Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A small afterthought

Hm, from now on I'll let the seedlings grow big enough to have broken their little egg cardboard with their roots. In this batch the egg carton dries out instead of sucking up moist (like I thought it would do), which makes the soil around the seedlings dry and they become more thirsty than an alcoholic at a godtemplar meeting. Rats! Ah well, sometimes we learn best from mistakes...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Next project

Doesn't look good, does it? Seems like only the lemon balm is doing fine. Lemon balm, on the other hand, is among those plants that grows uncontrollably once you've got them started. The only reason this plant is small is my habit of making lemon balm herbal tea every other day. I have no idea why the parsly is white (thrips?) or why the chives are ridiculously thin.

My ignorance is certainly a hindrance. Perhaps the best thing is to dig this garden up, sterilise the soil and start afresh. I dream about using plants from seeds this time, but I have no money to buy the seeds*. Next sowing will be strawberries instead (I have the seeds, the leaves are good for herbal tea and the fruit are good for bribing kids - perfect!)

My seedlings are mostly fine. In some dull thought of doing good I put on the plastic hood on the green house - and didn't see that mildew started to grow on the ice plant pots. I've removed the hood and I hope the molding will die as the air starts to circulate around it. If the ice plants survive they'll probably kill their 'guest' all by themselves. They have a habit of poisoning the soil around them with salt. (Hm, I realise this means I have to create a separate soil bin for ice plant soil. Yes! Another project to loose myself in!)

*If you want to make it possible for me to buy some more seeds do click the banner ads. Google AdSense is kind enough to convert my enourmous revenue from peanuts to swedish kronas ;-)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Replanting recycling

I've replanted my little seedlings and couldn't resist making a 'photo reportage' out of the process. Enjoy!


Clean out the greenhouse. As you can see there were soil left in it, which can carry diseases. This is a fancy factory made greenhouse for seedlings I bought before I realised the coolness in using odd stuff left at home. Ah well, at least I had use for it now.


You need; old newspapers, some form of tray for the pots, a spoon you can dedicate entirely for soildigging, soil and something to role the paper around. I used a plastic bottle that hid behind the plastic bucket on this shot. PET Garbo!


These are my little seedlings grown in eggboxes made out of cardboard put in plastic trays originally used for takeaway food. (Sorry about the lousy picture. They probably said something funny in the podcast I was listening to.)


This is one of the boxes I'll use for the plants when they grow bigger. I took it out to meassure the size of the pots I was about to make. The layer of soil will be thin; no more than ten centimetres (four inches). It'll be interesting to see how the common purslane and the iceplants adhere to that. The tigernuts had no problems with it.


Potterytime! Tear a strip of paper roughly twice the size of the pot you are making. Tear in the most easy direction (paper has an easy and a hard tearing direction due to the fiber alignment), rather than according to the form of the paper. You can manage with a rather short strip.


Role the strip around a cylinder of some sort. I'm using a plastic bottle here, the ideal is a small yamjar of glas.


Fold in the paper like this.


Go on until you've formed a bottom.


Gently pull the thing off the cylinder. (I did mention that the cylinder should be next to 100% smooth? My bottle had a small speck of glue that hooked the paper all the time - don't do the same mistake.) Fold the top edge too. This stabilises the pot and makes it possible to further adjust the size.


Fill with soil for potted plants or perennials.


Put the pot on the tray and pour water on the soil. Once wet the pot will soften and will be hard to move around without damaging it. Here I'm using water from our dryer (if you read swedish you can see that it's written on the carboy) since it free from lime. I've had a problem with white crusts in my pots.

A few words on stuff in the soil are in place here. As you can see most of the papers I'm using are bright purple. I don't like it, since the colours are definately not made for eating. If I continue using these kind of pots these colours will bleed into the soil, and since I'm reusing it and are planning to wermicompost leftover vegetables the percentage will get higher over time. When I replant this for the second (and last) time I'll tear away most paper to limit the bleeding. For the next round I consider experimenting with tigernut grass and vegetable glue. Let's see if I get around to it.

Back to the story.


Cut out and trim one of the cups of the eggbox.


Put the little 'bowl' in the bigger pot. The cardboard is porous enough to allow the roots to pass, so I don't do much more than this. This is the first time I experiment with this kind of method, so I don't know how well it works.

The greenhouse is filled with pots and I've used the old trays for collecting the garbage. Trashbin next!


Remember to lable your seedlings. These lables are hard to see from above (mostly you look down on this kind of greenhouse), but you won't accidentaly switch them if you happen to put on the transparent roof the wrong way. Yes, I've done that, and I don't intend to do it again.

Tadaa! My little seedlings have more soil around their roots, won't need constant watering and can grow big and strong.

Besides, my calamondin are growing oodles of buds.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tiger nuts and garlic

Tiger nuts, tufty tiger nuts. I replanted them a week ago, and I'm checking them out several times a day to see if they are growing or withering. It's hard to tell so far. The grass is slightly greener in one of the boxes, the other seems less lively. On the other hand the straws haven't turned completely yellow, so I guess it's hope left for it. I didn't think repotting would be so exciting.

