Indoor Garden Spring Update. Why Can’t We Just Have Whirled Peas?

Its mid-March here in the mountains, and we’re about two weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But, we are not a news site at Tub to Table. Here, we are just an indoor gardening site. So…as much as I would love to forge a path to world peace here, I’ll have to be satisfied talking about whirled peas. Which we have! Peas are back in the indoor garden!

The Peas are Back In the Indoor Garden!

For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember I was lamenting that all of the peas had been growing like enormous bushy weeds, but they inexplicably stopped forming flowers, and therefore stopped forming peas. Which was the whole reason I was growing pea plants. Otherwise you just have a huge tangle of really messy vines in your bathroom… as I did.

Well, after some brief investigating, it turned out that my light timers had gone rogue and were giving the garden 21 hours of light per day. You may also be good at math and realize that only leaves 3 hours of darkness. Which is apparently not enough sleep for peas. So I changed the lights back to their original settings of 18 hours daylight/6 hours darkness. I planted some new peas, and, voila! We have a huge tangle of weeds that are producing peas again. That was a simple fix.

Plus, we have some cool Dragon’s Tongue beans that decided they would flower now that they were getting their sack time, too. I am very interested in what these exotic looking beans are going to taste like. Hopefully not like actual Dragon’s Tongues.

This little mishap just highlights the importance of the day/night cycle in your indoor garden or grow room. To encourage your plants to fruit or flower, they need periods of rest from the light.

Peas grown in the indoor garden
Nap time.

Rutabagas. Grown Indoors.

Rutabagases? Rutabagi? Let’s just call them Swedes.

The other very fun vegetable we’ve been growing indoors here lately is the Rutabaga, or the Swede. They are just as pretty and easy a vegetable as you could ask for. They take a while to grow in the indoor garden but…they don’t take up too much room, so they’re tolerable.

But then, a lot of people don’t really know what to cook with rutabagas. And I was the same. In fact, they sat in the fridge for a few weeks before we figured out something to do with them. (They finally made their way into a nice sheet-pan veggie roast, actually.)

Charles Dowding, the no-dig gardening super hero, has done a few collaborations lately with a very cool London-based urban gardener, Alessandro, A.K.A. Spicy Moustache. And they put out a farm-to-table rutabega recipe! Check it out here.

I felt instantly cooler for having grown rutabagas after watching this video. And you will too. Maybe it’s all the tattoos. Either way, I can’t wait to try this recipe, but I guess now I’ll have to wait eight months to grow and harvest my next batch. Maybe I’ll leave the lights on super long to speed things up. Like 21 hours…

The rutabagas in these outdoor gardens from the video are admittedly huge, but ours are a decent size too, considering they were grown indoors. I also always try to get at least three to four of these little guys to be ready at the same time for harvest. It makes cooking with them much easier, if you have at least a few! So I plant about 6 at a time and pick the top 3 when the time comes to harvest…

Asparaguses. Grown Indoors.

Asparaguses? That’s right. Believe it or not, it turns out Asparagus (as the plural) or Asparaguses are both correct.

Asparagus Ferning Out
Ferning asparagus

I finally stopped chopping the asparagi (latin) back and I let them go wild a little bit to see what they would do. Since they were so persistent. Plus they are so cute. If a vegetable can be cute.

And look at that, they have flowered with the most delicate, little, tea-cup flowers and become quite fern-like. In fact, this process is called” ferning out” and is part of the expected life cycle of the asparagus. After a few years of “ferning out”, and growing back, the asparagus may just end up being edible after all. I planted these asparagus about 4 years ago and they just keep popping back up. Maybe I never should have doubted them.

The problem is, with the ever-constant indoor-garden conditions – with no seasonal changes in day length – I fear they may not go through a normal fall/winter dormant cycle. So who knows if this “ferning out” is a good sign, or if it’s a signal that the plant is just going to plop over and die next. I’ll keep you posted.

