Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tomatoes have nine lives

If you are considering starting indoor vegetable gardens, the first plant you should sow should be tomatoes, preferably 'Tiny Tim' or a similar variety for containers. Few plants are harder to kill than them. The reason why I say that? I stopped watering mine a month ago, and they are still setting fruits.

Of course, the fruits could have been better, but they are fully edible and still beats the ones you get at the grocery.

I've planned to butcher those uggly plants for a while, but things get in the way. Our family economy is still a catastrophy, so my attention is pointed to other things than gardening. On the other hand this has given me the chance to do something I've procrastinated for a long time; starve the thrips away. Every window will be emptied and cleaned, and then I'll leave it bare for a while (don't know how long yet) before I start the vegetable cultivation cycle again. I'll probably put a small seedling nursery in my study, to have nice plants for the house once the quarantine is over.

Keep your fingers crossed for my success.

And the family of indoor vegetable gardeners is growing. The Indoor Garden is an ambitious blog with lots of usefull information. Wellcome!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Autumn is spring in some ways

Hallo everybody! Coming monday my son's pre-K is opening again, which means I can leave playgrounds and toy trains for reconstructing my gardens. They've never been in such a bad state before so it'll take quite some time and effort. On the other hand it'll get you an interesting read this autmun. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Imagine that...

Guess what, I lost my job this Thursday. The coach and I agreed that my selling wouldn't take flight so I'm not that sad. But when Saturday arrived I had the most magnificent headache, and instead of renovating my window gardens I... ehm... spend the day at IKEA... eating sauce bearnaise... (Forget the pork and other garnishing like ratatouille - I want the bearnaise.)

This means that for a few weeks I'll have only one job and one company to tend to. And I'm home with the kid while his pre-k is closed for summer, so I can only do classic STAHM things. I've decided to make the most of my time. I've already baked cinnamon rolls and sourdough bread, washed and folded two machines worht of laundry and cleaned one room (it's not good to overdo oneself...). Slowly, slowly I'm aproaching the moment when I'll be able to clean up my plants. First I throw away those dead skelettons, then I'll plant tomatoes, and chard, and popcorn cuttings, and chard, some herbs, and chard, one or two containers of pea cuttings, and, of course, some chard.

OooOOOOooooOOOOOooooh! This will be fun!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Aphids on the potato...

...are partly responsible for the delay of this post. I've spent a lot of my free time squeesing the green buggers to death. It's the only effective cure I know, although it's a bit tedious. If I'd kept the potatoes outdoors I wouldn't care about it, but since it's indoors it's hard to get a natural balance between pest and predator, and the plant is stressed byt the indoor climate. That's why a pest easily can kill it comparably fast.

I have to admit I'm maltreating my gardens right now. They get boring when pests and diseases get a hold. On saturday I've wriggled some time from the family to clean the mess up. Taking the tour with a can and a mister will get much more fun when I have prospektive seedlings to wait for.

This time I need to make the gardens as selfgoing as possible. Our economy isn't at its best and I juggle two jobs beside my company. In one way that's good for this experiment - I want the result to work for a family where both adults work fulltime. I've already planned to use selfwatering containers and am now working on a 'selfmister' of some sorts. If I had money I'd just buy a humidifier, but now I need to find something that doesn't cost me a penny.

Back to work...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where did the week go?

Interesting how time flies by when you have 'vacation' (I'm still working four hours a day, although from home). I've done nothing of the stuff I thought I would do. Instead I've prioritized the family when I've been free - which means we've spent a lot of time in the childrens part of our city library (it's been rainy weather here in Sweden).

Well, I did bring out the seeds I put in the fridge for artificial winter a few months ago (ramsons and blackberries if I'm correct - I haven't looked it up in my diary yet). And we've visited one of the swedish plantmalls, but all I bought was a bag of cashew nuts. The few herb plant they sold looked sad. This is typical when you treat plants as groceries and the season of the item is over.

I've been pondering the results of my little poll. The swedish readers of Parkettodlaren wanted me to move to a house in the country, while my international (mostly from the US) readers wanted me to stay in the city. My theori is that a small home in the country is more deeply rooted in Sweden. Our collective subconsious tells us that farming (ie. growing vegetables in this case) should be done at the feet of a red little cottage with a red little barn outside town. In the US urban homesteds are more common (they are virtually unheard of in Sweden) and movements like urban permaculture have more followers. This way you don't need to leave the city to live the good life. How big this difference is is beyond me to tell, and the poll are too small to be statistically reliable, but I've noticed it before so I find it funny that it showed in such a small sample.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Photo reportage from the Indoor Gardener


This is the feet of the cherry tree on the balcony. The tree itself is balding (I think it dried when spring set off), so I spare you that picture. This looks rather nice, eventhough the pansies have seen better days. Yesterday I poked some nasturtium seeds into the soil to have lush green leaves and perhaps a few flowers to succeed them. If you look closely you can see the first leaves of the runnerbean 'Enorma' I planted close to the tree. The idea is that the bean will grow up into the crown and cover the bald patches. Let's see how far it goes considering we've already reached July.


Potatoes growing indoors... I haven't used added light for this plant, that's why the stems are so thin and vinelike, but the plant is still decorative. I've completely forgotten which kind of potato it is - I put two kinds to sprout and forgot to write the names on the container. Don't repeat my mistake - it's easy to grab a marker. It'll be interesting to see how many tubers the plant will be able to form in these circumstances, I'll return with a spud count later on.


The tomatoes have had a hard time standing the hot and dry weather eventhough they stand in selfwatering containers. Thrips and illnesses are ramping about in the leaves, yet the plants still sets fruit. Now when we've finally cleaned the balcony (on the last day without rain here in Uppsala...) these are first in line to be treated. I have to cut them down entirely, I'm afraid, but tomatoes are easy to grow so I'm not that down. Besides, this gives me a chance to try those heirloom tomatoes I was given by Sesam (the swedish association preserving heirloom vegetables) on the Nordic Gardens fair this spring.


Ins't this sad? The plants' and my health are mirroring each other, so I think this is a good picture of my own state. (I've been home ill so many times it's ridiculous, fact is I'm ill while I'm writing this.) I need to cut down quite a lot here too, but I think I'll spare the lemon thyme, it've survivied everything, even the thrips. I'm still not rich enough to by biological thrips control, so I have to stay content with the oldfashioned methods of extreme cleanlyness and perhaps a small dose of pine soap water every now and then.


Last, but not least, the worn beauties of the study, three containers of dead nasturtium 'Alaska'. They didn't stood a chance when the heat set in since I didn't use the room and could see what was happening before it was too late. Now I've actually set up a working corner here (you can see my table and my knitting machine in the background) so perhaps the next set of plants will fare better. I'm tempted to take the easy way out and just remove the dead plants and poke seeds in the soil, but I won't; I don't know if there's "wiltering illness" (couldn't find the english term - sorry, but I think the translation says it all) in it.

Well then, now you know what I have to work with. Hopefully I'll make most of it in the week to come - depending on how much I can do per day.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rebirth


This is one of the two runnerbeans 'Enorma' I sowed in February. They were standing in "preliminary" pots in the library for a long time, so long the project they were meant for staled. In the beginning of June I rearranged the balcony (another stale project) and put them both outdoors without any previous weening. The retribute was swift - they died within days.

The only green things left were a pair of leaves at the end of one stem. Since I'm a softy I couldn't bear myself to throw the plant away, so I waited a few days to see the last leaves die.

They didn't.

Instead new leaves were forming, and now buds have sprouted along the entire stem. I don't think this plant will be as lush and green as it could have been, but I hope to see it healthy enough and perhaps even set some flowers. I think this is why I keep growing things - it's so easy to be forgiven, and every now and then you get to watch rebirths like this.

I think this entire place need a rebirth by the way. The last weeks in Sweden have been hot, and this has affected the plants - mostly because I haven't been able to water as fast as I need. The thrips have had a merry old time, devouring my nasturtiums (*sob* they were beautiful - and I didn't get around to post a photo on the blog) and severly injured my tomatoes. I know the tomatoes are old and in need for a pension, but that's not an excuse for vandalism! In my dark moments I ponder throwing away every plant, clean every window thoroughly, and start from point zero. In my more sensible moments I wonder if this is really needed - it's not like it's an every day operation.

