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Friday, 30 November 2012

Radish harvest

As promised, I am back with the radish harvest.
Red round radish (French Breakfast) was sowed in the month of October. I forgot to note the time of sowing this time. I fertilized every fortnight with NPK 1:1:1. Else I did not give this veggie any attention.
There was a time I was on tenterhooks as the neighbourhood cat thought that I had kept out a litter bin for her! However, a few sticks poked in the soil deterred her/him from exploring!

I harvested about a dozen of the red globes on the 24th of Nov.
Radish harvest

And immediately used them for making radish raita with some home grown mint leaves thrown in. Tasted really yummy, not very pungent, even the kids relished it.
Mooli (Radish) Raita
 The leaves of this particular variety is another taste altogether; probably the non-pungency of the root is compensated by the taste and texture of the leaves. The leaves of this variety are rough and a bit prickly.
I did not notice any leaf miners.  I will use these for making a gravy style curry of mustard, spinach and radish leaves; a different version of the the typical saron ka saag.

Radishes don't take very long to grow- from sowing to harvesting it was under two months. I don't think any other veggie can compete in this aspect. Also, they are very easy to grow, not much care is required, except that the soil has to be sufficiently loose, watering regular and you should harvest before the bulbs get stringy.

Another veggie to look forward to is the bitter gourd which has started fruiting on the balcony.
the first bitter gourd
still a baby bitter gourd
 Next to combat the taste of the previous harvests, I can dish up these...
Adenium in full bloom

a funny marigold
fresh mint

 And that's all for now till I sow some fresh seeds..

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

first milestone

Crossed my first milestone and I didn't even realize it, more than a 1000 hits.
Thanks to all my readers.
Some pictures to celebrate...

groundnut harvest from a container
got about a bowl full of organic home grown unshelled peanuts
Remember my last post with the yellow flowers

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) grown from cuttings of the store-bought herb; grown the geekgardener's way

Red Balsam

 Need I comment further....

I have sowed some more seeds- capsicum, tomato, brinjal...
Red radish is almost ready for harvest.
I will be back with the pictures soon

Till then, happy gardening!

Friday, 6 July 2012

the latest from my garden

Here's the latest from my garden

my first baby corn!

I could not resist removing it the day the silk turned brown

result--   baby corn. Frankly speaking the taste was not all that great, but then I have never cared much for baby corn, preferring the mature corn or 'bhutta' as we call it- roasted over hot coals and seasoned with butter and lemon.... ahhh heaven!

I will harvest the next one at a more mature stage when the silk dries off 

 Butterfly pea new plant- this is the only plant that I have noticed to have two types of false leaves before the actual three-lobed leaves typical of pea family emerge.
Is this true of all peas?- I must check..

 This is the blue butterfly pea- double variety, I had posted about my butterfly pea- single variety sometime back


'Brahmakamal"/ night blooming Cereus Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Fam. Cactaceae) flowered last week. I had posted about it last year here.

This flower has been blooming regularly each year for quite some years now. It is in the same pot, I often neglect to water it, certainly I never fertilize regularly, but come the monsoons, it sends out 2-5 buds out of which at least two bloom. Maybe if I take better care of it, I might get more blooms- staggered over a few nights. The smell of more than two flowers is overpowering at times.

Balsam- says Thank You

These are balsam flowers Impatiens balsamina, (Fam. Balsaminaceae)
also called Touch-Me-Not, probably due to the ripe pods bursting when touched. It is very common in my garden during the monsoons, they keep self-seeding and I have to remove them from my pots. I must have missed this pot, had planted Indian spinach but the balsam dominated.

Bush rose heavy with the rains 


This rose is actually a double color- light pink for the inner petals and red for the outer petals
After a day the whole flower turns red

This is an unknown flower, the latest to join my garden. A bit of googling gave me this name- Ruellia brittoniana ( Fam. Acanthaceae). It is also called as Desert Petunia or Mexican Petunia, but has no relation with the common garden petunia.
What's in a name? -said W. Shakespeare
The flower is a wow!

Anybody to ID this flower- three guesses-
Farmers not eligible!

