Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!


Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year dear readers - and if you are celebrating something else, like Chanukka or Kwanzaa I wish you Happy Holidays and A Happy New Year (hope you can stand that I don't know the proper greetings for the festivities)! This year this blog goes on vacation during the holidays and starts again the seventh of January 2009. I'm up to my ears in preparations for Christmas and am quite enjoying myself. The Indoor Hubby and Indoor Son sends their greetings with this soon to be gingerbread house; old man Pettson's cottage with hen house and privy non the less. I hope you all are enjoying the season!

Friday, December 19, 2008

To do list: study ecological farming and feed the worms

Yupp, I'm keeping the schedule! Yesterday I studied ecological farming...

erm...

...in reality I read a few pages every day, so you'll have to wait a bit for my Big and Learned Post on the subject. Untill then I can say that it's interesting to read about something in quite another size than my own fiddlings.

Today I fed the worms. That was something that took me a looooooong time to do. I was expecting odour, but when I finally came around to do it I did it so fast that the smell couldn't keep up. Self-preservation is a good thing.

Before I emptied the can of food into the compost I poured out the worm fluid. About three deciliter (more than a cup) of prime black water to feed to the plants. When I watched the level rise in the bottle I realised that I've reach a milestone, one of those I've waited for

I'm now selfsuficiant in fertiliser



The vermicomposts did the trick. When I came around setting them up the rest was a matter of weeks. Still I think a celebratory woho is in place. Wohoo!

So, this is what's left on the list


  • Sterilise soil
  • Mix new potting soil (jay for home made worm fertiliser!)
  • Repot seedlings
  • Buy sills, consoles, lamps, chains and flourescent lights
  • Paint sills
  • Put up sills and added light
  • Move the mound of pallets under the window in the study
  • Put the potted plants in their new places
  • Order seeds


Will I keep the pace? Let's see...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To do list

My lungs used their veto today, I need to take it easy. Instead of repotting my seedlings I'll make a to do list for slow execution - else nothing will be done in this household.

To do

  • Sterilise soil
  • Feed the worms (the tin can is full again)
  • Mix new potting soil (jay for home made worm fertiliser!)
  • Repot seedlings
  • Buy sills, consoles, lamps, chains and flourescent lights
  • Paint sills
  • Put up sills and added light
  • Move the mound of pallets under the window in the study
  • Put the potted plants in their new places
  • Order seeds
  • Study ecological farming


I should be able to do one thing per day. Stay tuned to see if I succeed! :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Plant care

The best tip I've ever heard was to have a tad fertiliser in the water every time you water the plants. Plants eats like us; a bit at the time. If you only had a meal a week you wouldn't feel so good, even if you had a thirty five course banquet. Plants works in the same way. Rather obvious really, but we tend to think that the soil will work as a larder, portioning out the nutrition evenly. Unfortunately it doesn't do that all the time, and the chance is that you water it out when you overflow the container.

I've been using a mild nutrient solution for two weeks. Have I noticed any difference? Well, the tomatoes has set more and bigger fruits. Now, tomatoes are hungry beeings, so I'm not that surprised. My other plants have not changed in the same obvious way, but they do look healthier. Right now I'm short of grown up plants, but it will be interesting to see how my 'gardens' fare when I've got all my beds up.

And it's time to crank up the pflantzensprüher to hunt thrips again. My chives have turned both curly and bald.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Muppet Show - Banana Sharpener + collection



Don't we all have problems with those blunt bananas laying around unorderly? No? Dr. Bunsen Honeydew still has a solution in this small vid from Muppet Labs. Enjoy!

Collection of the week is the one I prematurely presented on Thursday (impatience is a virtue :) ).

The Indoor Gardener's Christmas Gift List

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas 2008 at Baytree Garden Centre



I'm not sure what this has to do with gardening. Unless Santa has rationalised his sleigh ride and the english are forced to hang their stockings in the garden to get anything (swedes are spoiled with a personal visit by Santa on Christmas Eve). Big garden centers do get a bit desperate over the winter, and I can honestly say that the big plant malls in Sweden take on a similar look in October.

Having delivered this cynical piece I'm going to lean back and indulge in something I love; wide eyed enthusiastic endorsement of christmas, Christmas, CHRISTMAS. I love this holiday, and to be honest I really wish for MORE glitter, tinsel and decorations. (Humming "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas".)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tired indoor gardener arranges Christmas collections

Ouch, first pneumonia and then winter vomiting disease. I feel pummeled soft right now. I spend my day in the rocking chair while the plants are on their own in their containers. They seem to be doing fine, thanks to cloudy days and my use of lifelines. The Indoor Garden hubby stays at home caring for me and the son, so I can take it easy for a while.

Strangely enough I can take it easy when it comes to Christmas too; we've already bought christmas food and most of the christmas presents. I don't know how this happened, normally we'd run around like madmen now. Since this makes me able to spice up the details I thought this blog deserved a gift of sorts.

The gift is a small 'collection' (ie. a christmas gift list) I've set up at Send A Cow, a registered charity in the UK. The items you find at the list will be sent to people in Africa to rebuild torn societies and you can either buy an specific thing, like magic muck or harvest training, or donate a sum of money of your choice.

The Indoor Gardener's Christmas Gift List

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hallo, hallo, norovirus...

...thanks for a day of cleaning up after my son while my stomach was twisting in cramps. Luckily enough (for me) lemon balm tea sothered the sickness. A tip for others sharing the same fate, perhaps.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Help, help, I'm being...



Can't help thinking of some of the organic farmers I've met when I see this. You can't add much more than this link. Monty Python is posting their best on YouTube to get us buying more of their dvds, so do go on; make someone laugh this Christmas!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Virginia Farm Bureau - In the Garden - Christmas Decorations



Some home decoration ideas for christmas. I had no idea that needles comes in those sizes - swedish pine trees are more humble.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good harvest at the library

I was offline yesterday due to my visit to Uppsala City Library. The café over the street has a pretty good wlan, but it was out of order yesterday. Rats!

Anyhow, I found some interesting books. You know, since I've recently had pneumonia I should take it easy on myself. And the sensible thing to do when being easy on oneself is to borrow one book. My addiction for gardening books have reached an serious level ie. I'm going for agricultural books now. A couple of months ago I borrowed a textbook from agricultural school and I wanted to read it again. However it wasn't on the shelf so I settled for a handbook in "ecological farming", a sensibly written one.

Since I couldn't spend the afternoon surfing on my favourite café I returned to the library after lunch - still believing I could refrain from borrowing more than one book. But I found a very small book; a scientific report on ecological farming in Sweden. You know, I've never before seen a scientific report you can fit into your handbag. And someone had dribbled compost (?) over the pages. I'm beginning to find those little traces of former readers quite charming, and since the weight was next to nothing I borrowed that too.

It could have stayed with that. Unfortunately I crossed the indoor square where the librarians displays books they think you should borrow and entered (drums of fate) the 'foliant' section (if "foliant" isn't an english word I can tell you that books in folio formats are the Big Books in a library).

