12
May
13

Memories of my Travel in India

I haven’t posted here since September last year – resuming after a hiatus of more than six months. During this period, I have traveled thrice to India from Japan making Bangalore my base. The photos in this blog mostly cover flowers I have grown at my apartment balcony in Bangalore, interspersed with photos during my trips to New Delhi, Kolkata and Mysore.

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Hibiscus

This is a standard feature in my balcony and blooms regularly in autumn. As of the time of this writing (May), new leaves are coming up but there are no flowers yet.

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Marigold

Had some excellent blooms of marigold in the balcony until a baby monkey climbed on to the ledge and ate up all the flowers! Must have found them delicious!

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Chrysanthemum

These flowers bloomed well while they lasted. I had to return to Japan for a month and when I returned, I was given to understand that the plant dried up and died.

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Brahma Kamala

I got hold of a single leaf, planted it deep in a pot with fresh soil and lo and behold! New leaves grew out of the existing leaf. The plant has grown to about 8 huge leaves as at the time of this writing – and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a huge flower that is said to bloom only at night time – the Brahma Kamala.

I switch over now to some flowering trees of Bangalore. I could not find many large trees full of flowers in Japan except maybe for cherry blossoms, but Bangalore has an assortment of trees yielding various kinds of flowers. Here are a few:

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Flowering trees at street corners – Large red flowers dotting the entire tree on the left and lots of pink flowers on the right

During the flowering season, they bloom profusely and cover the street with a colorful carpet. Amazing sight when the leaves fall!

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Yellow in the park

The yellow flowers in the park where I walk briskly every morning were a feast for the eyes. Lucky I had a camera with me. I presume these are laburnum flowers but I’m not sure.

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Different view of three trees with the yellow flowers

This is another view of these yellow-flowered trees in the same park. A walk through the park with such sights is sheer pleasure!

I made a short two day-trip to Kolkata to attend a friend’s daughter’s wedding at a resort. The Dahlias and other flowers at the resort were a treat to watch.

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Close-up of a magnificent Dahlia

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More Dahlias at the edge of the kerb

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Poppies, stocks and marigolds

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More Dahlias – a sight for sore eyes

During a holiday on an official visit to New Delhi, I visited Lodhi Park and saw some interesting sights.

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Geese on the hunt for food

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Parrot perched on a stone wall

I visited Mysore, about four hours by car from Bangalore, and walked around a lovely lake admiring the sights, the flora and the fauna.

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Grey partridge? I’m not sure.

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Darter or snake bird?

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Egrets

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Painted storks

Finally, here are some jasmines from my balcony – they exude a sweet smell at night when the wind blows.

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Extreme left: A double jasmine – two flowers in well – with double the sweet aroma

Right: Pointed 8-petal jasmine

Until the next post, have a great day!

30
Sep
12

August blooms

I was home in Japan for about three months and spruced up my home garden. Since photos speak a thousand words, let me unfold the photos without much of text.

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Magnificent Rose of Sharon

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Pink and yellows – Soapwort and Chamomile

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White flowers of the Hosta

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Stock (or is it Gladiolus) towering above the Hostas

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Morning Glories growing wild and surrounding the compost bin

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Close-up of Morning Glory

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Another view of the Rose of Sharon

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A slightly different variety of the Rose of Sharon

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Ginger Lily – Just started blooming as I left Japan for Bangalore

The sweet smell of this flower made me reluctant to leave home – the evening breeze would blow and disperse the aroma to the neighbors too!

 

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Indoor plants – overlooking my home garden outside

The nets outside the window hold bitter gourd, tomato and other creepers and give shade during the hot summer months.

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Colorful Lantana

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Blooms of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

These aromatic flowers are purple one day, turn to light blue the next day and become white on the third day. I propagated this plant last year from a cutting.

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Fig and mini tomato

While I no longer have an office garden where I used to grow all kinds of vegetables,  we have started a small vegetable and fruit garden at home. I was delighted with the first fig from a new plant (took about 2-3 years to bear fruit), and it was delicious. Other veggies that we harvested in August were green pepper, mini-tomatoes, eggplant and bitter gourd in small quantities.

 

Until the next post, have a great day!

07
Jul
12

Home garden in Japan

I am back in Japan after about three months in Bangalore, India. Although my office garden has been relinquished, my home garden, I’m happy to say is doing great! There were plenty of weeds all over the place and unwanted plants at odd places; after a few days of hectic weeding, I got the garden in fairly good shape. Here are overall views:

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Overall view of one part of garden

Gladiolus at left corner in full bloom with pink and red flowers. The Day lilies near the fence at the left upper corner contributed to the fragrance. Except for the pink abutilon tree, which died due to mysterious circumstances, all other plants were intact. Click to enlarge and see the different names of plants and flowers.‘

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Another part of my home garden with a few vegetables

Here, I have some Myoga plants, a couple of tomato plants and a couple of eggplants, three green pepper plants and on the net, I have bitter gourd, morning glory that came up from last year’s dropped seeds, two Dahlia Imperialis plants hidden behind the Myoga plants and a few balloon vines climbing up the net against the window. I also expect the Dahlia Imperialis to grow to 2-m height in August and bloom unreservedly.