This is groundnut/ peanut; I just threw in a few nuts as a lark in my vermicomposting bin, and there-- the flowers came in no time.
An interesting fact about groundnut, botanical name Arachis hypogaea (Fam. Fabaceae legume family).

Hypogaea means under the earth, after pollination the flower stalk elongates and pushes the ovary under the ground till it is horizontal where the ovary then develops into a mature fruit pod. This is an example of geocarpy

This was an extremely long post, I hope you enjoyed it, as I enjoyed writing it.
Happy Gardening!

Sunday, 24 June 2012


Today's post is about the famous Adenium, (A. obesum Family Apocynaceae) commonly called desert rose. This succulent is a natural bonsai, very famous for its pink showy flowers. Of late I have seen many more varieties with double colors with pink as the basic color.

This plant has been with me for almost ten years, and I have never had any problems with it, except for a few aphids which are easily removed by neem oil application. I have not repotted it nor have I fertilized regularly. In fact some years I have been very negligent about the care it should receive during the monsoons- the caudex ie the swollen base of the stem is liable to rot if it gets too much water.

The plant requires a sunny location and very little water. I generally don't fertilize
But still it never fails to please- A few pictures will speak for themselves

At the peak of its blooming phase

The flower up close
Bees are very much attracted to this
Note the prominent nectar guides

Sometimes a fruit pod develops...

  and the seeds scatter in the wind.....
I have never tried to grow the plant from seed, though I have read that it is regularly done.
The seeds may not rise to genetically identical plants, but advantage is that the caudex in seedlings is formed earlier than in plants from cuttings.

Promises for another experiment :)

 Happy gardening..


Sunday, 17 June 2012


This is what my terrace garden is sporting these days...

my very first guava flower


this flowered in May, of course there were many buds which all flowered but only a couple went on to become like this ...

baby corn ear finally flowered when the plant was 5 feet tall
Waiting to see the next developments in the coming week

These are the male flowers or the tassel are they are called, they emerged first and then the female flower or the ear made its appearance

previous mint tub was completely broken, hence started a new batch in a basket. This is the initial growth...

colocasia leaves also called arvi in India grown for making vadi (alu vadi in marathi)
This variety is not supposed to make very good curry; the leaves for the curry type are more rounded and less green.

some color to perk up the spirit
bush rose

the sole watermelon
this year it is much smaller and doesn't seem to be growing bigger, seems like we will have to be content with this size

waiting for the sunset bells and other monsoon flowers to start now...
Happy Gardening and welcome to the rains..

garden update- fire ball lily

It poured for two days and then stopped. Hot sunny weather, did nothing at all for man except make him look up for rain whenver it became a little cloudy. :)
But the garden fared much better, butterflies, birds were at their best. Flowers thanked the heavens for the sun they know will disappear soon for 2-3 months.

And best of all my garden was on fire again- the Fire Ball  bloomed. Also called Powder puff, blood lily, and football lily (Botanical name Scadoxus (Haemanthus) multiflorus Family Amaryllidaceae) this is a truly unique flower. Each head is a spherical umbel which can be made up of upto 100 flowers (I never tried to count!). Fire ball lily was a lovely sight. This year my 4 year old son was interested to touch it to feel the delicate blooms of the ball.

the hint of the 'fire' within

the fully bloomed lily

The weight of the bloom is sometimes too much for the stalk to bear, I have to stake it sometimes..

 This year, I am making a promise to myself, I will not be lazy and allow the bulbs to languish in the soil after they are done with the show. I plan to split and store the bulbs out of the ground for the next year.
Culivation of fire ball lily is done by their bulbs. After the show is over which typically takes a week, the leafy growth starts. The plant grows almost two feet in height and then dries off. The leaves have done their job ie prepare enough food which is sent back and stored in the bulbs for the next year's performance.
And so on...