With one normal and two Big Books in my backpack I stumbled out of the library on my way to daycare to pick up my son. I mean, it's soon christmas and a book on christmas celebrations can come in handy. Don't ask me why the artist made the little kids on the cover look like zombies - there's probably some deep reasoning behind. Beeing a romantic I couldn't leave "Planting a Bible Garden" or "The Shaker Garden" on the shelf either.

With five books and a computer in the backpack I my steps were somewhat heavy, but since I survivded the journey home with my son I can probably say that I am on the mend. Hooray!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Odor

The last time I watered my plants with mild wormfluid sollution I noted how bad it smelled. The soil then seemed to absorb the odor since I can't feel anything reeking around my plants - and I have a good sense of smell.

Vermicompost fluid doesn't pass through the worms all the time. Sometimes it pours directly from the kitchen waste into the tray for liquids, at that's why some of it smell bad. I keep the kitchen waste in an airtight tin on the sink before I put it in the compost. Since I only empty the tin about once in a week the scraps starts to break down. Things that breaks down with little oxygen smells bad.

So, what am I to do about it? Well, for a start I'll empty the tin more often, and in the long run I'll drill some extre holes in the vermicompost containers. You may remember that I found foul smelling food when I divided my compost into two some time ago, and I suspect the containers to be a bit to tight.

And I'll by a bokashi. I know I've been going on about this contrapition for a long time now, but I haven't bought one (too much month at the end of the money). If Santa is nice I'll be able to buy one on the evening the twentyfourth of december. If not I'll have to save up for a few months - and in the meantime be nit-picking about emptying the tin.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A thought...

I have four eggplants growing, and I'm the only one in the family who likes aubergine. Maybe I should start looking for pickle recipes already.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I've soiled my hands...

Today I gathered strength enough to pot some of my seedlings. I realised that I wouldn't be able to handel the entire batch so I settled for the eggplants since they looked perky. The project then grew fast; the terracotta pots needed soaking, it looked like I was running out of premixed soil which meant I had to drag out used soil for sterilisation. The used soil was dry as tinder, and I used about five litres (1 1/3 gallon) of water to get it moist enough for the heat of the oven (dry soil smolders and stinks).

After doing all this I had the pleasure to mix my own soil. I brought out one of the vermicomposts and harvested the produce by hand from the top layer. Not the most sofisticated method, but a start. I mixed the compost with sterilised soil, the rest of the premixed soil and water. It'll be interesting to see how it works.

After half a year of testing I can recommend coconut fiber as a grow medium. You may remember that I brought some home from Nordic gardens this spring. Since then I've mixed it with my soil and used it for tomatoes and other plants. Works really well. The fibres add structure to the soil and prevents it from building that crust you'll find in a pot when you try to save a plant you haven't watered for a while. The fibres also makes the soil easier to handle when you dig around in it. The fact that they are sold in briquettes makes them easy to store - a plus when you are gardening in small spaces.

I'll buy a generous amount of coconut fibre when my wallet so allows. Appart from using them in my soil I'll use them as bedding in my vermicompost. I've tried newspaper, shredded egg cartons and moist leaves, and I do suspect that coconut fibre will be the bedding most easy to handle.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yatta and collection of the week



If you want to dance yatta and need to grow suitable leaves I do recommend monstera deliciosa - a hardy houseplant. An added bonus is that anyone well endowed will have no troubble finding the right size. (In case you wonder; this is a parody of japanese boy band made by some of the most well known japanese comedians under the name of Happa-tai (leaf squad). The dance have become an internet phenomena and I publish it on this blog because... because... there are green leaves involved?)

This week I choose to promote Urban Farming on Indoor Gardener (the swedish motherblog Parkettodlaren features VI-skogen, an NGO that has been successfull in planting trees around lake Victoria in Africa). The NGO aims at planting food on unused land in cities, and have around 600 gardens around the USA (2008). I'll let them introduce themselves via the vid under the link.

Urban Farming donation page



Friday, November 28, 2008

Just a test...

Today I parboiled red borecole (kale) and when I poured off the hot water I could see that it had turned smurf blue. I guess my reaction tells quite a lot about me.

Did I scream? - No.

Did I curse those organic methods that clearly had gone too far? - No.

Did I think that the farmer had used smurfs as fertiliser? - No.

Instead I pondered over those blue streaks in my sink "probably the red colour of the leaves turns blue when diluted with water - I wonder if it works as red cabbage too?" If you didn't know it, red cabbage can be used as pH indicator: when the cooking water is basic it turns blue (however not smurf blue), and when the cooking water is acidic it turns red. I found some vinegar and dropped a drip on the blue floods on my chopping-board. Bingo! They turned barbie pink.

I've sometimes pondered to use red cabbage when testing my soil. True, you don't get that colour scale with a head of cabbage like you do when you buy a lithmus paper or one of those kits Patti Moreno is using. On the other hand it's cheap and you can bask in that warm and fuzzy feeling of using only natural stuff.

If I ever run out of lithmus paper I'll try the cabbage method, and I will use borecole. Say watever you like about smurf blue and barbie pink - the colours do cheer you up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A few facts about grow light

Today's work was to empty the container I filled with water yesterday. My plan was to save it for the flowers, but the 'bath tub' prooved irresistible for the younger generation and when I found the cans for flowerwater already filled I gave in and fetched a siphon.

To get you something to read I tracked down a good page about grow light on the net. Little Greenhouse sell greenhouses (surprise) and have put some facts on their website. It's a clear and consise overview.

Indoor Plant Grow Light Guide



If you want added light and can't afford the lamps described you can use ordinary cold-white fluorescent tubes as bright as possible. They work almost as well and are far cheaper. I use them myself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Decisions, decisions


I felt better today and we went on a trip to IKEA. May not be the wisest thing to do, but I have spent days staring at walls and wanted some change, and the furniture mall do have the best restaurant for our budget.

Our goal was to buy the plastic container on the picture above. We've finished our sketches on aquaponics and are due to make some tests. The test of today was to fill the box SAMLA (64 liters) with water to see if it could take it without distortion. It did, almost. Now we have to agree on what to do about it; should we build a support or use double boxes?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Impressed by the vermicompost

Things works at a slower pace right now, and this has been the case for a while (I wonder how long I've been ill). A couple of days ago we finally fed the worms. I've invested in a tight tin for vegetable scraps so we don't have to disturb the vermicompost with every other hour. The plan was to empty it every third day...

When we finally emptied the tin I had lost count on how many weeks it was since last. It STUNK! I'm not a squeely person, but I couldn't clean it out afterwards, even at a second try. The only thing I could think of was
"Bokashi, I'd rob a bank to buy a bokashi!"

Of course the vermicompost started to smell once we'd fed it and the odour spred far beyond the understairs cupboard where the wormsies live. I passed it several times agonising on our resale value since I was convinced this stench would dig itself into the walls. At the same time I noticed it was diminishing, but attributed it to the nose getting used to it.

