Thursday, January 31, 2008

To whom the bell tolls

Yesterday I sowed the first batch of seeds from my new Impectadelivery. Nine different plants were given two chances (ie. two seedling pots) to grow. Since I like the thought of being frugal I'd collected empty eggshells (a classig according to mr Brown Thumb) and empty toilett paper rolls, and in addition I made some pots out of an old paper bag from IKEA. I choose the bag since it was made of uncoloured and unbleached paper - the only sturdy paper of that kind I could find. In the same time I handled the son, who wanted to help, and the hubby, who Was Kind (tm).

I put the different pots in empty takeaway containers. Well, I covered the bottom with leca to help the pots stand straight. As they were filled with soile I meditated on the question of cover. Last time I used the lids of the boxes (semi transparent), but that time I used empty egg cartons, these pots are a lot taller. I decided on using plastic bags, which is a classic too.

Wait a minute - I do have a large glass bell looking as if it's been made for the purpose of shelter seedlings. Since it's rescued from the chemistry department of Uppsala University I suspect it once covered some experiments, but that's not a hindrance to making it a mini greenhouse. I could see it from where I sat, it was tucked into an 'unika'basket on the top of our bookcases. Since our cases are two and a half meter tall (or eight feet four inches) I figured it wasn't possible for me to retrieve that heavy bundle while tippytoeing on a chair.

I decided on bags. Happy to have made a decision I continued my sowing, and then it occured to me; I do have a mini greenhouse! Why on earth am I tampering around with lunchboxes? Duh!

On the other hand I didn't remember where the greenhouse is, so I decided to sow the last seeds instead. Perhaps I should had given it a second thought, because when I tried to cover the boxes even our biggest plastic bags were too small for them. I quickly made my hubby bring down the glass bell
"Why not put the boxes in the greenhouse?" he asked.
"Becuase I probably put it under the stairs," was my reply.

He went to look at the wall of things that's behind the door to the understairs cupboard. For some reason a lot of irrelevant stuff have collected there, despite the fact that we organized the space minutely only three months ago. Understairs cupboards has to be selective black holes; eating stuff that can be of use, but leaving humans alone - so they wont suspect anything. I swear, if we ever clean this space out we'll find Harry Potter.

I tried to get all three boxes inside the bell, eventhough a quick occular estimation already had told me that only two would fit. For a short moment I considered cutting some corners, and then I did what any normal person would do; I put two in the bell, and taped two plastic bags together as cover for the third one. This is how it looks now:

In the pots I've sown

  • Lemon balm
  • Basil 'Genovese'
  • Stevia
  • Salvia
  • Chives
  • Nasturtium 'Alaska'
  • Kyona Mizuna cabbage
  • Leaf amaranth

My documentation is made on the back of an old envelope, which makes it possible for me to store copies of the catalogue posts for my seedlings. To be able to tell the three boxes appart I've named them Agnes, Cecilia and Katarina. The theme is female saints, in case you wondered.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

OOooOOooOOh! They have come!

To my RSSsubscribers; I've shortened the feed to protect the blog from contenttheft. Sorry for the inconvinience.

My new batch of seeds was forced through our door today. Fourteen beautiful seedenvelopes plus a bonus I really don't know what to do about. In line with Murphy´s law the one envelope you get is always the one you need the least. Well, at least I ordered loads of useful seeds; the long, dark winter (no snow) and a period of 'no wanna' has taken its toll, only my lemon balm and the tiger nuts have survived. In short; I need to reconstruct my gardens. Here's the list (Names [in brackets] are direct translation from swedish, my dictionary fails me sometimes.):

Basil "Genovese" (Ocimum basilicum)
-Tastes good and you can use it to fight whiteflies - no need to hesitate on this one.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
-Makes a good tea, looks nice on the windowsill and works well as a decoration on tortes.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
-Adds taste to mashed potatoes and the sourcream for the soused herring (favourite swedish summer dish), plus it's a good spice for sallads.

Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium akvatikum)
-I'm planning to use it in our first aquaculture. Nice filling in sandwiches, addition to steaks and sallads.