But at least we’ve gotten them back in to a normal day/night cycle, here in the Tub Garden. Who knows what those 21 hour days did to them when the light timers went wonky for a few months and they only were getting 3 hours of asparagus sleep. I’m sure they got quite cranky and weren’t making rational decisions. That’s probably when they decided to “fern out” in the first place.

Regardless, I hope that you, like my now-corrected garden, are getting at least more than 3 hours of sleep. Even with everything that’s in the news these days. Just like the plants, our own down time is so important for us to bloom and grow. Hopefully, you’re eating your vegetables, and maybe even finding time to garden a bit. So you can clear your head, look to nature (even in whatever odd places you may find it, like a bathroom garden) and find your own peace.

And if not, well, at least you’ll know where to find some peas.

vegetable and flower harvest in the indoor garden

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8 thoughts on “Indoor Garden Spring Update. Why Can’t We Just Have Whirled Peas?

  1. Ariel

    Glad to hear of your pea success! Also interesting to know the indoor growing particulars, both wins and lessons. Curious to know if you have any favorite seed companies that seem to pan out in the indoor environment?

    • Stefanie

      Yes but still working on those dumb iceberg lettuces to head. Have you had luck with that yet?

      I will say my two absolute favorites, the most successful ones indoors, are tending to be Gurneys and Johnnys Seed company. They’re just more reliable at sprouting and more resilient as plants.

  2. Penny Bortz

    I miss you!!! And I love that we can stay connected through gardening. I am planning a big outdoor garden for our new place in Kansas. The house is small so no indoor garden spots at least now. But thank you for your post and update. Love seeing your adventures in the Tub Garden. Asperaguses ferning out look so beatiful, who knew!!! Thanks to you we both do now. Again thank you for your beautiful post, photos are always so good, a true natural.

    • Stefanie

      Oh I miss you too!!! I can’t wait to hear about how your big garden in Kansas does! What fun that must be to plan! I miss your gorgeous pictures of nature from around here. They always made me appreciate the natural beauty of our area. So I am looking forward to seeing some pictures of sunsets and that beautiful tree in your yard. We miss you Penny!

  3. Julie

    Really inspiring!

    I have been looking for trialed and specific indoor gardening tips, something more than general answers like : yes you can grow lettuce and microgreens! But what about roots? Beans? Cauliflower?! No one seem to test those but I kept wondering, why the hell not?

    You grow so many different crops, i have to ask : can you mix hot and cold season cultures and keep them all happy? What about humidity levels, since it’s indoors (there seems to be a sweet spot to reach to keep the walls and the plants happy… not sure what it is yet!).

    Anyway, thank you very much for sharing all those experiments! There’s always so much to learn, and gardening being pretty slow, you can’t just test everything quickly and be done with it, there’s always more. Sharing is a great way to expand our knowledge and make the most of our space/time/efforts. Beautiful work! 🙂

    • Stefanie

      Julie! It is always so nice to hear from a like-minded indoor gardener! I agree with you, I’ve been looking everywhere for someone who is actually gardening a full vegetable garden indoors and I haven’t been able to find much…so this has all been a slow, very fun, learning process for me. I whole heartedly agree that the more we indoor gardeners can share, the less painful our paths will each be! One of the more useful resources I have found is Leslie Halleck. She actually wrote the book called “Gardening under Lights” which is the most concrete information I’ve ever been able to get my hands on outside of the marijuana web sites. Which are surprisingly helpful too! Increase your yields! Get buds to flower! This all translates to veggies and flowers too haha!

      Would you have any interest in doing some guest posts here on my site? I’d love to share your experiences as well! I am always delighted to simply find anyone else that is doing this fun, strange gardening…

      • Julie

        It’s so funny that you mention this book, I just placed an order at my local library a few days ago! Glad to hear it should be helpful, I was worried it might be a dead end like most other resources (except indeed those “other” growing websites… for which there’s really no shortage of! This is just one more reason why I’m a bit baffled there isn’t more people growing indoors, when it’s clearly among the realm of possibilities.