The next morning the odour was gone - completely. To be sure that my senses didn't play tricks on me I stuck my head into the cupboard and took a deep breath through the nose. The only thing I could smell was wet leaves. I asked the hubby to do the same, and he didn't feel anything either. In a few hours the wormsies had devoured all the stinky stuff - and I have a feeling they found it delicious.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How to test your garden soil (GardenGirlTV)



My plan was to write about soil this week, but since I'm ill I have to "hire" a substitute. There are a lot of interesting stuff in this vid where Patti Moreno analyses the soil in her raised beds with the help of an expert, Mark Highland from Organic Mechanic Soil.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I went to the doctor today

The Cold From Hell turned out to be pneumonia. May seem to be bad news, but it is a jackpot to me; at last I can get medication and heal! My lifelines have come to good use today too, and tomorrow an exciting event will take place here; the hubby (age fifty) and the son (age three) will harvest wormfluid and feed the worms in the vermicompost - after my instructions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If you can't do it all do some of it...

My lifelines came to use this day. I've caught the Cold From Hell and hardly have the strength to think. Still I (finally!) brought down the lamps I use to give the seedlings growlight. You fight to the bitter end...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Things you don't do...

Today I had lunch with a friend who grew up on a farm, running around the barnyard, driving tractors and everything else included in the concept. I, on the other hand, grew up in the city close to cars and heavy traffic. To this day my friend doesn't walk close open water (they had a well and a river on the farm) and I was twenty before I realised that the street beneath the sidewalk won't give you a electric shock and kill you when you step on it.

We had some fun over our respective hang ups, and then I said
"But sometimes you get odd knowledge: My father taught me well and hard that you don't plant fir trees on good arable land..."
Before I could finish the sentence I saw her shudder
"No," she said, "you should not plant fir trees on cropland."

It's true. I go nuts if I see fir trees on good soil (for example as a living fence around a house), and apparently I'm not alone disliking the sight. But what's the problem with it? Well, fir trees depletes the soil and acidify it. If you have a good ground you should take care of it!

I have to think in a similar way when I grow stuff indoors. At least one of the plants I've grown poison the place where it stands. The ice plant can grow in salinic soil, and that's why it sees to make its environment more salty. In short it gathers salt in stems and leaves, and when the mother plant rots it releases the mineral into the ground making it unusefull for any other plants but the seedlings from its own seeds.

Well, you don't need to let the plants wilter (hard) or rot (haven't tried yet) in the container, but ice plants are among the vegetables I don't put in my vermicompost. I feel the salt from foodscraps are enough for the wormsies to handle. Moreover, everything that goes into the compost travels on to the soil, the plants and then into me. As to salt I suspect that the plants are worse off than me, on the other hand there are other things that will have their impact on me. Used tea leaves and coffee grounds are banned from the compost, eventhough they are said to make a great end result. The coffein would soon end up in a tomato close to me, and even if coffeinated vegetables may appeal to some I have my doubts if it's good in the long run. After all, I will feed these vegetables to my three year old.

I've weighed myself for the first time after joining Sparkpeople.com. One pound lost on one week, wohoo!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lemon Tree Animation (with Subtitles) + collections



This is an animated video for Fool's Garden's "Lemon Tree". It's far from Pixar, but I fell for the clever adaption of limited possibilities made by mikemillenium17.

I take some liberties on Sundays, and this week I decided to add weekly collections to my funday. The background is my discovery of Fundable where people can start collections for any cause. CD recordings, fundraising for birthday gifts, help with vet bills - you can find anything. While browsing the website to find out how it works I found this. In short a mother (?) ask for help paying a second co-pay to the insurance company billed to her since her daughter had to spend 36 hours at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) when she was born. And it's not peanuts to pay, it's $1,500. (I'm not bragging, since the swedish social security system has it snags and malfunctions, but we had to pay $50 when I delivered our son, which included two days at hospital - meals included, and two doctors, a nurse and a midwife assisting through a somewhat troublesome event.) Since I'm broke I can't afford to give ten dollars, but I decided to post a link to the collection at my blog.

Please give, and if you are as broke as I am forward the link to more people instead.

Our Hospital Bills-NICU



Since you're giving on trust at Fundable I decided to add a weekly 'collection' for a well known NGO too - they must have a long history of being trustworhty and have a 90-postal giro in Sweden (swedish authorities check NGO's collecting money in Sweden and gives the reliable ones a special postal giro number starting with 90). Since I've heard about at least three catastrophes while browsing the news the last month (flooding in Yemen, forest fires in California and conflict in Congo) the first one out is the Red Cross. Catastrophes happens, and they are among the few who always are there to help. The link is to the donations page of the American Red Cross, if you live elsewhere you can find your country via their international website here.

Red Cross donate online

Saturday, November 15, 2008

FRESNEL LENS SUN COLLECTOR Heating a Swimming Pool...



I like GREENPOWERSCIENCE. Dan Rohas makes interesting demonstrations of solar power using fresnel lenses (flat magnifiers - the size he uses is normaly used in phares) and parabols. For some reason things often bursts into flames, even when he's demonstrating how to heat your pool with solar power.

Of course you can boil water this way. Take a look at the sequel:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Didn't do much today...

Today I moved one of my seedling nurseries to a brighter place.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I finally came around to do it!

Today I 'shifted' my vermicompost. After spending weeks trying to make middle walls for the containers I happened to read in "Worms Eat My Garbage" (the vermicompost standard work) that a barrier wasn't necessary. Duh!

A compost with a pierced middle wall will probably be more tidy, but if the process works without it I'm ready to let my composts (they're two now) be as they are for a while. Perhaps I'll even get around to make barriers some day...

Digging around in that brown goo was quite fascinating. I found a mass of worms, big and small ones alike. They do thrive. But they hadn't finished their meal and their leftovers stunk when I moved them around. Perhaps the containers have too few air holes - I need to look this up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lifelines

Rats! Today I took a quick look on a job I was planning to apply for, and realised that the deadline was today. Instead of building stuff for my worms I wrote CVs and personalised letters and clicked through web forms.

Days like this comes every now and then, so what do you do if you keep your entire garden indoors? Eventhough I'm trying to devise this system to be as lowmaintenance as possible I currently have to check up on my plants and water them once a day. This is why I've put up a few lifelines.

The first one is a recycled plasticbottle in my fridge labled "diluted worm pee" (gross, I know, but at least I don't mix it up with something edible). Whenever I have access to "worm pee" (the fluid that pours from the bottom of the vermicompost) I mix a tad into the water when I'm watering the plants (one half deciliter of fluid to fifteen deciliter of water). Of course I don't do this when I have Importent Things to Handle (tm). In these situations it's good to have some premixed solution to pour over the tomatoes, the hugriest plants in my 'garden'. Perhaps it's not good to chock the roots with cold water, but the plants haven't complained so far.

The second lifeline is to leave the watering can at least half full. This way I can just grabb it and rescue a plant that's started wiltering. In this case I can congratulate myself on using room tempered water.

The last life line is our own water carafe in the kitchen. The water is hardly demineralised, but it works when the ever thirsty basils are drooping. I guess they're happy we've not fallen for the trend with carbonated water.

