Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Joy of the Age old

When I started gardening a couple of years back I didn't have a clue to where it would lead. I was still learning to grow plants mostly flowering and figuring out what they like or not. I was not sure that I would get this involved in growing food. 

The empowerment I feel now is incomparable to any other. It's a sensation that not only makes me feel more secure by the minute but also healthy. 

Every day I pick something off my organic terrace garden that I use in my meal the very same day. It's exciting and yet such a simple truth of life that the urban folk have become enstranged to. Such that now growing a part of what we eat is more exotic than anything else. 

To me it's a simple truth. An age old way of life that we forgot over time. 

This Orange fennel rice that came about as an inspiration from the fennel greens we harvested. 

This thupka we cooked as dinner in celebration of the cabbage we harvested after such a long wait. 

And this lovely tomato and beetroot soup with stirred crunchy beans and cherry tomatoes with loads of herbs like basil, thyme and rosemary was our dinner tonight to celebrate all that our life had become because we grow so much food. The fresh coriander herbs turned into a tasty chutney that married perfectly with dose for breakfast. 

Well life is indeed simpler than I lived it before and I so look forward to simplifying it further. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chillies on the terrace

They are so easy to grow. Need very little care and just a few tips to ensure they will fruit. 

I have heard many complains about the flowers dropping off and the plant yielding no fruit. Well, chillies for one like a little alkalinity in the soil. They need a whole lot of calcium too to grow well. 

The trick therefore is to feed the plants with a small drizzle of buttermilk ever so often in a week. I tend to grow my chilli plants in just about anything. Be it empty dog food bags or baskets or empty plastic bottles. The chilli plant can survive any weather or container as long as it has alkaline soil and loads of nutrients. 

One could also add diluted lime and it could do the same trick. Buttermilk is a very mild version hence can be added a lot more. Drizzle a little bit on top of the plant and that takes care of a lot of fungal diseases the leaves get too. 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Gardening and Happiness

Today I went up to my terrace garden slightly apprehensive and a little worried of what I would see. Not being around for three days I was sure my garden would've suffered. It used to happen a lot in the past when the garden was smaller and I was new to gardening. 

As always I was proven wrong. The garden was flourishing, very happy, yeilding fruit all over the place. Mango beetles too enjoying themselves and helping me from pests. Now that's called Nature. It takes care of itself. Souls like me assume we are and therefore an organic garden is, but we are so wrong. 
The nature has found it's own way to be.

So many flowers on beans of so many varieties, Brinjals fruiting and flowering all over, turmeric happily sprouting and coriander at last has sprouted too! 

I remember having a conversation with the amara beans vine, upset that it hadn't flowered in so many months and was just trampling around on the lovely bamboo trellis. I had given it extra soil and compost and left it alone with a warning. Guess what I find this morning!!!

So this morning is French beans, amara beans beginning, velvet beans, broad beans, cow peas and moong beans! 


Coriander loves just soil and very little cocopeat I figure. It can do with very little. Some sunlight and a little less water. Am so delighted as coriander has grown after so long. 

I love my flourishing organic terrace garden! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lettuces organically

Everytime I felt like a nice crunchy salad of lettuces, I'd have to run some five kilometres away to this exotic store that sells them once in a while. I would just have to buy a lot more than I need for one meal and attempt to store the rest. The lettuce would certainly turn into an inedible mush in a couple of days and I'd give in to throwing it all into my compost bin. 

To the ignorant me it was a very exotic vegetable that grew under certain climatic conditions like that of Europe. Watching others discuss possibilities of growing the vegetable I was tempted to try some too. Once I sowed the seeds of the Romaine lettuce, I literally had to do nothing for it except to let it be. The first plant of lettuce I didn't even touch. It was that special to me. The seeds had sprouted almost immediately and the plant later began to vertically rise too quite soon. 

I learnt that lettuce if kept in semi shade gives edible leaves for longer. Once it bolts the leaves become inedible. 

After the plant bolts it begins to flower. Lovely yellow flowers that soon dry and create feathery seeds in the spot. I was keen on collecting the seeds from the very start, and so I did. 

As I grew more lettuce I realized I was very lazy to collect seeds from the plants daily. Well, now I have lettuce growing like weeds all over the garden. Now that's how exotic the plant is!! (To me exotic directly means difficult to sustain) 

Lettuce is a part of our meal daily now. Raw in a salad is so tasty. Varieties of lettuce now grow on my little terrace garden and it's for Free!!!! 

Try growing lettuce please. It's one of the easiest, hardiest plants an organic gardener has met. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sweet Potatoes

I always loved the sweet potato more than the ordinary potatoes. We ate them in several ways back home and it's been difficult to give up on these sweet nutrient rich root vegetable. 

I used to see my grandmother have terraced beds of different colored floor runners of sweet potato creepers. They came in several colors and so many different shapes of leaves. 

The other day we walked into someone's personal farm whilst looking for a nursery. As we were about to turn around I laid my eyes on the entire floor of the farm full of sweet potato creepers running wild. I asked for a few and got a lot more. Apprehensive that they might not be of much use by the time I am back home, I reached home and sowed them in several pots. Viola! They thrived! Each and every one. There was no stopping the pretty bushy floor covers and I fell in love with how they overflew the baskets everywhere. 

Harvesting close to two kilos of these yummy roots was like looking for treasure. My hands and all I was lifting soil, turning it and discovering one by one roots. Was such fun! I found myself laughing aloud and jumping with joy. 