I've had a hard time sleeping in this heat, so I stop here before I entangle my squishy brain in some deeper gardening theories. If you think the light is strange in the picture above it's because I took the photo at 21.10 without flash - this is the season of white nights in Sweden. Take care untill next time!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tough decisions

You may have noticed that I've been absent from the blog for a few days - it's been a time of tough decisions and it's been exhausting. This thursday we looked at a house with a 7500 square meter garden (1.9 acres) outside Uppsala - and the entire family fell in love. Not only is the garden big, it's beautiful, with a barn suitible for any kind of companies you might wan't to start, a guest cottage good as a home for elderly inlaws or as a writing cottage for a writing mother. The son ran aorund the grounds bubbling with joy, and daddy concluded that not only was there plenty of lawns to run around, but also a small ravine to climb through - when our tiny heir gets a little older.

When feeling like that it's hard to make the decision to not buy the house. It's too far from other things we want in our lives; the right kind of schools, libraries and museums. Yes, you read it right; we are a family who wants at least one library and one museum close by to feel at home - a garden is the cherry on top. Besides, we would be moving so far away from friends that we would loose contact, and when there is a draw between people (ie. friends and family) and material things people is prioritized.

I say it yet again, it was a tough decision. Perhaps it sounds strange, but it was comforting when the broker called and we found out that bidding had already reached a level 250.000 SEK (~$30.400) above the prize we had set as our top bid (btw this was almost half a million kronas /$60.000 above the starting bid). I hope the house is bought by someone who will care for it as good as the previous owners - it's rare to see something that has been loved to that extent.

Another tough decision I had to make was regarding the future of Indoor Gardener. It's been dreary to blog for some time now, and I've toyed with the idea of shutting down completely. I don't want to; I'm almost at the conclusion of my experiment - I'm starting to get gardening into my bones and know what plants to chose if I want to harvest the year round. The "only" thing left is to trim routines and habits to actually get it to work. But now when I'm working I'm short of time, so short that I need to cut back on blogging to get time for the indoor gardens. After all, an Indoor Gardener blog without indoor vegetables would be rather stupid.

So I've decided to cut back on updates but keep on blogging. For the time being Indoor Gardener will be updated on Tuesdays, perhaps with one bonus post or another when I decide a plant needs to be photographed :)

The time I'll gained by these meassurements will be spent on different things - as to the indoor gardening I'll fight critters and diseases. I'm very tired of seeing a beatiful plant rise from the seed, only to stoop back again a few days covered with a variety of spots. This means war. In addition I have a couple of large projects boiling that needs a lot of basic preparations; I need to teach myself how to use an asortment of softwares and do thorough research in several areas. The advantage of taking this time ("time", I hope will be about a year) is that when I return to full speed I'll be able to send Indoor Gardener through several channels to cyber space.

Thus, Indoor Gardener will be in an controlled blog fade, but it's a fade that leads to something good.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Midsummer!

Well... actually we overslept the Midsummer's Eve celebrations. When we finally arrived to the festive ground the Midsummer pole was errected and the dancing had begun. We didn't mope though, we grabbed hot dogs, strawberry cake and lemonade instead. The organizers at our place have class - the cakes they choose to put under the strawberries (the strawberries are the important thing - you can be pretty creative with the rest of the cake, this is not a tradition set in stone, just a prefered dish) were a delicious cheescake and a sticky choclatecake. But this felt a bit 'cut short', so I promised my son we'll celebrate a real Midsummer's Eve next year.

Happy Midsummer all of you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Murphy makes multiple attacks...

Ever since I wrote that the plants would do fine since it was overcast outside my windows the sun has shone brightly on a blue sky here in Uppsala. Hrmpf! That's what you get for being a too confident amateur meteorogist. And don't even think about this weather lasting to Midsummer's Eve (a major holiday in Sweden where people - at least in theory - gathers for a big feast outdoors and dance around maypoles as well as dons traditional costumes). In my experience every Midsummer's Eve has been rainy since Stoneage. I can't believe that noone has started manufacturing traditional clothes in oilcloth.

Yes, I'm grumpy. The IRS lost the forms I completed for my income tax return, and now they want to charge me money for "not sending them in". This means I'm standing (yes, standing - the leg is protesting) and make copies of sketches (was I sentient enough to make copies of the finished forms in May - Ooooooo no!) and complete new forms as if the house was burning. The plants will have to wait another day for water - I have a fine to fend off.

Oh, and do continue to vote in the poll if I should chose a house in the country or a flat in the city. Interesting differences are starting to show between my swedish and my english readers - I promise to analyse them when the poll is closed :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

And I threw away the shoes...

*cough* *hrm* I really need to look over how I live my life. For some weeks now I've walked around with shoes that gave me an inflammation in my leg, though I didn't care much about it - untill last night when I stepped down from a chair and it felt like something broke in a muscel. Ever since my style of walking has looked more like something worthy ministry of silly walks rather than me walking somewhere, so I called my local health center and asked if I could borrow a pair of crutches.
"Sure," they said "just pop in!"
I went over (the center lies within five minutes walk from my home) and found that the computer system had broken down. Doctors patrolled the corridors with weary eyes asking
"Who are you? Are you my patient?"
The nurse who handed me the crutches was on top of things though. She noticed me in the waiting room and adjusted them for my size before I limped into her office. I was impressed. She left a note at the reception desk to make it possible for me to officialy return the crutches and I then I skipped out of the building.

Believe me, if you've been limping for almost a day it feels like skipping when you get a pair of crutches.

I discovered that it's hard watering with a can while walking with crutches, and I suspect my gardens will have to stand a bit of maltreatment in the days to come. Fortunately it's cloudy and I watered the plants this saturday, and, even more furtunately, I can ask the indoor hubby for help when they get thirsty again.

I've put up a poll in the right margin - you know that we are looking for a new place to live. My problem is that I can't decide wether we should move to a small flat downtown or a bigger house in the country which is cheaper and makes it possbile for me to garden big (in that case I'd have to set up a second blog called "Indoor Gardener Outdoors" or something). Some more input on the subject would be very helpfull, thanks!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reboot the Indoor Gardener...

This feels like restarting the life. I rest a lot, particularly by watching dvds to keep me off doing things the "needs to be done", and I feel better and better. The melons and the chilis has spent their first day on the balcony to get used to the outdoors. Today has been an unususally cloudy day, which is good since sunlight are as much of a threat as the different temperatures when indoor plants are about to be transitioned outdoors.

I have time for dreams and ponderings on what I want to do. I lack focus in my life today and instead I have a lot of competing big plans that don't always mix. One of the dreams is to open a big indoor farm, and I think I can get some good ideas from Japan (I'm not entirely alone with these dreams). But I don't think my farm will ever be as sterile as this.

Monday, June 08, 2009

More planting plans

After the success with my new years resolutions I've decided to put up some goals for the close future:


  • Clean out old sowing failiures.
  • Order nematodes to fight fungus gnats
  • Adjust one melon and two chiliplants to life on the balcony
  • Plant a melon in the bin that used to contain the oilseed pumpkin (no, I'll never give up)


There are a lot more things here that needs to be done, but I settle for these four, else the list will get a length that scares me off doing my chores. Hm, according to good old project management traditions I should put a deadline to this. Oh well, let's say Monday next week.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

So, did I follow the plans I would stick to?

January the first this year I posted my new years resolution to this blog, and that was

to stick to the plan

After that I forgot what the actual plans I set up was, but they have hoovered over me like dark clouds anyway. Today I looked up what I said I'd do and found a short list (*relieved sigh*). Let's work it through post by post.


  • To fully furnish two more 'cultivation windows'

I've done it! Well, I didn't put up grow lights as I planned to, but that's because I'm trying chard in low light positions (the plant is supposed to stand that) and one window is facing south so the plants won't need extra light for another two months or so.


  • Build nine raised beds on my allotment gardens

Check, but not because I built the beds but because I had to give the allotments up. I miss them, but the indoor gardens take all the time I have.


  • Clear and put up wallpapers in my study

We're on the way of doing this. Right now we are putting up wallpapers in the hallway and selling off stuff to actually get into the study. The room has served as a lumber room for far too long.


  • Put up a living wall in my study using aquaponics

Since we are about to move this will be in my new study.

I have to say I'm doing better than I thought I would. Two posts are checked and one is on its way.

But there is one plan I haven't followed. I haven't loosed any weight. But I will start on this project soon. I will. Soon. Absolutely. Soon...

(Why, oh why, do cinnamon rolls taste so good?)