Kyona Mizuna cabbage (Brassica rapa var. japonica)
-What would humanity do without the cabbages? According to the Impecta catalogue it's fast growing, easy to grow and without big demands. Its taste is supposed to be a "soft, perfect cabbage", so I want to know if it fits in a sallad.

Salvia (Salvia officinalis)
-Nice for pork. I'm not completely able to handle it yet, but it's easy to grow so I give it a new chance.

Garden nasturtium 'Alaska' (Tropaeolum majus nanum)
-You may recall that I found the leaves of 'Alaska Scarlet' particularly yummy? I want to see if this works equally well. An addition of yellow flowers to the red ones is nice anyhow.

Broccoli 'Calabrese Green Sprouting' (Brassica oleracea L. ssp. botrytis var. cymosa)
-Good for sprouting according to Impecta. From other sources I've learnt that it's better to mix in the seeds as a spice when you are sprouting other things. This is probably what I'll do, since there are only 200 seeds in the envelope.

Carrot 'Paris Market' (Daucus carota L.)
-Tiny, round carrots - I couldn't resist.

[Leaf amaranth] 'Calalo Red' (Amarantus tricolor (A. gangeticus))
-I bought this mostly to have something decorative on the windowsill. In the pictures this one has bright green leaves with purple/dark pink centers. I hope it tastes good too - at least it's packed with vitamine A.

[Alger sallat] 'Tiara' (Fedia cornucopiae)
-You can grow it indoors all the year round according to the catalogue, and Impecta is hinting that growin a plant each for the guests at a big party could be a fun idea. I probably won't do that, but anything that can fill up a sallad is wellcome.

Land kelp (Basella alba)
-Are to be grown in big pots with sticks as support. Finally I've found a use for all those 'rocket sticks' we picked on New Years Day. Is said to have mild taste and should be used as spinach (surprise!).

Suger plant (Stevia rebaudiana)
-This plant works like aspartam; a small piece of a leaf is as sweet as a sugar cube. Since my father in law and my brother in law both have diabetes this plant is an item of interest. I do hope I can grow plants healthy enough to give them.

Tiger nut (Cyperus esculentus)
-Yes, I do have two mini gardens of tiger nuts already, but I want more to be able to harvest more tubers. And I've found a use for the straws; they'll be bedding in the vermicompost

RainGel (water crystals)
-I'm planning to use my terracotta pots again, but I'm still lousy at water my plants in time. I hope these will solve the problem. The snag is that I don't know if these crystals kan stand a heat of 200¤C (392¤F), which is what I use to sterilize my soil. I have to do some more reading before I mix them into it.

On another note; my quinoa is sprouting fine, I hope they'll taste good when they're ready...

Monday, January 28, 2008

A second try...

Like I thought they would the spelt seeds fermented into a cold and chewy porridge instead of sprouting (eWWw). That's why I bought quinoa seeds for a second try, as you can see above. This project is so healthy it hurts; not only are the seeds ecologically grown, they are fair trade labled too. Eventhough I find fair sprouting an amusing thought I also feel the urge to fry the result in unclairified butter - there are limits to everything.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A way out for anyone living in a flat...

...could be an allotment garden (if you want to grow stuff outdoors I mean). Here's a british movie from a place similar to the allotment gardens where I spent my childhood.

Sunday on the allotment

And the allotment idea is slowly seeping into the upper classes. Why, even Harrods got one - on the roof. How quaint!

A day in the life of the Harrods Allotment

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Urban gardener...

Sometimes it feels like this:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Doing drugs is stupid

This photo is called "No Drugs" and was taken by Jo Simon. You find more of his photos and his flickr-profile here.

It's worth saying more than once; doing drugs is stupid. While surfing YouTube for interesting movies for indoor gardeners, I come across many that are about illegal growing of cannabis - kid you not, more than 75% percent of my hits are about ganja. If I ever see a human in the movie he (I have yet to find a she) often wears an attitude of Doing The Right Stuff (tm).


