Indoor plant gallery

With a broken right hand (table saw attack, I lost), things have been a little slow moving in the garden outside. Doing everything one-handed is a little less precise as well (see poorly taken photos below). Even though I’m out of the game for a couple more weeks, it hasn’t stopped all of the indoors plants from going bananas (literally in one case). All of our seedlings are doing well, but they aren’t nearly as interesting as the below plants.

Something we grow an ornamental variety of every year is sweet potato. As tempting as the psychedelic tubers were to eat, our flower beds weren’t organic until this year and I think we would have stood a better chance of poisoning ourselves from fertilizer build up than getting high. This year we’ll be planting these edibles with the flowers for a late season harvest.

As sweet potato slips can be hard to find, I started our own in February by suspending some half tubers with skewers in jars of water. After a few weeks in a sunny window they produced some eyes which quickly grew into leafy slip vines once we transferred them to an artificial light environment.sweet potato Another interesting plant that I’ve failed at growing many times in the past is the pineapple. After some more trial and error and error and error, I found a way to get them rooting and growing. Although the below plant looks like it’s dying, it’s just the old growth dying back while more fresh leaves push out from the centre. Within 24-36 months, fingers crossed, we’ll have a couple of pineapple fruit. I think that we’ll have to hold a pineapple party for all the locavores to taste what they’ve been missing.pineapple

The next photo is a little hard to understand at first. At Christmas I was given a mushroom growing kit in a box. With the winter being so dry, it was impossible to keep the spores damp enough to grow, so we just left them. Now with the moist spring here, they’ve been growing really well.


Last fall I cut back our raspberry bushes and in my laziness, I left the cuttings where they fell, for the winter. Last weekend I started cleaning the garden and noticed that the cuttings, which were sitting on the ground, had green buds and cores. I cut them to manageable lengths and potted them. So far so good. raspberries Probably the best plant we have growing right now is our banana tree! This was a gift from my mother a few weeks ago that has almost doubled in height. Once the weather cheers up a bit, we are going to transplant this -25°C hardy plant right in the garden. Again, if we get bananas, we are having a party. Bring your monkey.banana


Mushroom growing….on toilet paper

I remember when I was a child visiting my granddad in England, he would always have a few mushrooms growing in his shed. I thought it was magical that he grew them, and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I wanted to grow some as well. Just to be clear though: I’m not a fan of mushrooms. It’s like a vegetarian working in an abattoir I guess.

Regardless of my malevolence towards mushrooms, I had a fungi fantasy to live out. In the past we tried to get some in England on holiday, but a certain someone was worried that the secret mushroom police at the airport were going to whisk them away to Guantanamo Bay for smuggling spores. Canada (as far as I know) doesn’t seem to have anyone that sells the spores, so I focused on the UK. I found a great online store called Mushroom Box ( They have great prices, selection and their customer service was great. Placed the order, and within a week or so, I had the beginnings of a new species on the kitchen table. It is perfectly legal to have mushroom spores shipped to Canada, assuming they are of the non-psychedelic variety.

Mushrooms need to grow on a substrate. The easiest to prepare is toilet roll. Yes, toilet roll. A fresh one of course, unsoiled. Loo roll on a plate, boiling kettle poured over top, cooled, and packet of spores added in the centre. If you want more detailed instructions, visit Mushroom Box.

The mushrooms grow in two stage; incubation and fruiting. During the incubation stage, the toilet roll is cover by an upturned sandwich bag which helps the developing mushrooms by keeping out competing bacteria and fungi. Of the two species I tried, the pink oyster mushroom wasn’t as resilient as the blue oysters, and were quickly taken over by a green mold. I blame the mushrooms, but most likely it was something I did wrong during the sterilizing process. Luckily for you this picture doesn’t smell like the real thing did:

The other set of mushrooms made it through the first stage and developed what looks like cotton wool mold all over the roll. At this point I removed the sandwich bag and placed the mini mushroom garden in a cooler, airy space to trigger the fruiting. A few days later and we had mushrooms growing on a toilet roll in the kitchen. If you were to see this under the couch or in the washroom, you’d be disgusted and think we were slobs, but having it on display in the kitchen made it seem less offensive:

Once they were at a harvest-able size, we snipped them back to allow their friends underneath a chance at developing. They seemed to lose their will to go on without their larger friends, and I pitched the whole thing a few weeks later. Although I’m not a fan, I had to try these amazing little things I grew, and I have to admit, they were delicious! Apparently (according to my better half) they are three times stronger than store-bought, and about 3 times cheaper. Once we had our little snack, the rest went on a pizza. Seems like most things end up on pizzas in this house. Not looking forward to the cat getting to a “harvest-able size”.