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!!"