Monday, October 1, 2012

The Tree of Life!

Jai Sai Master!

I promised earlier to post photos. We took photos. But we found that there was nothing much to show. A lot of little plants growing, and thats all. Now, they are all grown up. And here are a few photos.

The first one I wanted to show is that of a tree.
Here is a tree that looks like its just came out of a calypso reggae band.

Everytime I look at it, it brings a smile to me. It is one of those 'gulmohar' type trees. We know that its leaves are great mulch, and its branches are good for trellises. But best of all, that tree coppices well. Now, what is 'coppice'? Yes, google search will give you more info, but in short, you cut that tree, it puts out new branches and new growth. In many places in the world, certain trees are 'coppiced'. That is, when they are grown to a certain size, they are cut off, and new growth shoots up from where you cut off.

In permaculture, this is one of the ways you 'mulch' your fruit trees. Trees that provide good material for such coppicing are used as 'support trees'. They provide necessary shade and wind protection for the young fruit tree saplings, they shed a lot of leaves improving the fertility of the top soil, and they are usually those species which provide good underground fertilizing, and are usually leguminous, that is nitrogen fixing, varieties.

I am not sure if this one is a legume, or a mimosa. But I am quite sure it is good for the soil. This one, we planted outside our garden door. It provided ample shade and it is fast growing. But it has grown up and was touching the power lines and I was sure that the municipality people will cut it down.

At the same time, I wanted to try my hand at coppicing and gain some practical knowledge. A bit of reading around showed me that it is good to do coppicing (for many trees) just at the start of the wet and cool seasons. So after the first few rains, I chopped it off right at the stem. And lo! In a week, new growth appeared, and now it looks just awesome.

Although chopping off seems a bit too cruel, and it is, it is going to extend the tree's life. In nature itself, heavy rains, winds, animals, etc., do keep breaking trees off. Nature helped trees evolve to survive such situations. We are just using such phenomenon to set things up for a greener system. Looking at the tree bouncing back from even chopping, just shows how strong really the Tree of Life is.

The cut off branches were left to dry and the leaves were used partly in compost and partly as direct mulch. We did the same thing with the neem tree (which is very good for coppicing) which was 2 yrs old and right smack in the way in our garden. It is regrowing. We used the neem leaves for mulch, as it protects trees and plants from certain diseases and pests.

More of that, and more photos of our gardens, and more write ups are coming soon!

For now, enjoy the above photo. And a few of these.

This is called 'side thota' or 'side garden' :

This is our fence of this 'side garden' with beera (ridge gourd) and kakara (bittergourd) climbers all over it. There is snake gourd (potlakaya) on the far side too :

Here is an example of companion planting.. You think it is crowded? Donno. Its yielding like heaven's bounty though. It is okra, corn and dolichoes (a kind of beans). (you can see a banana growing amidst those too) The beans give nitrogen and the other  take it up! See if you can spot the dolichos. You can see okra around the growing well corn.


By the way, today is the birthday of our Gurupatni Ekkirala Alivelu Mangamma, The Wife of our Guru, Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja. Best wishes for everyone, and prayers for the well-being of all! As the ancients said, "Sarve Janaassukhino Bhavantu" "Lokaassamastaaha sukhino bhavantu!!"


Monday, July 16, 2012

Schweeeet photos coming up!

Jai Sai Master!

Hello people!

Lack of posts since may 28th is aweful, especially when we have so much to share and to learn.

A lot is happening here, regarding our gardens. Firstly, we cleaned the whole place up (lots and lots of invasive weeds), thrown in a cover crop of mixture of seeds (cowpea, chickpea, groundnut, mustard, marigold), then started planting veggies again for the season, started a new compost heap AND...

Lots of seedlings!

Yes! Finally, I got off my lazy backside, sat down one day, and planted lots of seeds in small trays. Our compost did the magic, weather turned up cool and great, and lots and lots of them came up! Photos of them will be up tomorrow.. and its well worth the wait. Isnt it great to see lots of little seedlings, fresh, green, healthy and raring to grow?

Now, for the bad news. We have, right now, a massive attack of caterpillars (as every year it happens) in our gardens. We live on the very edge of the city, and there is lots of 'wild' area near our place. Insects from there find our gardens really appetizing (and so do monkeys occasionally). The come in swarms, literally thousands.. and eat everything they see (almost)!

Our beautiful eggplants are mere skeletons, mustard covercrop is non existent. So far, thats all, but THATS ALL! They have not touched fruit trees yet, but by tomorrow they should be on them. Somehow, they left bitter gourd plants alone till now, and only very few of them touched our chilli peppers so far... but I think in two more days there will be nothing else for them to eat and I suspect they will  eat everything up.

Luckily, I kept the seedlings in the second floor and so far, insects have not found them. So, I am kinda waiting for  the insects to go away (which they will do in 10 or so days) to plant.

Tomorrow, I shall post a video, photos, etc., of our gardens in their most miserable state so that people dont get fooled by the photos of abundance. Some times you win and sometimes you dont, but the idea is to keep going till you learn to win all the time, right?

Fancy blog and all, we are but very very amateur gardeners. Till two years ago, I did not know what a tomato plant looked like. So.

Today, Sasidhar (our beloved watch-and-learn-before-you-do brother in law and motivational speaker) ordered seeds from annadana seed bank. Heard that they are closing down. Too bad. BUT, we are going to have those seeds and hopefully we will be able to save them! Lets hope for the best.

