MLK Quote

MLK Quote

Nature's Inspiration Movie -- Nature's Inspiration Movie: The photographs in this short video are from award-winning photographer, Ken Jenkins, and they are breathtaking. However, this video is much more than beautiful photographs! Peggy Anderson has compiled beautiful quotations from the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, and many others that truly capture the beauty of nature and solitude. Absolute must watch for nature lovers.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Heartbreak and A Dilemma

All my Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower seedlings have died. There were four or five of them each. I will blame it on the funky weather. They were thriving and growing inside. The weather was fantastic with temperatures reaching 50's and 60's; so, I planted them outside and the temperature dropped to 26 degree F. GRRRRRRRRREAT!!! I became so depressed, as you can see, that I even stopped blogging. But every cloud has a silver lining. In midst of all these tragedies, I found that silver lining inside my green-house which at once lifted me out of my misery. Swiss-Chard, Broccoli, Garlic, Beet, Spinach, Celery, Fenugreek, Mustard, Lettuce and Radish are thriving, almost becoming a mini-jungle. And, there lies my dilemma. They are growing so beautifully with full of life and vigor and glossy green leaves that I don't have the heart to eat them. What to do?

Red globular radish on the left; icicle (the big white carrot-looking type) radish on the right. Can you see a red globe of radish poking her head from the ground?

Spinach, Celery and Beet from left to right respectively. I read everywhere that certain plants cannot be transplanted; spinach, radish and beet apparently are those types of plants. But I have had no problems, so far, in transplanting them. I grew them in small plastic growing-pots and then transplanted them.

A bed of Swiss-Chard with some lettuce thrown in the middle on the left; a small bed of garlic on the right. The garlic bed has lots of weeds as you can see. I do not know what they are. They look very pretty and dainty. I let them grow. I have read that these types of ground-hugging weeds can be beneficial; they are acting as live mulch; their roots are protecting the soil and soil structure; also their roots can harbor good microbes and the plants can also add important chemical elements to the ground.

Now, I have to tell you a story, a story that teaches us to give everything a second chance and never give up. I bought two broccoli plants last spring (2011). As they started putting up broccoli head, someone came and ate them. That "someone" not only ate the tiny broccoli heads but also the plants, stems and leaves included. Nothing of the two plants were left except a shriveled leaf-less, brownish mid-stem. You can see that brownish (or off-white) stem in the third picture. I left them those stems in the ground as I do not follow the Bible of most gardeners - picking everything up and cleaning, tidying up the ground. One of those stems rot and died; the other one slowly has become the plant that you are seeing in the picture. It has not only become lush and green but it is even producing lots of heads. A picture of a head is as above, but many more developing on the sides. It is a wonder how that almost dead stem has become this plant. Gardening is not only filling me with awe but it is teaching me all sorts of valuable lessons: patience, without it one simply cannot do gardening - sow a seed and wait for two months for it to emerge out of the ground; discipline to note everything, write down all details and visit the garden every day; dedication - water and feed the plants, take care of the seedlings as you would take care of your babies and old parents; never give up - not only the broccoli plant but many plants, that I have, never gave up; they came back from the verge of death; give everything/everybody a second chance - those plants that were dying or looked like as if they were dying, I didn't pull them out of the ground; I left them there (not because I at that time decided to give them a second chance but as I mentioned before I don't clean up my garden) and they came back from death to amaze me, and I learned my lesson.

Fenugreek...fenugreek...everywhere...and I can't pull them and eat. The dilemma I was talking about. Fenugreek plants are extremely beneficial to health. It is one of the medicinal herb, that was used not only by the ancient Indian and Greek civilization, but it is being still used today by Pharmaceutical companies (to make medicine) and Ayurvedics. Fenugreek-seeds are used as spices; they are available in any Indian Grocery Stores here in the US; they are also available in many supermarkets. The seeds seem to retain potency to germinate even after 5-6 years. I had some old seeds; I scattered them around and they grew. They have an extremely fast germination and growing rate; they germinate overnight and start growing like wild fire. The baby-leaves can be eaten raw in salad; the matured plants can be sauteed lightly with some garlic; the leaves can be dried and used as herb/spice (kasuri-meethi, an important ingredient in many Indian cooking is created by drying the leaves). Can you locate the lettuce plants :-)?

Mustard greens. Mustard seeds are readily available in any Indian stores as they are an important spice in Indian cooking. Again, they are also available in many of the US Supermarkets. Another extremely easy plant to grow. Scatter the seeds (as if you are feeding pigeons); you do not have to cover them up or water them; they will germinate within couple of days. I have read somewhere that mustard plants are used to do environmental cleaning as these plants can absorb all the poisonous chemicals from the ground, like mercury, lead, arsenic, poisonous pesticide, insecticide, etc, and still survive. In that case, the whole plant, stem and leaf included, will be saturated with these chemicals. Thus, it is better to grow your own organic mustard-greens; also, it is better idea not to eat them grown in a field/pot and you do not know if the soil in the field/pot has had any chemical exposure.

And all these plants - broccoli, lettuce, celery, radish, etc, etc - are growing in a small tiny plot as seen in the picture below

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Very Productive Weekend -- Shock of My Life!!