Friday, June 05, 2009

La Linea 'harvest'



The worms have gotten their new homes, the gardens are thriving and I'm eating tomatoes like candy. I don't have much to say today. Soon I'll be working again since I've managed to get my wireless modem running. This may not sound that special, but it means that I can, when needed, work from the sofa - which have proved crucial to keep me healthy. Keep your fingers crossed that it works this time too, and we'll soon have new projects for this blog.

In the meantime you can take a peak at one of my childhood favourites. I actually found an episode where the line dude sows something - that wasn't easy, his adventures are... varied. If you think you recognise the voice or the 'language' it's because the same voice actor is doing Pingu.

Libera kandi friends!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The new home of the worms!


The worms have moved into their new home. I took a picture of the boxes before the transition to give you an idea of how I drilled the air and drainage holes. It may not be easy to see on this picture, but I use double boxes, the inner one has holes in the bottom to allow the worm fluid out (which means the outer one has an unperforated bottom). The long sides and one of the short sides has air holes drilled straight through both boxes - yep, I put them together and drilled, it's the only easy way to make the holes match.

These are standard boxes from IKEA (SAMLA 39*28*14cm / 15 1/4*11*5 1/2" to be exact, unfortunately the link seems to jump to anther size in the collection - use the drop down menu if you think the picture's wrong) and they have several advantages; they are relatively small, they are stackable and the worms thrive in them. This means I can easily put the vermicomposts away and they are stable when I need to stack them. And it's easy to make a bigger compost - I just make another vermicompost container and put it atop of the others. It's something like that I'm planning to do, when I've cleaned the old composts the best one will be reentering the system. Right now the oldies are drenched in pine soap water though - boy, they were mucky!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Something to watch while waiting for the Indoor Gardener

I'm currently working hard with the new homes for my wormsies. Unfortunately Aardman Commersials doesn't allow embedding, but follow the link and watch their commersial for a Knorr product. I thought it was appropriate after harvesting insane amounts of tomatoes.

Superheros

Sunday, May 31, 2009

An interview saves the worms

This friday journalist Åsa Kjellman Erici interviewed me for Sveriges Radio (Sweden's Radio ltd. - Sweden's national publicly funded radio broadcaster) and a program about city gardening in all it's various forms.

Among other things we smelled the vermicompost. It stunk. Åsa Kjellman Erici was a nice journalist who put up with everything I put her through, and I've learned one thing - if you want to record background sounds to put local colour to the interview, then indoor gardening is an extremely silent hobby.

The stinking vermicompost has bothered me this weekend. Vermicomposts are supposed to be odourless, and mine had very few worms in it. Then it struck me; that was the compost that had fewer airholes in it. Now when I have started to put bokashi in the vermicompost I raised the level of organisms needing oxygen in it dramatically, so the compost doesn't get enough air. Thus I spent some time on IKEA today to buy boxes which will be turned into new and airier homes for my wormsies.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Guerilla Gardening



Guerilla gardening is not big in Sweden - yet. I hope it'll grow, since we do have abandoned public spaces that needs tending to, and it'd drag people away from the computers for a while ;). I found this vid about it on YouTube, and you can read more about it here, so when you need some change from the indoor vegetables you can go outdoors and paint the city with flowers ;).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A lot of life right now - and aubergines!

Well, talk about pressure. We've got a bank giving us a formal promise of lending which means we can bid on the flat I talked about. Now it's time to keep all available fingers crossed / pray that this will work out, and that we'll get as much money as we wan't from this flat. Thanks for your support, this is more exciting than watching scary movies on a roller coaster.

Today I found the beginning of an aubergine (ie. an eggplant) on my aubergine plants. These plants are quite old (about six months) and have been heavily assaulted buy the thrips, so I had given up hope. But there's still time for wonders, so if I take care of my plants I'll soon be able to make baba ganoush!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

While I'm waiting

We've just returned from an open house - we're about to move. Perhaps it'll be this flat, perhaps something else, all depends on what the bank says and what kind of competitors we have. No matter what happens we know one thing; we'll move to something smaller, about one third of the space we are now occupying.

So, what will happen to my indoor gardening?

It'll be more of a challenge. Right now I can use an actual lay-out, so I'm furningshing the prospective flat with tomato gardens, leaf gardens and everything else needed for this. I'm glad I've been into indoor gardening a few years and know what to opt for.

The good thing about moving to something smaller is that the experiment gets closer to reality. To be honest we don't live in a normal flat today, it's too big and in two stories. Next one will fit us better, so I'm causiosly hopeful. After all, this is a good chance to get rid of all the junk I've collected through the years.

But. We haven't bought this flat yet. Please pray that all will work out - this one would fit us extremely well.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This and that

We've made our monthly groceryshopping and cleaned the entire first floor. I shouldn't be surprised that I don't have strength enough to water the gardens. After all I've got a flu and have less strength than I usually have. But it irks me, it really do, since I can see that all plants are thirsty. Tomorrow I'll take another day to just clean up and make everything easy and fun to care for.

As for my harvests I can now take 100g (3.53 ounces) tomatoes every other or third day. I've only harvest cuttings once, and that was 40g (1.41 ounces) which may sound little, but it filled a litre (1/3 gallon) so I got enough for a (small) family sized sallad anyway.

Last but not least; we may not have won the Eurovision Song Contest, but a swede won best in show at Chelsea Flower Show. Ulf Nordfjell designed the Daily Telegraph Garden at the show, and you can see it on the first picture here. Thing is, how should I celebrate this? Hmmm... a cup of herbal tea and a sandwhich, I think. Tallyho!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lemon balm and thyroid hormones

A new flu. Lemon balm is said to be good against viruses - and I've tried lemon balm tea during previous flus and think I've noticed a difference (though I wasn't scientific enough to be able to tell if it was because of the herb of because of placebo). I'd like to quaff said tea right now, but I can't;

1. I don't have enough lemon balm.

2. I'm on levaxin.

For those of you who don't recognise the name levaxin it's basicalle thyroid hormones. I eat it since my own thyroid gland doesn't work properly. Lemon balm prevents the body from absorbing the medicine, which means I need to limit my use of the herb to stay generally healthy.

Think of this as a simple exemple on the fact that herbs too are "chemical" and may react with conventional medicines (with unwanted results). Keep that in mind if you are growing herbs for health reasons indoors and buy a good herbal encyclopedia.

(I'm a friend of books, but while you're looking for the perfect paper version you can take a look at Plants for a Future's website. Here's their page on lemon balm.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back to selfwatering containers again?

I've been watering my jungle. After my cleanup last week and with some water thriftyness I ended up using only ten litres (~3 USgallons) - plus. Still I'm not content with my 'gardens' - now when I have a day job I'm not always have the energy to dote on plants in the evening. Or the time, there's a continuing fight for minutes between my different projects.

So I may be returning to selfwatering containers on a large scale, eventhough I hesitate. There's a shortage of air around the roots in the containers I've used, and the soil smell bad when I clean them. On the other hand they save space and weight - and time. I toy with the thought of making some of my bigger terracotta pots into selfwatering containers. Should work for bigger plants like aubergine, nasturtium and herbs. Perhaps I'll use them for cuttings too. I prefer terracotta in my windows.

I'm not sure about which alternative I'll choose, since, after all, I need to find time to do this major reorganisation...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Seventeenth of May ie. Syttende Mai



Today it's Syttende Mai, which is Norway's national day and the day after their team won a record victory in the Eurovision Song Contest. To say "Congratulations!" is like using a pea when a melon is needed. I take the chance to post two of my favourite norwegian vids here. The one above is the chef Andreas Viestad from New Scandinavian Cooking making smoked trout with nettle soup. He boils them in pure cream, deary me!

Below is the winning song of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. It'll take a while before I grow tired of watching it. The song is good, but take a look at the dancers! I want to be able to make musical push up sommersaults and jump onto hand stance and flail with my legs like that! Hmmmm, if I start now and train hard I may be able to do it when I turn fifty. Do you think Frikar will take a trainee?...

I think the common denominator of the vids is 'More of Everything'. That is a recipe for success if ever I saw one!

SupermegaCONGRATS NORWAY!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thrips and fungusgnats are really trying it...

My oilseed pumpkin has been eaten. Soon, I say, soooooooooon, I'll have money to buy some biological antidotes*. The they'll get it!

*Or should that be "dotes"...?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maize cuttings

I promised a blogpost on how to grow maize cuttings. It'll be a short one, since it isn't that complicated.

