Gardening by DanceofChaos
Dear friends and readers,
It has been a while since I wrote anything for the gardening section. Around September, usually chill sets in the weather and from October onwards it is chilly autumn, harvesting pumpkin and gradually winter.
There is also something about the grey outside, chilling rains and general cold weather of Germany, that makes the sun-loving plant soul of mine hibernate.
Gardening outside stops slowly. For amateurs like it, it means cleaning, organising, and taking care of the few indoor plants that will survive winter.
Thanks to few fellow garden enthusiast friends, I could continue my planning and dreaming about how I can make my apartment green this summer.
2 Mid-winter Preparation
A lot of home garden enthusiasts start planning and prepping the seeds from end of January or beginning of February, which is mid-winter in Germany. I have never done that before but this year I decided to go for it.
I have built up my seed collection quite a bit now. Gardening regulars like salad, carrot, chilli, beans, peans, cucumber etc need long time to develop before they can be harvested.
I usually started them around April or May and bought somewhat grown small plants from the garden centres. This year I have planted such seeds well ahead.
Due to the cold weather and lack of strong sunlight, my previous years attempts did not work out well. This year, after doing some online research and reading about experiences of other people in social media, I decided to invest some money into a growth light.
I got this one from amazon and they are not that expensive to be honest.
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The change has been remarkable.
3 Seeds and Seedlings
Towards the middle of January, I had prepared seeds of many of my garden regulars. I had planted the usually chilly, Paprika ( capsicums / bell peppers), jalapeño, an old rotting tomato, beans, cucumber, peas and loads of herbs. I also planted a number of herbs including coriander.
This year, I decided to recycle some of the egg cartons, old plastic cups, take out boxes as my growing chambers instead of buying additional plastic growing pots.
For the first three weeks, I barely noticed any change. I was using the growth light for three to four hours everyday and was frankly getting a bit frustrated that nothing was happening.
Towards the end of the fourth week, seedlings started to sprout. The peas went first, followed by the root vegetables like radisch, beet and few carrots. Gradually the beans came out and a couple of cucumber. Some herbs have also spread their wings as well the chillies.
I also planted some tropical seeds like curry and okra and I am very excited to see what will happen.
3.1 Peas and Tomatoes
The tomatoes have not shown any sign of growth, which is expected. They start germinating when it is a little hotter.
Peas really grow fast and they grow very well in this climate. They almost grow like weed. In this madly cold winter, where the outside temperature was ranging between zero to minus five, some seedlings sprouted from last-years left over peas, which had broken off and fallen down, in my outside vegetable pit. The pit was full of slush and slow and I have not cleaned out the water for a while now.
If you are new to vegetable gardening and not having much luck, just get some peas and tomatoes to start you off. Peas bloom early and the tomatoes in late / high summer in Germany. Both will give you major confidence boost as a gardener.
3.2 Spring Onions
The trick with bulb vegetables like spring onions is, you can reuse the bulbs and roots multiple time. For me, summer is a bad time to grow spring onions outside. The squirrels and birds will come and eat them. Squirrels will also dig out the soil for their nutty purposes. During the winter, I had planted some spring onions indoor in soil, using left over bulbs from the kitchen. They have thrived and grown and given me consistent produce through out winter. However I am noticing the bulbs are dying out and I would probably need to plant a fresh set again.
I grow a lot of herbs, but never really tried microgreens. I have seen my friends grow them and use them in their kitchen. They are not just nutritious, they are also very colourful and make for amazing decoration for gourmet kitchen. I am taking the lead from some of my friends and growing some of them. Let me see, when I begin to harvest them.
Any Indian knows the importance of neem plant. It is one of the most well known medicinal plant in the world and every part of it can be used. Any organic insect repellent will have some form of neem oil in it. Back in India, there is a huge neem tree at our backyard. Try as I may, I have never succeeded growing neem from seed here.
I gave up last year and bought one online. The tree came, fully healthy and survived till October. October onwards its leaves started falling off and it was completely barren in winter. I was afraid that the neem has died. I hoped against hope and kept it against the heater.
Imagine my surprise, when a few days back I noticed it has new green shoots and leaves on it. What makes it even more amazing is right now it is so cold here. The temperatures are as low as minus fifteen degrees and there is snow everywhere. Indoor, the neem plant is growing without a care, following its internal tropical clock. The month of Falgun has started in India and spring has arrived
5 Gardening to come
All the hard work, soaking the mud makes it worth it, when I see those fresh green leaves and tiny green shots coming out of my plants. The bitter cold of recent days has resulted in some seedlings dying. Still most of them are surviving. My mother thinks I am getting ahead of my father in gardening and has ordered me to grow colourful flowers as well. I have already demanded pumpkin plant from my mum in law. Gardening this year is also going to be interesting and enriching.
Stay tuned for more gardening related posts.
All pictures in the blog, unless otherwise mentioned, are taken by the blog. Please do not post the images without permission.