I'm a teetotaller myself. In fact I'm fearfully clean since I neither smoke nor drink tea or coffee. My only weaknesses are chocolate (ie. teobroma) and religion (some do regard this as a drug). Many drug users would tell me that I "don't understand what this is all about". To some extent perhaps; I have never seen an intoxication from the inside. But I do see them from the outside, and see the things that drug users don't see themselves, or in some cases don't want to see. Every drug has its own spectra of disadvantages, and I have never seen one where the advantages are overshadowing the disadvantages.

So, if you are going to grow stuff indoors, grow vegetables. Trust me, you will feel much better in the long run.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wiggly things...

Here's a picture of my two new projects. The can contains spelt and water. Space for growing is limited in a flat, so sprouts should be a big part of any indoor gardener's produce. Unfortunately I can't eat anything from podded fruits, and most of the easily sprouted seeds are from podded fruits, this includes fenugreek and alfalfa. Since sprouting is kind of "low status" among gardeners, it isn't easy to find any good information about alternatives. Ever since I read that some sprouts are poisonous I haven't done any sprouting at all.

Common wheat (close relative of spelt), on the other hand, are considered safe, and I have finally come across a bag of seemingly whole seeds. (I've spent a summer doing occular seed analyses so I've had my share of seeds.) The outer shell is removed, something my greedy eyes didn't see at the store, so I'm not shure this batch will turn out ok - in the worst case scenario I've made a cold and chewy porridge.

The plastic set of drawers are my vermicompost (pdf-link) to be. The top drawer will become the active compost, the middle will catch the fluid (the compost tea) and the bottom one will be the 'changing box', ie. I start a new compost in it when the first drawer is full. In this way I'll be able to wash the compost boxes and will instantly have a place to put my worms when I empty the first one. With some yards of thick fabric, velcro and our trusty gluegun I'll provide the wigglers with the darkness they'll need to work.

The only thing I have to do now is to retrieve our drill from our neighbour, and order some worms...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A fair mess

I didn't update Indoor Gardener last thursday since I visited the Formex fair in Stockholm. Formex is for retailers specialising in design, home decoration, hobbies and toys - in other words this was acres upon acres of playthings for (mostly) grownups. Strange as it may seem some of the most interesting ideas in indoor gardening tend to show up on a place like this - those ideas too wild and crazy to make it into, well, 'real' design and gardening fairs. That's why I spent ten hours walking around wholesalers collecting catlogues.

Decoration pots were in an overwhelming majority, spanning from clean design to pots in shape of clowns driving cars painted in bright colours. Some wholesalers had shelving systems or hangers where it was possible to hang pots on the wall. Hortensia (thanks to Mona Grenelin at In Port Showroom who helped a stunned blogger out) is a danish company specialising in beatiful gardening tools and other gardening stuff. Their potstands in cast iron, hanging flower pots in china and in cast iron, should be nice and possible to use indoors too. Space is limited when gardening indoors, so if you have to chose between a pot and decoration, a nice looking pot may be a good idea to use. You can take a look at some of Hortensia's range at their danish homepage here. (I didn't bring my camera, since I didn't know how the exhibitors would react to photografer. Now I now that there were quite a few with cameras around, so if I attend the fair this autumn I may take some pictures.)

My favourite wholesaler was Formfocus. They are bringing the range of Secret du potager to Sweden. Potager is a french word for kitchen garden, and at least in France this garden should be beautiful as well as filled with herbs and vegetables. It's in this tradition Sophie Baudechon have created her company, which specialises in beautiful gardening tools and seed packages as well as gardening kits. My interest, of course, is turned to her kits for windows and balcony (you can see one of them in the picture above). The kit comes with everything you need, the parcel transforms into a pot with four compartments and the lid can be used as a tray for it. Four bags of soil are accompanied by for packets of seeds with manuals. You even get four little lable pins. There are seven kits available, two with herbs, one with tomatoes, one with sallad, one for kids, a kitchen garden for the balcony and one kit with edible flowers. I'm particularly interested in the last one.

Hortensia as well as Formfocus are strickt wholesalers, ie. they don't sell to individuals. If you are interested in their wares I do recommend emailing either Hortensia or Secret du potager to find out where you can find a retailer in your area. If possible perhaps you should talk to your local nursery and see if they can order what you are interested in.