Oh, and I've joined Sparkpeople to loose weight. It's a pretty fun program actually, easy to handle and completely free. Yesterday when I weighed myself I was clocking in at 88 kilos (194 pound), my aim is 60 kilos (132 pound) by february 2010.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The battle against murphy

I've demolished a plastic lid today. I was trying to make some barriers for my vermicompost and the thing didn't cooperate. I blame the fret saw! I'll make another attempt tomorrow, this time with the jigsaw. Battle continues...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Muppet Show - English Country Garden



Another version of "English Country Garden" with muppets. Wonder why I fell for this one...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

TreehuggerTV: Urban Homestead



I wonder if I'll end up like this some day...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Seedlings and fishes



You know, sometimes I surprise myself. Last week I sowed some seeds, and now I'm panicking because the seedlings are starting to surface. That's one thing I should've forseen. And now I'm frantically looking for a preliminary seedling nursery somewhere. My babyplants are placed in a eastern window and are already too outstretched to be healthy. They need light! I would like to place them on the windowsill in my study, but that room is filled with rubbish and the area in front of the window is blocked by a pile of pallets.

The seedlings are not the only things destinied for my study once everything else is carried out of it. The study is also the room where I'll place my first aquaponic systems. Yesterday I printed a very good manual on "barrel-ponics" ie. a system made of barrels invented by Travis W Hughey. Together with hubby (chemical engineer and old tropical fish enthusiast - sometimes I'm more lucky than I deserve) I modified the system into two even simpler systems for indoor use.

If you are interested in aquaponics I rekommend starting with the barrel-ponics manual. You can download it for free and it's quite good. If you can afford it I ask you to donate to the author, though, anyone giving away things should be encouraged. If you'll find you want more I recommend Aquaponics.com with informative articles and a book store that makes me drool...

My first systems won't be that remarcable. Hubby and I decided on goldfishes for the first tries. Today we went to one of the local petstores to check out the current prices. A small goldfish cost thirtyfive kronas (about five dollar) a neon tetra five kronas (about seventyfive cents) - hm I may use tetras instead. A sixtyfive litre (seventeen gallon) aquarium would cost me close to sixhundred kronas (about seventyfive dollar). Interestingly enough a plastic box of the same size is sold at IKEA for seventynine kronas (ten dollar) and I know that members of our local tropical fish association use them for nursery tanks. I have tough decisions to make.

And speaking of tough decisions, Just a short thanks to my US readers that you voted last night. No matter who you voted for the action in itself counts. Thanks.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Chris Elliott and Gerard Mulligan's Tips For Green Living



This is humour on compost level, so you may want to avoid this vid if you have a week stomach. Since I met hardcore enviromentalists and garden enthusiast I still have a kind of "but it is just like that" feeling.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sustainable Dave Explains Vermicomposting



Time for the Saturday vid, once again we are watching an tutorial in vermicomposting. Worms make you a bit nervous, especially before you've started the vermicompost and I liked the calm attitude of Sustainable Dave, so I thought a small repetition was appropriate. It's true what he says - it's fairly uncomplicated.

The links flashing at the end of the vid are www.365daysoftrash.com and www.chasingsustainability.blogspot.com. Both are blogs about sustainable living and seems to be nice reading.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And a portion of Life (TM)

My post about sowing will be late. I spent the night between wednesday and thursday in the emergency room at the university hospital.

Yes, I'm feeling well, however I'm a tad squished. (Why on earth put a telly in the waiting room and then tune in MTV - without sound?)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Return of the Indoor Gardener



You may wonder what I've done these weeks. I've been thinking mostly, I needed that. Unfortunately one of the weeks was claimed buy norovirus, so I had to postpone the gifts I planned for you. Right now I blogging at my favourite café while trying not to think on what a kliché I am. They got plastic plants, I'll spare you a picture. 'Even a whiltered plant is better than a flourishing plastic flower' to travesty the old indoeuropeans.

I've several plans for the blog. Coming next is my sowing round for Christmas. I'm dreaming of freshly picked tomatoes and green leaves on the christmas table. The next post will be a picture reportage from this event to give you deep insights in these (rather shallow) mysteries. I hope to make more informative posts like that. Another plan is to try out more plants and methods to get higher yields. If I ever build those seedling benches is another question, perhaps some things are better left as they are.

Having said that I wish a Happy Diwali to all who celebrates!



* The original saying goes something like "Even a thin horse is better than a wellfed ass." (I'm translating classical sanskrit via swedish.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An interruption

I've had a comment that it's few facts on how to grow vegetables indoors in this blog. This is partially because it's hard to fit into the blog format I'm aiming for, but I have to admit that I'm not content myself. I'll take a paus over two weeks to make some technical and factual updates. See you all the 28th of October!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hate to see waste


Sunflowers and fennel. Will probably work just as well in a sallad as in a bouquet, and in addition to that this picture shows what my worms will wiggle in in the future. I went down to my allotment the other day. I can still find vegetables in the mass of weed. (People are taking liberties with my patch since it looks deserted - not good. I hope to keep the chard, at least.)

The fennel have survived the first frosty nights. My theory is that the weed works like a blanket, and now I have bulbs that are big as handball balls. I picked a few of them to see if they will work in a casserole, and to get them into the fridge I had to cut off the 'antennas'. Then I realised that the 'dilly' stuff at the end would be possible to dry and use as bedding in the vermicompost - thus I spent an extra half an our cleaning them. The old sunflower bouquet had some leaves that seemed to be useful so they went the same way - ie. up to the linnen sheets in the study to dry and then down the vermicompost. Sometimes I wonder if I may be a tad too economical.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The World Bank and Durga Puja



I've had one of those tired weekends, so I have to post both the saturday and the sunday vid today. The first one is from the World Bank, I'm actually subscribed to their channel. From my days in the politics and in various NGOs my view on this institution hasn't been good. In fact I thought for long that I'd subscribed to the channel of an alternative organisation with a similar name. This both proves how rusty I am and how low my view on the WB has been. But I may have to rethink this a little.

I hope so.

This vid is about the Global Development Marketplace competition of the year. The theme was sustainable agriculture and we can see a fascinating lot of projects, and some of them holds relevance to indoor gardening.

The other vid is an animation about Durga Puja. Durga is an indian goddess and her festival (puja) ended this Thursday. I could write quite a lot about Durga, indian religion and festivals, but I sugest you enjoy the vid instead. Some things are best understood with the heart.

Friday, October 10, 2008

That's it!

cat
more animals

Will be back next week, with new and fresh texts and vegetables. Enjoy the saturday and sunday vids during the weekend!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Soon it's time...

...to put some of the potatoes I grown on the "sprouting bench". This will be exciting!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A few things you didn't know

Some days ago I awarded "The Tree of Happiness Award" to the Hunky Gardener with "Guy Meets Garden" (among others). He was so thrilled he passed the award along to all of his readers, as well as a tag. The tag requires me to tell seven quirky facts about myself, so here we go:

1. I´m tooting when I blow my nose. It's so bad that my grandma once asked if someone rang the doorbell when I blew my nose outside her room.

2. One of my jobs on the side was to play ms Santa at a computer company christmas party.

3. During said party the christmas tree went up in flames due to misplaced fireworks, which in the end made me offer Tore Skogman (old iconic swedish entertainer) an icecream.

4. I'm a big time gadgeteer. The only reason I don't carry a pocket blow torch in my handbag is that I can't find any excuse for doing so.

