Slow Progress

Hyderabad , in the new state of Telangana, is reeling under water shortage, and hot humid weather since weeks. Failure of the monsoon is more pronounced in our state,  more so in Hyderabad. There are warnings about depleting water table, reduced water in the reservoirs, and dispute with neighbouring states about water sharing. Water and power crisis might deepen in the coming months, the very thought is sending shivers down my spine. How to sustain my terrace garden is a constant worry now.

This morning , there was some ray of hope.26th aug 14 034

Well, the above was written yesterday.. and interrupted due to daily rush and some drama. Today is nearing to an end, the ran is on for the night , slowly soaking up. I would like to share my progress, though a bit slow, through some pictures clicked during the week.

The ash gourd is growing well , and the new one on the way,may not be ash gourd. Waiting and watching is fun. The long beans are fruiting plenty and I have harvested some seeds too. There are plenty of tomatoes saplings, chillies, beans varieties( not sure how many) and few new brinjal varieties sprouting up. I am busy staking and tying and trying to find more pots and more bags for bigger plants. My herbal plants too are doing great.

This year I am trying HDPE bags. I am also minimising expenditure by using bigger bags( rice and wheat bags ), with plenty of soil , and multiple plants in them. So far gourds and beans are coming up well with amaranth. I missed the corn , forgot to scatter them :-(


Some of the plants growing in the bags

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One of my Facebook Group friends had introduced us to Hugelkultur method of growing stuff. One member of our group , posted how she is using the method in Colorado. She even suggested that we can use the method for filling up sacks and stuff grows in them!. Amazing. I am sad that I had thrown all those sticks , all these month to the dump. I need to collect them all and start bagging them and use with compost to make as many plant holders as possible. Isn’t it exciting?

I found a video  referred by friends inspiring . Many garden lovers and beginners might enjoy viewing.

Posted in Beans, Bitter Gourd, Brinjal, Gourds, rain clouds, Uncategorized, Urban Farming | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

The Sherdukpen Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh | Celebrating Indigenous Peoples


How little I know of my countrymen!

Originally posted on The North-East India Travel Blog:

Upcoming this week is the International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Observed by the United Nations on August 9th each year, it is dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of the planet’s indigenous population, along with recognizing the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve the issues facing the world. It is only natural that a lot of indigenous activity happens during this time. Worth mentioning is the Indigenous Peoples Week, celebrated by Planeta and friends, it is an online unconference in its 4th edition focusing on indigenous people and tourism, with themes such as biodiversity conservation, crafts, cultural heritage, food and literacy. Meanwhile, Proud To Be Indigenous is an initiative by Cultural Survival to give an online platform for indigenous people to express their cultural richness.

Continuing our efforts to take part in this year’s discussions, we are proud to continue with our…

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My fireflies

Originally posted on bits and pieces:

I firmly believe in innate goodness of mankind and I feel most of us do.So we all harbor that wish to be of use to others and this wish is always tucked inside us not only because we want others to feel good but doing good make us too feel good.When grown-ups extend a helping hand to others ,it involves a whole lot of thought process but when kids do it, it just happens. It’s natural and spontaneous that’s why perhaps more endearing, more uplifting. They don’t make efforts to do it.
There is this event long back from 92-93 but it always remains with me.
A very busy square of the city. Time must have been between 8-30 to 9-00 A.M. It was time for schools,college and office goers crowd rushing towards their destinations.Bikes swishing around, cars honking, cycles lurching, auto and six-seaters snaking in between, city and school…

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The Milky Way

Originally posted on Cornwall Photographic:

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my friend and fellow blogger Poppy, when I happened to mention what a fabulous moon there was outside.  Poppy’s BB piped up in the background with ‘yes, tonight is a super moon‘.  Well, that was the start of another Poppy and Chillbrook excellent photography adventure.  Two in the morning, out in the wilds of Cornwall and Worcestershire, Poppy and I were exchanging photography and astronomy tips by mobile phone whilst looking at the most amazing night sky.  A plan had been hatched that night, via Skype, to photograph the Milky Way and last night the plan came together. Excellent!!

It’s extremely difficult to find a truly dark sky in the UK as the villages, towns and cities are now so numerous and spreading, each filling the sky with the ubiquitous and vile, orange sodium light pollution however, I found…

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Another new beginning – July 2014

Aha.. the testing summer of 2014 is behind us. Hyderabad is limping back  to normal or near normal, what with changed status and failed monsoon.The water shortage has eased a little, reducing the burden on expenditure, we were buying water for 600 per lorry per week. I spent my time looking at other people’s gardens giving sumptuous fruits and vegetables, getting a little jealous.Rest of the time I spent cooped up in my room trying to cool down and let the summer pass.


