Monday, March 31, 2008

The swedish garden

I was pondering what a swedish garden really look like while I took a walk with my son today. My neighbourhood is not the right place to do a study, we have a high percentage of immigrants and the gardening style is ecclectic. We found a neat garden that in the same time was used as a storing place. Head boards, wardrobes and smaller items stood side by side, minutely worn and waiting for new use. I doubt a typical swede would do so, but since I've spent most of my life in immigrant areas I can say this is a style that fits right in here.

In another garden I noticed a fake pine branch garland decorating part of the fence, new, green plastic tiles had been put on the stones of the patio and a tobogan and a tricycle had been parked on the lawn. Since the tricycle was of the same brand as my son's I lifted him up and pointed it out. Then a roma* woman came out and glared at me. I felt... well, not ashamed since I had no way of knowing that it was a roma home when I reached out my arm, but that this was an unnecessary gesture. She didn't need more persons pointing finger.

Anyway, the swedish garden should have a pretty wellkept lawn, some trees and at least one appletree among them, a lilac bush and a hedge. Some swedes are in love with the hedge and use it as a fence, others are content with one line of bushes along a garden path or the garden border. Then there are some plants that are compulsory; rhubarb, redcurrant and potatoes (if you grow vegetables). Redcurrants and rhubarb has to be imprinted in the swedish genes; my inlaws grew them, eventhough noone in the family liked the berries and the farmsted was situated so far north that the rhubarb had to be grown against a warm wall. No, I never saw them use the rhubarbs either.

Strawberries! Don't forget the strawberries. Everyone putting in some more effort in their gardening grows them. It's a must among swedes to say that strawberries, warm from the sun and picked directly from the plant are the best.

Do note that the lawn has to be pretty wellkept. There is a silent agreement that the garden should be neat, but not a masterpiece. If anyone makes a perfect job - and this especially accounts for the lawn - it's regarded with a hint of suspicion. Masterpieces are percieved as a silent accusation that all the others are not making enough for their own gardens (or whatever - swedes are good at sending presupposed messages and misunderstand them). The level of neatness varies. The most wellkept gardens I've seen I saw in Sjöbo - a small swedish village that some years before had had an voting that cut the society in half (the subject was if the village should recieve refugees or not, which stired racism and accusations of racism). The gardens were almost neurotically neat, with crisp edges on the lawns, the short grass and the compulsory bush on the front.

Something else to note is which things people can leave outside without loosing face. Gigantic trampolines as well as splasher pools with steel support are in fashion now - you even find them in the minute gardens of terraced houses. Toys are tolerated as long as they are strewn around a sandbox or a pool. Wheelbarrows and other weather hardy tools are seldom left out, they are kept in a small shed. Families with kids builds a playhouse in wood.

The garden gnome is a sensitive subject - it's often considered cheap. A small wooden windmill or a sundial is what you can have and still not loose face. That's why those who love garden gnomes sometimes keeps gardens that bursts with stone trolls, windmills, concrete mushrooms, fake wells, painted stones and bronze eagles. I can't help frown (I would never have that in my garden) and think that it's utterly fun. Note though that terracotta pots and globes glased in blue has been in fashion lately. Everyone with a 'stylish' garden had them. Today I think the herbgarden replaced them as garden accessory.

I may be odd, keeping my garden indoors like I do, but I doubt I would have a 'real' one being much different from my neighbours'. Swedes have an odd ability to do exactly the same 'different' thing every single one at the same time. My biggest worry right now, though, is the care of my current plants; it's been neglected. As you can see in the photo my tomatoes are trying to lift the grow lights all by themselves.

*Sometimes refered to as gypsy, but I prefer to use their own word for their people.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The typical swedish garden?

When I search for "swedish garden" at YouTube this was one of the hits.

(A big emporium should pay some promotion money for this.)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Christian Aid's eco house and global garden

This is something I want to see more of at garden fairs. The video was recorded at Hampton Court.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tired friday

Tired blogger in rocking chair. This was actually the best picture in the batch - I'm not photogenique...