We have lots of seedlings to plant, elephant foot yams, a couple more bananas, a bunch of fruit trees (most of which will be planted some place where they can be planted.. right now, our gardens are full to the brink as far as trees go), and all of those updates, coming soon!

Thank you for reading, happy gardening! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ash, Wax, Fuzzy, Winter !

What do all these have in common?

Confused ????

Well they are all synonyms for the the same plant - which we commonly called Ash Gourd in India (Benincasa hispida) !!

As a part of redesigning one of our gardens ( everything needs a redesign these days !), we erected some supports so that we could utilize vertical space as well. Utilizing vertical space is the key to increasing the productivity. According to general land laws, you also get the vertical space above the land for free, when you purchase a piece of land! So just like you have shelves in your room so that you can use the space available vertically, you use the same principle while cultivation.

Although quite a few creepers were planted, only a few survived our sporadic watering. You reap what you sow, only if you water :D

You can see below how we have erected the supports, and created a net so that all the creepers virtually form a 'roof' to the garden. Some aerial shots.

A few pictures from ground level

Some people grow ash gourd on ground. However, we decided to take the aerial root, since otherwise navigating on land to harvest other crops would become difficult.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And then there were Pomegranates !

Howdy folks !

One day we all thought about growing something .. something which is epic  - like something the ancients grew and talked about. So we got onto planting a few pomegranates !! Seriously, pomegranate finds mention in 'The Book of Exodus' and the 'Holy Quran'

An about to be ripe Pomegranate !
We have a couple of pomegranates. And this season they seem to be in bloom. Around five to six feet in height, this time around they are loaded! We did have a few when they were young, but those were very small (less than tennis ball size), nevertheless sweet.

Pomegranate symbolizes prosperity and fertility. Not just that, each part of the plant finds medicinal use in Ayurveda. Wow!

Find below a few pictures of pomegranate plant swinging to the light breeze and its flowers!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cleaning up !

An essential aspect of Gardening which no one usually likes is weeding ! Despite the fact that weeds are the plants most suited for your land, no one really intends to have them !!

However in our case, we have been truly blessed. If not for weeds, we would have not come across 'Kashikaya' / solanum nigrum, 'Gangavayalu'/ portulaca oleracea and 'Doggali Koora' / amaranthus polygamus.

Along with tomatoes, brinjals, lady finger etc, we have our very own 'weeds' which form a major constituent of our diet. No we are not complaining at all! But being lazy as we are, we usually find these 'weeds' alongwith some other nasty ones (which do not form a part of our diet) literally making our garden look like jungle.
These 'weeds' have a tendency to outgrow what we have sown and they give our veggies and small fruit trees a  run for their money! So on May 24th, we decided to clean up the area a bit. Here a few photos which will give you a idea of what we did.
Foliage! Before we started "weeding"
Cleaning up is much more of a task than planting. So we decided to work in patches. Also we have planted lots of Bananas and Casuarina, which are a bit difficult to make out within the sort of jungle of that we have. We cleaned up a patch carefully, put our very own 'homemade' compost near the young fruit trees and proceeded to the next area.
A view from the top, on the left we have patches where we cleared the 'weeds'. Right side is untouched
Left side of the garden
Right Side of the garden
Close view. This is how we ended up clearing. 
Little did we know that due to false information, we ended up clearing our 'ground cover' just before the hottest time of the summer ! So for now we have put a stop to this chop and drop. In order to salvage our lost pride, we are contemplating on cover the ground with either coco peat or straw. Be tuned for further updates !

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hail Storm Rocks - But the garden persists..

Jai sai master!!

             It is a hard thing to survive with the summers in Hyderabad. But generally there are showers in the evenings. On such evening some strange and rare thing happened. But before I speak about that let me tell you something. There were beautiful Banana trees, papaya trees, and many such fruit and vegetable trees all over our garden. It was very beautiful and we all were happy about the production. It was full of papayas giving at least one everyday. And then suddenly on 6th of April there was a Hail storm!! I was so sad that i was out of station, but the storm was awesome! It did damage the gardens, but because of nature's grace they were pretty fine.
            In the previous post you have seen a puppy which lives in our garden. In the excitement of hail storm everyone there forgot about the puppy. But it found a shelter under the trees by itself and it was not effected by the hail storm. The video of the storm is attached above have a look at it!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A must-see video

For all those who are interested in growing stuff (especially plant stuff and brain stuff) this video is a must-see.

Keyline Farming 1955 from RegenAG on Vimeo.

This was found by my good buddy uppu and he shared it on facebook. But since this blog is way too popular than facebook, i thought I would share it here for the benefit of one and all.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Abundance and Neglect

Hello there!

In the last post you have seen some photos of a garden, but here we are not talking about that garden. We are talking about another little garden. You might not understand how I/We got so many little gardens and why they are not 'my friend's garden' or 'my neigbours', but its a long long story. We shall come to that later on in future posts.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A few photos as a starter!

Jai Sai Master!

A few photographs to start off with. Explanation will come later on, but some more photos of our other 'gardens' you can find here :
These are photos of a work in progress garden. We are adding and removing plants from this, and make it more to the requirements.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Jai Sai Master!

     This is our little blog, regarding various things like nature,  kids, gardens, ecology, spirituality, etc. Here, the main focus might be (atleast initially) our gardens and our experiments with various aspects of life and living. Hope you all enjoy, have something to learn from here, and also help us learn a lot.

     May the Master's grace, the Nectar of Heavenly Living, shower on us all.

Jai Sai Master!!