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.

seedlings 2013 01016th August in rains 02016th August in rains 01516th August in rains 00816th August in rains 004late august 2013 033late august 2013 032late august 2013 027late august 2013 029late august 2013 021late august 2013 00420130903_08140020130907_07473620130907_07311420130907_07272620130907_07262620130907_07231320130907_07185320130904_070833sept 2013 after recopying 345sept 2013 after recopying 328sept 2013 after recopying 32120130914_09050620130913_175425002 001

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.

papaya!! 003

summer heat 2013 010 summer heat 2013 011 summer heat 2013 012 summer heat 2013 013 summer heat 2013 025 summer heat 2013 026 summer heat 2013 031 summer heat 2013 032 summer heat 2013 033 summer scanty garden June after rains 2013 001 June after rains 2013 004

Whatever this plant is, it is relishing the drink.

summer heat 2013 036

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.

2013-04-11 07.38.32

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.

2013-03-15 12.08.192013-03-15 12.08.002013-03-15 12.05.562013-03-15 12.05.202013-03-15 12.05.132013-03-15 12.05.08

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.

horticultural show hyderabad 2013 024

horticultural show hyderabad 2013 031

horticultural show hyderabad 2013 030

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,.:-)

horticultural show hyderabad 2013 059

horticultural show hyderabad 2013 086horticultural show hyderabad 2013 084horticultural show hyderabad 2013 080horticultural show hyderabad 2013 079horticultural show hyderabad 2013 077horticultural show hyderabad 2013 075horticultural show hyderabad 2013 072

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!
horticultural show hyderabad 2013 049horticultural show hyderabad 2013 048horticultural show hyderabad 2013 047horticultural show hyderabad 2013 075

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.
horticultural show hyderabad 2013 092horticultural show hyderabad 2013 091

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.
horticultural show hyderabad 2013 035horticultural show hyderabad 2013 139horticultural show hyderabad 2013 138horticultural show hyderabad 2013 132

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.
horticultural show hyderabad 2013 070horticultural show hyderabad 2013 068horticultural show hyderabad 2013 061horticultural show hyderabad 2013 060

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.
horticultural show hyderabad 2013 152horticultural show hyderabad 2013 151

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 , , , , , | 113 Comments

Hyderabad bloggers Meet 2013

HBM Logo

yes, it was an awesome event,yes it was at an elegant place. Yes we met lots of new bloggers, young and enthusiastic, wise beyond their age, writing poetry at the drop of hat and reciting with passion. Young ladies, brimming with literary talent and wanting to get their work published. Experienced bloggers giving tips on how to go about the business. Yes I am describing the enjoyable event that was Hyderabad Bloggers Meet 2013.

itc kakatiya

It was held in a cosy room , at a grand venue, ITC Kakatiya Hotel, in a prime location, Begumpet. The very entry into the elegant place adorned with tasteful paintings lining the stair case and lobby, elevated the participants’ moods to a sophisticated experience.

Hyderabad blogger meet 002

Thank you ITC Kakatiya

The ambiance in the lobby and the Boardroom set to the exacting standards of the Hotel, and the gracious staff assisting the bloggers to settle down in comfort was to be experienced to be believed.

Hyderabad blogger meet 009

I was already acquainted with the early arrivals so the mood was one of friendship and fun. Bhavana Nissima who came from Chennai, for the second time to meet the Hyderabad bloggers was busy clicking photographs and meeting the arrivals. Thanks you Bhavana, for gracing the occasion and spreading your charm. She was also busy here tweeting the event to other bloggers in India.

Hyderabad blogger meet 004

It was a pleasure to meet Desi Traveler in person,(seen with Bhavana in the above picture), who blogs at discovering places ,capturing them in words and pictures,sharing them with his readers.

Our main Organiser , the calm and cool Subhorup DasGupta and his charming wife Madhavi Padma were early too, and immediately settled down to getting the stuff ready. He was here there and everywhere to see to the smooth conduct of the Meet. Another famous blogger and travel writer Anuradha Goyal arrived almost immediately, sat down to discussing the finer points of the meet. Thanks to Anuradha Goyal , the Hyderabad Bloggers could meet at such an elegant and convenient place.