5. When I was a kid I ran and hid somewhere as soon as there was romance on the telly. I had no problem with fights and gory war scenes, but my mother wouldn't allow me to see them. I had some difficulties to follow the story in the shows I was watching.

6. We don't have a telly since we have too many other interests and hobbies. The last telly was thrown out when we discovered that the on/off button had a thick layer of dust on top. (Yup, this was so long ago that the telly had one of those.)

7. I managed to get into the manuscript department of British Library and handle real codexes (medieval handwritten manuscripts) without understanding a word of what the librarians said to me. We were all fluent in english.

(Hm, to be honest on that last fact; I did understand the head curator, which probably saved my day at BL. Still, the portrait on my Readers Pass (taken on spot) displays the most magnificent linguistical panic I've ever seen.)

Well, my friends, the tag is yours! Post a comment if you accept it - I'm always open for new knowledge :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Against the odds

I spent some time today gathering nettles and comfrey for the vermicompost, which means I passed the allotment area. I can't remember when I visited my allotment, so my hopes were low when I gazed across the field to "my" spot. Of course there were a few eye sores there, like big bushes of weed, but the sunflowers were flourishing too, and when I took a closer look I could see a healthy tuft of swiss chard. Everything isn't lost.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Canticle of the Sun


A world where all its parts counts as brothers and sisters of human. No, it's not some hippie who wrote this, simply because the author lived long before the term was invented. It's Francis of Assissi, he's gradually becoming a role model for enviromentalists who happen to be christians. Since he lived eight hundred years ago, before most of the big schisms, most of the modern day churches can listen to his words. If you are a christian I advise you to read and learn.

If you're not a christian I hope you can stand this excursion to another religion. [And if you are scared by the words "Woe to those who die in mortal sin" perhaps I should mention that when you examine 'mortal sin' more closely you'll find that it's extremly hard to die in it. You can go there, and that's serious, but it's hard to reach this far and there are a lot of escape doors and second chances before that.]

The Canticle of the Sun was played at our wedding, although to another melody. If you can stand watching the entire mr Bean skit you'll hear it at the end.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Another way to gain time

Yesterday I quit a job. One job. For a while I've had two jobs and a company to care for beside the family. I'm probably not the only one who finds this a tad much, and you may have noticed that I've updated Indoor Gardener irregularly in the meantime. But it's been a good job; it provided me with a steady income (albeit a small one), lots of scrap paper and all those packingstraps I'm now turning into baskets and spare parts for my vermicomposting system, so I can't complain.

Now I'm looking forward to spend more time with my plants. Bliss!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The worms deliver

The bottom tray of my homemade vermicompost has remained dry for a very long time. According to Those Who Know surplus fluid would seep into it, making an excellent base for compost tea. However my vermicompost seemed to have reach the ideal percentage of moist at once, so I stopped checking the tray...

...untill the day before yesterday when hubby accidentally poured some deciliters (cups) of black liquid over the floor while he was tidying the understairs cupboard. This made him a bit tired, not only for the sake of the puddle, but also since he had wasted valuable fertiliser. We decided to not cry over spilt drips, and today we had enough to make the first everyday watering with compost tea.

Thus, eventhough I'm frustrated that everything takes longer time than expected, I'm proud to see that I'm steadily nearing the goal.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just a little grumpy


Today I found myself wondering why I haven't taken up stamp collecting as a hobby. Stamps are tiny, easy to store and won't give you any strange DIY ideas. While I was at it I wondered why I had to take "frugal living" as a second hobby, instead of buying myself free from troubble.

What I was doing? Making separation walls for my vermicomposts. Took far longer than I had expected and the material was wiggling in a way only millions of packingstraps can wiggle. I hope I'll finish the project tomorrow, or on Thursday - perhaps even on Friday...

(Dear Santa, I want a Can O Worms and a bokashi starter set for Christmas!)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Living With the Land Greenhouses



A small vid from Epcot Center in Florida. The day I can afford to bring the family over the Big Blue we'll definately pay a visit to this place. I've been told that there are special behind the scenes tours where you get in closer contact with the plants, and I do suspect that, given a chance, I'll have both of the tours. Who can ever resist riding a tiny boat guided by a voice that gives you clear "2001: A Space Odyssey" vibes?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"My Indoor Vegetable Garden"



I use the citation marks since it's not mine indoor garden but the Moment Studio's. I can only admit defeat and add that I want a garden like that when I grow up.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tommy's troll


Well, I should've continued my fresh start today, but something came in between. It was a... a... a tiny troll (we usually call it Tommy's troll) that hit me in the head while I was reading a catalogue over expensive company courses (someone thinks my own little project has an enormous budget). I shouldn't have laid down in our futon doing so - Tommy's troll is well known for his habit of hiding behind sofas.

I slept through the entire forenoon and woke up just in time for the parental social at my son's daycare. The work will continue tomorrow, I give you a bonus picture of my tomatoes in the meantime.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fresh start!


My plans for the fresh start of this season has always been to clear, clean, restock and finish one window at the time. To finish a unit at a time makes the working process comprehensible and gives visible results (as I would say as a project manager).

This morning I didn't feel for this method at all - I collected every container with a dead plant in the entire house and did them all in one row. The leaves was saved for the worms (bedding material), the soil was poured into a plastic box and lignified twigs were thrown away. The extremly dead amaranth strewed seeds around and I collected them in an envelope - I'll never need to buy those again (however I may need to hamper my inner collector, the pile of homepicked seeds are getting bigger by the week). I washed the terracotta pots and tidied the workplace while they were sterilised in the oven. Everything went smooth and I even had a few minutes to rest before picking up the son at daycare. I was proud...

...untill I saw the last pot, sitting proudly at the middle of the Table, unemptied and uncleaned.
"Hidden in plain sight" as my grandpa used to say.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tree of Happiness award


This friday Indoor Gardener was honoured with the Tree of Happiness award by Adekun. Thanks, I'm very flattered! This means it's my turn to list six things that makes me happy. Hm, let's see now...


  • Books (among them big coffee table books on gardening)
  • Libraries
  • Coming home and be met by my son who happily runs towards me shouting "Mommyyyyyyyyyy!"
  • See that my mini gardens are healthy
  • Chocolate
  • Seed catalogues


Now I pass the award on to six new recievers:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cypress Garden Pirates



It's true that you can find almost anything on YouTube, but this was the closest to an actual pirate garden I could come (the performance takes place at Cypress Garden). Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Arrrr! Garden like a pirate!


Today it's Talk Like A Pirate Day. It's time t' brin' out t' parrot, say Arrr! t' your loved ones and garden like a pirate.

Wait! Garden like a pirate?

Yup, gardenin' aboard be pretty easy, as long as you remember that you work in a space even more cramped than a city flat and have t' be economical about it. T' polarship Tara have a small hydroponic garden aboard. If I have any landlubbers among me readers I'll add that Tara be a schooner build t' last a two year deep freeze in t' Arctic ice and be dimensioned t' that task. By natutical standards t' garden on t' pictures enjoy oceans o' space.

