Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mud pie...

There's one thing that has disturbed me a few days. By "disturb" I don't mean shaken and slightly appalled, I mean a thought that moves me deeply and that keeps returning untill I can't keep quiet. It's the fact that people on Haiti are eating mudcakes. No, they're not having desserts, they're eating slices of chalk clay to survive. Real food are imported and too expensive for many.

When I did my research for this post I soon encountered an all too familiar pattern, clumsy free trade policies (the flow of cheap, imported food have crushed the national farmers), unstable government, corruption and bad infrastructure that makes most of the aid from relief organisations stay in the harbour storehouses of Port au Prince. Plus, of course, the inflation, that made the crisis grave. A complicated background to a catastrophy, with a lot of others to blame, which makes it easy to not help at all (since there's allways something better to do or someone with still redder hands to hang).

And that's how the world is. Complicated. But while we are bickering about the bestest packages of measures, political colour of antagonists and who to blame people are starving, not only in Haiti but over the entire world - and they're doing it now.

Usually I keep this blog on easy reading level; everyday topics and nothing deeper than a plant pot (unless I'm deep digging my allotment), which is why I'm going to concentrate on those tiny things that helps in tiny ways. There may be a big wastage on the way, but I hope that the more that is sent, the bigger the chance that some food parcels arrives to the right reciever.

Help end world hunger

The Hunger Site

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nut revival

This week I'm pretty tired due to some undefined illness, but I can't resist showing you this photo. This spring I tidied a contianer with dead tigernuts, they had been left without water for too long. I removed every nut I could find in the root systems, then I planted the remnants in the old soil, just for the thought of it. The container was put on the balcony, and I forgot about it, save for the occasional splash of leftover water and thought "Perhaps I ought to remove these dull straw tufts."

The result? Green leaves. Fact is, these are the happiest and healthiest tiger nut plants I ever grown. Weed species are a treat - when you grow them in containers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Size do matter

Looky here. The library window looks tidy again. The Tiny Tim tomatoes seems to thrive and have already sprouted their first flower buds. Little chard seedlings are peeking up above the soil, and they'll soon grow to fill the window. On the other hand none of these plants will become as tall as their predecessors*. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a proportional window display this time.

*Chard reaches a modest height of fifty centimeters compared to the ten meter vines of the indian spinach. 'Tiny Tim' is a miniature tomato, and won't reach the two meter height of the plum tomatoes I grew here before.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

You say 'Tomato', I say...

Here's the original song, and even if I find it pretty cute I admit that it's the ending that impresses me most.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

After indian spinach comes...

...chard. 'Bright lights' to be specific. Part of me whispers that these colours don't match my carfully planned colour scheme for our home...

...but I have already planted the variety on my allotment, and know that the hues are brightening up the day. So I ignore my inner perfectionist - for now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Death of the indian spinach

The indian spinach is high yielding, but I have to admit that I'm not all that fond of it. It tastes stalk, much like some sallads do. That's why I decided to tear it down.

I tore some of it last week, that's why it has a thin 'waist'. If you look closely you can see its branches crawling all over the place with vines sneaking in behind the poster, snaring the plants on the second shelf and entangling themselvs in the chains to the growlights. When I did my first spinach tearing I accidentally pulled two plants from the upper shelf. There are still terracotta shatters spread across the library.

I'd spent half an hour cutting leaves and branches before I could relealse the net used as a trellis. Removing the vines became so much easier after this.

Here you can see the berries. Traditionally the berry juice is used as rouge, and it has indeed a nice blue-red tint. When I smeared it over the back of my hand it turned to hue close to a (normally) blushing cheek.

Since the roots are used in traditional medicin I dug them up to take a look. There are certainly not much food on them, which probably explains why they 'only' are used as medicine. Interestingly enough the roots are used against diarrhoea and the stalks and leaves are laxative. You'd better not mix those parts up...