I found one wholesaler that sells to individuals too - in EU (and to be fair; mostly in Sweden). Lilla Fiskaregatans Trädgårdsbutik do have a shop in Lund as well as a webshop where you find beautiful gardening tools (Formex former name was Presentmässan ie. "the Gift Fair"), as well as a set of minitools that would work well with gardening in pots. They have a big variety of mini greenhouses for seedlings, both with and without heating. My alltime favourites are the ones looking like victorian greenhouses in miniature. They do sell plastic plant bells (think victorian glas domes put over individual plants in the garden to protect and provide some extra warmth - the english word for them slips my mind at the moment) and at least two of the smaller ones fits over a standard size terracotta pot, something which can double as decoration for your window while propagating.

That was all from the fair. The only thing left to say is "Deary mE, what a lot of fripperies!"

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I'm about to order some seeds from Impecta (swedish seed mailorder company), and watercress is on the list. My plan is to combine an aquarium with some other things to build a small aquaculture. But I have to admit that what I really want is this:

2008 Aquaponics Instruction at The Kid's Culinary Academy

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Solarpowered hydroculture

For many years I've dreamed about having my own drip hydroculture (you can build hydrocultures roughly in two ways; either you let the water drip into the top of the pots and collect it when it have flown through - or you can use an ebb-flow system where the pots are regularly dipped into the water or the water are pumped into them from below, and then drained away). Of course my dream system are the hardest to find on YouTube, at least if you want to know how to build it yourself. This film is one of the few I've found, and here they use vermicompost composttea for nutrients, which is unique.

Hydroponic recirculating solar powered system

Here is a system for do-it-your-selfers that builds (roughly) on the ebb-flow principle.

Build a Hydroponics System Cheaply & Easily

Friday, January 18, 2008

Some are real indoor gardeners...

I'm just a teensy-weensy bit jealous - but I do think you have to live in India to make this work.

Strawberries for the kiddo!

My calamondin has left us. The leaves started to become brown from the centers and out, and that's never a good sign. Instead on looking up exactly what was the problem (I had a fairly good idea) I chose to be safe rather than sorry and threw it. It broke my heart in more than one way, because this plant has grown to be my son's special plant. He's helped me spraying the leaves with water and feeling if the soil in the container is moist enough. When I've turned my back he's also used its leaves in his cooking and tried out his toy chainsaw on its branches. He loved this little tree as only a two year old can love. My motherheart was aching while I cut it down, eventhough he happily helped with his little plastic pair of scissors (from a doctor play set he got for christmas). Thus, in a weak moment, I promised him that we would plant a pot of strawberries and put in the window instead.

This could have been asking for a disaster, but two-year-olds can do lots if you only give them time enough. We used two evenings on the project. The first one we did an adventurous quest up to the attic where I dug up a terracotta pot and he found his tricycle (in another pot). I told him the tricycle sleeps there while it waits for the summer. Once in the flat again my son immedately climbed a stool beside the kitchen sink, and watched my run around for soft soap and the right dishbrush. As soon as the water was prepared he started to scrub the pot from inside out, while I stood beside praising him for the good work. To make it fair we changed roles in the end, I scrubbed the pot and he praised me, although the pot was almost as clean as it could be.

My terracotta pots are left from a time when I was pretty lax in cleaning them and in handling my soil. To be absolutely safe from any leftover diseases I chose to sterilise it in the oven. I put it in while the oven was cold and heated it slowly, since I neither wanted the pot to crack in the process. Deary me, that took a long time for the oven to reach 150¤C! All the time a child and parent can have after work and daycare was completely absorbed, so we postponed the rest of the project to the next day.

The next evening we spent most of the time sweeping and drying the floor: my big bag of soil is leaking, and different watery moments left puddles. My son did this as he did all the other things; with a chearful smile and enthusiasm. He poured leca in the bottom of the pot, and then proceeded to fill it with soil, using his toy spade. Watering and sowing was also done almost by himself.

What I did in the meantime? I stood beside him, instructed on the different moments and waited - a lot (and I hold on tight to my own hands). A two-year-old has almost no experiences to fall back on, and his coordination are a bit crappy. Every moment dragged over a long period of time, and sometimes his fingers didn't completely do what he wanted them to do. The urge to cut in and finish the job for him could be almost irresistable - but I didn't give in to it.