My garden too went under hibernation and the pots  emptied and kept away.. This month, the temperature dropped below 36 and I am glad to step out , on the terrace to relish the cool, grey and windy mornings .Lots of work to be done, the soil needs to be redone, the compost, goat manure, cow manure which treated for more than 3 months needs to be mixed . The seed starting is slowly taking off. Few of the gourds and beans are up and flowering too. My jasmines did not fail even during the excessive heat and lack of water. Lots of flowers this year, the only silver lining in otherwise hot summer.


The herbal plants I had brought from Sungandhavana ( Agri University, Bangalore) withstood the heat and lack of water , except Rosemary,Ondelga and two more plants, names I forgot. Some of them are creeping into vines and some have huge leaves. I have still not figured out what I am going to do with them, except inhale the great smells and feel good.


Once again I brought some Tulsi variety and Citronella plants from Hulimavu farm , Bangalore while on a short visit.Hope they survive in this season. The nice thing about rains is that,after one big shower, the garden wakes up and gives lush look, creepers start producing flowers , some Dondakaya is seen , or some Karela is hidden under the green bushes. The mood of the garden and the gardener changes for better.

My herbal collection

My herbal collection


Posted in cowdung, Doskkaya, flowers, Gourd, Jasmine, Rain, terrace garden, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

My unkempt Garden

I am seriously thinking of changing my blog name to “My unkempt garden”. I am tired of the excuses I have been giving myself and others, I know I need to do more, but still am clueless. Meanwhile my garden is trundling along, few tomatoes here, few brinjals there, few gourds, and few chillies, few bitter gourds, few beans and few okra. Yeah there is a list, but I am not sure, how orderly or productive it is. The older plants of gourds, betal leaves and roses are staying good. The best part of the garden , was, the thousands of small chrysanthemums which bloomed for a month or so.

Here are some visuals:

tryst with mini permaculture

Corn, Gourd and beans

Corn, Gourd and beans

Beefsteak that won't turn red

Beefsteak that won’t turn red



the beans that left me confused

the beans that left me confused

seeds of those beans

seeds of those beans

Handful of harvest early December

Handful of harvest early December

My pride, the white pumpkin

My pride, the white pumpkin

Sambhar gourd or dosakaya

Sambhar gourd or dosakaya

For a change, in Goa

For a change, in Goa

Organic , Of course.

Organic , Of course.

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Balcony filled with chrysanthemums

Balcony filled with chrysanthemums



The last blooms.. bye bye

The last blooms.. bye bye

The weight is pulling the creeper down!

The weight is pulling the creeper down!

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Never failing Brinjal , new plant

Never failing Brinjal , new plant

Today's harvest

Today’s harvest

Cucumber? The first one

Cucumber? The first one

Double beans flowering profusely

Double beans flowering profusely

Double beans vines

Double beans vines



Chillies, bitter gourd and Tomato

Chillies, bitter gourd and Tomato



Compost tea

Compost tea

I have given a detailed list of inmates living on the Terrace. Hope you enjoyed it.

Miles to go before I reap. Happy Gardening.

Posted in Beans, Bitter Gourd, Cabbage, capsicum, Cauliflower, Chrysanthemums, Compost tea, Doskkaya, Gourd | Tagged , , , , , , , | 72 Comments

Progress after monsoon 2013

I am still guilty of not writing posts. When I compare my posts of last year this time, I find that my enthusiasm in gardening and writing about it,  have diminished. The factors affecting the blogging is still very much plaguing me. Trying to cope with illness in the family is  exhausting , but things are on the positive bend, hoping to have normal life very soon.

On the gardening front, I find more and more people are joining the gardener list, and are eager to grow organic, procure stuff and show results. Boy, some of the young gardeners are serious contenders for top notch stuff, organic or not. The kind of pictures they post takes one’s breath away. It also makes one very inadequate, to even talk about one’s meager gardening efforts. I sometimes come across, beautiful tiled terraces , with clean , neatly lined rows of grow bags, or pots, with a good stuff as a medium and the results are burst of colors or bunches of vegetables hanging there. Obverse, it makes one, want to reach out to that level and everyday, one needs to search the mind for fresh inputs to make the garden a better looking one. I have also become less sure about my techniques and my ability to keep constant posting on Facebook and other social media.