The first try with maize was to sprout them in the classical way (put them in a jar, rince them with water a few times a day and wait until the sprouts have become large enough to be tasty). Worked well, and the taste was moderately bitter with a curiously sweet aftertaste. The problem was the the most of the seeds were left, and they were hard as stones. Perhaps I could have boiled the sprouts in some sort of warm dish, but I chose to try out the next batch as cuttings instead.

Since cuttings are supposed to be watered from below I built four selfwatering containers out of IKEA plastic boxes (SAMLA). In this way I could use the space on the windowsill better, but any selfwatering container or system to water plants from the rootlevel will do. Then I put the maize seeds in water for in between six to twenty four hours (I don't remember the exact time) to speed up the growing process. This worked well, I could see tiny sprouts through the shells of the seeds when I sowed them in the containers. An advice in a swedish gardening magazine (Allt om Trädgård #6) made me cover them with sand instead of soil.

Twenty liters (~8 USgallons) of sand is heavy, btw. My fight to lift the leftover sandbag, leftover since I made balcony sandboxes for my son, should be written about in epic songs. Of course I didn't use all of it this time.

The seedlings were above soil withing fourtyeight hours. This may be because of me soaking them beforehand, but it may also be because I bought them as "popcorn" in the local mall. Commersial growers tend to favourise fast growing crops. Whatever the reason I could cut myself a healthy sallad within seven days. The bitterness as well as the sweet aftertaste was milder, all in all the cuttings were very much edible.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tomatoes and thrips

It'll be a short blogpost today since it's getting late. I've got two unexpected free days from my job and am planning to take one of them to tidy up my indoor gardens. My first plan was to pick nettles. With a loaded mp3player, clothes from head to toe (including gloves), a pair of scissors and a plastic bag I pick 10 - 15 liters (3-5 US gallons) in an hour. Cleaning and parboiling the harvest for the freezer takes the rest of the day. Remembering the summer by eating nettle soup in the winter is golden!

But

When I did my usual watering round today I could see that my gardens had been more neglected than they should have been. A lot of stuff had wiltered and should be taken away - other plants need repotting badly, or else they'll strangle themselves with their own roots. In addition the thrips have ruled the grounds to the extent that I almost feel like giving up. Big plants have shadows of leaves that waves sadly from wiltered stems. *Sigh*

Thus something has to be done. As far as the times allow I'll be throwing out the old and replanting the new. And there is light in the dark. Today I harvested 90g tomatoes (3.17 ounces). Judging by the state of the plants this is just a small taster of bigger future harvests, so I keep my fingers crossed. And the son happily ate the tomatoes he was given for dinner and the few left over after the meal. Is it possible that I've found a third vegetable that he likes?...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A worm composting horror story



My worms are live and kicking (metaphorically speaking at least - I would be very surprised if I found that they'd grown legs), and they stays in the bin even though they are kept in the dark. This lady wasn't as lucky with her first batch, and she still kept on vermicomposting. Perhaps you need that kind of chock in the beginning of a hobby to make it last, my first indoor vegetable gardening experiments were... well... perhaps I should take that in another blogpost ;) .

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Indoor Gardener is back

I'm feeling better and my life is a bit slower so I think I'm on the right track again. To start up a new period I'll give a walkthrough of the gardens.



The Indoor Gardener herself. This is what I look like when my son takes the picture. (Not bad for a four year old, I'd say.)



The herbgarden in the kitchenwindow needs some renovations, hence the plants in the forground. The only herb thriving in the current line-up is the lemonthyme - barely visible behind the chives.



From the right hand side: rosegeranium, lemonbalm and... popcorn? Yupp, this is my sprouted corn (from an ordinary bag of popcorn corn) - turned out to be rather tasty. Tastes like lawngrass, not a big surprise there, but I actually like it. The quinoa at the left is not feeling well. My son watered it before I'd a chance to show him the little watering pipe in the container. Someone's put a curse on my quinoa experiments, they always end in disastrous ways.



The Indoor Hubby complains that we have a shrubbery* in our library, but I'm actually rather proud. As usual I've haven't been able to properly care for my gardens during my illness, and yet they looks like this. The dark cloud is the thrips that have killed some of my plants. On the other hand I'll soon have a record harvest of tomatoes - there are almost more fruits than leaves on the plants in the window.



Chard. It doesn't get much bigger than this when you grow it indoors. These plants needs thinning, though, I was a bit eager when I sowed them. A pitty I didn't have strength to do it earlier, the stalks are probably too fibrous now to be boiled like asparagus (one of my favourite dishes).



Sorrel in a terracotta pot. It belongs to the son, which means I haven't got the heart to pick from it. Looks very much like a classic indoor plant - could be some kind of araceae.



My sallat garden. The sprouting trays contains ruccola and peaplant babies, nasturtium 'Alaska' grows in the terracotta pots. Sprouting / baby leaf trays is a clever idea - one shelving unit with these and our entire need for leaf vegetables would be cared for. If I only can convince the rest that popcorn baby leaves are edible I'd be able to call this experiment a win.

*Ni!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A new break (unfortunaterly)

I'm ill again. Will be back in a week or so - this time I'll rest and haunt doctors untill I'm completely healthy. Keep on gardening untill we meet again!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A weekly report of sorts

Yet another of those days. I should have known not to set up four sprouting boxes on a weekday evening! But it didn't take many minutes to drill some ventilation holes, and craft some watering tubes, and mix the soil, and fill the boxes with clay pebbles, soil and seedling soil...

When all those tidbits of chores added up they craved the entire evening. So now I'm sitting here, feeling wrung out. What I really want to do is eating bananacake and chocolate, but I can't abandon Indoor Gardener - especially since I missed an update this Monday. Besides, the quinoa is already peeking some sprouts above the surface! It's part of an experiment; I put the seeds in water overnight in the same way you soak beans and peas before sowing them. I mean, you can see the sprout in the quinoa seed even when it's dry, and it's possible to to sprout it in the same way you sprout mung beans, so soaking should work. Now I keep my fingers crossed that the experiment will continue to be successfull.

The gardens still drink fifteen liters of water every time I water them. Today I topped over fifteen for the first time, but that was because I didn't water the oilseed pumpkin in the Big pot. It needs five liters of its own, so I manipulated the statistics in a way.

The thrips are on the rise again and they are attacking in great numbers. My support in life, the Indoor Hubby, has promised to spray all plants with bokashi fluid while I'm away this weekend (creative writing meeting). After that I'll be thoroughly spraying my crops with water at least once a day. Thrips don't like it wet.

This Monday I visited Plantagen (swedish plant mall) and spent most of my gift certificate. I spent the journey home slightly stooped forward since I carried eighteen liters of soil in my backpack. Soil is heavy! In the big paperbag with handles I only had a small pluggbox, a cultivation gadget I've wanted to have ever since I first heard about it. During the journey home I pondered the fact that I've won two gift certificates in a short period of time, one from a big jewelry chain and one from a big plant mall, and while the jewelry one is gathering dust in my book shelf the plant mall certificate barley arrived before I took a day off to use it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

It's Earth Day today, a celebration that's pretty new in Sweden. Since I still have Big and Important Business to do several days a week I'm a bit tired and have to celebrate on the small scale with a cup of tea and a cookie in a manual rocking chair. Unfortunately I happened to pick a maamoul, ie. a cookie from the Middle East individually wrapped in plastic coated with aluminium. I think my environmental points just turned negative. On the other hand I go by train as often as I can and refuse to go by plane - perhaps I was on the plus side to begin with?

Well, if it's Earth Day I feel it's apropriate to ponder the personal lifestile. Is it possible to green it enough? After a couple of years of luke warm work I've reached the point where I almost only use my share of our earth. So I dare say it's possible to live a green life without turning to such extreme meassures as move to the country and live in a yurt (which would be rather cosy, actually). My help is a simpel rule: green habits and devices are only incorporated in my life if they make my life easier and/or makes it possible to live on less money. I've supplemented a helprule; rather do it almost right than completely wrong. This helps me stay cool when I've happened to do something unvironmentally unfriendly - like eating an ridiculously doubble wrapped cookie.

Every now and then I check my lifestyle on MyFootprint.org to see if I'm making progress. Today my rating was 1.12 Earths, which means I'm going in the right direction (last time I checked I had 1.28 Earths). My goal is a rating of 0.8 Earths - to compensate for any wishfull thinking when I complete the form and any errors due to cultural differenses between Sweden and the USA (where I suspect this website is maintained). I hope to reach this within a year, and if not... well, there are more years to come, and I'm still way below the national average. I use 17.55 acres whereas swedes in general use 40.9.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Indoor Gardener the Next Generation

While I was away on Big And Important Business in Stockholm the entire day the son watered the plants with his bath water.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A look in the green book 090417

I haven't brought it out for a while now - at least not for the blog. The cold from Hell still lingers and my first enthusiasm have waned a bit so my writings tend to be short.