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Another view of my garden plants

I call the plot in the foreground my “hosta” plot. There are three varieties of hosta with evergreen leaves that bloom with fragrant flowers in late summer. I also expect the Winter Daphne to bloom next February with fragrant white and pink flowers. The toad lily has multiplied – I should take off some of them – otherwise it will spread over the entire plot. Behind the hosta plot is another small plot that I originally used only for herbs. Currently, I have oregano, soapwort (pink flowers), Chamomille and Pink Monarda. White Monarda has just started blooming as I write this post.  The day lilies on the fence gave off a nice smell. The Hydrangea flowers with white and blue are at the back, behind the persimmon tree. The persimmon tree has yielded delicious fruits every year since the last 8-10 years.

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View of the center of the garden

A collection of various flowering plants. This year’s attraction for me was the white Hydrangea grown in a pot at the right top corner and the Senecia Cineraria with white ice-colored leaves that stands out. I also have a fig tree growing in a large pot. I’m hoping to increase the pot size and replant it. The rose plants in pots see to have bloomed while I was in India. I wish somebody had sent me photos of my garden while I was away!

 

Now here are the individual photos of flowers:

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Day lily at the fence

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Pink day lily in a flower pot

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Another view of the day lilies

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Pink gladiolus

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Reddish gladiolus – blooms every year this time

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Another view of gladiolus

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The splendorous Rose of Sharon

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Hydrangea in all its glory

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Closeup of the flower – symmetry in nature
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Another closeup of the hydrangea

At the time of this writing, white Monarda and a different variety of Rose of Sharon were blooming in my home garden. I hope to publish photos of these flowers in my next post. Until then, have a great day from sunny Japan!

28
May
12

balcony garden in bangalore

Since my move to Bangalore last month, I have experimented with various plants, soil, fertilizers available locally, and have learnt a lot through trial and error. A few of my plants died an early death partly because of the poor soil in which they were planted originally, and partly because of my ignorance on the kind of soil and fertilizer I purchased. My gardenia leaves shed off completely, and my geranium also seems to have suffered the same fate. I have stopped using the red mud that a nursery sold me and so also a nameless, unlabeled fertilizer, which burned off the roots of several tender plants.

First, here are some flowering plants that are growing well after I changed the red mud soil to Cocopeat and compost.

Tuberose

Jasmine

This lovely white and sweet smelling flower has given us a lot of happiness! The moment I open the balcony door, I can smell its fragrance. I threw out the original soil, made a mix of Cocopeat and compost and replanted it so that water drainage improved.

Salvia

Salvia

The plant is growing well after transplanting it in Cocopeat mixed with compost, and with the addition of a teaspoon of fertilizer (Agropel – sold for a can costing about Rs. 200 at a shop specializing in gardening materials).

The only problem that I am still facing with this plant is that the small black ants love to assemble within the red flowers and probably strip the insides bare. I have seen these little devils carrying off some whitish stuff from these flowers in a long line that went off the balcony destination unknown. I blew them off whenever I could, but they keep coming back. I also applied some mosquito repellant (only stuff that was at hand) around the pot, and they stayed away. I’m sure the ants will be back after summoning their distant relatives and form a new long line tomorrow. I’ll have to look for some home-made remedies to get rid of these ants and save the Salvia flowers.

 

 

Allamanda

Allamanda

I love this creeper plant. As usual, I transplanted it after buying it from a nursery with my usual Cocopeat-compost combination, keeping stones at the base to drain out water easily. This plant has been growing very well, creepers traveling all over the net and fresh leaves and buds coming up.

There was another small plant growing from the same pot when I purchased it. I had thought initially that there were two Allamanda plants in the same pot; I separated the two planting them in different pots. The small plant is now growing. The leaves seem to be different from the Allamanda leaves. I also see a bud in the plant; once the flower blooms, I will know what kind of a plant it is. Hope it is a flower different from the flowers I have seen until now!

 

 

 

Meanwhile, I bought a packet of tuberose (Rajnigandha is the local name)  bulbs and planted them in a long pot, using a mix of Cocopeat, red mud, and compost taking care to lay a layer of stones at the base before filling in the soil mix so that water drainage would improve.

Soya beans

Tuberose

The growth seems to be good; I’m hoping that flowers will bloom within a month from now. I love this flower because of its heavenly scent, and am eagerly awaiting the flowers.

