Archive for May, 2009

24
May
09

Pests, potatoes and petunias

God made all creatures – even the slimy green crawlers that frequent my cabbage leaves – for some reason, I suppose. Every morning I start out with my trusty chopsticks and hunt out these slimy worms that make my cabbage leaves look like minefields. Today, I picked them up gently and deposited them on the ground at the diagonally opposite corner of my house. The average length of this green worm is 1 cm, assuming that the distance that it travels per step is half its body length of 0.5 cm, and I place them 25 meters or 2500 cm away, the number of steps each worm needs to take to re-reach my cabbages will be 2500/0.5 = 5000 paces. Considering the obstacles that that it has to overcome, including a compost box, a net, an outdoor storage cupboard and various objects – I thought to myself with glee:  my dear worm, if you manage to make  your way back to my cabbage patch, you have earned it! Go for it. I only hope that God has not given these worms the homing instinct as in pigeons!

My main veggie patch looks this now.

My vegetable patch today

My main vegetable patch

In place of the harvested radish, I have planted “edamame” or soya beans. After harvesting “komatsuna” I have planted Okra, my favorite vegetable. The potatoes to the left are probably ready for harvest. The leaves are turning yellow and I tentatively scraped the ground around one of the plants to find some lovely potatoes peeping out. Since this is the first time, I’ll get my daughter Maya to pull out the first of the potatoes on a trial dig. The carrots too seem to be maturing, but I have no idea when to pull them out! Broccoli is probably ready ready for harvest.

In the meanwhile, I found that the best way to save time I use for removing weeds is to dig and create a flower bed! So I now have another flower bed that I have turned into a herb garden. Here are my beds:

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Beans – back; eggplant – front row Sugar snap – back; okra – front row

 

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My new herb garden                    New flower bed – Balsam, aster, iris

 

The creation of a new bed at a place that was infested with weeds and stones was back-breaking work; but the satisfaction upon completion was tremendous, knowing that maintenance henceforth would be minimal I wouldn’t have to waste as much time in disposing of weeds again.

I transplanted the following herbs from my planter to my small herb garden:

Fennel, sage, yarrow, oregano, rosemary, soapwort, thyme, lavender, lemon balm

In the other new flower bed, I planted Balsam and aster that I had grown from seeds purchased in India; and German iris that were presented to me by my good friend, Utiyama-san. I await with eager anticipation the aster and Balsam blooms. I have no idea what the flowers would like like!

I had my daughter do a trial dig of the potatoes since some of its leaves had turned yellow. We got about six decent-sized potatoes and about five to six small ones. At lunch, we cooked it and when steaming hot, cut each into four halves, placed a small dollop of butter at the center, and added some salt to taste. I tried out a little chat masala too, and the taste was “simbly incredibul” as some of my dearest friends down southern India would say! I’m looking forward to harvesting the rest of the potato plants (seven).

This year I have planted flowers at the corners of each row of vegetables – mainly so that the flowers would attract insects and they add color to the vegetable patch. Here are some of the flowering plants I placed at the corners:

 

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Petunia  Mini-sunflower

 

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Salvia (sunflower behind) Dahlia

                    

I was also delighted at seeing new leaves on some cuttings I had planted around March – I had almost given up hopes on the Daphne Odora, but several of them sprang up new leaves to my delight. Was also successful with my favorite plant, Hydrangea.

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Daphne Odora cuttings (front)
Japanese Photinia (back)
Hydrangea (from cutting)

 

Other flowers in bloom in my garden today are:

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Geraniums in profusion    Azalea

 

I’m afraid I waited too long to harvest the broccoli; I harvested them up today. Well, you live and learn!

Broccoli

Broccoli – delayed harvest?

Finally, an update on my curry leaf plants. There’s still no change in the cuttings I planted in – hold your breath – February! Should I give up on them?

The photo (right below) is a quiz for you, dear reader? I found this plant with small white flowers growing out of a crack. I’m not sure what flower it is; I do hope some of the experts will assist me in this one. 

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Curry leaf cuttings                   Mystery plant – what is it?

 

OK – here are two more closeups of the mystery plant. The flower has petals that are small at the top and large at the bottom.

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Mystery plant – 1 Mystery plant –2

 

Finally,  I leave you with a photo of the lovely roses that my friend Utiyama picked from his garden and presented to me. He’s already sold me on the rose idea – I’m planning to plant roses next year!

Roses

                                              Fragrant roses

Happy gardening!

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04
May
09

Violas and chopsticks

A pair of chopsticks is my indispensable gardening tool. I am never without it when I step into my little garden.

CIMG0097 

Please pull me up – I’d like to be as tall as my sisters and see the view”

I can almost hear the little viola say these words to me when I approach the planter. I bring out my chopsticks and gently pull up the little viola. I can hear the little sigh of happiness from the viola.

 

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Violas standing erect and overlooking the garden

I use chopsticks to:

Pull out weeds

Pull out unwanted weeds

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Create a hole and plant a small seedling

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Take away dried leaves and other unwanted object from pots

 

And perform a host of other jobs, such as inserting a chopstick through the hole at the bottom of a polyester pot to work loose a new plant for transplanting, remove pests such as green worms from cabbage leaves, pick up small seeds and sow them, mark lines on the soil and even use them as props for small seedlings! The disposable chopsticks are an indispensable weapon in my armory of garden tools.

I was also delighted to see my first flower of the potato plant! 

 

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Flower of the potato plant

I planted the clover seeds in autumn last year after reading that they improve the soil on which they are grown.

Clover

Clover – an ethereal quality

They possess an ethereal quality and I love their elegance. I’m not sure how to make best of these after the flowering season is over. Do I allow them to dry out in place and bury them?

 

Peach

 Peach tree – is that a fruit?

The peach tree that I planted last autumn flowered and I was surprised to find a fruit too! Does such a small plant yield fruits? It is less than a meter in height from the ground.

 

Geraniums

Geraniums – white and red

In the meanwhile, the small bed that I made especially for geraniums at the corner of the house has burst out in red and white!

Y, T and T

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

I was delighted to find the first bloom of the fragrant flower with the cryptic name Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in my planter on the balcony. The flower is now purple, but over time it is likely to turn white.

 

Blueberries

Blueberries

The first blueberries up for grabs! Looks like this time I’m going to have some blueberries. I planted six of these last year – three belonging to the Hi Bush variety and three to the Rabbit Eye variety.  And yes, that is the price tag. The Hi Bush is the most expensive plant in my garden.

 

Carrots

 Carrots

The carrot plants seem to be doing fine – although I have no idea how to know when to harvest the carrots. This is the first time I have sowed carrots and that too from seeds purchased in India in February this year. The primrose (pink) plant next to the carrots are dwarfed by the pot marigold plants. I have decided to move the primroses to a different location.

Finally here’s the latest view of my veggie patch.

 

Veggie patch

Veggie patch as in the first week of May

After harvesting the komatsuna in the foreground, I have planted four Okra plants. I also planted a colorful dahlia at the corner. The empty space in the middle row will soon be occupied by a different vegetable species – this is where I harvested the small red radishes.

And to end this post, here’s the colorful Dahlia!

 

Dahlia

Happy gardening!

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