Geranium cuttings thriving outdoors. Credit: Farida Alam
As part of our Planting Seeds of Peace project, CODEPINK Co-director, Farida Alam was interviewed by CODEPINK Local Peace Economy Coordinator Angela Simmons about her home garden. Cultivating a Local Peace Economy can mean tending to personal gardens. Growing a garden is a defiant creative call for revival, restoration and transformation!
Farida's patio garden blooms again in the summer after most of the plants wintered inside for six months.
Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired you to start an indoor garden?
FA: I’ve had a small outdoor patio garden for many years. Each year, I would buy a fresh batch of plants and then sadly watch them wilt and die when frost would hit in November. I always felt it was a terrible waste, but didn’t think the plants would survive indoors for a six-month winter period. In October 2019, I was overcome by a strong urge to try and save at least some of the plants by bringing them indoors. It wasn’t easy as some of my outdoor pots are quite large, and the plants had to be transplanted into smaller pots more appropriate for an indoor setting. It took me a few days to get organized and figure out where to place them inside. Little did I know that the pandemic would hit us the following year. When spring came around we were under lockdown. Had I not saved those plants over the winter I would not have been able to have any plants in my patio last summer! I felt so blessed to have had most of my outdoor plants survive the wintering and bloom again outside. A real miracle!
Wintering plants indoors, starting in October.
I am wondering what plants you have and what the indoor gardening process looks like? Do you have any tips or tricks for others interested in starting a garden indoors?
FA: Currently my indoor plants are a variety of geraniums, pothos and sweet potato vine brought inside from the outdoor patio. I also have some Izzy plants and orchids which are strictly indoor plants.
Tips and Tricks:
- Acclimate your plants! To winter them inside, start by bringing the plants in at night, and moving them back outside in the morning. Gradually, over the course of a week or two, you can increase the amount of time your plants spend indoors until they are indoors all of the time. I started this process in early October. The same goes for getting them ready to go outside in spring! You might be impatient to get them outside, but you have to ensure that you re-introduce them to the elements gradually. The increased light and exposure can be tough on plants after they have been sheltering indoors for such a long time. Ease them into it by bringing them outside for a few hours so that they don't go into shock. Don't be worried if some of the leaves droop and fall off, new growth and leaves will spring up overnight and your plants will fill up and bloom again.
- Placement is key! Plants that have been outdoors must be placed right next to a brightly lit window… sadly a few of my geraniums did not survive the wintering as they were not right next to the window.
- You can easily grow and expand your garden! The key is to take cuttings of your favourite plants and propagate them. Place your cuttings in water till they root, then transplant these into containers filled with potting soil. You can also gift your transplanted plants to others this way.
- Water outdoor plants daily! Since the indoor air tends to be fairly dry, I have a two-pronged approach to watering my plants. The outdoor variety gets watered daily because that’s what they are used to, and those that are strictly indoors get watered twice a week. Adding a light fertilizer every other week also helps maintain them, as does picking out leaves that are yellowing and drying up.
- Protect your wood floors! Plants can also be placed on a plant caddy with wheels -- this makes it easier to move them around and clean the floor, and also prevents any dampness/damage underneath.
- Pet safety! If you have pets make sure your plants aren’t poisonous to them, or that your pets aren’t interested in chewing anything that might be harmful to them. My cats were initially interested in the geraniums, but I carefully monitored them and discouraged any nibbling, and while they enjoy the greenery, they now leave the plants alone.
What has been your favorite part of this experience?
FA: Bringing the geraniums and sweet potato plants outdoors in spring and watching them fill up with leaves and bloom again! What a heartwarming sight after watching them fade, lose quite a few leaves and dry up inside for six months! Watching their rebirth was awe-inspiring.
Thank you, Farida for your efforts in cultivating a Local Peace Economy!!