Sometimes, I come across absolute gushing about  few vegetables, and a small bunch of green grown by first time budding gardeners. This gives me great happiness.. aha.. here is someone like me .. trying to start and sharing the small reward with fellow gardeners.

Another trend I noticed in my gardening experience is that I am drifting away from time consuming, back breaking concoctions which require a good amount of travel in the city. I would rather procure stuff at home, try to grow smaller quantities and enjoy the produce. I also came across fancy stuff like Trichoderma, PSB..etc  to make seeds germinate and sustain. I am not sure I am good at using them. So off the idea went out of window. Whatever germinates by itself fine, rest can rest in peace.

The last few months also went in visiting some of the good initiatives made by young people in developing permaculture spaces. Those experiences have made me more inclined to go for natural greening and addition of various nitrogen fixtures.. at least trying them. It seems that some of the efforts are paying well.

This year I have been a little lucky to grow some of the gourds, which ended in some fruiting.(pictures of the bud and later , the full grown one).   The gourd vines were resisting my attempts for a  long time,, now the vines are growing all over, due to excess rain we had here. I am hopeful the fruits will develop well and make my efforts worthwhile.

Sharing some of the pictures from the terrace taken in the past few weeks.

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These photographs were clicked from August till date.

Happy gardening :-)

Posted in Beans, Corn, Garden after rains, Gourds, monsoon, organic garden, snake gourd, terrace garden | Tagged , , , | 64 Comments

Trying Summer and welcome rains 2013

Flickers of  nagging plagued me for weeks, reminding my absence from the blog posts. I must admit that I was active on the much maligned social network,  posting about gardening and social activism ( mainly about water  and power supply issues of our local areas). I was also kept busy with health issues, family gatherings and a few weddings. If you think I have neglected my Terrace garden, you are very right I did.

One silver lining was that I had time to rethink on my gardening strategies. I am tired of procuring various stuff like cow dung , urine , sugar cane juice etc etc and make Panchagavya and other organic plant fertilizers. My domestic help too was playing tough, and finally the cow went away from the neighbourhood, much to my helper’s relief.  I am out of making Panchagavya or Jeevamrithum, which are now readily available in our city , every other day of the week.

Luckily I found a milk supplier who has agreed to deliver the raw materials, if I need. I am humoring him by ordering milk from his Goshala , though I find it fairly diluted with water (hope he is using good water and not borewell). There you have it, when one door closes , other opens.

The next step was to experiment with the much publicised Compost tea. One fine day, I scouted for the fish tank aeration pump, with the help of a nice auto driver, who knew where it could be bought. It is strange, how the easiest tasks of yesteryears, become difficult when one is getting advanced in years and lacks transport for easy mobility. On the other side, the city auto drivers are kind enough to take me to various places and wait for me to finish the purchases. The advantages of old age and cheap transport.

That accomplished, I went ahead and started the Compost tea. Faithfully I also added a few drops of my home – made fish amino acid( Christian Alvares Luzong inspired) , and earned disgusting looks from the family. I was requested  to shift the concoction to the Terrace and save them the perils of my experiment.  However, watching  those lovely air bubbles , gave immense inspiration and strength to stand firm. It seems that the plants too love the spray of the Tea and they are responding well.

Meanwhile, the papaya gave some more fruits. The Jasmine plants gave a good harvest.,and still doing so. the old brinjal plants also revived. The Ivy gourd is happy with the tea.   I have seen some beans too coming up with vigour, along with a few capsicum plants.

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Whatever this plant is, it is relishing the drink.

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The sad episode which marred the joy of early  arrival of the rains,  was the uprooting of my dear Gulmohar tree of 30 years. It was a blow to the tree, and to my sense of  being eco-friendly , when the strong winds brought the tree down  on our compound and balcony, damaging electric and telephone wires. Those winds  of 4th / 5th June 2013 , damaged many  such trees  in the city . As if that was any consolation for me.  The electricity department expressed their inability to help us, and we had to get costly private help, and a very stressful time to get it cut and disposed, without major damage to our house. I feel a sense of loss.

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But there is always a beginning once the rains arrive and cools down the atmosphere. The materials supplied by the A.P. Horticultural Department is to good use. I prepared Amrit Mitti during the summer and have started greening the heap. Mitti for the new seedlings for the year 2013.

June after rains 2013 003

June after rains 2013 002

Hope to keep the blogging instincts alive , along with the Terrace Garden.

