How I thought of Vegetable Gardening.
Many people in my social circle expect me to be fond of temple visits, relatives gatherings, rickety morning walks, grouping with other ladies and go on pilgrimage, bitch about DILs, gossip about other friends who are absent. But I am a non-conformist kind of person. I read too much I don’t watch any TV serials in any language, I don’t read newspapers, except glance headlines. I don’t argue on politics.
People ask me how I spend my time . I am amazed – I reply . where is the time? At 60, my life is too full. I don’t have enough time to do things I want to do. I have too many books to read. Too may pages to write in blogs. Too many activists are clamoring for my participation.
And now my new passion Garden.!!
Looking back, I always considered myself a eco-friendly person. The Tamizh upbringing, where one does not waste stuff, where one used cow-dung for clearing floors in childhood, where one’s nana had a small farm , but a delightful one. No purchase of vegetable was heard of those days. The holidays were spent in village with carefree roaming around orchids and fields.
All that was lost when we came to Hyderabad and lived in cramped dwellings. But the lifestyle was embedded in the daily routine. The use of shikakai for hair, the haldi besan routine etc.
When our own house materialized we were the first one to find water harvesting in the colony way back in 1985. It has paid back handsomely.. We are the activist when people let water over flow from tanks. I had made some enemies in the neighborhood. Trees are not allowed to be cut in our street without me getting upset and fighting for the tree.
Consciously we built a modest house with much inconvenience. We refused to pave our compound ,we wanted the rain water to soak the surroundings. We wanted our dog to have enough cool surface to roam about.We planted trees in the compound, Coconut, Bougainvillea and what have you. We watch the birds from our bedroom. The mornings are started by bird calls. I don’t have to look at the clock for time. I can hear them outside my window.
The birds that flock the house, the bats that eat the sapota fruits, the cuckoo that sing thought out, the parrots that scream daily, the seven sisters that build nest and screech , the cats that lurk for the eggs, the bul -bul that nest,.. the tailor bird, the kabutars . this is kind of magic.
The auto drivers who bring me from the city, always exclaim. “Kitna achi area hi madam!!!.”
I think we accomplished what we wanted. A quiet place to rest. Our house is restful, meant for about 4 adults. . We have almost all the conveniences and less space. But the garden is lush green. The ground floor is dark in winter , but , we don’t mind . All through the years, the terrace was left alone. Not enough time to visit ,giving husband his usual chance to take a dig that I don’t even step out on the terrace.
I had the excuse of aches and pains when I had to carry soil filled pots, so the balcony had a few Rose plants which grew and grew. After retirement, the idea of growing vegetable for self consumption grew more. The compound was full of fancy leaves and indoor plants. But no vegetables or flowers due to lack of sunlight.
I was also uncomfortable with commercial fertilizers and pesticides. I would look at cauliflower and cabbage and wonder how poisonous it might be! I would follow what Nammazhvaar says about the agricultural practices and wish I was in Coimbatore or Pollachi!. I would collect his writings and ponder over them. Feel helpless that I am not doing my share for the eco-system.
But Geek gardener’s blog changed all that.
How I stumbled there I don’t remember but I read through blog pages. I envied him, staying in Bangalore. One can imagine the lush plants in Lalbaug, the seed companies, the availability of bio fertilizers etc
It nagged me for a few days, and it dawned,” why not” , I thought. Some initial spending and it can be possible. Started as a time pass, my passion for non pesticide veggies garden grew.
I went ahead and bought pots, Coco peat, another wonder item, and compost. Bags of it.
Learnt how to start a seed. Then burnt mid-night oil and read through the blogs over the Web. Now my bookmarks are almost bursting.
The problems that cropped up in every step was challenging. I would sleep late worried about what next? And how to combat plant rot, evaporation, seedlings getting wet in the rain etc etc. All my book reading took back seat. I was a late riser with apprehensions about the day,. Now it is the wish to get up and wait for the dawn to break , to get on to the second floor terrace.!
Another encouraging blog was Raj’s Musings. I learnt so many things from here too. Those pictures gave me courage to grow plants in Hyderabad heat.
I would get up early morning and stare at all the seedlings. The terrace looked like a combat zone.
Meanwhile I had to make trips to other cities for days on end.,( actually 15 days). I prayed to God that my domestic help should be careful while watering the seedlings. I used to call my daughter and ask how are the plants and she would assure they are flourishing. I would send a silent prayer.
The transplanting was more daunting. More pots to buy more materials to add. Then came the fertilising job. Where to find organic ones in Hyderabad?. Wish one lived in Bangalore or Dehradun?
Stumbled on Indian Maali and then the friendship with Jeanne. It was a big boost. So here I am . With leaf-miners problems. With scouting for bio-fertilsiers. Bio-pesticides. Thinking of companion plants. experimenting. Composting, Panchagavya At the same time, full of energy , and plans for the garden all the time.
Fun at 60 you say?