Will I lose my fire ball lily? This fear is behind my laziness each year. I don't wish to rock a steady boat, but after more than five years of only one bloom per year I expect that there should be more bulbs for me to experiment with.
The ground holds its secrets- time will tell, are there more bulbs down there or not?
I will certainly update about this one after it is safe ;)) 

Friday, 8 June 2012

first rains throw up a good surprise

Well, it rained last evening. After the downpour was through, I went up to the terrace to assess the damage and in general to check for things I should take care of before the monsoons start.

And the Thai basil? was covered with gelatinous blobs!
That's when everything fell into place- the plant is of sabja, the seeds are used in Ayurvedic medicine and it is used in faloodas for a cooling effect.
I had used some seeds during the last summer and had chucked the leftover seeds along with the kitchen waste into the vermicompost pot. One of the seeds saw light and wanted to ask me- why throw me away?
I am happy to have identified my plant and got a whole lot of sabja seeds in the bargain. It is Thai basil- botanical name Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora ( family Lamiaceae ie mint family) leaves are used in cooking for flavor and seeds are sabja. Plus the added benefit that the plant looks beautiful with or without the flowers. Brush against the plant and you get a nice aroma.

Next problem is how to save these seeds for consumption. Wash them- they will swell and unwashed?- no no, too much dust around. Maybe I will wash them just prior to use :).

This plant certainly gets thumbs up in my garden.
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Moon Gardening

Recently I came across a new concept, rather, it is new for me- Moon gardening also called as Lunar gardening and Astrological gardening. Simply put, it is gardening activities carried out as per the various phases on the lunar cycle and the position of the moon in the sky.

This is different from creating a Moon Garden, wherein one creates a garden with plants flowering at night and proper artificial lighting to create a show.

We all know that the moon’s gravity results in tides in the oceans. Similarly, the gravitational pull also has an influence on the movement of fluids in plants.
Moon gardening is based on this belief. It has been practiced since ages when there were no watches or calendars to tell the time. It was but logical that in ancient times man used the sun, moon and stars to guide him in his farming. It was Rudolf Steiner in 1924, who “rediscovered” this method and is one of the first methods of organic farming.  
The Zodiac sign when the moon passes through it is used in this concept. There are 12 Zodiac signs which appear at least once in a month for a period of 2-3 days. These signs are describes as fertile (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces), semi-fertile (Taurus, Libra and Capricorn), semi-barren (Aries, Sagittarius, Aquarius) and barren (Gemini, Leo, Virgo).  

Obviously, one plants/ sows seeds in the fertile period and not at all in the barren period.
Additionally moon gardening also takes into account the effect of the lunar cycle. The lunar cycle is composed of four phases. Planting and sowing crops is done according to these phases.
Plant seeds or transplants of leafy plants, and plants that carry their seeds on the outside of the fruit (strawberries, corn) when the Moon is between the new and first quarter.
When the Moon is between the first quarter and full, sow or transplant plants that produce seeds inside their fruit.
Plant bulbs and root crops between Full Moon and last quarter.
Do not plant anything between last quarter and New Moon. This time is used for weeding, composting and harvesting.

Additionally one has to follow the weather conditions prevalent at that time, you cannot sow cool weather crops in the summer heat following only the lunar calendar and hope to get away with it!

For all those whose interest is piqued, look it up on the web, you will be surprised at the amount of info on the subject.

Also don't forget to enjoy your garden in moonlight :)

Happy Gardening!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Thai Basil?

Can somebody identify this Basil for me?
Is this Thai Basil?

It is a very small plant, say 6 inches tall and has a shrub-like appearance. The leaves are aromatic.
It flowered some time back, probably because I did not prune it - the purplish cluster is the start of the inflorescence which has white flowers.
I have some seeds also, which are very small and black.
For anybody who can help with a positive identification, thanks in advance. How can I use it in my cooking?
Then I will start wondering how this plant came to my garden :)
Happy gardening!

Friday, 9 March 2012

garden updates

Well, there's not much going on in my garden right now as the terrace leakage issues are being fixed.
Some pics from my garden -

some new members in my garden-pansies and petunia

my last harvest- ceylonese bhindi, spinach, pumpkin flower, mint and cowpeas
All harvested in a hurry before the workers create a havoc with my plants.

my very first european cucumber which I had to harvest as the new fruits were not growing. I have not been able to figure out why my plant is unable to support more than 2-3.

nutritious salad of cucumber (didn't feel like peeling it), orange cherry tomato and mint. My son polished off the tomatoes, we were left with the cuke..

till my next post, happy gardening!

Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi

You might ask, what's this?

I like to identify plants which are in my garden but have no clue about. The other day, I was wondering about this plant. A clue to my search was observing that the fallen leaves develop new plants at the edges. This is typical of the Bryophyllum section of plants.
A little bit more of searching through pictures threw up this name- Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi synonym Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi also called Aurora-borealis plant. The general name sounds better than the botanical name which is in honor of a Russian botanist of same name.

This succulent belongs to the group Bryophyllum the genus Kalanchoe of the Crassulaceae family. There are about 20-30 of this group, of which I am happy to have one.

It is also called lavender scallops due to the shape and color of its leaves.

All plants in this group develop small plantlets at the leaf margin which can eventually give rise to new plants, case of asexual reproduction. The picture on the left does not show the original leaf as I covered it with soil.

I saw some peculiar flowers on this plant on this site. I have never seen any flowers on this plant so assumed that this is good as a foliage plant only. I am waiting to see if my little fellow will flower for me too.

I need to transplant it to a soil more fit for a succulent; more sand for the soil to drain well and will also add some pebbles on the top for drainage and show.
And also watch for the flowers!

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Garden updates- European Cucumber

Today I wanted to share the star of my garden at the moment- European Cucumber from geekgardener.
I sowed the seed on 27th December and it germinated in just four days.

After that, I have been watching the growth of this plant keenly. I have never been successful growing cucumbers- the plant gets infested with aphids, leaf miners and poor growth frustrates all my attempts to get decent fruits.
But, look at this plant-

I have grown it in a 15L container and it has grown to over 3 ft. There are female flowers on each node with two side branches. Geekgardener's blog describes European cucumber as a parthenocarpic type ie formed without fertilization and each flower will grow into a fruit. No messing about with paintbrushes for pollination, which I do for brinjals and even capsicum.
So, if you have a flower, you will get a fruit.

I have been keeping my fingers crossed for so many days now, spraying with neem oil and vermiwash. There is some infestation with leaf miners, but no aphids yet.
Finally the first flowers bloomed, four at a time!

And now the agonized wait for the fruits to develop well. According to geekgardener, it will take approx 14 days for the fruits to mature. So a fortnight of waiting and waiting!

Crossed fingers and all, I am praying for a full life cycle of this baby...
Happy gardening

Friday, 3 February 2012

Basant Utsav 2012

Hi All
The residents of CBD Belapur Sector 9 locality celebrated Basant Utsav on Sunday 29th January 2012 with a lot of fun filled activities. The idea was to encourage the local residents to go green, spare a thought for the environment and follow the three Rs- reduce, recycle and Reuse.
A Plant and Flower show was arranged for display and competition in various categories. We had a good collection of Bonsai and cacti. I surprisingly didn't see many kitchen garden plants though a 4ft tall sapota (chikoo)plant laden with fruits stole the show. Workshops on terrace Gardening and How to recycle your waste provided the educational aspect.
Children participated with great enthusiasm in an activity solely meant for them- Create your own Green Land. It was a real eye-opener to view the task from a child's perspective.
A dog show was organised for dog lovers to show off their pets.
And for all, there were mouth watering delicacies prepared by the local residents.
A few pictures which don't really do justice to the whole event-

Plants for sale

Life's simple! From a kid's perspective

And one more

Yet another!

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Butterfly pea

Deep blue flowers with light yellow markings peeping out dense light green foliage. This is another flower which attracts butterflies of the winged variety.
The blue butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea)is more common than the white one. It is a perennial, herbaceous vine mostly grown on fences. The leaves are pinnate with 5 to 7 lobes and give good foliage.
The botanical name Clitoria relates to the shape of the flowers which are almost 2 inches long and borne singly. The term ternatea comes from Ternate, a cone shaped island in Indonesia.