 

Soya beans

Edamame (Soya)

The Edamame (Soya seeds) that I got from Japan did sprout very fast but after growing to about 100 cm, growth has slowed down. Either the soil lacks the nutrition for the plant or the weather conditions are not conducive to rapid growth, or the size of the pot is inadequate. I hope to set right each of these conditions in the coming days and observe the growth of the plants. Today, I found a soya bean pod in one of the plants. This doesn’t bode well – I have seen bunches of pods coming up at the same time from the main stem!

 

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Jasmine – Belle of India

Another variety of Jasmine is turning out very well with lots of buds just about to open. These flowers are also very fragrant and make the balcony an attractive place to spend time. Petals are fuller and not pointed like the first variety of Jasmine I showed earlier.  Again used a combination of Cocopeat and vermicompost with an occasional feed of AgroPel fertilizer.

Button rose

Rose

The small roses have started blooming at last – this is the first of the rose after replanting to a larger pot with fresh Cocopeat and vermicompost. I find that the soil in the rose planter dries out much faster than other flowering plants, and I found watering it twice a day makes the plant healthier.

 

Allamanda Cherry

Allamanda Cherry

I love the color – reminds me of cherry ice cream. The flower is quite large and seems to remain in bloom for two to three days (maybe more). There are a few more buds behind this flower, and if I don’t cut this off, the buds behind won’t bloom soon!

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

After changing the soil and replanting it, the Bougainvillea plant has also perked up. I’m wondering when to prune it so that there is no adverse effect on the blooms. Time to read and study some more!

 

Jasmine in bloomJ

Jasmine

The sweet-scented and lovely Jasmine flowers bloomed well – until disaster struck. A few monkeys that visited the mango tree just outside my balcony ate up the leaves and flowers, puled out the plant until the roots were exposed and took off!

Monkeys

 

Monkeys on the opposite building after devouring my beloved Jasmine plant
Yes, it was a monkey that created havoc. I have no idea why a Jasmine plant is delicious to a monkey!

I drove them off twice and fixed up a net so that they wouldn’t eat any more of my plants but he damage has been done!

 

Plumeria

Plumeria

I planted two Plumeria seeds not hoping much and wonder of wonders – one of them took root! I wonder how long it would be before it starts giving flowers.

 

Until next time, happy gardening from Bangalore, the Garden City!

26
Mar
12

the move–from Japan to India

The title of the blog should be changed since I am now in India; but for a while I’ll continue to report on the status in Japan as well.

I made the move from Japan to India at the beginning of March because of family circumstances. The move essentially means a switch from square foot gardening to container gardening. Let me continue with where I had left off at my last post while in Japan.

Around the middle of January, I had harvested broccoli, coriander and while I was away to India, my neighbors reported that they had harvested and consumed the cabbages too.

Broccoli

Broccoli

Coriander

Coriander

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New sturdy fencing

I had also torn down the old fence, got hold of sturdy bamboo, cut them to the right size and fixed new fencing increasing the growing area by two more plots.

At this juncture, I was devastated by the passing away of my beloved elder sister in India, and I took the decision to move to India to take care of my elderly mother. In the first week of March, I bid goodbye to my office garden, and to all my neighbors and friends in Japan, and set off for Bangalore, India.

It is now a switch from growing in a field to growing in containers! I have started a small garden in one of my balconies of my second story apartment.

Before I proceed to container gardening, I must mention that Bangalore in the southern part of India, is ideally suited to growing various flowers and vegetables and is often called the garden city of India. Here are a few scenes of a park near my house where I go early mornings to work out lightly and do some Yoga.

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Path for walking/jogging bordered by old trees and numerous flowering bushes

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The park has numerous trees with purple, pink and yellow flowers – one such tree bearing purple flowers which I presume is jacaranda

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Tree with yellow flowers probably the laburnum near the children’s park located within the large park

My early morning workout in this park is invigorating and refreshes me every day.

 

I made a start by visiting a nursery close by and purchasing some flowering plants, pots, soil, compost and some fertilizer – could not find vermiculite, perlite – soil was red in color and very fine; I added some vermi-compost to it and tried to make it a little coarse. Repotted some of the flowering plants that were extremely cheap compared to Japan, but were grown in very poor soil and poorly maintained.

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The start – Gardenia, Hibiscus and Curry Leaf plant in my balcony

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Geranium and jasmine (mogra – the Belle of India)

I am a fanatic collector of sweet scented flowers and picked the jasmine the moment I saw it.

Repotted it and I look forward to lots of flowers.

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Flower seeds from Japan

Although I have no idea whether seeds from Japan generally grown there in spring will give rise to seedlings or not, I planted four varieties of seeds – Periwinkle, Dragonsnap, Helichrysum and Globosa. Time will tell, I guess.

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Four planted varieties

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Moved the flowering plants immediately to the framework in the balcony to make full use of the abundant sunshine.