Today I stacked my library books together and brought them back to their home. Since I've decided to stay on good terms with this magnificent institution I payed my late fees too. Before me in the line was an old lady beside herself with shame since she had to pay ten swedish kronas ($1,64 / GB£ 0,82 / AUD 1,75). I payed more than ten times that without even blinking. My only excuse for having no shame is that I hope they'll buy more books for my money (this is not the first time I'm late, and it won't be the last either).

I'm not sure if carrying heavy loads of books is to blame, but I've been pretty tired ever since. My plant's been given the basic care and nothing more - unless you count the plans I made for next replanting round. To at least see some work I googled "gardening". I expected a wild hit to be the first, ie. a company that sold something along the lines of 'adult garden gnomes' amassing a lot of hits while not being of more than theoretical interest to me (ahem). But what I got was a "spot on!" hit with the additional thought "THEY should know". Videos, lots of facts and this lovely british accent.

BBC Gardening

In the middle of the right column you now find some commentary rules. I've added them to avoid flame wars as well as unneccesary spam.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Some of my best gardening mistakes

One of the big mysteries in my life is why I keep on gardening. I've made countless mistakes, some of them Big, Bold and Butch. Since I know many gardeners are struggling with starting the seeds I publish some of my mistakes as a way to cheer you up.

Let's have my own vegetable plot in the allotment garden as a prelude. Every year my parents gave me one square meter (nine square feet) to grow on, and every year the soil dried out, the weed moved in and the few carrots still living sadly waved their yellowing leaves. Boy, I hated that clay soil.

Mistake #1: Not having a clue.
When I moved in together with my hubby we lived in an appartement with a corner balcony. The rail was shaped like a net, and I thought it would work well as a trellis. Since I knew nasturtium is easy to grow I bought an envelope of seeds, some soil and some plastic boxes. I envisioned the balcony covered with light green leaves and yellow flowers. Then I poured the soil into the plastic boxes and planted the seeds directly into the soil.

What happened? Well, since it was a corner balcony it was a windy spot. The tiny nasturtiums looked over the side of the box, and was immediately blown back into it. Once back in the box they choked on a nasty mixture of soil and water, since I hadn't made any holes to drain excess water. All the summer through we could feast our eyes on this green and brown soup.
Most important lesson learned: Read up on what you are doing, and practice what you've learned.

Mistake #2 Water too little.
One of my chores when I lived at my parent's house was to water the houseplants. My mother, being pragmatic, only had plants of the kind with thick dark green leaves that can survive for ages without water. I killed most of them. Our windowsills were dryer than Sahara.

Only after seeing a friend giving a cup of water to each of her plants I realised how real watering should be done. I had moved to an appartement of my own, which meant I could buy some plants that I liked. Instead of jade plants I could have rose geranium (in swedish; rosengeranium) and both I and the plants shrived.

We shrived to the point that when my mother was to visit me and my hubby in our new appartement, she looked at our windows from the outside and exclaimed
"She can't live there. There are plants in the windows!"
Most important lesson learned: Give plants enough water and they'll grow!

Mistake #3 Water too much
My parents have really seen the worst of my gardening efforts. This was another thing that happened when I lived with them.

Since it was clear I couldn't keep plants alive I was given an aloe to care for. I thought it was an aloe vera (it wasn't), and decided to make an effort. Since my knowledge about plants stopped at the fact that they needed water I gave it water. Often.

Hace you ever seen those ornamental pots some people put their houseplants in to cover up the uggly terracotta container? My aloe had a beautiful one made of white china, and as usual it didn't have a drainage hole. It didn't occur to me to look inside to see if there was any excess water inside. Not untill something started to smell funny in my room. I gently touched the aloe to see inside the pot, and the plant exploded, spreading rotten parts around. What made it worse; I had my bed under the window, covered with a chrochet throw handmade by grandma...
Most important lesson learned: Water the plant to its needs. And avoid ornamental pots.

As you can tell from the photo I'm still making mistakes. Those strawberries should have been planted instead of being left in the bag from the shop, and that rose definately needs to be replanted. Still, behind them stands a cherry tree that have survived more than two years on the balcony. It's planted in a terracotta pot with a water container and drainage holes.

