Monthly Archives: November 2010

11 Days

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(pics from top carrot, tomato, radish, salad leaves)

It’s been 11 days now since I sowed the carrots, tomatoes, basil, strawberries and radish. Mostly its good news. The carrots are sprouting away like nobody’s business. I guess I am going to have to thin them out soon. I am interested to see that one seed does not equal one sprout. I think anyway. I sowed them fairly carefully, spaced as advised, and now there are lots of sprouts coming up close together. So maybe I don’t need to feel so guilty about throwing away healthy looking sprouts.

The tomato sprouts are getting bigger and stronger looking too. I have a guilty feeling inside about sowing tomatoes in this weather. Its only about 10-15C outside most days and it will probably get a bit colder before it gets warmer. I hope they are tough and they survive December and January. I’d feel awful if the cold killed them off. Even inside the temperatures are likely to drop. I’ll have to get baking more to warm up the flat!

No sign of the basil or strawberries. Maybe it is just too cold for them. The radishes are getting big. I am beginning to wonder if they are not planted deep enough or if they are stretching up to try to get more light. I believe that if they are not deep enough I can replant them but if they don’t have enough light I can’t do much. Hmm, or maybe I will look into some grow lights if there are many overcast days this winter. I think you can still buy those old fashioned fluorescent bulbs here, they are fairly warm.

Very excitingly, it is only 4 days since I sowed the salad leaves and there are tons of sprouts coming up already. If they all grow into edible heads we will have salad leaves coming out our ears!

I must say, so far I am very pleased with how easy this has been. I check the pots every day and give a couple of drops of water to the tomatoes now and again. But generally I am spending more time just watching them out of interest than actually putting much effort in!

Emma

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Exciting News!

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Amazing! After only 8 days we now have 3 tomato sprouts. I really didn’t think the tomatoes would survive the cold nights but they seem to be tough little guys. I don’t remember how many I put in the pot but I think it was only 4, so 3 sprouts is pretty impressive.

And not only that… we also seems to have 3 carrots sprouts as well. Although, considering how many carrots we planted in the two long troughs I am hoping these 3 are just the starters and there are plenty more to come. It seems they should germinate within 10 days if the soil temperature is ok for them. So I will be keeping an eye on them the next couple of days. I am beginning to feel a bit like a parent putting pressure on my little seedlings, standing over them and checking everyday to see if they have progressed! Ha ha. I hope they don’t rebel when they get to their vegetable ‘puberty’!

 

Emma

The First Garden Extension

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Despite mixed results so far with the veg we are confident we can figure it out so we have decided to ‘plough on’ with our experiments for now. Today we bought some more containers, a couple of hanging baskets and a sack of compost. For now I have just filled a third trough, the same as the one the carrots are in, and sowed some mixed leaves in it. It seems that salad leaves are considered a good indoor plant so hopefully all goes well with them.
I also pushed a couple of cloves of garlic into the same troughs the carrots are in. it is easy to buy garlic here and its usually quite good but I just couldn’t resist. Plus garlic prices have just been at the highest recorded price in history (here in China anyway) and they are looking to increase again by next summer due to worldwide shortage (according to the Irish Times website).
Finally I decided to thin out the radish seedlings as there were twelve or more in the very small pot they came with. As far as I know when people recommend ‘thinking out’ vegetables the implication is that the seedlings should be thrown away, but I couldn’t do it. So I transplanted half of them into another tray. It is probably a bit shallow for them but it had soil in it so I thought I’d give it a go, it’s better than putting them in the bin.
The more pots we buy the more space I feel we have. It’s amazing how many things we might be able to get going in our little apartment on the 18th floor! But maybe I should be more patient for now because we haven’t harvested any actual vegetables yet!