Hyderabad blogger meet 005

Meanwhile Satish ( and too was busy , lending his boundless energy to the event. One needs to hear and feel his presence to get caught in his positive energy, and his simplicity. Many amazing young Tech bloggers graced the occasion. It was wonderful, to witness the humility and the enthusiastic participation.

young bloggers

(image courtesy Satish CoolPCtips and Desi Traveler) All tech bloggers, Satish Kumar – CoolPCTips , Sampath Bhoompally– Gaming Garage, Sai Kumar – Cruchy hub ,Pavan Somu Geek And Blogger, Koundinya – Koundeenya – )

Satish’s talk on SEO best practices can be accessed here courtesy Subhorup Das gupta …Very interesting,at times daunting to me. I learnt words like Do follow, no follow, position, optimize, rank, inbound link, Trust Rank, Meta Page, SERP, spider crawls, Panda, Penguin being used with different meanings. Spiders will never be the same again for me.:-)

The talk by Anuradha Goyal was interesting to an armchair traveler, like me. She discussed on how to write, and what to write. One has to find their passion, self discovery , niche , and rest falls into place. She is also one of the top reviewer of books in India, and has a huge collection of books. She graciously offered her library for our use with a promise of peace and some tea thrown in. Very tempting.

Anuradha also wears another hat. She is currently an independent Innovation consultant and can help organizations incubate new groups, setup innovation platforms, define innovation strategies and roadmap. I was enriched meeting and hearing her.

Another discussion about authors, E books and self publishing , involved the budding authors and poets. Shankari Sundaram of Oh, I juggle! who came with a sleeping baby on her arms, started off the discussion, suitably followed by Linda Ashok (NotMenButPatriarchy), Madhur Chadda(Mr Unreasonable) and NVL Sateesh Life, Physics, and Philosophy, Debdatta Sahay and Anuradha Goyal . The discussion veered around self – publishing for wannabe authors, problems in editing, book launches, E-books, copy right violations and publishing in U tube.

After a brief interval for variety of snacks provided by the ITC Kakatiya, , we had chance to meet fellow bloggers and exchange notes since last meeting. It was nice to meet Gautam Dhameja again.

Hyderabad blogger meet 018

Ratnakar Sadasyula who is active on Twitter @scorpiusmaximus, FAcebook, Telugu Patalu, History, Quora, and blogs at – Sleepless in Cyberia –, was the next speaker.

Image courtesy Subhorup DasGupta

Ratnakar touched upon Social media activism and the evolving trends. HE stressed the need to bring in changes effectively by using the social media and attain wider reach for causes which makes a difference to the society. The Executive Chef, who is also a blogger and social media enthusiast took an active part in detailing his experiences. There were lot of discussion on the subject and ways to go about achieving the goals. It was also decided to take this effort further after due planning.

Hyderabad blogger meet 026

P.Sekar with Bhavana

Thereafter , it was fun time where in the gifts brought by us all, were distributed by picking out random numbers. The books, DVDs and the Haiku calendars, lovely posters, Diary,coffee mugs , lots of sample tea packets (from Blend of tea, our logistic partners) and a lovely bag were given away amid cheers. Needless to add that I got that lovely bag.

bag 001

Our Giveaway sponsors Big Basket .com ,distributed gift vouchers to the participants. I have already placed orders for getting the items delivered at my doorstep.Thank you Big Basket.


We received some lovely T-shirts and a pretty cap from Maxthon , our Technology partners.

Links :

Posted in activist, HBM 2013, Hyderabad meet | Tagged , , | 89 Comments

It’s All Matter of Choices

A rose and a beautiful photograph with beautiful thoughts. How can I not reblog?

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Oh.. I wish this facility was here!

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

A gardener with a large heart

(courtesy Bhavana Nissima)

“Did you know that while some trees give shade, some can also reduce noise pollution with their thick foliage? One such tree is Chameli whose tree forms a natural sound barrier. Did you know Amirtha creeper can naturally boost your immune system and is now much sought after by pharma researchers? Well all these plants and many others grow in a park just outside his house. Each one of the trees and herbs planted and tended by him.”

Please read more about this outstanding person, doing his bit for the earth…

from my friend Bhavana Nissima in “Tilling the Earthwoman”.. here

Posted in flowers, garden, love, nature, Rourkela | Tagged , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

When I am away….

Took a few days off from the daily grind and visited my granddaughter for Deepavali. I had a nice time, went around the town with her, enjoyed her baby talk, and questions, admired whatever she did, be it watching CBeebies or reading scores of books.One thing could not do was to visit the garden related stores or nurseries. It was a family holiday.

On return, I could not wait to see the plants on the terrace. Oh how I missed them ! My helper at home too was excited to show off how she cared for the plants during my absence.

When I was away many of them were busy giving ripe fruits, fresh blooms, and new vegetables. It was a pleasant surprise to see how they have worked their cycle without a bother about me , and gave me a regrettable shock. I was thrilled to see most of them doing fine,though I missed the opening up the Rajnigandha lillies, while they were spreading that heady scent. I also checked on the papaya fruits and flowers. In all, it was a grand welcome.

Here is the sample of some of the varieties.

Lettuce, first crops.

Broccoli first time!

Beefsteak, bending all the time with the weight.