Posted in Beans, Brinjal, capsicum, Garden after rains, Gourds, growing papaya, Jasmine, monsoon, Panchagavya, terrace garden, Tree cutting | Tagged , , , , , | 64 Comments

Urban Farming encouraged by A.P. Government

It look like a long time since I posted in this blog. The habit of writing posts becomes more and more distant, when one is busy with other events, like weddings, guests, happy exhaustion, in that order.A lot has been happening, some of which I will share, in a descending order. This post about an Urban Garden meet we had today.

On March 10th I received a mail in my Intipanta group , Hyderabad, informing us about the proposed plans of our Horticultural Department , Govt. of A.P.An excerpt from Sakshi newspaper.

Intipanta 9-3-2013 sakshi

I was not in Hyderabad , and did not have a PC access. I let it pass, with my usual disinterest.The horticultural department did have a meeting some months back, calling us at the last-minute to attend. It was all very good to hear those speeches and power point presentations,announcing that the Department will supply know how and materials for encouraging Urban terrace gardens with minimum requirements, and some authorities will come for inspection once we obtain the help from the department. However, I was disappointed to know that HUDA authorities will not carry out the greening Urban Terraces in my area since it is a few meters out of the city. I promptly lost interest.

Another friend from the group called me , last week, while I was away asking whether I am joining in the proposed scheme of the Horticultural Department. He explained that one has to pay Rs.1200/ and register the name, and receive the kit and materials on the appointed day.It no longer mattered where we are located. Eager to know more about the govt’s offer, I collected more information from other enthusiasts. Of course skepticism is part of dealing with any agencies, and we had more questions about what are they offering, only red mud, any vermi/compost? . How many litres of neem oil etc .The established gardeners who are using cocopeat and other lighter media were not showing much interest in the offer, which looked barest minimum.

To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to go and see for myself what it was all about. When I did reach the venue at Horticultural Department Training institute, I was surprised to see a number of people seated in the lawn and power point presentations were going on in full swing with a backdrop announcing the Scheme and Minister’s participation. I was also happy to see many women in the audience ,and were showing lots of interest. Questions were posed and answered promptly.

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Meanwhile, I met our group of friends , who had already registered their applications. First I was asked to register with my photograph, and an Id proof , with a xerox copy. I paid Rs.1200/ and was given a receipt. Water tea and snacks were distributed freely. Lunch too was offered.

We were to be supplied the following:

14 bags of red soil

1 bag of neem cake

2 bottles of neem oil,

one kit containing a sprayer, cutter , hose shower, and a small hoe.

4 huge grow bags.

Lots of seeds of local varieties.

We had to make our own arrangements to pick up the bags and the handout. That set off a confusion, since many of us did not know how to procure a pick up trolley.But there are always helping persons nearby, who could give us contact number of people prepared to haul those bags to our distant homes.

This arrangement or lack of it, was not welcomed by many , who voiced their concerns that the Department could have arranged the stuff to be delivered at home, and charged extra for the transport. There were concerns about use of those heavy red soil on the Terrace. Many people requested the department to supply good quality cocopeat too , if they wanted to popularize the scheme.

There was confusion over the distribution which started near about lunch time. It was getting warm, people were crowing around the staff, making them jittery. Some of the men were not very gentle, they were shouting for their turn to be first. Forming a queue is not in our Hdyerabaadi blood, so you can imagine all age groups scrambling and asking for immediate redressal.

There was another problem too, the kit was distributed at one place and the red soil etc, was to be hauled from another. The kit was not easy to hold and walk about, and I had difficulty in hauling it to the other building. The trolleys , cars were required to be placed near the mountain of bags, to enable the helpers load. More confusion and shouting matches, were ensured. We had to wait patiently till the staff were ready to address us. They were pretty professional about loading the stuff, but the public was not co-operative.

It was an exciting and tiring experience. But for my love of gardening,I would not have ventured in such mela. Luckily , our young trolley driver tried his best to help everyone. Finally we loaded our stuff and I sat in a trolley for the first time in Hyderabad, and enjoyed the bumpy ride. :-)

The bags are lying in my front yard, and I am happy that I went for the meet. It is a small beginning, but first time in A.P. such effort is made by the Government. They are trying to extend this subsidy programme to another session too, next week.

