Sunday, April 03, 2016

The Purple Tree

What blew my mind when I fell in love with this city at first consisted of a lot of things nature, and these jacaranda trees happened to be one of them. Never in my life had I seen so much natural purple at a go!!!! 

The Jacaranda trees though planted all over Bangalore orginated in South America. These trees apparently love full Sun and Sandy soil. 

That's probably why they were well suited to Bangalore soil condition. The 
Red soil is pretty sandy here. 

These trees come into bloom around the Exam time just before Summer vacation falls and so the time of their Bloom is called "Purple Fever" in Queensland. The fever before exam. I think that's really fun. Makes an exam seem so much more colorful. 

This tree is also called the "Exam Tree" - now would you have thought of that? 
Apparently in Australia, they believe that if the flowers fall on your head before an exam you will fail. In case you want to cancel the spell you must have flowers drop on your head for the second time. :) 

To me these dropping purple flowers in themselves are a pleasure. Strewn purple on the grounds below scream of pure joy. 
How many times will I fall in love, I ask myself. 

Happy Summer friends. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Growing Strawberries Organically

Did you know the little bumps on strawberries were not seeds and are instead ovaries? 

Strawberries need no real work to grow and are some of the simplest fruits to grow in containers. Oranges and Apples might do better in land but these berries grow just about anywhere. So plz grow strawberries this seeason. 

Many nurseries sell strawberry plants now. You may ask how do I get more of them. And I would ask you to be patient.

1. Wait, the strawberry plants give out runners and as soon as these runners begin to show roots, cut them off and you will have new plants born of the mother plant. So now you know multiplying these fun berries is so easy! 

2. Strawberries love nitrogen! 
And what's the easiest source of nitrogen? Yes you are right. It's Urine. 
Use your own urine diluted in 1:20 proportion with water and feed little bit to the plant twice a week. 
Cow urine can do too if you are eeked by the idea of human Urine. 

3. Strawberries go bad if they touch soil. They feel that they need to immediately disintegrate. So make sure you mulch the containers well under like you see in the pics. Use straw or dry leaves of bits of paper even! Just don't let the berries touch soil and enjoy your own home grown strawberries that you otherwise thought were really rare! 

Happy Gardening friends!!!! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sow seeds regularly

To make sure that you have something to eat from your garden all you need to do is sow seeds every week. 

We have been getting little harvest lately only because I went lazy two months back and sowed no seeds. 

Greens, vegetable, vine vegetables, root vegetables, the list is endless. Better still make your own seeds so sowing becomes a real easy job. 

Another way of making sure you sow without an effort is to compost your own and regularly add that compost to your containers. This way you get a lot of self seeded saplings all over the garden that you can separate and repot for more yield. 

Happy Sowing seeds friends! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sowing seeds

I have struggled with growing food from seeds for long and now I discover that it's in fact really easy. If the seed has the right conditions it will grow. All we need to do is allow it to be. Do not pressurise it with your expectation. 

Sounds funny? Well it's true. Plants and seeds can feel your energy just as much as another human or animal can. Well, we humans have lost our ability and hence it takes a lot more to get sensitised. Getting close to nature is a beginning. 

Back to seed sowing.
Pick any container. Seriously people, you can grow in anything as long as you make sure it drains excess water. 
Full it up with soil or soil mix. Let it sit for a couple of weeks or more. Let nature do its bit with it. Pour water daily, let weeds come about if they do (that's a good sign) and then pop in some seeds. If they are seeds of some greens you may simply sprinkle them on top. 

Go back to watering daily, forget about it and wait for magic. Oh wait!! Don't wait ;) 

Nature will do its bit. 

What happens? 

The sitting soil gathers bacterial activity. Possibly earthworms too. Which is great medium for a new baby. 

Try sow some now! 

All the best. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spring time

This is the time for change. As spring approaches and the Sun becomes brighter, I see my plants getting taxed. There are many who have given me fruit for more than a year and now look tired. It's time to set them free, solar treat the soil, add more compost and manure to it, tend it and start over. 

Summers tax my plants on the terrace a whole lot. It's not the same case with the plants on land I see. 

Brinjals and tomatoes keep coming. They like the little rough weather. Strawberries still flowering so very grateful for that. 

These are days of change for me too and I have decided to solar heat myself also.

When nothing else grows greens do. Best time of the year to sow them. 

Amaranthus / Rajgira is such an easy green to grow. It not only looks easily lush and pretty but revitalises the soil. I threw in these seeds in a couple of baskets and se how happy they look! 

Eat me they say!! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Organic Farming

I did not know I could farm on a land. I am still not familiar with the concept of owning land/ buying land. One day, some day I might accept it. Until then I am happy to rent. 

This is a small piece of land in the city right next to the office that's been a abused some and left alone some. I had my eye on it. 

Yes it would be best to not touch it at all and let nature take over but I couldn't resist the temptation. 