So, I started with drowning nasturtium and now I have a living cherry tree. The way to great success is paved with mistakes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Possibilities for everyone

Danish allotmentgardens with cottages. This looks pretty much like the allotment village where I spent my childhood summers. The photo is taken by Maltesen, you find his flickrprofile and more of his photos here.

One of the reasons I started this experiment is that I want everyone to have the possibility of living environmentally friendly. I don't know how many times I've heard or read
"I believe people are willing to pay extra for being environmental friendly."
This is then used as an argument for raising prices on everything from "ecomilk" to houses.

I'm part of the group that for a long time didn't even afford to drink soft drink instead of milk to my meals* (the difference was soft drink 1,8 SEK/litre compared to milk 6 SEK/litre). It's easy for me to spot the snag with this reasoning; it makes living environmentaly friendly a hobby and a luxury. Those who has other hobbies or can't afford it are left out. Today, when proof of global warming are clearly visible, this is an effect we can't afford. Living environmentally friendly has to be as easy and as affordable as possible.

Keeping an allotment garden (with or without cottage) is a hobby, there's no way denying that. The maintenance takes time from collecting stamps, cosplay and other interests possible to pursue. On the other hand this is a cheap way of get food in general locally produced vegetables in particular. (Not to mention the health benefits from gardening itself.) You don't have to live in Africa to benefit from a piece of land where you can grow things.

The usual way of handling allotment rentals in Sweden is that the city or municipality rents a piece of land at a low price to a cooperation, which then rents the allotment gardens to its members. When I write this Stockholm municipality are planning to raise the fees 100% or, if there are cottages in the gardens, 500 - 600%, which is what sparked this post. I suspect the municipality needs money and that the politicians are hunting for an easy income (I've been in the politics), but I also think they will loose on the deal. The environment will suffer, as the citizens.

Allotment gardens are worth fighting for. Soon more people will live in the cities than in the country (yes, on a global scale), and it's important to make city living as environmentally friendly as possible. Eventhough the movement in itself is old, I think allotment gardening is for the future.

*Milk is the common drink to meals in Sweden.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Garlic and indian spinach

My flat reeks of garlic. I've chopped up some and put the slices on the soil in my pots. This seems to scare away the tiny mosquitoes thriving in wet soil (and eating seedling roots). I do understand why. Eventhough I am a garliclover the smell gives me headaches, and if I get a headache what wouldn't happen to a mosquito? Since only freshly chopped garlic will do this cure is expensive; the cloves disappears like snow in Sahara. I'm counting on replacing them every third day, but I think I'll leave the flat during those first fragrant hours.

Thanks to the indian spinach I've still got a cold. I was close to well when it decided to invade the neighbours. It grows so fast I could almost see a creeper extend itself into the nasturtium and wrap around the support. I realised that if I didn't repotted the indian spinach and gave it a trellis of its own I would soon have a shrubbery instead of separate plants. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday was spent sterilising better soil, repotting and building a trellis. I do hope the spinach is worth it, since I was whacked all through Easter Eve, -Day and Second day of Easter. My lungs were burning.

The only cure that seems to work is rest, so I'm chilling today. I pretend to not notice that the tomatoes desperately needs to be repotted, since if I do I want to replant every other plant too. It's not only a case of chore vanity (the chore has to be done in a special way) but also a question of space and light. Tomatoes in bigger pots means I have to plant other crops together in a container and that I need to give plants in the same window higher pots. Fluoroscent lights aren't flexible, after all.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Second day of Easter

Since it's second day of Easter I treat myself and you with another movie, and I return to gardening with this one. It's about keyhole gardening, a method in use in Africa and taught by the charity Send a Cow. If you find the method interesting there are more detailed instructions on their website. I wonder if the allotment cooperative would allow me to use it...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter day

Christ is risen. (Hedenius turns another turn in his grave.) Since I'm a christian I'm about to party naked, but to keep some of our secrets this blog is celebrating with a cute rose movie.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter eve

A small film while we wait for miracles.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Boiling and baking

Indoor vegetable gardening is very much about baking and boiling, not the vegetables themselves but the soil and the water. You may have noticed that I sometimes writes that I'm about to sterilise soil.

But why?