Still ships and boats for ye everyday people offer possibilities t' garden. Among those who sets up a home aboard it's not unusual t' garden for t' galley. If you choose a ships as big as a ketch you'll have space enough for some spices and perhaps some bigger plants like tomatoes or chard. Anne Mankovich aboard Roux did so, and in her article she mentions t' other two important rules for nautical gardenin'; be religious about waterin', because plants dry out smartlyer, and try t' protect them from t' salty winds.

What would I recommend an aspirin' pirate gardener t' grow, then? If you be aye you can provide clean fresh water and a bit o' space a Tiny Tim tomato be pretty good (tomatoes be sensitive o' poisons and tend t' sour up as soon as it's somethin' fishy about either water or air). Chard descends from t' sea beet and be probably a tad resistant t' salt, in addition t' that it gives high yields on few plants. If you read Anne Mankovich's article you'll see that t' herbs that faired best was rosemary, chives, thyme, parsley and basil. T' french scientists aboard Tara grow different kinds o' sallad, wheat grass among other leafy thin's. Aboard a normal hoilday sailin' boat (up t' 40 feet in Sweden) where space be cramped and t' journeys be short I recommend sprouts; occupies an extremely small place and grows smartly.

Are thar any typical pirate plants? Well, I don't know. Our romantic pirate image hails from t' seventeenth and eighteenth Caribian, a place where it should be possible t' grow cactuses - if you want somethin' spikey t' throw at your eneme. Somalia, where we find a modern day flourishin' pirate town, enjoy a similar climate (avoid these waters if you plan t' sail around t' world - these pirates have real weapons and be not jokin'). But cactuses be seldom edible and thus a waste o' space. Grow somethin' more delicious and throw t' entire container at t' foe if you get boarded - you can follow up usin' your prunin' shears or weed hook in a close combat situation.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The last window


I think this picture speaks for itself. I'll tidy this area and sow all those new plants needed. Perhaps I'll even get around to build that nursery I made some plans for close to a year ago.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The issue of worms


What do you think lies beneath this? Right, I've already mentioned worms. But untill I looked under the paper I didn't know how they fared (you have a picture at the end of the post if you want to take a sneak peak). For over a week I've left the vermicompost alone under our stairs, while the vermifood have been left in a enameled tin can on our sink. It's both a blessing and a curse that the pot have a window, since I can see how much it's inside and how fresh it is... The vermicompost has indeed provided me with some new and fresh mental obstacles; the cloud of fungus gnats lifting from it was discouraging, and emptying a can with vegetable scraps and breadcrumbs that has pickled for over a week is nothing I look forward to. Ironically the last item prolonges itself; me not wanting to empty old scraps that turns into even olders scraps that I even less want to empty, untill I grab myself by the throat and do it.

The fungus gnats were gone when I took out the vermicompost today. I do hope that long periods of pitch dark are exactly what's needed to not make them feel at home. The other reason may be that I've gone from digging the scraps into the bedding to covering the stuff with a wet broadsheet - paper is harder to lay eggs in compared to pulp. The compost worms themselves can dig through it, if you look closely you can see a vermirump sticking up above the surface. (No, it's not mooning me, it's just too lazy to crawl down entirely.) Since colour printing in general includes unedible stuff my first step with this one is to replace the sheet with some raw, brown paper.

I was afraid that the vermicompost would be another one of my problem childs, but when I lifted the cover it was fine. The worms had apparantly felt well enough to make baby worms, and that is a good sign. My next action will be to add another container (I made two at the same time), make some dividers and split the vermistuff. Further on I need to figure out exactly what you do with freshly harvest worm poop. It doesn't smell, so I hope I won't end up with mental obstacles on this one.

And at last a family photo on my worms. I'm pondering a name for them, like Kurt-Sara or Anna-Bo or something :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The artist and the vegetables



Would I buy these bulbs? I don't know, but when I have the money I'll buy a print for the door to my study. Ursula Vernon, with the homepage Metal & Magic, is one of my favourite artists, she's got humour, an eye for the absurd and a certain love for vegetables. How about some Mammoth Garlic?



Or the Biting Pear of Salamanca?



I do recommend her homepage for grey days, there's lots of fun stuff there (some of it are not deemed entirely kiddy friendly by everyone so take a test tour alone if you have kids with a tendency to look over your shoulder). A few days ago someone broke into her house and a lot of valuable things were stolen, and since I've spent many happy hours browsing her webpages I plug her as a humble way to say thanks. Her prints are affordable; ten to twenty dollars depending on size, and you can buy original art too (count on several hundred dollar, though).

Last, but not least, a small picture without vegetables but full of charm. Ambulocetus beatnikii "the heppest of the transitional forms".

Monday, September 15, 2008

The study

This is my biggest troubble. Did you think I had a window garden like this? You may understand why when you see what the rest of the room looks like.

This is my study to be. I'm dreaming about wall papers with roses and a fully fledged "english cottage style" (as we say in Sweden where we have more than one cottage style to choose from). Right now this is more of a "junk yard style" which explains why I grew tired of climbing over stuff to water the plants. Here there is more than the indoor gardens in need of fixing, most notably the venetian blind. This time it's not my artsy ambitions that've made me leaving it down - a string has been torn off.

I got big plans for this room. I've already mentioned the wallpapers, I'm dreaming of a living wall and another aquaponic system (yes, yet another one). This is the place where the fishes are most likely to turn up since this is the room where I can decide exactly what goes where. As soon as I get rid of the junk, that is.

Untill then I just have to face the obvious and keep the indoor gardens from this window. I'll remove the terracotta pots and recycle the soil. The wiltered nasturtium plants will be used as bedding in the vermicompost. The natural habitat for the vermicompost worms are wet, wiltered leaves, so in this respect the recent down period is jackpot.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fruit flower bouquet basket



Are you desperate as a mom if the only way to make the kids eat fruit and vegetables is to make a flower bowl of them? I don't know - challenges like that are legio every hour as a parent, and in this vid it turns out really beautiful.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Solar water pump



China is often used as a warning exemple in the ongoing debate about our sick environment. That's why I think it's fun to post this vid. It's from the chinese company Greenbaba (I suspect the name translates as "Daddy Green"*), and shows a test of a solar water pump. Greenbaba specialises in solar gadgets and their website has a quite good facts section on solar energy.

***



*Mandarin is a language with few phonemes (sound units) and lots of morphemes (meaning units). I haven't found the chinese signs for the company, so I can't be 100% sure that "baba" stands for "daddy".

Friday, September 12, 2008

The kitchen window


I thought I had more spices, but when I looked into my seed 'library' the only things that aren't already growing are dill and lemon thyme. Eventhough I'll plant a new thyme (tastes good in the spice oil) it feels a bit bland. Will I need to do some online shopping at Impecta again? Normally I would rejoice at the thought, but now I want to keep my wallet in a tight grip*.

Hmmmm, I have some ramson stuffed away. That'll be the plan; I'll plant ramson and lemon thyme when I've tidied away the dead plants. Some of the living needs bigger pots and I'll position them better - right now everything is cramped to make room for plants now dead or moved to other places. The entire garden will be given a two week daily shower with clean water - there's an undefined pest here that I want to clean away.

