Thursday, January 12, 2017

Creative DIY ideas post Vardah

It was indeed a devastating sight after the massive cyclone Vardah hit Chennai during December 2016.

Broken branches, fallen trees, mangled shrubs and creepers all along the road..all over the city was heart-rending.

Restoring trees is a costly affair and we do not have resources to effectively restore trees as yet.Though I believe some volunteer groups are at it which is really heart-warming.

We too were forced to cut a tree that had three crows' nests. The tree was 75% uprooted and precariously leaning over the roof. We deliberated for over a week and made sure the birds had abandoned their nests and gave in to the inevitable.

Somehow we did not have the heart to throw away the tree. For two reasons:

#1 It had become a part of our family, and supported 3-4 bird families.

#2 Wanted to minimize the load on landfill and the associated cost of transportation,fuel-usage,                 resultant pollution

Here is what we tried to do.
Tomato Cage

Most small branches were used as supports for slender plants like above.

Plant seats / Garden seats

There is a whole lot of creative things you can do with these sized-up tree trunks.

We are waiting for the barks to dry up and peel off after which we plan to give a coat of varnish to avoid fungal growth and use it as garden seats. 

Scoop out the center when still soft and plant small herbs like Tulasi, button rose etc.

Here is what we did with the bigger and sturdier branches that had a perfect 'Y' shape. One became a designer trellis for theBeetel leaf plant and the other for the Sanku poo plant.

Beetel leaf Plant creeper

Sanku poo 

Perfect Pair

One is sturdy and will grow into a mighty tree. The other is a slender and tender herb.

Both have strong flavors. Surprisingly they do not suppress each other. 

Think about all the dishes wherein they complement each other... Rasam, Lemon rice, vegetable curries, buttermilk to name a few. 

Inclusive yet retaining their individuality.
I am in awe of this pair Kothamalli and Karuvepillai.

See how they coexist in this pot before they go hand in hand to make fine food. 
Grow them together. And get some food for thought too.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Slender Self-effacing beauties

We require Coriander almost every day-The Need. Coriander is a fussy herb to grow-The Challenge.
And I have the habit of sowing seeds every single day.At least one seed every day- The Passion.

This Passion met that Need and took the Challenge head-on.
That is the genesis of this idea -to keep Coriander seeds handy and go about broadcasting one or two seeds in every pot, every morning after watering the plants.

The result: We get at least two sprigs of Coriander every day from our OTG nowadays. Saved us the trouble of looking for pots to sow Coriander every, now and then. One or two seeds in every pot do not compete with the main plant too.

The same technique may work well for any herb/green with a short life cycle. So, natural pest repellant Methi or Fenugreek is a close contender for this arrangement.
I have been broadcasting coriander seeds rather randomly around other plants.No complaints. However, have realised that sowing seeds around the edge of the planter ensure better yield as the water drains out well around the edge making it conducive for delicate herbs like Coriander and Fenugreek.

It is a visual treat too!

The advantages of this kind of broadcasting are:

- Takes care of space/planter constraints

- Ensures perennial supply of herbs

- Most herbs are natural pest repellants

- Takes care of OCD related to sowing

I did try this with Pudina and Tulasi ( Basil) too, which are good as they are natural pest repellants. But they grew wild and overpowered the main plant.

Coriander and Methi ( fenugreek) the slender self-effacing beauties are capable of many delectable avatars:

Aloo methi, Methi dal tadka, Methi Roti, fresh coriander sprigs in Rasam and Salads !

Can't wait to try this technique, is it not?

Just make sure to split the coriander seeds before sowing as they are dicotyledons. Sprouting can be hastened by soaking Coriander and Methi seeds overnight.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Happy Harvests

It is the lone Potato somedays. A small bunch of Palak on other days. Two hundred grams of  Beans, Three Brinjals, Quarter kilogram of  Broad Beans or a Bonanza of a kilogram of  Tomato on many days.

Quite a few days we harvest seeds. And every 45 days we harvest black gold or compost from our kitchen waste.

Compost harvest

4 pots of black gold
The happiness with each harvest and the contentment with the yield is the same  be it vegetables,seeds or compost.

It is never about the quantity of harvest or yield. It is the promise of each seed that showed up.

Here are a few harvest pictures, that never fail to inspire me on no-harvest days to keep calm and garden on.
Palak seeds

Seed Harvest

For my pooja...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rain Excuse

I love the rainy season for no one particular reason, but many.The water-washed sight of the plants with a pervasive earthy smell after the rains are something to live for.

After the rains 

Suncatcher ...

Just bathed 

Fully drenched.

That droplet !!!

I  hate the rains just as much as it forces me to do other household chores that I would have postponed or avoided totally under the excuse of watering my plants.

Only a passionate hater- of- household- chores and garden lover can understand that.

I don't find any other activity as riveting and therapeutic as watering the plants.It lets me connect and converse with each and every plant. That is when I discover a new leaf,  a hidden bud, a flower with a promise of fruit, or a fruit that I missed harvesting.

If I get lucky, I spot some lovely insects and butterflies too. Many times I wonder if I love my plants more or pests more.
Preying Mantis..
There are days when the harvest is just a single Tomato and a few springs of Coriander or a lone-Potato.Some other days we harvest seeds that hold hope and promise of a future.Once in three months a bagful of black gold or compost! A few other days pass by with just some good photo opportunities.

No complaints, as there are many days when we can afford an entirely organic menu with the harvests of the day.

The effort and yield are never proportionate.But where passion guides our purpose there is no place for such measures and formulae.

Mother nature reveals abundance in more ways than one that brings a smile while I garden on.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lost and found

"Paradoxical, Ironic, Bundle of contradictions, Most confused thing on two legs with eleven opinions and a half  on nine issues."

This is what  Quizly ( or such other time pass web applications)  would throw up if I were to succumb to the temptation of taking up online Personality tests.

Tangentially trite descriptions will emerge every time, if you decide to go in for best of three. As random as that and establishing polarity.

My Garden-The little heaven does the same to me. Just when I think, I found myself here , I  lose it to the incredible miracles that happen in this green and brown world.

My garden  looked like this when I started two years back...

And my kindred garden sways between polarity and randomness, giving me the much-needed company while I sip my chai and garden on.