Monsoon magic

The year 2009 was a drought year in the country. But this year its been raining and raining and raining. The monsoon arrived on time and though my period in this house is numbered I could not resist the gardening urge. I always buy seeds from all places I visit and I have accumulated quite a few packets that are more than an year old. I planted the okra and coimbatore namakathirikkai (brinjal) seeds . The okra germination was very poor and I could only get a total of around six plants from the whole packet.  Brinjal, I planted only 10 cups. I used paper cups for the seed starting. Six of them are thriving. In additon  I got  the following seeds from Indam online. They were very prompt in sending me the seeds and even added a good cap in the dispatch .  I like their payment mode better compared to biocarve seeds (Planstman seeds). There were four categories  summer rainy, winter rainy all year  and winter. I had a little set back due to damping off and dog damage (of all the things).

  1. Marigold hybrid vaniila – 60 per cent germination (Rs 50 for 10 seeds). I have two growing making them Rs 25 each
  2. Hybrid Zinnia Dreamland mix – 100 per cent germination but lost quite a few to damping off.  Rs 50 down the drain
  3. Coleus rainbow mix – my greatest disappointment; only two of the twenty five seeds germinated.  (Rs 35 for 25 seeds)
  4. Brinjal  Supriya Hybrid . 90 % germination
  5. Coriander multi cut – 100 % germination
  6. Bittergourd  hybrid Rs 25

The cost of the seeds are quite high for the number of seeds  and when even there is one less germinating they should add overages for this. My bitter gourd plants are really looking healthy though I find that in rainy season even seeds from fruits bought at the market grow well and yield well. Otherwise I am happily waiting for the fruits of labour especially for the white marigold to flower.

PS: Unfortunately two dogs who think my house is their abode toppled my seed pans kept on the staircase to avoid direct rain. I lost more of the precious plants. But one lesson I learnt is from the one and only uprooted and de-rooted Zinnia seedling . I just planted it anyway and surprise surprise – it is still surviving and flourishing. So I have left a coleus plant that should cost me Rs 35. (How crazy can I be; should have collected cuttings from various sources).

So guys lessons to be learnt from my experiment

  • Plant those precious seeds costing Rs 50 two at a time.
  • Don’t top water seedlings. It caused the damping off in Zinnia.
  • Well don’t buy coleus – collecting cuttings over time may yield a better mix.

Did I learn from my mistakes? Heck No!!! There I have gone and done it again. I have ordered a batch of seeds from biocarve and waiting for them.

The two survivors of vanilla marigold

The lone zinnia that survived through uprooting

Bye for now


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My gardening escapedes

I live in an independent rented bungalow. I dapple in gardening to achieve peace of mind.  This is an update so far so that I can make fresh updates .

Winter of 2009

I just went and got some seedlings from the nurseries and here are some of the flowers I had at least for the brief winter period brightening up my small garden patch

The petunias, vincas and dianthus flowered through to summer and lasted really really long. I love the coloured vincas. One thing I have found about Vincas is that moist soggy soil is no no . They thrive in poorer soil with ample sunlight and adds such colour to the garden. But buying annual plants is a costly affair and I would much rather prefer to spend the money on seeds.

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Passion for the prickles: My visit to Ekambarakanan

Treasure house for cactus lovers/ cactophiles

Striking good looks and flamboyant flowers have endeared cacti and succulents to many a plant lover. Every cactus lover should undertake a pilgrimage to the Mecca of cacti growing at Bhubaneshwar. Not many would be aware that the Regional plant resource centre at Bhubaneshwar boasts of the biggest collection of cacti and succulents in Asia- a mind boggling 1050 species of the prickles, Globally, we have only 2500 species belonging to 93 genera. The collection at RPRC is remarkable when you take into account that no cacti is native to India. The institute is doing research on taxonomy and conservation of these desert plants in addition to many other medicinal and aromatic plants. They have standardized techniques of grafting delicate cacti on hardy wild species to improve survival and growth.

When you walk through a series of well established glasshouses, you will see flame red Echinocactus rubbing shoulders with the soft yellows of the Gymnocalicium. The rare pebble like Lithops sp is sure to increase the heartbeat of a cactophile. The riot of colours- whites, yellows, pinks and purples in such an inconspicuous thorny plant will surprise even the lay stroller. Twisted, knotted, hairy, thorny, each species is unique in beauty, colour and feel.

For the avid collector, plants are on sale including grafted rare species. When you have had your fill of these prickly beauties you can stroll through the adjoining Ekambarakanan filled with sprawling greenery and take a boat ride on the placid waters of the adjoining lake.

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The price we pay for urbanisation

The road to our office used to have these huge banyan trees forming a bower. It was a great place to stop for a tender coconut. Now in the name of broadening the road we have lost every single tree on the road. My daughter is very up set by these tree cuttings and wrote a wonderful peice on this. Since it never got selected for publishing I would like to share with you all her article


And daughters grow

About the mother –tree, a pillar’d shade

High over-arch’d, and echoing walks between”

Milton, Paradise Lost, ix, 1101.

Half the bower during the cutting process

In the famous book by Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe made his house in a banyan tree. In yet another book “The chronicles of Thomas Covenant” the huge city of Revelwood was built out of a single banyan tree with multiple trunks that occupies an entire valley. In Bhagavat Gita, Lord Krishna refers to the banyan tree as a miniature forest and home to many living things. Many a story has been inspired by, and under this huge tree. But where does it stand in the hands of the forward marching, urbanizing man? These huge trees grow from a teeny- weenie seed and it takes several years for it to become the huge, beautiful tree that gives food, shade and shelter to squirrels, birds and other creatures. But in hours, it is cut down for road widening, building construction, flyovers etc., in the name of development (and pollution). We not only murder the tree but jeopardize the many animals and birds sheltering in it. The PVN Rao express highway in Hyderabad is planned for an astonishing 11.5km and to erect two pillars that hold it up, an average of ten trees are cut. Already the number of pillars runs to around 120 and we are only half way through. The picture shows a bower of banyan trees being cut down for road widening. It was so disheartening to see the shady enclave disappear in a day. We used to stop under the shade on a hot sweltering day for a cool tender coconut. Of course the city needs wide roads coz more cars can run faster. But are we doing the right thing? The least one can do is that for every tree cut, we plant five trees elsewhere in the surroundings to compensate for the loss of greenery.

Anusha Shanker

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Hello world!


I am an agricultural researcher and a naturalist. I have a keen interest in the world around me and in a whole array of things that may not come under a single category. So I am naming my blog “my home my love”. Here I will be blogging on my life in general, my interests and some key tips I have learnt by experience that may help others like me. So guys let the blog roll on music, gardening, kids activities, art,  cooking and every day problems or whatever that makes our lives so wonderful. Let me start with a link to a song that will aptly describe life as I view it. Its a famous malayalam song and I am not a mallu.

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