As to the soil it's because I recycle it, and will use the same lumps over and over again. To kill all pests, fungus and illnesses left from last time that may harm the plant I sterilise the soil in between uses. My method is quite simple; I put a pan of soil into a heated oven (200¤C/392¤F) and leave it there for twenty minutes. When I bring it out I pour the soil into a big terracotta pot for cooling. Most often I have so much soil I use an extra pan and have to find some extra big pots for the heated stuff. Changing pans and running for extras do give you your daily exercise.

Sterilised soil is completely dead, ie. it lacks germs and fungus that are good for the plants. In general I mix in some unused, unsterilised soil to add them again, but I'm not sure how well this works. Perhaps I should take a look on the specialty shelves for plant protection and see if they have cultures on a bottle (wouldn't be surprised). In the future my plan is to add vermicompost instead, it's not only nutricious but contains those friendly creatures as well.

Water is boiled for another reason. Sweden and Uppsala have very good tap water, you're able to drink it directly from the tap. But in Uppsala it also contains calcium. The calcium accumulates in the pots, forming uggly crusts that are harmful to the plants. To clean the water the easiest method is to give it a quick boil, which releases the calcium, and then let it cool. Then you can see small dustroses on the bottom of the cauldron as well as some flaky dust floating around on the surface – that's calcium. It forms a dustlayer on the sides of the cauldron as well, but you can't see it before you've emptied it.

To save time and energy I boil ten litres (2,6 gallons) of water at the time, and then collect it in a twentyfive litre (6.6 gallon) plastic can. As you may guess I just don't tilt the pot and pour the water directly into it. The weight is not so much of a problem as the fact that this stirs the calcium. Instead I use a siphon; I put the pot on a high place and the can lower, then I take a small hose and put one en into the pot a bit above its bottom. The other end is held lower then the pot and then I suck a bit on it which makes the water flow through the hose, and it'll continue to flow as long as that end is place lower than the highest water surface. Don't forget the cloth if you try this; it's easy to splash some water around when you're trying to get the hose into the can as fast as possible.

You could leave it like this, but I prefer to watch over the process to see that no calcium is sucked into the tube. This means I stand with the hose in hand those five to ten minutes it takes to collect the clear water out of the pot (to avoid being bored I read a book). When there are about two litres (half a gallon) left I stop siphoning and use the rest of the water for cleaning the cauldron – it takes on a milky white colour when I sweep the dish brush around.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New light! New soil?

My plants grows again. The difference with and without grow lights is remarcable. My seedlings litterarly stopped growing between sprouting and the moment I hung a new lamp over them. My amaranth has got new zest for life, the herbs are growing and the tomatoes are thriving to the point it's scary. The two exceptions are the leeks and the carrots, I may have to weed them out early to make place for better vegetables. Normally I'm quite sentimental over my plants but now I have so many fun things on my windowsills that this is easy to do.

One thing I need to do is to refresh my soil. I'm still using that cheap seedling soil that collapses into concrete as soon as it dries. I thought I hade thrown it away, but a finger test in my pots reveals that the soil is hardening. I have better stuff in my cupboards, I only need to sterilise it first and then I mix it into my 'general blend'. It'll be interesting to see if this will have as much ifluence on my plants as the new grow lights.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

See d' lings...

Every morning I check out my cloche and take down notes on seeds which have sprouted. I'm still fascinated by the fact that a sown seed turns into a plant, so I spend quite a lot of time on this task. It's as if I'm guarding the Making Of The Device That'll Save The World Once Finished when I stare at some eggs filled with soil. I take down dates on the sprouting plants. Look at the other eggs - only soil on the surface. I look from another angle - still only soil.

To be really sure I look from a third angle, to see if a tiny, tiny sprout is hiding somewhere. A minute pebble gets a stern look, as well as the remaining grain of long term fertilizer, left from the soil's adventure on the balcony last summer. Since I've put the cloche beside my working space I continue my check ups through the day, with occasional pauses for work.

Yesterday four little seedlings had sprouted and the soil in the rest of the eggs was black. No matter how much I stared - it was black. Then I forgot about it and worked all through the day (!) The evening had come when I remembered to check back on the eggs again - and discovered that four new seedlings had sprouted! Without any sign or warning!

