Archive for the ‘plants’ Category

We’ve been away over the really hot days this weekend. Luckily, we have self-watering pots for all our vegetables, so we didn’t need to rely o a neighbour to come and water our plants.
This greeted us when we came home:

The type of cherry tomato that yielded this lovely bunch is called “Tiny Tim”. They don’t grow too high, don’t need pruning and yield fantastically. A perfect plant for windowsill farming! I think we’ll be using this one exclusively next year.

Sadly, some of the chilies seemed to have gotten too much sun despite plenty of water and dried out. But I have a nice palette of chilies anyway:

I got a whole bowl of Jalapeños that ripened before the plants died. I’ll have to do some emergency pickling and freezing tonight before we go away on vacation again! (No, not freezing the pickles. :D)
(Yes, yes, that’s my acrylics paint palette with dried-in paint on it. I thought it made a fun contrast. :D)

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My windowsill garden!

How’s your growing going? Can you guess the plants this time?

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So far, only one zucchini actually is growing. I must have failed with the dusting on the others.
Still, a success! It should be ready to eat in a few days. Yay!

And – oh dear, the purple-rimmed bell pepper flowers…

…seem to make purple-black peppers! I didn’t expect that! I certainly didn’t buy black pepper seeds…
They’re pretty, though.

Everything else is still growing well. Nothing new about the tomatoes – a few more buds, a few more blossoms. There are some pretty red chilies now, which I will harvest and freeze soon. Also bought some more pots for repotting the other zucchinis and tomatoes.

PS: Oh! There is one strawberry plant that made it. It’s stretching out its little creepers everywhere now – it will get its own pot soon!

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Base, we have tomato blossoms, I repeat, we have tomato blossoms!
Now how to support them?

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This has been a productive month for my plants! Spring has finally come to Sweden and the biomass seems to be doubling by the week.

I’ve finally gotten around to replanting the tomatoes. It was high time, too. I felt sorry for them in their tiny pots of ground, but just didn’t have the time…
*mumbles at work stealing all my time*

All lined up for replanting:

And repotted into two self-watering pots:

The bell peppers were also replanted. One of them had grown the loveliest white blossoms with a pretty purple border!

The others have normal white blossoms, so I suspect that either they or the purple one is a different breed that I planted by accident. I put some seeds from a supermarket-bought bell pepper in the planting box, but I don’t remember any growing up!
Here the family of peppers is united with their relatives, the chilis, on the westside windowsill.

The bell peppers are also in a self-watering pot now. It’s quite easy and cheap to make them yourself with pvc pipe, leca balls and fibertex if you know how.
I spread some bark on top to keep the dirt from drying out. And because I think it looks spiffy.

The chilis have also been productive:

Here’s another thing that I planted “by accident” out of my fridge. Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to what it is? ;)

Oooh, and when I went to replant the Physalis, I saw it had not only flowered, but started to grow little lanterns!
I’m so thrilled I can’t describe how much. I hope they’ll be ripe before we go on vacation so I can put one in my bento.

Oh, and the zucchini…

…are still monsters.

And growing little zucchini. I am busily dusting them and hoping they’ll take.

They are beautiful, though…

And that’s the gardening diary photodump for this week. Hope you enjoyed them as much as I do!
As a little note of success: Grandma was fascinated that my zucchini were already blooming. She who didn’t think a windowsill garden would work at all when I first told her about it! Woo hoo! :D

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Some photos from my gardening diary in the last few weeks…

I found my first female flower, complete with a tiiiny little round zucchini on the bottom, this week. Today it opened (and got some pollen carried to it by me… I’m such a pervert).
There are two more lined up what I can see on that plant. The others have only male flowers yet, but look how many of them!

From the end of April:

And how the zucchini looked when I first repotted them.

Could this eally be the tiny physalis that I didn’t think would even survive?

It flowered this weekend, but I only noticed it after the fact. The bell peppers also had one or two blossoms. The chilies havebeen putting out lovely green chilies regularly now, though they aren’t especially strong :( I wonder if they’ll get stronger as they ripen.
The tomatoes are also steadily growing, though they aren’t flowering yet. I think I need to re-pot them again:

And for the end, a picture of my thyme that I liked.