The flower is typical to the pea family (Fabaceae/ Leguminosae). Its shape has inspired some of the regional names. It is called Butterfly pea, blue pea vine, mussel-shell climber, pigeon wings in English; Aparijita in Hindi and Gokarna or less commonly Shankhpushpa in Marathi.

I grew this plant from seed. It requires moist soil with partial sunlight. It grows very fast and flowered within the season. It is flowering again after taking a rest from the blooms during the monsoons but is mostly covered with light brown pods. Some of them keep popping to scatter the black seeds. The plant has to be constantly pinched back to encourage growth.

I found some interesting uses of this plant.
Extracts from the root and the flowers have a range of antimicrobial activity and is used in ayurvedic medicines. The extract contains biologically active peptides called cliotides which have potential to be lead compounds for novel antimicrobial and anticancer agents. Wow!
It is used to strengthen hair, improve eyesight and enhance immunity in Thai medicine. In fact in eastern Asia, butterfly pea extract powder is readily available for consumption.
The roots fix nitrogen, hence it is used for improving the fertility of the soil.
In Burma the flowers are dipped in batter and fried . The pods are edible when tender. I have not across any recipe which uses this, but maybe it can be cooked the same way as beans.
The flowers can also be used to color food; grind the flowers with water or milk to get blue or with little lemon juice to get red color. Of course very few recipes call for blue color. Someday I will try this. Till then I prefer to watch the butterflies!
Happy Gardening

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Bleeding heart vine

This post is about a plant which keeps flowering regularly in my garden. White, almost yellow flowers with a blood-red frilly corolla with the stamens jauntily peeking out- yes this is the Bleeding Heart Vine, Bleeding Glory Bower or Bag Flower botanical name Clerodendron thomsoniae (Family Verbenaceae).

It can be grown in pots as a bush or climber The medium should have good drainage. This is one of the rarer flowering plant which can be grown in less sunlight. It gets only an hour's direct sunlight in my garden. It flowers sporadically throughout the year with maximum blooms in summer.
The double colored flowers grow in cymes of 8-20, the outer calyx is usually white gives a striking contrast with the red corolla. Add to that the big, dark-green, heavily etched leaves and you have a real show piece.
Notice that the buds do not give a hint of the beauty within.

After the flowers mature the balloonous calyx turns darker till it is almost purple. At this time one can see a black fruit containing black seeds with an orange lining. I have yet to try growing this plant from seed- action for the next seeds which are formed!

I recently found that this plant is a close relative of the glory bower/ wild jasmine (hindi sankuppi) which is grown extensively as a hedge plant in India. I remember seeing this plant very often in my native place. It has white flowers with purple stamens protruding out.

Of course the bleeding heart is more showy and does not fail to turn heads when in bloom. Green, white and red all in one plant! Just make sure that you prevent people from plucking the flowers and making your heart bleed!

Happy gardening!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Greetings for the new Year

The new year has started.
Many green resolutions made- to be more productive in the garden, to be regular with the spraying, to carry on the struggle with some veggies (coriander harvest still eludes me), to post more regularly and most importantly be organic.
So let's see, what do I have in my garden at the present?
Tomatoes- cherry toms, second flush of flowers has started; tumbler variety has started ripening
Chillies- still not producing, all the flowers are falling off, some leaves too, have tried giving higher PK but..
Mint- peppermint and spearmint
Indian spinach- transpanted few days back
Brinjal- white, flowers have started but no fruit yet, keeping fingers crossed
Ridge gourd- single fruit developing, have covered it with a polythene bag to prevent pests
Okra- ceylonese variety seeds from geekgardener, they are ridgeless, hope that they are without spines too; transplanted two each in three 15 L containers two weeks back
Leafy veggies-green and red amaranth
Roses- repotted with fresh soil and compost, waiting for the blooms to start
Collection of other flowering plants- pentas, periwinkle, amaryllis lily, ginger lily, jasmines, to name a few.
A few pictures to start the year...

Adenium- a natural bonsai

Amaryllis Lily

Blue Butterfly pea called gokarna in marathi

Happy gardening!