This is such an easy to grow root veg. It takes around 3 months to yield and needs no pruning or fuss. All stems send branches pulled out take root very easily. 
I would think everyone must grow these sweet potatoes. They are so easy and such high pleasure. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Cabbage on terrace

I know I must not count my chickens before the eggs hatch but what can one do about this enthusiastic bubble that explodes with joy within me when I see such beauties on my terrace garden! 

I can't help but see my heart skip a beat when these blueish grey little florets of organic cabbage are "forming a centre". 
Apparently cabbages get loads of aphids and don't like hot weather. Well yes, the last time I tried growing cabbages I ended up sacrificing four of them to these pests and got one little fellow to enjoy eating. 

I didn't want to give up, so I decided to try once again. The saplings of these were gifted by a friend. They were two weeks old already. After distributing many amongst other enthusiastic friends I decided to finally grow six of them. 

I planted them in June end and I see at least this one fellow will be soon ready to consume. 

Secret to growing good cabbages non-organically is to pump them with pesticides and to feed them with huge quantities of Urea. This time I decided to ensure I was growing them in the right season, placed herbs around the cluster of three and distributed the rest amongst other plants for pest resistance. Instead of urea I decided to feed them diluted urine four times a week. 

Well, so far there hasn't been a problem. What do you think? Will I be successful in harvesting a good cabbage crop this time around? My fingers are crossed. :) 

Monday, October 06, 2014

When nature takes over

When nature takes over you realise you are insignificant in the entire process of growing plants. 

There is much happening on it's own on this 600 square foot terrace of mine that I have no control over. 

These two tomato plants have found their own way to grow out of my big dump of twigs and weeds from the OTG. Now they have begun to flower too. Nature teaches me everyday that I am no body and yet I find such pleasure in that learning. A lazy gardener like myself, you can imagine, must find that so empowering. 

Happy natural gardening! 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Organic and Heirloom Tomatoes

I never thought I could love and enjoy tomatoes so much. Since the beginning of the fancy cooking shows and Jamie Oliver's yummy salads with several differently shaped heirloom tomatoes, I have been curious to know more. 

It's so exciting to know that you can grow them organically and so many in a simple terrace garden and containers. 

We harvest a few tomatoes daily before my dogs or the one permanent resident rat gets to them. Yes, my cocker spaniel, Ruby loves tomatoes! 

Today when I peeked into the basket where we store our 'toms' I realized the variety of them that we grow and harvest. Isn't that just splendid? 

I have never felt more empowered in life before. A stir of excitement goes through me when I see what magic I can do. Infact, I simply have to wish it, nature does the rest. 

The basket held some 'naati'/ country variety, a yellow pear, some teardrop tomatoes, larger cherry tomatoes, tiny wild variety, yellow gold tomatoes, and some larger juicy cherry version. We have grown a large beefsteak tomato and how we loved it. 

It's very easy to grow tomatoes. They love a little deprivation of water, they grow on their own even if you do not care. Just keep them away from other vegetable plants, somehow they get loads of mealy bugs if around eggplants. And that's all it takes. Try growing some toms :) . 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

To Grow Lime

I have begun to consume one lime a day. Lime has so many essential qualities that help boost metabolism as well as increase immunity. 
Growing lime isn't the easiest. The trees that grow in earth directly too stop fruiting after a while. Secret is in what you feed them. 

My family and friends were amazed to see how my little two feet tall plants were yeilding fruit in containers. The fruiting stopped and for a year I had no flowers or fruit to be seen on these lovely plants. Of course I was saddened. 

Then I realized that it's not about the plant so much but it's about what I used to feed the plants which stopped. 

Yes, Urine is the secret of getting these plants to bloom. We used to feed diluted urine earlier daily at our previous residence. Once place of stay changed we stopped the practice. Just like that. 

Re-potting the plant, giving it a daily feed of 1:15 diluted urine has brought about to my utter delight these little buds. 

I must say I am thrilled!!!! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Joy of New Sprouts

Every mother must feel the way I do when I see the seedlings I sowed sprout. 
These are some mixed seedlings of various tomatoes I sowed last week. 

Also tried some carrots for the first time. My fingers are crossed that these little ones do just fine and grow into big fellas! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Harvests and harvests

How can one not be overwhelmed at the idea of growing organic, heathy , fresh food and be able to enjoy eating it. 

I feel my experience and joy of eating food was so partial until now. The possibilities not only have brought deep appreciation for food but a lot more excitement and gratitude. 

The sensation is so deep it literally gives me goosebumps. Of course the closest I am able to come to expressing that joy is sharing it. But that just doesn't seem enough. 

Organic gardening has brought me such immense pleasure and so much abundance that all I can say is "Thank you, thank you Mother Nature." 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Radish/ Mooli

That I could grow fresh, white radish in containers on my terrace itself was new to me as I discovered organic gardening. The possibility of varied coloured flowers on the plants of the radish took me by further surprise. I had never seen flowers of the mooli and to know that they came in multiple colors was so amusing. How can something already so good be such source of pleasure too? 

I had seen many other gardeners posting pictures of white blooms on the radish plant so I was expecting the same. As the buds began to bloom and open I realized they were these pretty pink ones with venation that is stunning!!! 

Tiny bees that naturally seem to know the scale of the flowers are all the time now busy pollinating and sucking sweet nectar from these beauties. Not only is the root of the white radish a joy so are the flowers, the visiting bees and the seed pods. I had no idea that I had eaten these seed pods for years in crunchy "raitas" not knowing their actual source. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Flowers and more flowers

Who says you need only flowering plants can make your garden look pretty? 
Plants that fruit too bear some of the prettiest flowers I've ever seen.
My garden is in a crazy bloom now with bees, butterflies and bumble bees going about doing their pollination job. And the user me perpetually amused by the colors that the terrace takes on seasonally.