Posted in Brinjal, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Chrysanthemums, flowers, garden, Gourds, growing papaya, organic garden, terrace garden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 99 Comments

City Farming In New Zealand

This a guest post from one of the hugely popular bloggers of Indian origin KayEm ., now settled in New Zealand. She is a versatile writer , taking up serious issues for discussion, putting forward her views in simple and honest

KayEm has authored a book, “Never Mind Yaar” which is published on Amazon and in New Zealand. She is trying to publish, a slightly modified version (with no explanations of Indian terms), soon in India.

Most of us in India think of New Zealand as green and beautiful with gardens and water bodies adorning the country. It is also in news most of the time for the Earth quakes that occur.I for one keep a track of how they overcome these adversities so courageously. I never imagined that they needed to promote kitchen gardening, sustainable gardening and saving on carbon foot prints. Once again , I am amazed at the meticulous planning that is done , with the co-operation of the citizens. Wish we had such initiatives in our leaders and Junta too!!!!

OVer to KayEm

City Farming In New Zealand

The other day I received an invitation. It was from “Sustainability Trust” (ST) – more on the organisation and its various activities at the end of this post.

The invite was to participate in a brain storming session on growing vegetables in NZ cities. One of the reasons ST wants to encourage this is obvious. It would like us to reduce our reliance on foreign vegetables and help reduce NZ’s carbon footprint (petrol used for transportation being the major culprit). Another very good reason is to make individuals as self-reliant as possible. NZ is earthquake prone and after a disastrous earthquake everyone ought to be prepared to survive on their own for at least three days.

After the Christchurch earthquake, the city emergency services swung into action immediately and it was heartening to watch all of New Zealand plus people from all over the world pooling resources to help. The Mayor, Bob Parker, let ordinary people know how best they could help.

The Indian Community put up a (well appreciated) donation effort of our own with donations of food from every Indian restaurant we knew, drinks from Coca-Cola Amatil and entertainment by our Indian kids.

The reason we still have to know how to survive on our own for three days is to be prepared for the worst (if emergency services are not able to reach us immediately.) The NZ civil defence website advises us on storing a survival kit,( ), schools and offices practice earthquake drills regularly, sirens are maintained in prime condition and a lot more is done to help ordinary people stay prepared.

We were looking forward to the Sustainability Trust session because we’d already decided we wanted to try our hand at growing vegetables. If we were getting free advice just before doing so, that was a stroke of luck. As it turned out, the session wasn’t on how to grow vegetables but rather a brain storming session on where to grow them in cities and how to be more visible growing them so that passersby feel enthused about giving it (growing fruit and veggies) a go. ST felt it would be good if people got together and got involved in community gardening through better co-ordination and centralised resources. “Each garden is kind of standing alone at the moment,” said Christina Bellis, community projects manager at the trust. “If we had some more co-ordination, we’d be able to pull independent gardens together and we wouldn’t double up on resources.”

There were quite a few suggestions and the following, probably already being followed by people around the world, are worth a mention.
• Share (or barter) resources with your neighbours. For example, you might want a patch of your garden cleared of weeds and someone else might want to borrow your tools.
• Produce or seed swaps.
• Take a potted vegetable plant to work and grow it at your work station at your office. If your peers could see that growing even small amounts of edibles is creative, fun and rewarding it might enthuse them into growing veggies of their own.
• Children at school to grow veggies and either sell the produce or prepare a dish and sell that – say, once a month.

ST gave us the addresses of quite a few others doing similar work. Here are the names of a couple
 Guerrilla Grafters: You find the spot (on public land – perhaps outside your home) and they’ll plant you a fruit tree! But you need to commit to caring for the tree. (note, no www prefix!)
 Rooftop gardens in Japan: (Amazing set ups. Not much land but efficient use of space.)

We enjoyed our evening at ST. We felt it was rewarding. We’ve planted many vegetables and fruit since that day – cauliflower, spinach, chilli, tomatoes, herbs like coriander, basil and tulsi, Lebanese cucumber, potatoes – plus plum, feijoa, cherry and lemon trees and are delighted with the saplings that have sprung up. We’ve added our own homemade compost – from making a smelly, gooey slop we’ve finally started making decent, sweet-smelling earth. It took us two years but it was well worth the effort. As all gardeners will testify, gardening doesn’t replace having your own kids or pets but it comes a close second!

It is our own garden and not a community effort as yet. First, we need to ensure we do have a green thumb. From next season, perhaps we might get involved in a community effort. There are quite a few benefits. I’ve heard that people are really supportive of one another’s gardening efforts and take a lot of pride in their neighbourhood – another plus for urban gardening.

“Sustainability Trust” advice on a whole bunch of things. Here are a few things, in their own words, that they do – home insulation, e-cycle, home advice, eco shop, warm fuzzies and curtain banks. If interested, please click on their link at

Posted in City farming, garden, New Zealand, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 48 Comments