Suddenly I realised that I hadn't soaked the pot before we put soil in it, and that it should be pretty dry after I sterilised it. What should we do now?

Well, why not use the new pflanzensprüher (heeheehee... I mean; the pressure plant sprayer)? My son became even more interested when I took it out, filled it with water and pumped up the pressure. He's been interested these cans ever since I brought them home, because he knows a giant spraying can when he sees one. (We've had some disagreements in the past on what should be sprayed with a spraying can; only the plants, like mom says - or the plants, the walls and the windows, like the son thinks.) Our tub was filled with various items, and clean clothes hanged above it to dry (most swedish homes without a separate laundry keeps the washing machine in the bathroom), so the only place left was the toilet seat. I put the pot on the lid and the can in the hands of my son. He released the pressure and with a steady hand he sprayed the pot while I turned it around. Well, he sprayed the toilet and a good part of the wall too. I thought the smile would take the top of his head off. He actually laughed with his mouth closed, sounding like a mad scientist.

Now a terracotta pot covered with plastic adorns my son's favourite window. We've already peeked inside for seedlings and checked that the pot feels right on the outside several times. I've told him that we'll have to wait for a looooooooooong time before anything happens, and he seems happy with that. If you ask him, I guess he thinks the pflanzersprüher was the best part.

Monday, January 14, 2008


No, despite the umlaut this isn't a new and intriguing piece of furniture from IKEA. "Pflanzensprüher" is a german word meaning "pressure plantsprayer" and I've always thought that if you need some humour in your work you should add a german word or two (this is probably a swedish thing). I bought two plantsprayers at a cheapstore today. The lables were made for EU and printed with no less than twentyfour languages - for exemple "pressure plantsprayer" is called "pulverizador de pressão para plantas" portuguese (does anyone dare to aim with a thing like that at a flower?!). Languages aside I bought the plantsprayers to be able to spray my plants to prevent infestation from bugs and pests. The Uppsalawater is pretty rich in calcium and with a trusty sprayer I can be sure to use demineralised water instead.

Since I'm a person that wants Things To Be Done Properly I also tried the sprayers out in store.

Imagine this; a somewhat fat woman in an extremely blue coat and with an iPod earpiece in one ear picks a red sprayer from the shelf. Completely absorbed by her podcast she pumps it up with her elbows waving around as if she tried to fly from the place.
*dunkh!* *dunkh!* *dunkh!"
She aims the sprayer at her cheek and releases the pressure block
Hm, the red one obviously was no good. Still she tests three more of the reds before she realises that there are a huge amount of blue and green ones too. A green one is picked from the shelf. The neat girls buying schampoo are already staring down the aisle. The woman pumps up the green sprayer,
*DUNKH!* *dunkh!* *dunkh!*
aims at her cheek and releases the block.
This one is unbroken, still she tries out the few other red ones that are left before she settles on the green and a blue one. She wanders off to the checkout oblivious to the fact that everyone are staring at her.

I should be blushing, or at least be embarrassed, but I think I've grown too old for that. After all, I've learnt what pressure plant sprayer is called in german, and I now have to good ones for my indoor gardens. My plants will thrive!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Yes! I'm not alone!

Sometime I feel like that, when I'm looking for litterature or browsing blogs. But at last I've taken a look at Patti the Garden Girl, and here's the first film about her making her sun porch an indoor garden. Take a look at her website ( and (especially) her movies.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Digging deeper into the vermicompost

This film is longer (about half an hour) and gives you a somewhat better understanding of these wiggly little things that creates wonder soil.

The Worm Guy

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vermicomposting and gout

Oh pout! I've an attac of gout right now and can't write. Needleshapes crystals of acid have amassed in my joints, and I feel them every time I hit a key on the keyboard. To distract myself I keep surfing YouTube (I'm bored out of my scull when I can't work with my hands). To get this blog moving again I thought I would share the best shows I find there. The first one is the best instruction on how to make a vermicompost I've ever seen.

Is it only me, or is Joe Gardener only mildly amused by digging around in worm poop and hold these little wiggly things in his hand?