So.

I now know better how much water I use every time I water the gardens. This is what I wrote the 14ht of April
"Water needed 12.3 liters [3.25 US gallons]
Bokashifluid 20 milliliters [0.7 US ounces]"
"Soften 15 liters of water" [4 US gallons]"


12.3 liters of water is the smallest amount of water I''ve used while watering. A sunny day the plants craves up to 20 liters (5.2 US gallons). I start to ponder if I really need to soften all that water, but at the same time I remember those thick, yellowish crusts that developed on top of the soil when I didn't do this, so I press on. Those crust can harbour fungus and I have enough work with fungus gnats and thrips as it is.

The big need for water have made me upgrade my tools. Now I'm not only use the ten liter jam cauldron, I've added the five liter everyday kettle.

6th of April
"Popcorn sprouts ready! Bitter and a surprisingly sweet aftertaste. The seed is still hard - better to be used cooked or as babyleaf."
My quest for sprouts I can eat continues. I liked these popcornsprouts, but the hard corn made them difficult to eat so the can remains in the fridge. I'm planning a larger babyleafgarden with popcorn, sallads and peas. Will be fun!

16th of April
"Had two sugarsnap pods 10g harvest."
Yupp, the modest start of my harvest my friends. 10g (0.35 ounces) sugarsnaps, I'm not exactly calling BBC or CNN, but it is still pretty cool.

Something I will write about this evening is the letter I got in the mail today. I have a habit of attending every contest I can find when I'm visiting a fair, and it turns out I won a gift certificate at Plantagen (swedish plant mall) on Nordica Gardens. Jaaaaaay, I can shooooooooop!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bubbelgum flowers


I like pansies (or Johny Jump-ups), they're perfect table decorations - and they're edible. They taste like (picks a pansy flower and puts in mouth) bubble gum. The first time I tried I was surprised, I thought that kind of taste was born in the labs of the candy industry. But it isn't a big surprise, violets was used as medicine for a long time and to make them easier to eat the apothecaries started to suger coat them. The sugar coated violets became so popular people started to eat them as candy (I wonder what the doctors and apthecaries said about that). Since pansies are a kind of violets they probably became a part in the process, and the taste lingers 'till today,

Did you know, by the way, that marshmallows started out as a medicine made from a special kind of mallow growing at marshes? Perhaps it's time to do a full study on easter candy to see how much of it that is old remedies. A plus for you who thought about liquorice while reading this (liquorice is a laxative).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Little things for Earth Month

I've been tagged in a meme by Green LA Girl. It's "FilterForGood Blog Meme Contest" started by Blake at FilterForGood. I don't join every meme I've invited to, but I'm doing this since it's a contest (can't resist those) and since I can put a spotlight to those small things you can do to live more sustainable.

So, the five "FilterForGood"things I'll do during Earth Month (and continue to do).

1. Close the water tap while I'm washing my hands.
In other words; I'll wet my hands, close the tap, lather and then open the tap to rinse off. This saves water and heat. I'll give you a gold star if you use luke warm water instead of warm.

2. Only light the lamps in the room I'm in at the moment.
I'm going to do some check ups every now and then - those little buttons by the doors are easy to forget.

3. Using communal transport to get to work.
I do this every day - perhaps some day I'll understand all those who goes to work alone in a car. Unfortunately I can't go by bike to work - this would have been my promise otherwise.

4. Meassure the exact amount of water needed when I'm boiling teawater.
We are using a electric kettle which demands a lot of electricity, and still is the most economical alternative compared to put an ordinary kettle on the stove. I used to fill water in it by looking at the grading from the outside while I was pouring. A while ago I decided to see how much extra water I got using this method. Turned out I boiled almost an extra cup - every time.

5. Compost all household waste possible to compost.
It's easy to do with a bokashi and a vermicompost. If you don't have any, check out if there is compost collecting available in you heighbourhood.

According to the rules I would list five things I'm planning to do for the environment during Earth Month (check!), tag five other blogs for the meme and tell them via their commentary section, and then hyperlink back to the starting blog using the hyperlinked text “FilterForGood Blog Meme Contest.” at the end of the list. Well, fair enough, here are my five tagged blogs:

A posse ad esse
Paul Gardener blogs about his urban farmsted where he and his wife grows most of what they need for themselves and their three children.

The Indoor Garden(er)
He grows vegetables indoors, just like me. Although he doesn't have a family - I think (?).

The Unusually Unusual Farmchic
Another urban farmsteder. Her latest post treats a variety of things, including harvesting chicory, upsidedown tomatoes and building a four poster bed.

Bad Human! Don't take chemicals
A pair documening their ride on the "green" teeter totter. Many good DIY ideas, including making home made shaving cream.

Encyclopedia Hydroponica
Blog about growing plants in hydrocultures.

"The rules are simple. If you’re tagged, post five things you plan to do for the environment this Earth Month on your blog. At the end of your list, tag five of your favorite blogs, and include a link back to this post using the hyperlinked text “FilterForGood Blog Meme Contest.” Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs, or on their Twitter accounts (using the hash tag #FFGBlogMeme). Also, be sure to include these rules at the bottom of your post."

“FilterForGood Blog Meme Contest.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christ is risen...



...yes, he is indeed risen!

Unfortunately I didn't attend midnight mass this year. All in all Easter has been kind of bland on our part. But we've met friends and family, and I've been able to repot some plants, so I'm not complaining.

Spring has come to Uppsala, and the first wild plants are peeking up above soil. Tomorrow I'll take a walk to see if I can find any baby nettles. If so I'll make a nettle picking excursion as soon as I can. I could add to this a small essay about the rebirth of nature and the mirror in Jesus' death and revival, with some added treats of mythological parallells in the world religions, giving a phenomenological background as well as take a few peaks of the religio-psycological links to the rites aso. aso. aso. But I won't.

You don't have to complicate religion, just live true to your own beliefs.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I rather work the cropland thinking about our Lord...


...than sit in church thinking about the cropland (old swedish saying). That's why I repotted one of my oilseed pumpkins today. Say hallo to Olga I, she has three sisters waiting for some more space around the roots.

But it's still Good Friday, a time for thoughts if you are a christian. And since I am christian I keep this blog post short. There will be resurection soon.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Pizza rolling thoughts...

It's easy being philosofical when sitting with a pizzaroll, some cookies and a cup of cooca. I'm pondering so many little things. Like, for example, if the members of the biodynamic movement in Sweden are called biodynamics, what are the members of the FOBO association called?

Fobics?

Well, the acronym stands for the association of organic biological cultivation (in swedish "Förbundet organisk-biologisk odling"), but organbiologics doesn't sound right either. Rather it sounds like the one course you hated but had to take to get your exam. I'm a new member of the association, and if I have to choose I'll take fobics - I'm not afraid of my own weaknesses.

Another thing I'm pondering is the Swedish Allotment Garden Association. This is the second year I've visit their booth on Nordic Gardens asking if they had some information about the allotment gardens of Uppsala (the kind with cottages), and gotten the answer "ask the local authorities". They had a big booth at the biggest garden fair in Scandinavia and hadn't even gotten around to get some information about allotment gardens in a city on an one hour drive distance. This year I was so stunned I asked
"Don't you have any information about anything outside Stockholm?"
The answer was
"No"
If I hadn't had a friend with me as a witness I'd thought I was dreaming. I mean, it says "National association of allotment gardens" on their homepage - shouldn't they keep some records on what's happening in the nation in that case? It looks rather lame to build a big booth at a national fair without being able to give relevant information to others than locals.

But things are progressing! I've had much more fun surfing allotment webpages this year than last. Swedish allotmenteers are showing a growing interest for the web, and the content on current events have improved. Since I'm following allotment Sweden via the web I can't say if the changes had started before they turned up on the webpages - but things seems to be moving in the right direction.

Will I ever get an allotment cottage for myself? Probably not. The indoor gardens takes all my free time and strength. But I'm following the allotment movement like you're following your favourite soccer team, and I'm a diehard fan of the thoughts that cottages and plots shall be available for people with a normal, or I should rather say 'small' budget. That's close to my own philosphy that everyone should have the possibility to garden/cultivate stuff - and I grew up in an allotment cottage.