        Thank you also for this kind offer to share! I do believe it could be quite fun and hopefully useful. For now, I’m a little bit too much in the early stages of this very new process for me. I took gardening outdoors for the first time last year and, since I got totally hooked, my fiance got me a growing tent to get throught the long winters between outdoor seasons. I am now at my first tests with a few varieties, started around the new year (bell peppers, dwarf tomatoes, swiss chard, kale, pak choy, peas, lettuces, cornsalad, spinach, arugula). I have had great success so far with two very easy veggies : snap peas (those are so tasty, they don’t make it out of the tent alive, ahah!) and a magnificient purple pak choy (so pretty I was literally sad to eat it!).

        So right now, I can spot when there’s an issue, and have a few ideas about what went wrong, but not quite pinpoint the exact cause, since that will require more testing.
        Examples : I hesitated at first between planting in small pots and changing as they grow (like they recommand for houseplants, to prevent stagnant water, root rot, etc.) or planting straight in big, final ones. Since I went with the first option (forgetting how fast veggies grow!!), I think I slowed some growth and even shocked a few of them.
        Then they got better… until some reached the whole size of their planter (too small in some cases) and just stopped at that.
        I also had to learn how to control the humidity in the tent… and outside, since the extraction fan was making the room wetter than the tent itself.
        At some point, I got a tool to check humidity levels in the soil, which helped a lot with watering (the light and fans tend to get the top layer of the soil very dry… but I still got algae growth, meaning too much water was still in there).

        All in all, the next batch should have a better head start! (…but only in june since right now it’s about seedlings time for the great outdoors… (I’m torned between being excited to plant everything i planned for this year outside, and being sad I’m losing my tent to grow indoors for a few months…!)).

        I’m gonna have to go for a more scientific approach, to test a same plant in different conditions (pot size? watering frequency? closeness to the light? soil feeding(s)? etc. etc.). It’s just so hard since you really just want to grow everything, so planting more than one of the same means more patience… but probably more results in the long run!

        I’ll be happy to share when my experience will be a bit more up to speed. Until then I have a bit of reading to do… yours and Leslie Halleck!

        P.S. : If you are still in the market for a good rutabaga recipe, they make my favorite potage (with a bit of fresh ginger for the spice and maple syrup to balance the sweetness… (yes, this is how i reveal my big secret : I’m canadian ;)).

      • Stefanie

        Yeah I think you will enjoy her book for sure. She’s a professional horticulturalist and specializes in the indoors growing. She will really help you understand lights and all of that!!

        My growing bins are 20 gallon bins so my plants don’t need repotting!!! I start a lot of my crops in seedling trays and transplant those guys, and the some I just direct seed. My direct seed crops include lettuce, peas and carrots carrots carrots!! When I transplanted my carrots they turned out crazy looking…

        It’s funny you asked about humidity. I never really have worried too much about humidity in the grow room. I guess that’s becuase mine isn’t in a grow tent, rather a growing bathroom haha. We are in colorado where the humidity is general very low… I just checked my humidity meter in there and its 17%. So maybe the humidity of the soil is more important, as you suggest?

        Watering frequency is something I am constantly working on. I’m not sure there’s any perfect answer but self watering containers certainly helps the process if you can make yourself some of those!!

        Sounds like you are doing some good work in there and I can’t wait to hear how this all goes! It is a long and slow process and can be frustrating sometimes. For example, I worked a long shift last night and forgot to water my cilantro plant (that was not in a self watering container) for like two days and now it’s dead dead dead. I am heartbroken! But as with all gardening, you can always just plant it again!

        Seriously, keep in touch and ask me any questions you want! And you should absolutely send that recipe! Especially hearing that you are canadien and know you’re way around some maple syrup!


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