). My plan is to read them in the original language.

And think what you kan learn if you read chinese! The chinese are famed for their knowledge in intensive cultivation and do grow vegetables in pots. So I'm altering my language course between french and chinese*, and plays with the courses for a while. My goal is to find one fun enough to make the tedious word studies worth it all the way to the glorious moment when you find that you speak fluently.

*mandarin or putonghua if you want the specific language.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jordens täppor (Garden patches of the Earth) Lena Israelsson, review

In this post I'm going to review an swedish gardening book that, as far as I know, is available only in swedish. I'm doing so because I think the concept of the book - researching gardening traditions around the world - is worth picking up by more authors. And if anyone in the publishing business finds this book interesting enough to translate it for the english speaking world so much the better.

I always enjoy the works of Lena Israelsson since they are beautiful, pedagogical and inspiring. Work descriptions that are easy to follow and the lovely pictures provides me with a some new ideas every time I pick up a book of hers. In "Jordens täppor" (Garden patches of the Earth) she is travelling around the world, discovering different gardening traditions. She visits the countries to be expected, like Great Britain and France, as well as a choice of more surprising ones, like Russia and Tanzania. And yes; she do take a look at Sweden too.

What I do miss in this book is better explanations on what to do with the plants once you've grown them. Every plant do have some cooking advice, but they are short. Many of them are grown in places where cooking traditions are different and to some extent unfamiliar to the average reader. Otherwise you may end up with a plant growing like crazy and the sinking feeling of
"What on earth am I to do with this?"
May I wish for a combined gardening/cooking book the next time Lena Israelsson sits down in front of her computer?

Like I said in the beginning the book is full of lovely pictures as well as easy to follow work descriptions. A lot of the plants she describes is possible to grow indoors, my wish list grew with twenty seven items in one go. For the indoor gardener a method for growing in containers is provided in the chapter about Turkey. She has picked plants that are possible to grow in a swedish climate (which isn't easy to translate into, for example, north american climate zones, but think Canada and northernmost US) and I'm really tempted to hire an allotment garden just to test some of them. Well done, considering I have a life long aversion against weeding things out of our Upplandish sticky clay.

"Jordens täppor"
Lena Israelsson (C) 2002
ISBN 91-46-18283-7

Nine pots out of ten!
(This book is a bit old and may be hard to find in the book shops. Try SVAF or the libraries.)