I'm sure they do it to annoy me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The thrips are back!

Ain't that the life! My gardens and I have become ill at the same time. Thrips for them, a heavy cold for me. I'm off for the worse though, and have to sit down an relax every now and then. Extremely irritating for someone who can juggle terracotta pots as if they are feather balls. Particularly irritating is that I know that if I do something about the thrips now this may be the only thing I need to do - but I don't have the strength to.

On the other hand I have the time to figure out a strategy, and that's not bad. I've tracked down simple, environmental friendly pesticides (softsoap mixed with water) and am pondering on how to work out a routine for spraying my plants regularly. Maj-Lis Pettersson recommends spraying houseplants with water under high pressure once a week to keep pests away. Because of the state of our bathroom (when it's not cluttered, wet laundry is drying there) this has not been possible. Now I'm able to work out how to declutter it and figure out how to be able to spray plants even when the laundry is drying.

My dream is to rebuild the bathroom and add a special table with a sink where I can spray my plants and clean my indoor gardening stuff. Since my hubby and I really isn't into renovating (planning renovations is another thing) I think I'll have to file this dream into the "theoretically possible" file - ie. together with the dream of covering all the roofs of our housing cooperative with solar panels and maybe add some some wind turbines on the most windy spots. What I could do is to build a table for the bathtub - hmmmmmmmm...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rose garden

I promise - I did try to find something about gardening - but YouTube and I don't always agree on definitions.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


One of my big inspirations is Patti Moreno, the Garden Girl. Eventhough I don't have the luxury of a house in the city we do have similar environment and similar thoughts (but I have to admit that Uppsala is smaller than Detroit). This video shows her setting up an aquaculture indoors, something I've been pondering to do. It'll be interesting to see the outcome, especially on how much fish she can breed in this 210 litres aquarium (55gallon = 208.2 litres). According to her newsletter the aquaculture is especially good to have when you're starting seeds - a small tip for this spring.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Got a bit carried away there...

At last I've bought a bowl for my glas bell. The plastic trays didn't fit well, and the vast amount of underused space did irritate me. I went to IKEA (I'm swedish, so sue me) and bought a kind of flat flower bowl in the right size. (I'm still fascinated by the fact that I use an IKEA item in the way it was supposed to be used. Normally I bring out my tools and transform the stuff.)

Today I filled the bowls with leca and made a test stacking with empty eggshells. Jay! Instead of twelve I could now fit TWENTYTHREE shells into the glas bell. Inspiration kicked in and I sowed things in every single one of them. That takes a while, so you could say I should have thought of it before, but I had actually finished the job when realisation kicked in
"This will be twentythree 13cm/5inch terracotta pots in about three weeks. Where do I put them? All available space is taken!"

Ah well, it's soon Easter. I think I'll call it a centerpiece.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Indoor Gardener bruschetta

It's easy to be swept away by gardening books. Everything seems so fun, and if you're lucky enough to fall for plants that are easy to grow, everything after that is a breeze. Only when autumn comes do you realise that you have a problem. Suddenly you have squashes as big as rugby balls*, the chard are bigger than you and your turnips are humungous. Being a newbe you realise that those glorious gardening books may tell you that this and that vegetable tastes good, but they seldom expound on how to cook them. What do you do with all this? How do you prepare them to make them taste good instead of just being healthy?

An indoor vegetable gardener has to find the answers fast, because the gardens produce all the year around, and if you're not alert you'll soon drown in leaves. (You may remember that I had problems with a lively sage last year.) My nasturtiums are now big enough to harvest from, so I've started to make up recipes. Nasturtium tastes like cress, a strong flavour that lends the plant to use like something in between a spice and an leaf ingredient (use it like leek, if that's a better description). It grows extremely fast, so I haven't any other homegrown vegetables to combine with.

Thanks to tomatoes from the grocery store (don't worry, they are ecologically grown), I've been able to experiment with a bruschetta. I've yet to find the right balance between tomato, nasturtium, salt and olive oil, but I wanted to share so I urge you to have fun experimenting with the recipe. (My big dream is to use not only homegrown tomatoes, but homegrown oil from the tiger nuts.) This is what I had for breakfast this morning.