***



*I try to keep my inner shopper in check, but she manages to escape all too often.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Window for basil and tomatoes


Well, the result of artsy ambitions; you can't see the plants. But admit that the backlight is pretty cool...



Here's a amatuerish picture where you actually can see the motif. This is my son's window. I've already managed to do a few things, I've removed the deadest (I would compare that adjective in swedish too, at least when I talk about plants) herbs and flowers, and given the strawberries a facelift and a healthy shower. Now I only have to empty the pots and sterilize them before I put fresh plants on the sill. The son ordered basil as well as tomatoes, and he wanted the strawberries to stay. Perhaps he wanted some more too, I'm embarrassly absentminded in this respect. We'll probably do some negotiations when it's time to sow, I have a big collection of seeds and I'm not afraid to use it.

In the distant future I wish for another growlight in here, and perhaps another aquaponic system. My hubby, who is both more experienced and have his feet firmly planted on the ground, have pointed out that any fish tank that fits into the shelvingunit beside the window will be pretty small. And I know that... but I can still dream, right?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Autumn and new plans


This week are going to be a sad one here at Indoor Gardener. I intend to show how my windows looks after a period of neglect. It's for a good cause though, I'm planning the new gardens at the same time.

Perhaps a bit cowardly I open with the window that looks the best. There are some serious amounts of tomatoes ripening there. The plants needs to be watered twice a day (I have a feeling I've been through this before...), and every time I rattle the flowers a bit. It's said to make the plant set more fruits, and the method seems to work. The chard is doing well too, I'll probably make chard gravy for our chicken tomorrow.

I need to do two things here. The cuttings in the front row needs to be planted in soil, and the selfwatering container needs mending. The son poured a spade of soil in the water pipe when he helped me sow the seeds, and the pipe has been plugged ever since. I do suspect I need to clean the clay pebbles in the bottom section once I get around to disassemble the container. Right now the chard seems to do well with ordinary from-the-top watering, so I'm in no hurry. But I'll probably stick to growing tomatoes and chard in this window.


If we take a look at the upper section things do worse. There are as many dead plants as there are living. The common purslane looks pretty scrubby after several dry periods. The pots are too small for this place; it's a window facing south that gets hot as soon as the sun comes out. I should have watered thrice a day, but not even I are that dedicated.

So, what am I to do with this place once I've cleaned out the wiltering bodies? One or two stevias will probably live here, since stevia loves light. Perhaps I'll add a basil to them. The leaf amaranth had sturdy culinary qualities I like, so I'll probably sow some in a container too. I'm more uncertain about what to do with the iceplants. They grow well, but I don't like the taste; they taste like bland tea made from old tennis shoes. Perhaps it's better to use the plant in mixes so I'll save it long enough to try it out with the purslane and some smoked pork loin. Whatever I sow I'll put them in selfwatering containers. The soil and the roots don't do as well as in terra cotta pots, but at least the plants will have water.

My dream is to build a aquaponic system here. It'll be a complicated one; normally the plantbox is placed above the fishtank to make the clean water pour from the plants to the fishes through gravity. Here I'll probably need two pumps; one to get the dirty water to the top level windowsill, and one to pump the clean water back into the tank. And I need to figure out where to put the tank. The most obvious place is in the shelving unit, but will the indoor hubby and the books allow a massive relocation?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cats and roombas



Yes, we do own a roomba. One of our best purchases, cleans better than we do. To cats, though, it's something of a mystery. Here we have a brave couple facing the selfmoving vacuum for their first time.



Wise cats overcome their fear and make the vaccum (or in this case a scooba) their slave. Pitty that the robot isn't as easily controlled as humans are...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

Strange tastes...

It has to be something wrong with me. I like chard and spinach, especially chard...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Onion


Our weekly ration of organic vegetables was delivered today. We've been waiting for onions, and 'they' turned out to be one humungous bulb (yes, that's a tennis ball of normal size in the picture). How impractical. I'm not a friend of leaving onion halves on a plate in the fridge, so the only thing I can use this for is a gigantic chili con carne, or perhaps a large onion and cheese pie.

This reminds me that I've seen aquaponic gardeners growing onions in their systems. I still have hopes for growing roots of various kinds indoors! Preferable roots of a more reasonable size.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

To have or not to have...

I went down to my allotment this Sunday and concluded that I had lost the battle against the weeds. As you may recall I planned to keep the garden low maintenance by weeding the beds a little each day.

Heh.

Glorious hopes in the beginning of a season. In the wake of autumn I'm getting doubts weather I should keep the allotment or not. It's fun to grow stuff there, but the beds steals times from my indoor gardens. Right now neither are getting the attention needed.

However, I hesitate. It's hard to abandon the plans I had for raised bed gardening, with the beds painted red with white corners (the most common colour scheme for houses in Sweden). On the other hand I have plans for my indoor gardens with the same amount of wackyness and interesting results.

Decisions, decisions... I'll tell you tomorrow what I've decided.

I think.

Maybe.

Or...

Yes.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Chocozombie

I'm trying to cut down on hot cocoa. After two days of only one monster cuppa per day I'm shuffeling greyfaced around the house groaning

"Choooocolaaaaate, choooooocolaaaaaaate!"

It's possible to water house plants meanwhile, as long as you don't chew the soil because it's brown.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beware of the wrath of swedish old ladies...



You have to admire the guy with the camera who reacts to the ruckus behind him. My tip to the yuppie in the cab; next time you encounter an old lady asleep(!) at the zebra crossing, a friendly call will work much better! Old time favourite vid that I now realise is shot in Sweden - little old swedish ladies rules!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mulching your Garden with Newspaper and Cocoa



I knew it! I've finally found a way to combine gardening and chocolate!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The tomato window again


My current pride. Tomatoes and chard. Fits the available space and will be delicious when cooked. Yum!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wow!

I'm starting to get the hang of this! Still everything isn't fixed, and I'm working hard to streamline the methods, but I know what I need and how I am to put things together. If I'm lucky this next year will be filled with building the systems and adjusting them.

If I'm lucky - life has a habit of throwing in surprises in the last minute, and then the real work starts.

I want to exchange my homemade vermicompost for one or two Can-O-Worms, and add a bokashi set to that to be able to handle meat and fish too. An unexpected bonus is that I can buy bokashis in Sweden, joy! I'm about to construct and put up an automatic irrigation set for those plants not growing in self watering containers. Right now a few days of extra work elsewhere means that I leave them without water. In one window I'm planning a aquaponics system, with 'normal' pet fishes. Tilapia is popular in this connection since the fish gives a lot of food on a cramped space, but the water needs to be warmed for it to thrive, so in the beginning I have to stay content with this alternative. The Indoor Gardener Hubby, who is an engineer and former chairman of the local aquarium association, will have a lot to do this autumn.

Speaking of surprises. I just googled "Can O Worms" on german websites and the first hit was a site with worms conserved in tin cans. I hope they are sold to fishermen, but one never knows - worms are protein too...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Environmental friendly ponderings

The worms thrive in their compost, but find it a bit small. I wonder if this is a good reason for travelling to Great Britain and buy a Can O' Worms? But if I go there to buy something that makes me more environmental friendly it feels pretty stupid to go by air (saving on the pennies while wasting on the pounds so to say*). Going by train adds considerable to travel time, and this means I "have" to stay longer at the destination. The question is how am I going to justify that, considering the added cost of lodging and so forth.