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I’m finally home, after three (as it felt in the end) very long weeks away!
To boot, I caught a stomach bug last wednesday, or possibly something bad from the Italian cantina. I’m better now, but I am still careful about what I eat, and eating smaller portions (which is not necessarily a bad thing).
So today I’m bringing a light bento to help my stomach recover… and to show off my new box!

In the big compartment:
The main dish on a bed of rice.
Oven-baked yellow zucchini (I still can’t bring myself to call these squash… squash to me is a pumpkin!).
I can’t stand deepfrying, so all my breaded stuff is instead baked in a pan brushed with olive oil in the oven. The recipe is really simple – I cut a yellow squash in about a cm thick wheels, salted them on both sides and laid them out on a towel to shed water. After about 10-15 minutes, I dried them off with kitchen paper, removing most of the salt in the process, then rolled them in flour, whisked egg with a drip of milk and finally breadcrumbs. Then I laid them out on a non-stick pan brushed with olive oil and shoved them in the preheated, 200C oven for another 15 minutes. Voilà!
This also works really well with eggplant.
With the zucchini on the rice bed are breadcrumb patties – when I was little, my grandma would make me patties out of what was left of materials when breading food, and fry them with the rest of the stuff. They bring back memories :)
The spread on them is avocado mayonaise, which I did because I tried an awesome avocado creamcheese spread at the cafe yesterday and needed to see if I could create something similar. The mayo doesn’t work as well as the cheese though, I fear.
In the right small box are more zucchini and in the left one is a sauce container with more avocado spread and frozen mango pieces as dessert.

My plants have survived very well on their selfwatering pots, and the chilies are starting to bloom! Are you supposed to dust them like you do with tomato plants or do they manage themselves? Does anybody know? My last chili didn’t seem to need any dusting, but I’m not sure.

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Back from the easter break with bentos! I need to buy new vegetables tomorrow, since my fridge is yawning empty. I was lucky to even have this much!

Being an expatriate, I suffered the fate of not having painted eggs of my own this easter… so I made a tea marbled egg for tomorrow! (“Hey, brown is a color, right?”)

This box is not actually a bento box. It’s a plastic box from IKEA that has a metal cheesegrater top, but also a lid for storing things later. I was looking at it the other day and thought “This is the perfect size and shape for a bento box!” So here it is.
The lid isn’t very tight but closes fast enough if you use a bandana as well.

Rice, the last of my broccoli patties (which I froze before the easter break), a marbled egg chick and some sweet pickled radish which I also made to use it up before leaving for the easter break. It came out rather nice, even though I can’t judge if it tastes like it is supposed to. I like it, though.
Carrot flowers for decoration.

Pickled radish and tea marbled eggs are some really simple recipes that I dredged from the internet pretty much on a whim. They are rather nice and effective though! I love the smell and taste the marbling added to the egg. :D

Tea marbled egg recipe
Hardboil eggs, take them out of the water and cool them down so you can hold them without burning yourself. Don’t peel!
With a spoon, break the shell so there is a pattern of cracks all around it.
Add 1-2 teaspoons of black tea, 1 teaspoon of five spice powder, 2-3 teaspoons of soy sauce, salt and some star anise pods to the water.
I didn’t have five spice powder, but I made some myself by grinding some roasted Szechuan pepper, star anise, cloves, cardamom (the recipe asks for fennel seeds but I don't use them as people in my family are allergic to it) and cinnamon. I stored the leftovers in a box for later.
Boil for another 30 minutes and then let soak for at least 3 hours.

I read in a science mag the other day why hardboiled eggs sometimes get an ugly, greenish border between the yellow and the white. The explanation is this: When you boil an egg, iron and sulphur is released from the egg yellow. Those react at the yellow’s border, creating greenish iron sulphide. The longer you cook the egg, the more of the elements will react and the more noticeable the border will be.
It isn’t dangerous or unhealthy, just chemistry at work – and sadly, you can’t get pretty marbled eggs without it! I carefully scraped off most of the off-colored border from my chick with a knife edge before adding the decoration.

Pickled Daikon Radish recipe
To be found here.