Indoor Gardener Bruschetta
1 portion

  • 1 slice of white bread
  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes
  • 4-6 nasturtium leaves
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt

Chop the tomatoes and the leaves together, put them on the bread (toast it if you have the patience and want to add some extra luxury), drip some olive oil over it, put on some salt and eat.


*I've yet to see a newbe harvest their squashes when they are the right size, ie. 20-25 cm (8-10 inches).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Whatever happened to Mr Brown Thumb?

The new shelves are up! I'm exhausted from repotting and sterilising soil the entire day yesterday. Indoor vegetable gardening are almost as much work as in an ordinary garden. Most of my time today has been lost sleeping over a magnificent swedish gardening book (a shame - I know) and reading blogs.

Now I have time to think all those thoughts that building shelves and balancing on stepladders shoved into the unconsious. Like; where will I put all the tigernuts I want to grow. Depsite three windowsills with added light and two nurseries planned I can't find the space for them. But that is a small question compared to whatever happened to Mr Brown Thumb?

Mr Brown Thumb is a gardening blogger living in Chicago. He was one of the first to read Indoor Gardener, and he helped me out in cyberspace by sugesting a link exchange and his posts on blogging were an added help. As far as I know he lives on his blogs, and he used to update them almost daily last year.

He wrote his last blogpost january 13th this year. People are still commenting on it, but now they say things along the lines of "we miss you" and "hope your real life takes so much of your time that you don't have the time for this blog". Because when a voice in cyberspace is muffled the silence is eery.

Mr Brown Thumb doesn't seem to have planned to stop, his thread of thoughts is just cut off. But whoever would you call to ask if everything's alright? It's not as though we have common friends in 'real' life. One of his blogs displays an email adress, but what if he doesn't answer... If he hadn't wrote in one of his posts that he is six feet tall and has a shaven head I hadn't even known anything about his looks.

I just sent an email to his adress. Probably he's got a job or a girlfriend that takes all his time, I hope. Anyone reading this blog who knows anything is welcome to tell me in the commentaries. I admit to be a tad worried.

Rum & Trädgård ("Room & Garden fair") 2008

Most of the links in this post are in swedish only. I've still provided them since most swedes speaks quite good english. If you find an interesting vendor you'll be able to communicate with them.

When I was about seven I visited my first garden fair at Sollentuna Expo Center. There's where one of my lifelong passions was established. No, not for gardening - for fairs! My inner child jumps up and down at the thought of an endless supply of sweets and presents (gift samples). It doesn't matter that I don't eat from the marketing candy nowadays, or that I seldom vie for test samples anymore; I can find excuses to attend any fair. So the circle was fulfilled when Sollentuna Expo Center chose to revive their garden fair this year under the name of Rum & Trädgård ("Room & Garden" - link in swedish), and decided to add interior design to the theme. Still I'm very happy that they are moving to new locations next year, because their current halls are tiny and badly lit. This destroys the impression of any fair, and during my grownup life I've avoided fairs at this place. Rum & Trädgård was the one exception.

So, how was the fair? Taking shape, I would say. I had the feeling that there were a lot of exhibitors randomly crammed into a hall, rather than a theme to the fair. This may be due to the environment, it's hard to get an overview in cramped and dark spaces. But I met quite a few nice people, and ran across Maj-Lis Pettersson twice! She is a gardening expert on a swedish radio show called Odla med P1 (~"Grow with program 1" - link in swedish), and one of the few persons I would ask for an autograph.

Of course Impecta (swedish mail order seed vendor specialising in swedish heritage seeds as well as exotic ones, site in swedish only - unfortunately) was there. I took the chance to buy too many seed envelopes, praise their outstanding assortement and asked if they could import ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus) to Sweden. If ulluco is propagated using root tubers only the answer is no (due to import regulations), but they would check out the plant anyway. The lady I spoke too became happy when I commended them. She obviously knew that they do a good job, but still wasn't used to praise. That's what I'm allways saying; we should praise things we like more often!