Over to something distantly related; I got my first fanzine and seed catalogue from Föreningen Sesam (the Sesam Association). Wohooo! I'm sinking into the depths of geekyness pretty soon after I've taken up a new interest. (I started my carreer as an amateur illuminator by visiting Carolina Rediviva (the Uppsala University Library) and checking out some real medieval manuscripts hands-on - this is usually the endpoint for others.) If you've joined Sesam you've sunken deep into the cultivation swamp. The next step is to wander by foot through forgotten agrarian areas to rescue the last living seeds of LardLotty's moth nasturtium.

Hmmmm, I wonder if the rest of the family would agree to do this as an vacation? Or perhaps I could talk my jurist-economist friend who joined me to the garden fair into it. We joined different associations to get access to a maximum of seeds. She joined the Flowerfriend Association (sounds only slightly less funny in swedish) and I joined the Sesam Assosiation. You shouldn't be stupid. But preferably geeky...

Monday, April 06, 2009

They've started to drink

I went up at half past five this morning to water my plants. I used seven liters (two gallons) and emptied all my bufferts. Deary me, it's only April...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

the Garden Song



I searched YouTube for some Sunday fun for you - and then I fell for this clip from an old Muppet Show where John Denver sing "the Garden Song" (he's wearing socks with his sandals - I thought this was a typical swedish style). I can't remember when a song went straight to the heart like this one does. Don't ask me why. This gives you a few singing flowers too, and I swear I hear something like this from my container when I've watered with bokashi fluid - that stuff is powerful!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Fair advice for getting rid of fungus gnats


Most of you seem to have seen through my April Fools joke about gene manipulated killer slugs and extra tiny sheep (I've always thought someone should breed minisheep for minicollies). It wasn't a joke taken from nowhere though - there was a company at the Nordic Gardens fair that did bring live animals to their booths.

Biobasiq Sverige AB (link in swedish and danish...) is a swedish company selling biological control and beneficial insects to professional and hobby gardeners. We amateurs are not spoiled with these things, I can tell you, and I was even more charmed by the bumble bee nest they had brought to their booth. I didn't know you can hold bumble bees similar to the way you keep bees. You won't get honey but the bumble bees are sturdy pollinators that braves colder weather than bees and they are not as 'stinger happy' as them. But I have to admit I my prime interest was the fungus gnat killer nematodes they sell in small units (previously I've only found them in megapacks for proffessional food growers). Fungus gnats are the most common pest indoors, and almost impossible to get rid of.

In short the nematodes are parasites infecting the fungus gnat worms in the soil, which means they die before they can evolve into a gnat (or eat more tender roots). They are delivered in a plastic box with a granulate and are meant to be mixed into water and watered out into the soil. What you need to know is that this is something to be used fresh, so you can't stock up on them. The best thing is to use the stuff as soon as it arrives to your home.

A more traditional way to fight fungus gnats is to use fly paper. I bought ten pieces at the Willab Garden booth (link in swedish only). Willab Garden sells greenhouses and had brought a shop with bits and bobs for keeping the content of them fresh to the fair. It's worth noting that green house gardening is what comes closest to indoor vegetable gardening, which makes it worth checking out green house tips and -shops for advice and useful tools - in many cases this is more rewarding than checking out traditional indoor gardening resources.

As you can see on the picture I've cut the fly papers into smaller pieces. After surveying my plants I realised it would be more effective letting every container have a paper on its own to catch an optimal amount of gnats. (They've eaten my lovely scallions - it's WAR! Again.) It has worked out well, and I get a hint about where the problem is most serious. But the glue was STICKY! The scissors clogged up, and with my fingers sticking to everything I felt like Peter Parker when he discovers he have spider forces. Fortunately I could remove it with vegetable oil (a household trick I learned from my grandfather who used to work in a sawmill; resin is best removed with butter, so whenever I fail to clean off glue with soap I try some kind of common household fat).

[Fridays is usually the day I let you peek into my green book - but it's disappeared. I'm panicking a bit, but I hope I'll find it again.]

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A new way to handle killer slugs

Often you find the most interesting things in the small booths of a fair. Last year I found a hand lotion made of slug slime that was extremely effective. I do regret that I didn't buy a tin or two since the seller didn't attend Nordic Gardens this year. However she did have some similarities with the find of this year - they are both into slugs. This year I found a company called MicroLivestock Inc.

Since I'm planning an aquapnic system I've already been into micro livestock. It's pretty simple; it's a term for animals like rabbits, guinea pigs and slugs etc. that are small enough to be bread in small spaces and have edible (ie. tasty) flesh. Sometimes pigs are added to this category, but I think this is to stretch things a bit too far.

MicroLivestock Inc. are taking small cattle to a new level though - they are using genetic modification. Their big 'star product' is a variety of the spanish slug - their first successful designer animal - they've designed to A. relieve the nature of the pest and B. give us protein that is easy to catch and tastes well. The manipulated gene is dominant which means that if you release a batch of designer slugs into your garden they'll pass on their traits to comming killer slug generations.

And what are the traits? Well, they don't have the tough slime ordinary spanish slugs have - the designer slugs have normal slug slime, which make it easier for predators to eat them. The slug is easy to spot, is active in daytime and tastes good. No, it doesn't taste like chicken, the company has bet their hats on beef. I was treated to a few pieces of "snail jerky" they sold in their boot. I'm not fond of beef jerky (beef jerky is not a part of swedish food culture, and hasn't immigrated like chips and hamburgers), so I can't tell if the taste was good or not, but the idea was good. The slugs are easy to bread indoors, easy to slaughter and "self destruct" if they happen to run away into the wild. (You should have seen the faces of the boot demonstrators when I hinted that the last trait may not work to a hundred percent when tested in real life.)

But MicroLivestock wasn't all about slugs, they are working on micro cattle of different kinds. You should have seen the vid they were showing in the boot! A mini collie of the smallest kind were running around chasing something that on first sight looked like giant guinea pigs and then revealed to be sheep in the same scale as the collie. They weren't gene manipulated though, the company had tracked down some smallbuilt heirloom races and breaded them down in scale untill they reached the right size. The advantage of this method was that they could reach a stable variety relatively fast. (When you use gene manipulation you have to add some check up generations to see if it has some side effects - in many cases the manipulation weakens the general constitution of the animals.)

If the mini cows wouldn't work out the company is working with milk giving english lops (a giant rabbit breed). The plan is to not only make the milk taste like cow milk, but also to hamper the mechanism that makes the milk dry up when the rabbit's offspring have grown up. This way you don't have to stress the female with repeated births. (I still think this chimerism will be too tough to swallow for animal lovers.)

Gene manipulated food isn't popular right now, so I have to say it's brave to set up a booth at the biggest garden fair in Scandinavia. If you want to know more about the company you can take a look at their home page.

MicroLivesock Inc.



[Ed. April 2nd; as you may have realised this post was the Indoor Gardener April Fool's joke of the year. There is no MicroLivestock Inc. However, the hand lotion made from slug slime do exist...]

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where to get seeds and bulbs in Sweden


There! My potatoes are presprouting! This year I'll grow both Amandine and Maris Peer - those seed potatoes I can't find a place for here will be sent to my brother in law for a place in his outdoor potato plot. I bought the Maris potatoes at Nordic Gardens, so I though this post would be about the different seed suppliers I took a closer look at (there were more than these of course, but these were the ones I stopped by).

You know Impecta by now, and they do have an english version of their site. Don't be discouraged by the main frame in swedish - the left navigation column and their seed presentations are in english. They have a large and interesting assortment of both swedish heirloom seeds and tropical rare seeds (dragon's blood-tree for exemple). I stopped by and bought some asparagus sallat just because I could.

This year I took a closer look at Runåbergs Fröer (sorry, link in swedish only, but most swedes speak excellent english, so you can contact them with questions). Runåbergs is of the same kind as Impecta - they are the quality brands of seed suppliers - this is where you buy seeds when you have ambitions and live up to them. If Impecta has a bigger assortment of seeds, Runåbergs are greener and have a higher percentage of heirloom seeds. For exemple they sell gotlandic salsify, collected from an medieval ruin at Gotland. A bigger percentage of their seeds are sustainably grown.