Update from the window sill garden:
The self-watering pots seem to have held well over the easter break – there’s only one casualty, the basil which seems to have drunk more than we thought it would. It was not entirely dry yet though, so maybe we can save some sprigs.

Here’s a picture of the chilies, which really thrived while we were away!

They grew a good 10 cm and went from 4 timid leaves to this in just 4 days! I’m amazed!
As you can see, the self-watering pots are really simple constructs made with simple storebought pots, leka balls, some fibertex, a PVC pipe, dirt and a fast-food restaurant straws corked with some foam. I may ask the BF to make a diagram some day, but I’m too lazy now…

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Today, I made Bibimbap:

Bibimbap is a Korean rice and vegetabe dish. It's super easy, but I somehow never managed to find the sauce. Somebody in mentioned the name of it – Gochujang! I was able to find it at the Asian grocer in town today, and if you do a Google image search on it, you will see it comes in a lot of different packages. I like to visualize the packaging since I can't read either Korean or Chinese and only a very tiny bit of Japanese (mostly hiragana and katakana).

The recipe is really easy: Here's the bentolunch thread with the traditional veggies.
I used different veggies because I didn't have/don't like the traditional stuff (although radish would have been great!). Mine are:
* red and green bell pepper
* spinach
* a leaf of chinese broccoli (normally you eat only the stalks, but I was curious)
* eggplant
* asparagus
and sliced sweet omelette on top, because I like that better than sunny side up.
The vegetables are all quickfried with garlic in a little sesame oil. Every vegetable is fried separately to be able to add individual spicing (salt and sugar), but mainly to keep them in separate heaps for arranging them on the rice!

How to eat: I used the sauce pure, because that's what I'm used to. Traditionally, it should be mixed with some soy and additional spices to make chogochujang.
In the restaurant that I used to go to, the rice was served in hot castiron bowls that had a little oil in the bottom so the rice got crispy. The gochujang sauce is served separately in a little bowl. You take as much of it as you can stand (it's a spicy chili paste, and if you use hot iron mugs, it will get even hotter as it gets warm) and mix it in with the veggies and the rice.
Here's a picture of it all mixed up (and half-eaten; I was hungry). Sadly I don't have such nifty bowls:

The rice is purplish because I used brown rice with a few grains of purple rice for color. It's all about the colors!

The plantation on my windowsill is growing under the loving care of (mostly) my bf. We repotted all of the herbs in self-watering pots so they can survive while we are away. Making self-watering pots is really easy and totally worth the effort!

On the left is a normal basil, and on the right Thai basil. That plant grows like a weed! It's incredible!
I also bought a rosemary recently, but it died pretty quickly. Apparently with store-bought herb rosemary you're supposed to take it out of the ground it comes in immediately and give it much drier, leaner ground. The next time I bought one from the gardening shop and it thrives just great in sandy ground!

Also, we planted chili seeds and some actually started to grow! I took a picture, but it came out blurry. Next time…
Interestingly, the seeds we bought were rather low in quality – the stuff that grows well is from dried and preserved seeds. Sadly, the seeds I had left over from my first chili plant didn't make it – they were frozen and don't seem to have survived. Now we have two plants from dried banana chilies (rather mild), two from the storebought seed with unknown strength, and possibly some from a Chinese spice mix.

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Yarr, me hearties! Join me in a tale of plunder and booty!

Yonder on backbord ye sees me treasure island, hidden in the lettuce seas on an atoll of the finest couscous sand. Ye can see I traced out the map on it already in furikake and carrot, and a carrot skull of the last one who tried to steal my bento!
The lettuce sea is dangerous and treacherous, for under the waves of salad there hides the ratatouille. Beware, for it is hot and spicy!
Yon parchment off starboard is an empty tortilla.
Dead ahead ye can see I added a little more carrot and lettuce sallad to ward off the scurvy! And aft I tow a barrel of rum seedless grapes and another one of miniyoghurt.


Closeup of the treasure map:

Also, I took some shots of my chili in the hopes you could help me identify it… the tag only says “Capsicum anneum” which is pretty much the whole range of chilies there are!

Closeup of a flower, the whole bush and a chili that’s ripening (I think they’re supposed to be red). They are pretty big for chilies, about the size of my little finger.

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