The hibiscus responded immediately by blooming immediately.

The gardenia plant below the soil had roots that had packed up so densely that it was like a rock. I had to pummel it with a hammer to loosen the soil and cut away most of the dead roots. I repotted the gardenia in new soil mixed with compost; can’ say the new soil is good but at least it should give a fresh lease of life to the poor Gardenia.

I should have pummeled the person looking after the Gardenia instead!

 

 

Plants moved to balcony framework

 

 

Hibiscus

Hibiscus in bloom

I’m likely to add some margolds and grow some radish seeds in the near future. Until the next post, have a great day!

30
Nov
11

November flowers, new seedlings and new Delhi

A rather cryptic title – I’d like to show you all the flowers that bloomed in November, all the seedlings that sprouted and the trip to New Delhi at the end of November (hopefully after publishing this blog).

Here are the flowers that bloomed:

Dahlia

The splenderous white Dahlia

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The majestic rose

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Thriving abutilons

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Dahlia Imperialis – blooming 2 meters above the ground

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Colorul Lantana

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Another abutilon – small red and yellow lanterns

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Chrysanthemums in profusion

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Chrysanthemum of a different color in bloom

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Kochia Scoparia – a bushy plant that changes color in autumn and resembles a broom in winter (called houkiso in Japanese)

 

Let us look at the winter vegetables now.

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My first square foot bed with four rows of eight plants

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My second square foot bed with 48 onion seedlings

Coriander, spinach and green peas

Third square foot bed with coriander, spinach and green peas

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Fourth square foot bed – cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli

That’s all I have for you in this post, folks, as I leave for New Delhi on official work! Until next time, happy gardening!

28
Oct
11

goodbye to summer vegetables in my office garden

After my last visit to India in September, I experimented with seeds (purchased from India) in my office garden. The results were encouraging for some varieties of gourds.

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Bottle gourd

Successfully grown through seeds. I did not anticipate that the plant would travel all around my square foot plots clinging to every plant and support on its way!

 

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Left: Ridge gourd; Right: Yellow flowers of the ridge gourd

The ridge gourd plant produced abundant yellow flowers all through September/October and the yield was high especially where the plant had climbed on the fence and trellis!

These two vegetables will become a permanent feature next summer in my office garden.

 

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Ridge gourds and mini tomatoes

One of my Japanese friends, Utiyama-san, was happy with to make use of this vegetable after peeling off the skin and removing the seeds in miso soup! In my house, I was happy using these ridge gourds in sambar – my favorite South Indian dish.

In the meanwhile, a strong typhoon played havoc with my fence and flattened my vegetable plants.

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After the typhoon

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Restoration

The damage however, was not severe as none of the plants were uprooted. I restored the fence and the plants and it was back to business as usual. The dense growth on the left side at the front consist of edamame (soya beans). These plants produced beans right up to autumn when the temperatures started dropping; I had two harvests of edamame – one around July/August and one around October. Needless to say, the beans were delicious (we boiled them for about 2-3 minutes; sprinkled a bit of salt and consumed them a little everyday).

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Bitter gourd

We enjoyed a fairly good harvest of bitter gourds too – some turned out to be gigantic. See the ones on the left dwarfing the ridge gourd to the right.

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Harvest of green pepper, bitter gourd, beans, persimmon and edamame

I also hand an incessant supply of green peppers and bitter gourd (the only vegetables I planted in my home garden) throughout summer. The soil in my home garden seems more conducive to growing green pepper and chili rather than the soil in my office garden. The edamame on the right is the amount that I picked everyday for consumption. The taste drops exponentially if you don’t eat them right away!

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Dug up the beds and exposed them to the sun for several days

After the last harvest of edamame, I started preparing the soil for winter vegetables. I used some lime to offset the effects of acidity (from rain) and to retain a decent pH value. The yellow flowers of the ridge gourd can be seen in the photo above.

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Compost and humus to enrich the soil

I used about 20 liters of compost and humus to enrich the soil in each bed, and mixed them up thoroughly digging down to about 40 cm.

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Beds mixed, leveled and ready for receiving seeds and saplings of winter vegetables

I am rather pleased with the soil preparation this time – more compost and less fertilizer should give me healthy organic vegetables this spring.

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Left: Bed with black sheet (to retain heat and moisture in soil in the cold winter)

Right: Planted cauliflower, cabbage, stick broccoli and broccoli (8 each in one row)

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Under the tunnels

Erected tunnels over the cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli plants to ward off insects and worms.

The plan for the winter is:

1) one plot for cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli

2) One plot for spinach, green peas, and two local varieties of peas

3) One plot complete for growing four rows (8 in a row) of onions

4) One plot for fava beans, coriander, radish and spinach.

 

I end this post with a magnificent flower  I picked up by the side of my office plot:

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Until the next post, happy gardening!




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