The potatoes were bought at Larsviken, a family farm specialising in these lovely tubers. Unfortunately their homepage is in swedish only, but you should be able to send questions to them via email. Remember though that it's much more troublesome exporting and importing roots than seeds, so if you live outside the EU you may not be able to buy from them. (I'm not clear about why, but I have a hunch that roots carries diseases more easily and have to have more thorrow check-ups. Seed potatoes sold between EU countries often have a plant passport to prove that they are healthy.) Anyway - Larviken brought a library of seed potatoes to the fair, they carried tubers of all colours and shapes for the interested. Blue Congo (a potato which is blue both on the outside and straight through the flesh) sold out quite early, so I had to make do with a fast growing delicacy potato instead. I'm not that disappointed...

For the real gardening and vegetable growing geeks enthusiasts there are The One organisation left; Föreningen Sesam (the Sesam Association). Their webpage is in swedish only, but they should be able to answer questions via email (se above). Their aim is to preserve the diversity of cultivated plants, and in particular swedish heirloom seeds. This year they handed out seeds to those visiting their booth at the fair, which means I'm going to try out the tomatoes 'Outdoor Girl' and 'Red Cherry' for indoor growing later on this year. (No, I don't know why these varieties have english names or how this relate to the aim to preserve swedish heirloom seeds.) Members exchange seeds in the spring - untill the fifteenth of April to be exact, so now I'm praying my membership application will be approved soon so I can take part.

Sorry about the delay friends! This cold is hard to beat!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Short sunday notice



I know it was stupid to stomp around the Nordic Gardens Fair (english summary is found at the bottom of the left column) being as ill as I am. But I had already cut all my fair visits except for this one, if I had passed I wouldn't have had anything to tell about the news in the business. To rest a bit I've decided to keep the new updating routine (mon, wed, fri, sun) untill June, and to compensate for that I'll make the next week a kind of online mini fair, telling you about news and old favourites interesting for indoor gardeners. For my international readers this will probably be a mix of good tips and curiousity insights into swedish gardening - I'll hope you'll enjoy it.

I'm eternally gratefull for swedishstylecom to have put this vid on YouTube. Most parts of is of the Azalea garden, the fashion exhibition made by the Swedish Fashion Council and one of the florist schools' flower clothes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I think you're FABULOUS!


I got this award from Ayla at Aylas tankar (Ayla's thoughts - blog in swedish), which made me very happy. I'm supposed to pass it on to five other bloggers, so I take the chance to push some of my favourite blogs here.

The Indoor Garden(er)
Yes! A collegue! Kenneth Moore lives in Washington and has built himself an indoor allotment! I pass the reward on for bravery with hammer and trowel.

Mr Brown Thumb
One of the first to read Indoor Gardener and one of the kindest and most helpful bloggers I know. Runs GardenBloggers too - check up on this one if you want to improve your garden blogging. I pass the award on for helpfullness and good blogging!

Bad Human! Don't take chemicals from strangers!
This blog is as much about the environment and sustainable living as it is about gardening. Every now and then you are treated to delicious recipes. I pass the award on for humour and clever solutions to living a sustainable life.

A Posse Ad Esse
While I'm dreaming about an urban farmstead I reading Paul Gardener's blog about his. I like the tone of his blog, so I pass the award on for cosy blogging.

green LA girl
I can't resist stopping by there every now and then to read about the latest vegan icecream, sustainable funeral, some new ecogadget or how to bike around LA. I pass the award on for trendiest (in a good way) green consciuous blogging.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Extreme shepherding and some hints



I got the cold from Hell and my lungs are complaining - they think it was enough with the pneumonia last autumn. My brain refuses to work and since I want to give you some interesting facts about gardening I turned to YouTube. I mean; there are vids about everything there and it is possible to find good stuff about indoor vegetable gardening.

Of course I ended up falling for something completely different. I don't know how I can define Baaa-Stud's extreme shepherding as in line with the theme of indoor vegetable gardening. They are using LEDlights, is that enough? Anyway, it's a cool vid, enjoy!

Wednesday I'll give you some blogtips. Ayla over at Aylas Tankar (=Ayla's Thoughts, a blog in swedish) gave me the awsome "I think you're fabulous!" award. When my brain has recovered from its state of porridge I'll pass it forward.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Lonely Tomato



Don't we all feel like this sometimes? Tomorrow I'll give my tomatoes the support they need - and move up the growlight even more.

This vid is from Central Service Presents... The Board of Education. I'm not sure which part is the band name and which part is the CDname, but you'll find their homepage if you follow the link.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The sigh of an indoor gardener

My new tomato plants are trying to lift their grow light again! You know, we all know plants are growing slowly, and still I feel I have a hard time keeping up. Running runners are twirling around each other in the kindergarten (ie. where I put the plants that have been repotted once) and I know that I should repot them NOW if I don't want them to become permanently entangled in each other. At the same time other plants are asking for attention, wanting to be released of their eggshells to slip into something more comfortable (a terracotta pot), which means I need to mix more soil and create more growing places. Right now I'm glad that more than half of my sowed seeds stays seemingly dormant - I have my hands full with their vigorous cousins!

Monday, March 16, 2009

To expand the cultivation areas


Today I've been standing in an open window, more than eleven yards over ground, and felt a bit dizzy. I've finally got around to start cleaning out my study-to-be where I'm going to work together with my plants (they are growing - I am writing). The first thing to do was to fix the venetian blind since its strings are broken. In Sweden the rule is that venetian blinds are put between the glasses in the doubble glazing (which nowadays are tripple glazing) and the strings are partly run in channels through the window. We do have some new string for mending purposes, but when I opened the window I saw that it was close to impossible to reach those spots you needed to reach if you wanted to restring the thing. That's when I fetched a wire cutter, cut the imporant pieces and removed the entire blind.

Why I felt dizzy? Well, I cleaned the window to get maximal sunlight for my plants, and I'm afraid of heights. Standing in an open window on the fourth flour made my knees rattle a bit.

Now I have an extra window for my plants, but what do you do if you don't have that many windows - or if you even more space for cultivation? You can put your indoor gardens anywhere in your flat, as long as you provide light. All begins and ends with the light.

To use the light you get from the window you can garden in levels. The first thing I'll do in my study-to-be is to put a shelving unit right in front of (behind?) the windowsill. This gives me some extra space to put plants in the lightest part of the room - as long as I'm placing them right. On the windowsill I'll put short plants, like babyleaves, and on the shelving unit I'll put taller plants - for the moment nasturtium and dwarf sugar snaps in big pots with trellises. During the lighter period of the year this could mean I could refrain from using grow lights. Still I'll put some flourescent tubes over the shelving units - I like being better safe than sorry.

If you are using added light - flourescent tubes or LEDlights - you can place your plants wherever you like. There are a few easy rules to this; use either full colour-, cold white or special lights for flowers, and the lamps should be placed ten centimeters (four inches) above the plants (the farther from the plants, the lesser good does the light do). Since plants do grow it's best to make sure that you can elevate the lamps every now and then. For my own part I'm using chains with links big enough to hang a s-hook in. This way it's easy to change the position of the light. Grant it, I seldom hang it unevenly, my inner aestetic screams when I try...

Another thing to think of is that you should be able to stand the light too. Plants want light for 12 to 14 hours, and you'll be in you home at least part of that time. In other words, if you put some cultivation areas in your sleeping room you need to set the timer to light the lights after you've left your bed - and idealy you should see to that you have a few hours without the grow light in the evening to get a more normal backlighting. Especially cold white light gives a scary lab feeling to the room, and you may want to curl up with a book and some candles without having to do a rampage through the technical stuff.

Those of you who have read Indoor Gardener regularly may notice something different on the picture above. It used to be cold blue light. The reason for this was thrift - ordinary flourescent tubes are much cheaper than special grow lights and work as well as them. But when I changed the tubes this winter I noticed that the manufacturer had released 'flower lights', which costs just as little as flourescent tubes, so I decided to try them. Could they really be as good as real growlights? As you can see they give a purple shine to the room, and plants are said to thrive in the red-blu spectra (red + bue = purple). Personally I like it, it's a softer light than the cold blue we had before. The plants looks healthy, so this may be an experiment with a positive outcome.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vids for tired vegetables



This is me right now - instead of growing vegetables I've become a vegetable. Yesterday I spent the entire day reading Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". It's a good book, but I have to admit that I previously thought that T. Capote was a ganster and that "In Cold Blood" was a hardboiled detective story à la Mike Hammer. I was a bit surprised to discover that the same author had written "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

Well, I can't just post without giving you something garden related. This is from a special show of the Fast Show from BBC which was made for the Comic Relief. Eventhough this is outdoor gardening I couldn't keep from posting this vid anyway ;)

Friday, March 13, 2009

A look in the green book 090313

It's been Friday 13th in Uppsala, which means I'm writing this late at night. Let's take a peek on my records from the last week.