I have not calculated the cost of the operation, or the value of subsidy. I had trouble locating red-soil and have been scouting for a good one since weeks. I also appreciated the effort of the officials who were eager to start the plan. The effort of the Minister, govt. officials and the media in providing this facility , itself is a good start for Hyderabad city. My only problem was that this event has not been covered in English press, media, but only in Telugu. This is a cosmopolitan city and this programme deserves to reach as many people as possible.

As a byline, I was interviewed by Sakshi Telugu newspaper, CTC TV and E-TV. If any of you found me in their footage, kindly let me know :-))

Posted in farming. organic, Hyderabad, Intipanta, organic garden, Sakshi news., terrace garden, Urban Farming | Tagged , , , , , | 66 Comments

The Hyderabad Horti cultural show 2013

Republic Day on a weekend is a time to relax for people of Hyderabad who do not need any excuse to relax. On this day, every year, the A.P. Government starts a decent Horticultural show , to benefit the sellers and to acquaint the buyers on various gardening products. We usually avoid visiting on the first day, a public Holiday, due to our aversion to massive crowds jostling around the stalls. However, this year we started off, a little early , in the late afternoon, and it was worth it.

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That was a decent welcome at the entrance. The stalls were arranged neatly to enable the public criss-cross without confusion.

The Govt. departments had their stalls manned by pleasant people, who took interest to tell the visitors about their products. NIRD, Acharya NG Ranga Agri . University, and other departments had their stalls. I liked the NIRD stall for their pricing of neem cakes powder, which was much lower than the market. I am sure their quality too is better. I am going to purchase a bag , on my next visit. I also noticed that AP was being showcased as fruit bowl of the country,.:-)

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Don’t miss the mushroom cultivation programme! The Agricultural Journalism Unit of Dept. of Agricultural extension, College of agriculture Hyderabad, have brought out “care your heart with Different Tea’s”, “Tasty Dishes with Millets, ” Delicious recipes with Oats and Barley ” and other booklets, very nominally priced.

Another stall drawing people’s attention was the cocoa display , and oil palm samples. Huge!
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There were few stalls advertising the virtue of Organic foods and healing foods with slogans as “Let food be thy Medicine and Medicine be thy food” ” Man is what he eats”. I was also pleasantly surprised by the effort made by young enterprenuers to encourage Millet and other grains into the diet, with catchy posters, hand written. I appreciated their enthusiasm and hard work.
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It is heartening to note that , at last, there is an effort to take the organic farming message to the people. This stall was doing it well.horticultural show hyderabad 2013 100horticultural show hyderabad 2013 098horticultural show hyderabad 2013 097horticultural show hyderabad 2013 096horticultural show hyderabad 2013 095horticultural show hyderabad 2013 094

Another stall was marketing various bio-fertilisers like Psuedomanas, Aceto-powder,Phospho powder, VAM powder, Rhizo powder,trichoderma virdi,bacillius sps , meta rhizium.. I have no idea how to use them and whether they are considered organic? Some education required here, about the shelf life and usefulness for Terrace gardens.

A stall that caught my fancy – a simple poly house. horticultural show hyderabad 2013 039horticultural show hyderabad 2013 040

First time I saw the vertical gardens being showcased. It was very pretty, and of course very pricey too.
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Aha, found my favorite stall, extolling the virtues of the coconut trees. Most of the Organic Terrace gardeners will agree with me, without Coco-peat, coconut water, we will be devoid of cheap medium and fertilizer. The display of crafts made with coconut was simple and beautiful. I hope these artisans earn enough for their crafts.
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Self watering containers being introduced first time in twin cities. Considering the cost of the product, the target seems to be high end consumers, though. horticultural show hyderabad 2013 054horticultural show hyderabad 2013 053

A new entry, ( I think), this year is the stalls introducing various plastic containers in fancy and useful types. This plastic pot was very good, but imported from Korea, and will cost Rs.600/- for one!!!Do I really need that…Heavy carbon footprint..:-(horticultural show hyderabad 2013 022horticultural show hyderabad 2013 023

The usual stalls with fancy potteries, colorful flowers and Bonsai, and various types of indoor and outdoor plants were abundant. A display that was making the public “aha’ was this “Instant Dream gardens a reality”.. Is it science or the bonsai in big format , no idea, but it did surprise the public.horticultural show hyderabad 2013 164horticultural show hyderabad 2013 170

Finally after looking at all these flower plants, I decided that another visit is necessary to pick up lots of stuff.
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P.S. Apology for the lengthy post. Please click on the photographs to enlarge.

Posted in coconuts, farming. organic, Flower Show, flowers, Horticultural expo, Hyderabad, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 111 Comments