Emma

First problems

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Only two days after our joy at the first sprouts peeping out we have a big problem; mould. This might even be a worst scenario situation. Nothing in any of the containers or pots has sprouted yet, which is probably ok seeing as it has only been 5 days or so, but now there is mould on the soil and I don’t think that is a good sign. I did some brief research to see how to deal with mould and I couldn’t find as much useful info as I had hoped. Unfortunately we don’t have any sort of garden centre we can pop into to purchase medicine for our plants, so I ended up resorting to just skimming the top layer of soil off and dumping it out. It is probably not the most scientific approach, but I reckon I probably caught it quite early so maybe it is just a surface issue. I have moved the containers around and made sure they got lots of sunlight today plus I have fanned them a couple of times to make sure they are getting enough air movement. But it seems the problem is more likely either the humidity in our apartment and/or water logged soil. Is it too late to drill some nice drainage holes?

Emma

First Sprouts =)

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I woke up this morning and checked the veg as usual and amazingly, after only 4 days, we have sprouts! I am very excited about this. So it looks like there might actually be a radish crop on the horizon. I believe radish are notoriously easy to grow and supposedly require almost no care but I am still pleased as punch. This might be the first vegetable I ever grow and eat. Now I just have to do some research about how to eat them because I am actually not very familiar with radish.

The radish are from an off the shelf kit I found at the supermarket which was ridiculously easy to put together, despite being in Chinese. It is great to see them sprout but I hope some of the other veg come along as well, as we put a bit more effort into those ones. I am the first to admit that I am winging it with the indoor growing. But the weather is relatively mild despite it being November, and the veg are indoors so I am still hopeful to see something else poking through the soil soon.
With fingers crossed,
Emma

We have a Garden!

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We have a Garden!

We have been sloppy and not updated our new blog… already. Woops! But last weekend we created “the Garden”. First let me explain the situation;

What we don’t have; a garden/ balcony/ terrace/ roof access/ allotment/ any outdoor area to grow vegetables, hours and hours of time to spend tending our crops, any experience in vegetable growing.

What we do have; a 52.5sqm studio apartment in a built up area, a full height East facing window which gets lots of morning sunlight, determination and imagination!

We are living in Kunming, South China and a few things about the situation have led us to decide to try some indoor growing. Firstly, there are some things we cannot buy easily in the vegetable market here. Secondly, there seem to be food scares every few months in China. From dodgy baby formula to cancer villages in our province it can be difficult not to get a little bit worried about what we are putting in our bodies every day. Finally, I have always wanted a vegetable patch so I just want to give it a try!

So, back to “the Garden”. Without much planning -other than some quick measurements- we went to the flower and pet market to suss out pots and supplies. There we picked up some pots, compost, seeds and a trowel. We supplemented this compost with some, ahem, ‘borrowed’ soil from a public park not too far from our home. Then we mixed up the soil and compost and added it to all the pots.

Seeing as we had it all ready, and in spite of our ignorance about the whole thing, we decided we might as well get planting first and read the books after! So we planted two long trays of a short variety of carrot, a pot of tomato seeds, a pot of strawberry seeds, a tray of basil seeds and a radish ‘kit’ we found at the local supermarket. This particular combination of fruit and veg is more a product of what we had/ what was available at the market rather than a well planned selection of appropriate, container happy foods.

So now we have to wait and see if anything sprouts, in the meantime I have downloaded a couple of ebooks about container growing and I am going to start researching growing indoors specifically. Already I am beginning to think we will need to plan things carefully to make the most of our space. If it is going to take 2 months to get about 12 carrots it might not be worth it as they are taking up quite a lot of room right now. We only have about 500mm deep by 1.5-2m wide to work with, so if we want to have any way decent yields we will have to get clever about planting out from seedlings and companion crops.

I will be checking my new darlings every morning now until something happens…

Emma

Kefir

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Kefir

Here is our Kefir, given to us by a friend here in China. He brought his initial batch with him from the USA when he moved to China and has been donating bits since living here to anyone interested. So there is a small community now using it.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with Kefir grains, although you can use the grains to make alternative drinks from non-dairy products. The Kefir grains basically look like a blob of congealed milky stuff (see picture). You leave this blob in a glass or jar of milk for 24 hours and from that you get a thin yoghurt drink. The blob grows in size and eventually you should break off some and start another batch, or preserve it in the fridge until you use it.

Anyway, we’ve only just started and are still in the first couple of weeks of making this. The blob has grown and soon I will break it in half and experiment with one half, starting with coconut milk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefir

http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

Adam