One fine day we did rip off all the parthenium. Dug the land up ever so slightly. Removed all the cement, plastic, raha, cigarette buds and bricks from it. Added lots of manure and sowed plenty seeds of greens that we had. 

U must say the result that I see now has me convinced that the ones farming in land are far far better off. We terrace gardeners have our work cut out for us. 

Only bit that seems like work with the land is the huge amount of harvest I wasn't prepared for! It takes forever!!!! Although u am ever so happy. Excited that we have adopted a land and it can be more than just a waste bit that needs cleaning ever so often. 

Right now we have Spinach, Fenugreek, 
Dill, Amaranthus, corn, rag millet, jowar, beans, chilli, tomatoes, brinjals, onions, garlic, basil, passion fruit, sweet potato, pineapple, and radish. 
I am very excited! 

Our harvests from the land. I am so grateful. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mustard / Sarso

I dropped a bottle of mustard seeds one day and as a habit I either compost all we waste from the kitchen or directly put it into soil.

A couple of weeks later the mustard seeds had turned into lush crunchy leaves. So I decided to harvest them. Later the harvested ones went into a simple dal and I could not believe the fragrance the house was filled with and the rest turned into these beautiful yellow soft flowers. It was obvious I was obsessed with these greens since. 

It's quite exciting now to be able to harvest my own mustard seeds and leaves too. 

Mustard seeds are rich in calcium, manganese, magnesium, dietary fibre, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, protein, phosphorous, niacin, zinc and selenium.

A few seeds of mustard are used in Indian cooking as tempering as they increase salivation by eight times and hence improve digestion. They also act as a mild laxative, improve blood circulation and an antiseptic. 

Mustard seeds act as a digestive aid in moderation, mustard neutralizes toxins and helps ward off an upset stomach. However, too much can be an irritant. This is why it is commonly added as a tempering to most foods, especially the hard-to-digest ones. 

And did you also know that Mustard is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage! Now that's some info I never had.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Organic Terrace Gardening - My story

This should've ideally been my first post but well who is here to challenge my unstructured behaviour? ;)
Home Terrace Garden a year back
So here goes my story of how I began a terrace garden.

My interest in Gardening began with Composting and wanting to manage waste and then in need to put the compost to use I owned a few pots. One thing led to another, my interest in Butterflies/Lepidoptera peeked and I got further interested in plants that helped breed the butterflies I had so fallen in love with.

Home Terrace Garden a year back

Home Terrace Garden a year back

Home Terrace Garden Nine months back

Again my little understanding in waste management led me to using urine as a resource than wasting it. Soon I saw my little garden yielding a lot of fruit, flowers, butterflies and thriving. Post that there was no stopping me. I had a balcony full of plants and containers and then I soon adopted one more terrace which I had begun to gradually fill up with more plants.
There were few lime plants and herbs growing on my balcony but it was essentially plants that would attracts bees, butterflies and birds then.

Previous home Terrace 
Garden 2.5 yrs back 

Moving to a new house I was mighty upset with how hot the house was. It was summer and sleeping at night was a misery. Thinking of solutions I decided to have a garden on the roof which would help absorb the radiation and the heat. To cover larger surface at the minimum cost I came up with the idea of bamboo baskets, knowing well that around 6" soil is sufficient for most plants to grow.

I was very impressed with Jamie Oliver then. In fact I am a huge fan of this man!
He's so good with food and understands ingredients so well. His insight and TV show "Jamie at Home" had impressed me so that I wanted to now grow food. So my journey into seed sourcing began.

Home Terrace 
Garden now

Home Terrace 
Garden now

Home Terrace 
Garden now

Home Terrace 
Garden now

Home Terrace 
Garden now

Home Terrace 
Garden now

Home Terrace 
Garden now

I initially started with hybrid seeds that I sourced from a shop in Chamrajnagar, Karnataka. It was an instant yield. In the need to understand gardening more and find more like minded people I browsed for groups on gardening, joined several of them including which was this facebook group called "Organic Terrace Gardening". It happens to be the most active group of dedicated and very committed organic gardeners. Every day was a learning post that. I have been encouraged and inspired by so many that I cannot list each one out here as I'd be unfair if i missed a single name. I am so grateful to so many who gifted me saplings, ideas, concepts of farming, seeds, containers and so much more. I am so happy for all the new things I've learnt about life in the process of gardening. I am happier still that I know a lot more about what I eat and how now that I grow it. I have a deeper appreciation for every single thing I consume and it comes from the depth of my soul.

I found insight into organic gardening, got further involved in Herbs, natural farming, creating a jungle, upcycling and so on and so forth. Not to mention that I am more obsessed with food than I was ever before. I feel totally empowered by the fact that I can eat what I grow sans any chemicals! To know that I can jump up to my garden and get me some fresh herbs to go into my food.  How much better can life be?

My garden has been an ongoing learning. I have failed and risen several times. I have also figured I am not a very hardworking gardener but like most other things that I fall in love with I put in my whole and soul into Gardening. Now I am an obsessive compulsive urban farmer! 

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.