The little white things you can see between the straws are chopped garlic cloves. Perhaps you remember my discovery that sciriadae disappeared when I planted garlic in one of my gardens. I've been experimenting a bit and found that sliced cloves spread on the soil does the trick. My guess is that the little gnats don't like some of the volatiles in the bulb. To be on the safe side I've planted garlic in the boxes anyhow. My plan is to pick the leaves when they're big enough, crush them and spread them on the soil. If that works out I'll save up on garlic.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Autumn today, spring tomorrow...

My little gardens have reached their personal autumns. Won't last long; growing stuff indoors makes you less vulnerable too seasonal changes. The real autumn is noticable too, however, the plants don't press themeselves against the windows anymore, and the added light becomes more and more important.

The reasons behind the personal autumns are my lack of time for the gardens combined with bugs. I have thrips in two windows. At first I planned drastic cures; to empty the windows entirely, clean them and then leave them empty for two weeks. Felt boring though, I mean; two entire weeks without growing anything. So I decided on a milder version. I leave one of the windows be for the moment. I grow my herbs there, and they do fine as long as I spray them with water a few times a day. Thrips don't like a humid climate. The other window will host my tiger nuts. Tiger nuts grows like a weed (ahaha) thrips or no thrips, and since it's the tubers you eat I can spray the grass above as much as I like.

But spring is not far away. Today I brought out my seed envelopes to what I'll sow today or tomorrow. My plan is to do new sowing every other week during some months to see how well this meets the needs and demands for vegetables in this household. One or two times a week I can already add vegetables for my lunch completely out of the containers. The goal to feed the entire family comes closer.

As you see on the picture I have lots of envelopes. I buy seeds like others buy fabric, and I haven't even opened some of them. Adding to that is the seeds I took from my calamondin and a bunch of tasty grapes we bought. It was with a bit of anguish that I selected what to grow this time:

*Common purslane
*Salad 'Frisée d'Amerique'

I'm counting on the calamondin and the grapes to be difficult to grow, so I'll sow them only for fun. To be honest I don't even know what I'll do with a couple of calamondin plants - I guess I'll give them away. Grapeleaves are edible, so they do have a place in this garden. Gadgeteer as I am I'm already inventing contraptions to make it possible to move the plants and provide them with added light.

I'll replant the tiger nuts as well. This includes sterilising soil, boiling soil walls and cleaning boxes. My friends; I'll put my body through a training session a bodybuilder would be proud of.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Will my weed survive?

I realise few gardeners do this, but I grieve my weed. Of course, since I pick weeds to grow this is quite natural, but I still get this surreal feeling about it. What you see above are my tiger nuts, grown in a container too small and neglected for just one day too long. Compare with the photo I took just a few weeks ago.

That's quite a difference, yet I though this tuft was too big and needed to be split up over a bigger area in a deeper container. I looked forward to harvest a few tubers in the process to get a first taster of the plant.

Other things stalled my plans temporarily, including a mysterious virus infection that have kept me down but not given me any fever. This day I regain vigour and when I started to plan my new gardens I discovered this catastrophy. Tiger nuts are a weed because it's impossible to dig up them entirely and every little pice of root left has the ability to grow a new plant. On the other hand they don't take draught well - I think. The tiger nut is related to papyrus, a plant with a big need for water, and the only advice I recieved concerning the 'nuts' was "don't forget to water". Now I fear I've lost parts of my cultivation the very moment I was about to expand.'

I'll see what happens. Fortunately I have two plants in another container, so I'm not entirely without tiger nuts when I'm starting up my new gardens.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


This photo is called "Tom Thumb" (CC), the photgrafer is called Mykl Roventine, you find more of his photos and his profile here.

The other day I harvested my last carrots. They were pretty small. Like a thumb, more or less. And then it occurred to me that this carrot is named "Tom Thumb". Duh! I didn't expect the name to be so close to reality. But it's good to see, now I know this kind fits into smaller containers. I'll be able to save up on soil and to look out through my windows.

Containers are my biggest problem right now - or perhaps my own stingyness. Up untill now I made my own selfwatering containers using plastic boxes from IKEA. One advantage with them turned out to be them being transparent, which makes me able to see the status of the soil and the minor roots through the walls och the container. On the other hand I have to pay precious money to get them. In our storage I have several 'real' selfwatering pots gathering dust. If my carrots grows into 'thumbs' why not use them?

Experience tells me that soil in those pots turns into spongy yuck in a few months - probably because I can't see if water is needed and overwater the plants inside. I'm a notorious overwaterer. But my stingyness is whispering to me
"It'll turn out okej this time. After all you've been growing things systematically for over a year."

This is where I'm stuck, between a rock and a hard place - or perhaps between plastic and pot.