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


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.


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.




Monday, September 01, 2008


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.