Monday March 9th
Repotted the first 'Enorma' runnerbean. The cheap potting soil is mostly peat moss, bark and sand (surprise). I need to buy some new.
I already knew it! Cheap potting soil is mostly peat, still I was 'thrifty' when I bought my last fourty liters (one bushel). Guess the difference in price; nine kronas (about one dollar)! Bah! And rubbing this soil (which I do when I pondering something during the repotting process) is downright uncomfortable; it's prickly.

Conclusion: Go for the expensive potting soil - the difference in price is not that big.

Tuesday March 10th
Pepper #4 about to break surface
Suger melon 'Early Silverline' #33 about to break surface
Scallions about to break surface
Onion "47, 50 & 51" about to break surface

Yes, I number my seeds. It's easy when you are sowing into eggshell pots; you just take a pencil and write on the shell. Using a pencil is important, since the graphite is nonpoisonous. Then you can write a lot about the plants on a paper using the numbers as references - this way you won't worry about fitting everything in on a small stick of wood (or plastic).

Wednesday March 11th
Looked for branches on the way home. Picked a minor forest which I defrosted, cut of the thinnest twigs and pointed at the bottom end.
You should have seen the look on my neighbours face when I met him! I picked the branches from a thining area in our local wood, and was careful to just pick ones that wouldn't be of any real use. Not that I know what the county wants to do with the stuff the remove from the woods, but bigger logs could sure be sold as timber. Minor branches works better in an indoor gardening project, and my plants actually looks trendy with their new trellises. (Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Since when am I trendy?! Curse you, Shabby Chick!)

I promise I'll get you a photo later on!

To conclude I can say I've spent most of the week repotting plants. As you already know the oil seed pumpkins almost burst through their shells before I repotted them. Their vigour is fearsome! Yesterday and today I took some vacation from this job, but tommorrow I have at least three plants to work with - if I have enough soil...

***



A small vid for the weekend. Since herbs are one of the top indoor gardening crops I post Patti Moreno's tip on how to freeze herbs, using this you can rotate your herbgarden and won't be locked to grow everything at once.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Help, they are growing!


Guess who are the bullies at school? Yes, the oilseed pumpkins. I've put them in individual terracotta pots, which seems to keep them happy - for now. Almost everything I've sowed needs replanting immediately and a new problem looms; where will I put everything once I've put it into 'grown up' containers?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recipes for chard

I promised you some recipes on chard, so I took a few hours on the library looking through cook books. (Oldfashioned, yes, but judging from the amount of visitors books won't go out of fashion for many years.) Perhaps it was stupid to do so when I was hungry, my rumbling stomach ought to have bugged others. By chance I happened to pick recipes from swedish and german cook books, so I'm not able to give you handy links to where you can by the books in english, but perhaps I can give you some new ideas.

Most of the recipes I found was spinach recipes, and since you can use spinach and chard interchangably I've taken the liberty to pick some recipes originally meant for spinach. I've put a star * after those where I've switched the ingredient. Both vegetables works well with strong cheese - which you can see - and fat. It's allways tempting to add some extra so make sure you have some measure spoons at hand when you are cooking.

Let's start with a YouTube vid where a professional chef, Derek Hanson from Nutshell restaurant in Portland, Oregon (recently closed, so I can't provide you with a link), who shows you how to make sautéed chard with cherry ginger gastrique. The vid is from everydaydish.tv. If you can't get your hands on dryed cherries you could use fresh ones, preferebly of the sour kind. This movie also gives you an idea on how to handle chard. (If you grow it indoors the leaves gets only half the size of those he handles, but the taste is the same.)



Next is a recipe from one of my favourite ladies, mrs Saxon. She was one of the first modern vegetarians in Sweden, and married to Johan Lindström Saxon, founder of Svenska Vegetariska Föreningen (Swedish Vegetarian Association). I don't agree with everything mrs Saxon writes in her book, she can be somewhat rabid, but the recipes are interesting, and I did find one on spinach 'buns' where it's possible to use chard.

Chard buns according to mrs Saxon*

2,5dl parboiled and minced chard
3 "french breads" (ie. breads made only from wheat the size of a fist)
1,5dl milk
1 egg
salt
a pinch of sugar (this is to balance the tastes, not a sweetener)
raspings

Mix egg and milk and soak the breads in the mixture, add salt, sugar and mangold and make a batter. Pick chunks the size of an egg and make oblong buns, roll them in the raspings and fry them untill they're brown.

Served with potatoes and "milk sause" (ie bechamel).

Mrs. Saxon wrote her cook book 1928 and I read it mostly with a smile (sometimes with a shudder) since it reeks of the thoughts popular pre second world war, but I cook the recipes since they are old swedish homely cooking with the characteristic taste combinations and harmonies. You're not spoiled with that when it comes to vegetarian recipes. ("Fru Saxons kokbok", 1928, Bröderna Lindströms förlag)

From another swedish cookbook "Barnfamiljens bästa mat" (The best food for families with children) by Lotta Brinck I've picked a recipe on chard fried with garlic. This is your basic chard sauce in one of its forms. You can vary this recipe in many ways, add some yoghurt and cumin for an indian touch or quick thicken it (sift some flour over the chard and let it fry for a while, pour in some milk and let it thicken) and season with white pepper and salt for an old swedish homely cooking taste.

Chard fried with garlic

Chop 2 liters of chard leaves. Put them in a hot frying pan and boil until most of the water [from the leaves] evaporate. Pour 2 table spoons of olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic and one teaspone dried thyme. Fry for a minute. Add a with a pinch of black pepper and salt.

This is a side dish. I would use it to fish or as a condiment to baked potatoes. ("Barnfamiljens bästa mat" Lotta Brinck, 1994, ISBN 91-502-1152-8)

In "Mera grönt - en kokbok även för köttälskare" (More greenery - a cookbook for meatlovers as well) by Cecilia Björk and Malin Kågerman Hansén I found several recipes for spinach and even one particularly for chard. Still I choose their bread pudding since it's a dish good for recycling old bread.

Bread pudding with chard and feta cheese*

250g frosen chard
6 slices of white bread
150g feta cheese
4 eggs
4dl cream milk (1 part milk, one part dairy cream)
salt, white pepper, ground nutmeg

1. Put the oven on 225¤C (437¤F), unfreeze the chard by putting it in a kettle with 1dl (1/3 cup) boiling and lightly salted water. Keep it boiling untill all the chard is soft. Put it in a colander and press out the water. Cut the chard into smaller pieces.

2 Toast the bread. Cut away the crust. Put the slices in a buttered pan.

3 Spread the chard over the bread. Crumble the feta cheese and put it on top of the chard.

4 Mix egg and creammilk together. Add salt, pepper and some ground nutmeg. Pour the mixture into the pan over the feta/chard.

5 Put it in the oven and let it bake for about thirty minutes.

This is a main dish. ("Mera grönt - en kokbok även för köttälskare" Cecilia Björk och Malin Kågerman, 1998, ISBN 97-47-04490-X)

Lastly a recipe from "Gesund und schmackhaft kochen mit der hl. Hildegard von Bingen" by Ellen Breindl ('Sound and Tasty Cuisine with Holy Hildegard von Bingen' - I read the swedish version 'Hildegards kök' translated by Sune Karlsson). The book uses texts written by and about Hildegard of Bingen - one of medieval times most famous nuns. Writing this I can't say how close the recipes in the book follows the originals, but here we have a small trifle suspiciously close to a smoothie.

Chard milk*

500g mangold
salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 liter of fat milk

Carefully rinse the chard in cold water and put it in a saucer. Pour in water untill the chard is covered, salt lightly and put it to boil. Mix the chard in a mixer untill it's purée. Cool it. Add lemon juice, the egg yolk and honey and mix for a short period of time. Add and mix in the milk right before you are pouring the drink into glasses. Decorate with some finely chopped parsley.

This is a cold delicacy for warm days. ("Gesund und schmackhaft kochen mit der hl. Hildegard von Bingen" Ellen Breindl, Pattloch-Verlag, Augsburg 1994 and "Hildegards kök" Ellen Breindl, övers. Sune Karlsson, 2000, ISBN 91-7085-207-3)