Another interesting exhibitor was Jennys frön och sånt (trans: Jenny's Seeds and Such - I spoke to Jenny herself! Site in swedish.), a small company vending russian seeds (among other things). The russian treasure of plants are incredible due to the works of N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry that spent many years collecting as many varieties of plants as possible, and many of them are available commersialy to russians. To a 'normal' swedish gardener the cold hardy varieties of plants like tomatoes and cucumbers may be most interesting. For my own part I think russian looks cool on the seed envelope, plus I fall for the fact that the seeds comes with a story.

I was close to kissing Lena Ljungkvist who was the hostess of Wexthuset's booth (link in swedish). She told me that the company had "indoor gardening" as one of their activities. Since she used the english term in middle of swedish conversation she clearly meant that "indoor gardening" was a special way of garden (instead of having ordinary potted plants indoors), which makes me a bit confused. The indoor gardeners I've found online have been classical ones, ie, they've grown classical potted plants of all varieties. Have I missed something? Anyway, Wexthuset are the swedish general agent for Growth Technology, a company specialising in hydrocultures. They do it professionally and ecologically. Finding ecological growth sollutions for hydroculture seems to be hard as far as I know, so this is a refreshing alternative. (I was not surprised to find that Growth Technology is from Australia - the home of permaculture.)

Last but not least I have to tell you about the most dangerous place on the fair; Risbergs Bokhandel (old established book seller and second hand book shop - link in swedish) had a booth in a corner. A nice couple displayed a heaven of gardening books on two square meters (about three square yards). Perched on their shelves I found two books I've wanted for months, but have been to tight fisted to buy. Each one was cheap, but together they became just a tad too expensive. Talk about a rock and a hard place, that's an easy situation compared to what I went through. I put one book on the shelf and hugged the other, only to exchange them the other minute. I repeated the procedure over and over untill I took the courage to ask if I could have a discount if I bought them both. Not only did the owners give me the discount, they took care of my books (weighing 3kg/6,5 pounds) while I did the rest of the fair. I'm eternally grateful!

Meetings like this makes a fair! And if you excuse me I now have some reading to do. (Muahaha!)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Singing vegetables again

And if you grow tired of vegetables that's good for you, just take a look inside the fridge of 'the Young Ones'.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Faith Garden, Chelsea Flower Show

Since I have a master in religious studies I'd really liked to see this:

Come to think of it; I'd really like to see Chelsea Flower Show.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Yes! The end is nigh!

Well, at least partly. I've assembled the lamps (cupper chips stings), the shelves are painted and I have all the brackets. If God wills we'll put these up this evening and I can finally expand my 'gardens'! Time to do a happy dance!!!

The only thing left is that teenzy weenzy nursery...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Plans for the reading corner

I rarely have the time to sit here, but don't you agree that this is a nice corner? Within a few weeks I'll replace the lower plastic box with a 'nursery' with vegetables, to replace those brown leftovers from the tiger nuts. Note the two green straws striving for light. Tiger nuts are the closest I come to having weeds. A weed I like though. The tiger nut grass will provide my future vermicompost with bedding, and I'll make cookies out of the tubers - 'nut' cookies for my allergic friends.

The nursery is just a plan in my head right now. I didn't realise how much woodworking indoor vegetable gardening would bring when I started this hobby. However I'm not surprised that I love it. Swedish kids are taught both woodworking and sowing at school, and are expected to chose either when they reach higher levels. I chose sowing, and knew already by then that this was a lousy choice. Finally my inner carpenter has a chance to get out!

My problem is that it's a carpenter with a taste for shopping. The battery of our cheap cordless drill was empty when I tried to drill holes in the grow lamps this morning. At once my inner carpenter craved a new drill. Fortunately she has a taste for Skil - a brand that sells tools of good quality to cheap prises. Unfortunately she has the skill of compairing prises. Two Skil drills proved to be cheaper than one Bosch drill.
"Wouldn't it be nice" my inner carpenter whispered in my ear "if you had two. Then you could use one while the other is recharging. Or you and your hubby could use one each while you are working."
Another part om me that is more down to earth said that this could also mean that you had two drills with empty batteries at the wrong time.