Here are the collected stems and leaves. The stems filled an ordinary waste bag, so I tossed them into the composting bin in our communal "recycling house" (yeah, it's called that). I feel much better doing this since I got to know that the communal compost collected in Uppsala is fermented into biofuel, which powers some of the public busses (half of the fleet is powered by this gas, the other half uses ordinary diesel). My worms under the staircase will have other things to feast upon.

I parboiled the leaves and froze them. I'm not sure what to do with them. Like I said they taste like stalk, but they also give a nice asian flavour to soups and stews. I can't exactly tell what this asian flavour is, this just happen to be my associations when I use indian spinach in food. Probably I'll use these leaves in my winter meatloafs, which in their turn will be flavoured with fresh ginger, lots of garlic, sambal oelek and chinese soy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Indoor Gardener's vacation

Weeding, watering, hunt for killer slugs, fika, resting, watering, fika, build toolshed, fika, reload the mp3player, weeding, fika, pick rhubarb, lunch, resting, listen to Wiggly Wigglers, watering, chinese, pick sugar snaps, fika, resting, chinese, interior design, shopping, chinese, Babylon5, watering, weeding, watering, resting, shopping, watering, watering, fend off some thrips, pick sugar snaps, dry some mint, resting, fika, Furuviksparken (swedish zoo and amusement park), watering, weeding, shop for weeding tool, Lennakatten, visit friends, look for wallpapers with roses, resting, fika, watering....

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Cairns Botanic Gardens

So, it's time! Indoor Gardener goes on vacation for two weeks and will be back the twentyfirst of July. I wish you all a happy summer with a small vid from Cairns Botanic Gardens.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Potato slaughter

I've harvested the balcony potatoes. They were few and somewhat watery, but still tasty. I think I'll plant some more soon...

Thursday, July 03, 2008


My Sweet Siberian is planted in its proper container. I hope it survives suddenly living in good conditions because tiny melons are already forming!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Plant babble

I've spent twentyfour hours trying to figure out iTunes. By now we understand each other and that's good since I'm loading my mp3player with audioshows that'll make me a polyglot, educated, better mom, writer and gardener - among other things.

Music? Why on earth would I want music on my "pod"? But I have to admit that Ebba Grön, some 80s syrup (lovely syrup!), Lars Demian, Dire Straits and other artist have made their way to my player.

And what do I have on my player that are interesting for a gardener? Well, the french and the chinese course I added for repetition of languages I've already learnt. I chose them because both countries have interesting cultivation techniques and traditions, and you get the best information if you speak the native language. I'll never forget my visit to the revolutionary museum in Beijing. One board displayed a number of banknotes, and a sign where the chinese version explained at length that this was (I assume, since my chinese was bad even then) notes issued by the guomindang regime etc. etc. The english version was shorter. It said
"Paper money"

Still I was happy that there was an english explanation at all. The history museum next door had signs that were written in chinese only.

If it was different in Paris? Not much - both mandarin and french are world languages, even if the museums leaves the english language out there are still hundreds of millions of people that can read the signs. Knowing english alone makes you miss quite a lot of information.

But I digress. Appart from Odla, a swedish gardening radioshow available as podcast, I have added Wiggly Wigglers to my playlist. They've won Mouse & Trowel Awards for best gardening podcast for consecutive years, and I'm really looking forward to listen. Showtitles like "A Wiggly Carbon Footprint", "The Poodcast" and "Compost Flavoured Yoghurt" hints at a sense of humour.

My other shows don't have anything to do with gardening, but are good distraction during work. A good podcast in the ear makes weeding fun. For my own part I listen to a lot about religon, but there are something for everyone out there in cyberspace. Good gardening podcasts are easy to find via Mouse & Trowel. BBC is the place to start looking if you want high quality shows covering a diverse range of topics. A traditional googlesearch is another way if you take your time for it. Browsing through a lot of unwanted stuff may feel useless, but the one good show you find is worth it. With luck the new show links to other ones, and following those recommendations is one of the better ways to find interesting podcasts.

So, what are you waiting for? Add some babble to your music!