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.

This is a small piece of land, about 120 sq yards i think, including the walls. We used to play cricket in here (I know that sounds like its too small a place for that, but trust me, its a lot more fun and lot more tough playing in such a small place with the rules we had), and suddenly, I/We became interested in food. Much of it was a fallout from my reading about GMO, leading to my reading up about fossil fuels and their relationship to food, and most importantly, it was a direct reaction to many things I saw in the world, and the desire to live a higher quality of life. Majorly, it was an outburst from searching for answers to many of the world's problems.
So, we dug the place up, and put in our 'mixture'. 1 part cocopeat, 1 part mud/dirt, 1 part cow manure. Mix 'em all up and put it there. I thought of teaching kids (not my kids. I am not married yet. For now, just take my word for it and lets call them 'kids' just to make long story short) and so left it without planting. After about 6 months, it was pretty much weedy and no garden ever got there till then. Then one day, I kicked myself on my backside, got my pals together and we sheet mulched the whole thing and then put a 6 inch layer of the 'mixture' on top in 'raised beds' (raised just by 1 brick.. call them raised.. haha) and planted it all up.

My buddies put up a trellis and off we went with planting. Greens in the beds, climbers to every pole of the trellis, some tomatoes with their own little 'trellis-es' (forgive me but I dont know the plural, and frankly I dont care, as long as you understand what I mean), and some okra, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, marigolds and cockscombs as borders. Thats what we had.

And it GREW!!

And it gave us a lot. A conservative 'cropping' daily looked like this when the plants are all grown up, and we often got double, sometimes tripple that (while cropping daily).

During this process, about 20 families (our friends) stood by and watched us. None of them (almost none of them) were interested in either growing their own food, nor did they understand its value. But once they saw this, they understood. It was tremendous even for myself to see the nurture that mother nature openly offers, and saddening to see the humankind reject such an offering and neglects the mother.

That said, here is the kicker :
And then, we got 'busy'. We neglected the plot. Look how it looks now. Maybe a lesson learnt. Here is how it looks now :

 Weedy and dry cilantro patch, spinach gone, climbers dead (peacefully after living out their graceful lives to the full) and virtually no produce.

Outside the wall, since we were at the 'dead end' of the road (actually the 'alive' end, if you ask me) we could dig up the mud road (no govt road came there.. we are pretty much the last house of the city, the sub-sub-suburb kinda thing) and planted this little piece.

I did this as a demonstration. This also had bottle gourds and squashes which climbed up the trellis. We had a stray cow regularly eat up some vines, but still this became very productive. And I mean VERY. It had spinach, bottle gourds, two corn plants, 10 tomato plants, 30 okra plants, 10 eggplants, 8 chilli pepper plants, several marigolds, a small patch of fenugreek (which one can rotate every 9 days, eating the greens which are delicious when cooked as dal). It also had a couple of snake gourd and ridge gourd plants, but the cow ate them.
Even this got neglected.

Nothing to fear though. I am out of station, but my pals are working on it and soon it will be back in shape. And where I am now, a coastal town in A.P., India, we are doing a bit of a similar garden here too!

Will talk about some 'uncultivated' food crops that grow here in future posts. Oh, by the way, there is amaranthus virdis, and amaranthus sps., growing in my garden(s), without we ever planting it. Initially I though it was a weed until my mom told me that it is edible. Since then, it is one of the most prodigious parts of our produce and many times it grow as an over storey to our spinach!! Gifts of nature favour Heavenly Living.



  1. Hi! I was one of the 20 'families' that stood by and watched what was happening.
    The baby tomatoes, carrots, brinjals, okra... gave us a real kick, and I who until then was devoid of a green thumb, took to planting a few spinach and coriander. The first produce from my balcony was a delight; and I was hooked!!!

  2. would love to see the work on your home garden and 'office' garden online! any ideas for it?