I'll wait a month or two with buying a new drill. There's a new fair this weekend, combining gardening with interior design. That sounds like the right place for an indoor gardener. Be sure that I'll be there, and I'll probably shop...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Say no to drugs!

I'm against drugs. The reason I say so on this blog is a way of providing "nutritional facts" as well as standing on the soapbox. Being open will probably save me and others embarrassing moments. I picture myself meeting someone in a gardening context, getting along real well with this person untill she or he reveals that most of her indoor produce is cannabis, and expects me to find this a good thing. Being a shy and polite person (I know this isn't always apparent - you do get more courage in cyberspace) as well as really concerned about what others think about me I'd have a really hard time getting out of that situation. I prefer to put my cards on the table at once.

Last week I took a look at a british documentary about drugs. A british team of scientists have made a ranking out of the twenty most dangerous drugs. Very interesting - especially since they added alcohol and tobacco to the list. It's food for thought that both where considered more dangerous than cannabis. It was a close shave between cannabis and tobacco though, tobacco was on place nine and cannabis och place eleven.

Alcohol and tobacco proves one thing; a drug doesn't become less dangerous if it's made legal. It may not even be more easy to handle - you just don't have to hide what you are doing. Not that my smoking friends ever have tried to hush away their liking for cannabis, but neither do they smoke joints in the open. An illegal drug is harder to come by - it's not always possible to buy it on impuls, and you need to know who to ask, an information that can be hard to retrieve. It's not like buying chocolate.

I say chocolate deliberately. It may seem harmless, but contains both theobromin and coffein that are addictive. I especially missed coffein in the documentary, partly because it scores high in spidertests (you give a spider some substance and see how manage to weave a net, a spider on coffein works fast, but doesn't manage to make a net - only a frantic succession of squares), and partly because it's more common than alcohol (perhaps it was not considered dangerous enough).

The most important thing is that we start to listen to the information available. That coffein*, cannabis, tobacco and alcohol are dangerous are old news. This goes for heroin (number one on the list) and cocaine (number two and a popular party drug) as well. The snag is perhaps that you do notice the good thing (the intoxication) about a drug at once, but the bad things are growing on you - sloooowly. When you do notice something is wrong it's very often too late, either your body has been permanently harmed or you are stuck and will make things worse continuing using the drug you've fallen in love with.

Grow real vegetables at home - they taste better.


*It's fairly easy to get coffee shivers by drinking a few strong cups of coffee, and it's possible to drink oneself to death by drinking espresso. For my own part I start to stink gasoline, so it's purely from vanity that I stay off both coffee and tea. I still eat chocolate, though.

Monday, March 03, 2008

More turf!

I've spent most of the weekend either sawing or cleaning. A jigsaw is extremely messy when you use it. And eventhough I told myself that "next time I'll attach the vacuum cleaner" I redid everything this morning. To be a gardener I have a remarcable lack of patience. This means two more things have emerged on my wishlist. Number one is only possible to fulfill of you are a very rich person; I want a woodworking shop. No, not a communal one (I've seen those), I want one of my own. A place where I can hang my tools neatly on the wall and where the workbench stays put! Right now half of the time carpenting is engulfed by carrying stuff and folding/unfolding the bench. Where I do the work? In the library of course! Sprinkle the books with sawdust will only liven them up... Wish number two is more modest, I want quick grip clamps. One clamp, two extra pads and two planks in one manuever are a test to patience and endurance. I'm lucky to be a mom in this case.

But now I do have two halfpainted shelves on my table. If I'm lucky I'll be able to put them up tomorrow evening and hang the grow lights under them. Then I'll be able to move my january seedlings from the nursery, repot the february seedlings and sow again. Wooot! I'm waiting for that moment! I suspect my plants do too, especially the tomatoes seems to be ready for some new turf.

The indian spinach makes me worry a bit. I hope it tastes good, because it seems to Grow A Lot. Plants For A Future mentions it can grow vines ten meters (11 yards) long. If you don't believe it you can take a look at the little video I found on YouTube where someone has filmed vines growing along the ground. (This is 'raw' film - no speaker, no music, just the sound of the photographer.) Well, if my own "Seymores" decides to walk down that road I promise you a recipe on indian spinach pie.