Yes, I know it's simple to order one online and get it sent home by post, but that's not as fun.

***

*For some reason a translation of this simile felt more natural in brittish currency, but since I know I have a lot of american readers I can't resist making a conversion
"saving on cents while wasting on the dollars". There. And I didn't even need an online converter ;)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wooden management



You may have noticed that I'm not updating daily as I used to. It's because I'm reading up on podcasting and projecting two podcasts. I'll return to the content of these, right now I'm just happy to be able to exercise my project management skills, which is the reason I posted this vid. It truly catches the life of a project manager.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Light, please!


When someone is hinting like this you have to take action. My stevia "Steve" was placed in the darkest corner of the darkest window I use. As you can see he's gone far to make clear that he wanted change. The plant have reached from one corner to another, becoming entangled with chives, sage and basil in the process. In the meantime I've been busy with other things.

I'm still busy with other things, but you can't ignore a plea for too long. Today I cut down Steve completely and put what's left of him in the sunniest window available. The tops of the branches were put in a glas of water to be used as cuttings. Putting them directly into soil works better, but I had to budget my strength and opted for the lightweight alternative. The rest of the branches were stripped of leaves, and I put the leaves in a netbag to dry them for further experiments.

Now, when I had gained speed I used the excess basil to make a litre of spicy oil, using basil (surprise), a fresh chilifruit, garlic and olive oil. This oil is great to use when making baked root vegetables, and has become the saving recipe when I need to trim my herb garden. We will eat yummy root vegetables until October.

Now I can lean back and enjoy the nice sight of oil jars in a kitchen that is twice as bright as before. Wow!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How to get rid of fruit flies

One of the fun things with blogging is the commentaries you get (hint, hint :) ). Whitney sent a link to the blogpost of last day. It's an article about getting rid of fruitflies, which means some of it won't bite on fungus gnats, but the text gives valuable hints on how to think, and some tips works for everything. In addition I know irritating a fruit fly population can get once it's established in your home, so I do think this is a link for everyone.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dark-winged fungus gnats

Vermicompost with flytrap in their natural environment (I didn't use the flash due to low battery when I took this photo - I haven't soften it to make vermicomposting romantic ;) ).


Bummer! The other week I tried to show my son the worms in the vermicompost - of course with the evil plan to introduce him to recycling and the circle of life. I mean: worms seems to be an important part of boys' childhood, he could hardly find them repulsive.

And he was ok with the worms. It was the CLOUD of fungus gnats he didn't like. He found himself some important thing to do in another room, and I was left alone with the composting chore. I was warned that vermicompost would bring out flies, and now I could see the result of not putting up fly-traps in time.

The gnats thrive among my plants too, and I've added a hunting session to my daily routine. Every gnat I find is killed on the spot. This wont make my home completely free from the pest, I'm aiming for a substantial decimation of the population. I don't want to use pesticides, we live here ourselves and I feel sick every time I step into a room where spray has been used. Nemablom, an insecticide containing nematodes, is under consideration, but I won't use it untill I know if this kind eats other larvae and worms too. If they infect worms they're not much use in a vermicompost...

There are a few advantages. Crushed fungus gnats (which I think sometimes are refered to as fruitflies even in english language - this is a common mixup in Sweden at least) smells good. Some smells faintly of musk, others like sea- and lemon scented cleaning agents. This sometimes work the other way around, I know elders that can't stand the smell of modern cleaning agents since they associate it with fungus gnats. For my own part I focus on the positive side - and wash my hands afterwards.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rain - Madonna



I've just returned inside after three hours of work in grey and cold rain. That weather looks so much better on video, but my chard is growing so I'm happy anyway.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Indoor Gardener is silly tonight...

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Obama pictures

I admit it! Mea culpa! Instead of watering and doting on my plants I spent my precious time reading Pundit Kitchen, a blog making "Lol news and lol politics fun". When I came across this picture I realised I wouldn't write much about flowers tonight. (And since I'm a christian I can't help thinking things like "My, that is a gorgeous chasuble in the front line. We should get one for the dome.")

But I should return to the general vegetable theme of this blog;

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Obama pictures

Well, yes, George W Bush often turns up on pictures where he makes funny faces and seems to have a low IQ. I think I need to even things out a little. What do you think of this?

Political Picture - Al Gore
see Obama pictures

That's enough! If I continue I'll track down the respective lol for every politician in the world (I actually found one with former swedish prime minister Göran Svensson). I'll return to my normal me on monday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tomatoes and softener


Well, those tomatoes didn't taste much. I have a feeling that if this fruit* are put to ripe in a bowl instead of on the plant loose the ability to form taste, which means I may have been prejudiced. Or I may have picked one that wasn't ready yet. In any way I can rely on the fact that we'll have new tomatoes in a few weeks. Cultivating Tiny Tim is pure joy, the plants are dark green and of the modest height of fifty centimeters (about one and a half foot). The first flower clusters have lost their leaves, which mean I'm watch over them to see when the first fruit forms - I never grow tired of that.

The advantage of growing tomatoes is that they are sensitive to pollution. If there is anything unhealthy in the air or the water they'll start wither. The interesting thing with these and my previous plants is that neither seems to suffer. The first plants were watered with water from our dryer - water that smelled of non-ecofriendly softener. I've changed to an ecofriendly one; you tends to be squeamish when the softener returns to your own stomach via the vegetables you grow. Perhaps I didn't need to worry since my old tomates did fine. However, I can now bask in the warm and cosy feeling of being ecofriendly.

*Yes, tomato is a fruit, but used as a vegetable.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Experiment


This sunflower was picked by mistake at the allotment yesterday. I'm no friend of big and bold flowers, so I'm surprised how well it fits into our kitchen - which is decorated in turqoise and mild yellow tones. And while the flowers lights up our kitchen table I can study its finer details fit for angel bookmarks.

Sunflower is said to be edible, and who am I to refuse an experiment? I picked a yellow leaf and put into my mouth - with a considerabel amount of suspicion. Mom taught me that flowers are poisonous, and the voice of your inner mom is never silent. In addition to that the leaf tasted like perfume, that oldfashion kind with lily of the valley and lilac base, and left a bitter aftertaste. I have to admit I wondered if I would be sick and spent the rest of the evening watching over my stomach. But, I survived!

If I would use sunflower in my cooking I would go for Middle East inspired food, where rosewater is used regularly and where that hint of perfume is desirable. Hm, perhaps it's already used? The climate is right for the plant down there, and there's a good will to use plants creativly.

The small bowl contains another experiment. I picked the tomatoes from my previous plants before I tore them all down. By then they where minute, and I wanted to see if they could ripe eventhough they where dark green. They've taken a few weeks to blush, and they collected some dust bunnies meanwhile. Like most tomatoes made for commersial cultivation their skinns is pretty thick, and it'll be interesting to see if there's something more inside when I try them out for lunch today. I'll post some further report tomorrow.