For me during this season staying on the farm becomes difficult, because of our canine family members. They will dirty our house, make a mess of the beds & not to speak of what happens when they jump into our car with muddy feet & a wet body. My co-workers also need a break from my constant nagging. Usually after the workload of the rice transplantation there is a spate of illnesses like common flu, chest infections etc. Earlier i used to keep planting various things during this season, now i’ve learned my lesson…… never try & plant anything during the heavy rains, either do it in the beginning of rains (first week of June), if not its better to wait till mid September.
However its difficult to keep me away from planting & tending a garden. So now all my energies is going into our small balcony in our apartment in Pune. It’s a place all of us congregate for an hour in the morning, sipping some coffee or tea, talking of this, that & the other, observing the plants, what is growing, what isn’t growing, looking out for aphids & worms, feeling the plants, staking up the creepers, pruning them, touching them, talking to them……. it’s not only engaging, but its also fun.
Bougainvillea, Roses, Jasmines, Tomatoes, couple of Lemon trees, Chillies, Betel leaf vine, Ivy gourds (tendli), Spiny gourd (kantola), now some Brinjals, Black Pepper, a couple of Bananas, lots of Marigold, different varieties of Beans, one Drum stick tree, Heliconia’s, Hibiscus, Ixora, Lilies, some Ginger, Lemon grass, two different types of Mint, Aloe vera, Curry leaves, two varieties of Basil, Wheat grass for our dogs etc.
I’ve seen massive harvests of veggies in small balconies like ours, one aspires for it. There is still a long, long way to go to make it really into an urban jungle, there is still a lot more to be done vis-a-vis getting the soil mix correct & there is always more & more plants & herbs to grow like Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Celery, Parsley, Garlic & greens like Coriander, Amaranthus, Fenugreek (methi). Learning how to grow Pineapples is high up on the agenda, so is solving aphid attacks on Hibiscus & beans & i’ve tasted absolute zero success with cucumbers, gourds & pumpkins…… embarrassing isn’t it ?
Apart from regular pots, we also recycle whatever can be used as planters Coconut shells, Plastic bottles, Plastic jars, used Tins, broken Cups, Beer cans… anything in which one can put a bit of soil will find its way to our balcony garden
Apart from our own kitchen “waste”, once a week we collect a sack full of “waste” from our vegetable vendor to build our soil, from our milkman we get some cow shit & cow piss, all water after cleaning the fish goes for the plants, once a week we grind a small bag full of Calotropis (akda) leaves into a paste, dilute it & give it to the plants.
Now we’ve started collecting plants from all over, train trips to Kerala means i come back with a bag full of plants, i am urging partner to start smuggling in when she is travelling. This tiny little balcony also doubles up as our plant nursery. I want to make the plants bigger & stronger before taking them to the hostile environs of the farm, so we’ve a collection of small trees like Rambutan, Mangosteen, Bread fruit, many varieties of Jack fruit like Soursop among many others.
This year the rains has been quite heavy, usually by 3pm black clouds seem to gather from nowhere & it does come down heavily. To make sure that all the plants get enough sunlight is quite a challenge, strong winds is also an issue. When the sun is out everyone wants to feel the warmth…… like how Ms Mia has taken her box office spot !
Peace, love & The signature of all things !