Winter and Spring is playing hide-and-seek. Winter is trying to embrace the land to her bosom in a last-minute attempt with light snow-dust, gusty chilly wind and temperature at night dropping to twenty degree Fahrenheit; but, Spring is winning all the time. Squirrels are chasing after each other, up and down the trees and across the lawns to find a mate and a suitable nesting place; birds are chirping louder and louder; sky is becoming light by around quarter to six in the morning with the sun peeping its head out of the night-blanket by six; crocuses, irises, daffodils and sedums are stirring up beneath the ground and poking their heads, soon to welcome the Spring in their full glory and galore.  Days are gorgeous with bright sunshine and temperature hovering between forty-five and fifty degree Fahrenheit.

It is very difficult for me to stay inside the house now. I am feeling like running wildly around the garden, shouting, just like the birds and the squirrels, but since that would result in me  being forced into a mental-asylum by my neighbors, so I have to contended with working in the garden. Sigh!! I dug out all the grasses from the four raised bed. I don't know why I call them raised beds because they are not raised beds in a typical sense; they are only 6'' in height. I created those (actually my hubby made those) to have a kind-of-border around my vegetables and that my dogs do not run over them. I then covered them up with black garden-sheets to kill weeds, grasses that might be left behind, protect the topsoil from wind and sun and also raise the temperature of the soil. It was really a back-hurting job; my respect for farmers and farm-animals of past years, before the invention of all these farm machineries, got renewed.

HolleyGarden of Roses and Other Gardening Joys and Christina of Organic Garden Dreams is inspiring me to take care of my roses. So, I with the help of my hubby, pruned all the roses and other plants and shrubs; then, I fed my roses and other plants with some organic fertilizers. I need to prune them some more and feed them some more, especially with alfalfa. Hubby build the pea-fence and I planted peas and chitted-potatoes. The not-at-all-impressive green in the second picture below is actually a small potato plant.

But, the surprise and the joy of the day was waiting for me at the compost bin. The compost bin was lying there at one part of the garden for the last one year; I would shove in it all sorts of craps - kitchen craps, weeds, grass cuttings, leaves - anything that can be put inside. I never stirred it. I watered it only twice or thrice. I didn't put any worms or any such beneficial creatures inside it; it was a forgotten, neglected entity. I needed to move it to the back of the garden; since it was too heavy, I had to open it on Sunday, empty out its content so that it could be lifted and shifted. As I started working with it, I got the shock of my life; my jaws dropped open and my mind got blown. Now, you have to realize that I was born and brought up in one of the largest metropolis of the world, with bricks, cements, cars and about twenty million people; to me, nature was that small patch of grass in the children's park. Being a science student, I know theoretically how everything works, how microorganisms decompose everything and bla..bla..bla...but experiencing the process, seeing it in real-life was an other-worldly experience for me. There inside the bin - lo and behold! - dark, rich compost with that earthy smell; no traces of orange, onion, garlic peels, tea-bags, mango-seed, egg-shells, leaves, twigs and branches, weeds, absolutely nothing, N-A-D-A. Rather, it had some worms. How did those get in there!!!??? I have now enough compost to feed my vegetable gardens, and have become very inspired to do more composting :-). So, that was the weekend of March 3 -- March 4, 2012.

Friday, March 2, 2012

There's No Tomorrow

A very gloomy-doomy video to watch but the video is advocating the true message, a message advocated by lots and lots of people, organizations, economists and research scientists. The video should provide more impetus to people to buy locally-grown food, buy food that are in season locally, support organic, local farmers and grow at least some of their own food in their backyard instead of having lawns that take lots of fossil energy to mow.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Leap Day

Yesterday was a special day; comes only after every four years. So, I am writing it now; it would be fun to read on the leap day, after four years in 2016. Hopefully, by that time I will have lots of gardening experiences.

I didn't have any plan to celebrate the day in any special way, but something was nagging me to do it. And celebration can only happen (at least for now; I am wondering how long this will go as I have a habit of not sticking with anything for a long time) if it involves plants and gardens. And, the result is this mini-rose-plant

I got it from the grocery store. It's in a six inch pot and only costs $6.99. I fell in love with the color of the rose. I have seen yellow, pink and red roses, but never this lavender-color rose. Here are two more pictures; the second picture gives a much better picture of the color of the rose.

We also had some light snow yesterday; everything got dusted with snow. Here are two pictures. The first picture is part of our garden and as you can see it so barren. It only had those evergreen trees, planted by previous owners I don't understand the obsession of people with these types of evergreens. Okay, it gives some green during winter but why use evergreen everywhere. The green can be achieved through Hollies, many types of Azaleas, Rhododendrons, plants with unique characteristics; screens and hedges can be created through edible landscapes, using various edible native berry plants. Human beings and animals, both can enjoy the trees and the fruits. So, I am trying to give some characteristics to the garden. I am creating raised beds; beds for strawberries and herbs; planting fruit plants, flower plants, vines; hanging baskets, propping up pots here and there. The process has started. The second picture shows some of the raised beds with the snow dusting.

The tree in the middle is a pear tree. The fruits are really sweet but we never get to eat them as they are destroyed by birds and squirrels.