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Gardens are not made by singing "Oh, how beautiful," and sitting in the shade. - Rudyard Kipling

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Monday, October 11, 2021

Eggs on the plant

Last year, a neighbour had shared a couple of eggplant saplings with us - six to be exact. Since the season was good, it was somewhere in the monsoon months, all six plants loved and gave us a lot of fruits, in the next couple of months. The trend has continued, and over the period of time, we've increased the count to around a dozen, today, the old ones, still fruiting, the new ones, getting ready to bloom and best white, oval fruits, with a glossy skin.

The eggplants we have appear to be extremely efficient in their pollination as every flower that blooms, bears fruits, and So far, in the past year or so, I am yet to see flowers that didn't turn into fruit.

From this experience, I can say that the eggplant is an easy going vegetable plant that can give good results even in small pots or grow bags. Just that it needs heavy nutritious feeding around the time it blooms and bears fruits, which mostly happened, for the plants I have twice a year, the first time starting September - November, and the second time around March - April. None of the old plants died, new did came up from the seeds that were harvested and later sown in more posts and bags. 

The plants took around 3 months become mature enough to start blooming and bearing fruits from the very delicate seedling phase I received them in around July, last year. In all, the egg plant is a hardy no-fuss vegetable that's easy to grow. What you make from the fruits you get is up to you. From what I know, eggplants are not so versatile to be added in every dish, but then there are a lot of finger licking recipes that do use eggplants, a lot.

It takes a flower around 7 to 10 days to become a harvest ready fruit, beyond which, seeds will start developing and it'll become harder. A good test of the eggplant fruits to check if they're good enough to be harvested is to grab them in your hands and try pressing them a little. While they are firm and still soft to press, it's ready to be harvested. Since these come in a lot of sizes, and shapes, small egg like size and shape, longer ones like elongated balloons, bigger ones are also there. While you can find eggplants in three-four different colours, white, violet/purple, green and a combination of green-gray, most often you'll find the bigger ones to be in purple/violet colours, green/gray ones a bit smaller, longer ones available in green, violet and white colours, and the smallest ones in violet and white.

The eggplant bears the smaller fruits usually in bunches of 2 to 4, since the flowers bloom too close to each other. The bigger ones usually grow farther.

The plants need to be fed a high amounts of nutrients, around the time of flowering and fruiting. The more the merrier. Since the plant blooms continuously in tranches, you should keep in mind that it needs to be fed regularly, or the fruits will start reducing in size. For a well fed plant, the first fruits define the kind of produce you should be expecting. Any decline in the numbers or size should be an indicator of low nutrients in the planting medium.

I am not very fond of these as a potential vegetable which would feature as a favourite in my personal must haves food list. So, while I try to avoid it, you can't really say no to something you've grown and harvested yourself.

And finally, you see here the yellow eggplant fruit. Yellowing is nothing, but just ripening of a fully matured fruit. As it grows beyond the harvesting age, and since you did not harvest it, the fruit starts hardening quite and yellowing also starts, and goes on until the fruit completely turns yellow. At this stage, you should let the fruit stay om the plant for a good enough time. A month or anything longer is just fine. If you want to save seeds, you can simply take the fully ripened fruit from the plant, put in a long vertical incision in the fruit, and let it out in the sun for a couple of days, for the fruit to dry up, and give away the seeds itself.

Monday, September 20, 2021

White rainlily timelapse

Camera has been one of the greatest inventions of mankind. Over the years, there have been more and more new additions to features cameras bring in. Time lapse, Slo-mo's (slow-motion), and Super-slo-mo's are some of the  brilliant feature additions, especially in mobile phones. I started off this blog, around 8 years back, with a lower-mid range smartphone camera itself. Things have progressed so much. There are a lot of things that we normally miss out in real life, but these tend to be so much better, when observed through, with the help of technology.
Time lapse videos are one such way. It helps capture the nature at its natural pace, and then helps us relish the beauty we would've otherwise missed in real life, just because we do not have too much time to see nature in action at the pace it likes. Things like a seed germinating and becoming a seedling, a flower blooming, do come out absolutely astonishingly when viewed through a time lapse video. I have done time lapses for a lot of my plants, but the longest ones have been under 4 hours, and around 10 hours otherwise. The latest in the series of timelapse videos was a morning time capture of a bunch of rain lilies blooming. 

Rain lilies are absolute beauties of nature. They mysteriously pop-up around rainfall, and thus the name - rain lilies. The bushy plant loves water, but not a soggy kind of soil. It does extremely well in sandy soil which let's water drain fast, and isn't too needy of nutrients, or care. White, yellow and pink ones are some of the most commonly available rain lily varieties available. While all can be grown from their bulbs, just like other lilies, the yellow rain lily possess this unique ability to produce seed pods, that could be used to grow and propagate new plants from seeds.
Leaving you here with the white-rain lily time lapse video, with the hope that you'll enjoy the view. I'll be back with more updates from my garden in the coming week, along with an important announcement, due in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

And then, there were five!

It's been quite some time since I posted in here. Life changed, over the past few years, and things took control of me and my time, so, even though I still have the same amount of passion I used to have all those years back - for gardening, the time to share updates here, is somehow lacking! But then, I have kept the blog up and running, without any changes whatsoever, to anything that set us apart, from the others, so that I could have a place, if I ever chose to come back and share my love for gardening with other fellow gardeners. Here I am, still, doing the thing I do best - gardening on my third-floor rooftop, in the small space, in containers, trying to make the most of whatever I have.As I already said, my passion and love for gardening never took the back seat, even though, my blogging did. Here I am, trying to revive my gardening blog, to share updates about where my rooftop gardening journey has lead me, in all these years.

The past year and a half has been rough on almost all of us, and I really do hope I find you and all of your well in your places. For anyone, with whom things didn't go that well, I hope things work out good soon. A few months from now - we, here in India, faced one of the biggest challenges thrown at us by this pandemic. Things looked bleak, and with news of the wracked system, apathy of the establishment, sympathy from fellow humans, and above all, the helplessness of all of us as an individual, and collectively as a society, pouring in from almost everywhere, for me, it used to become extremely hard, and even while writing this, my fingers are trembling at the thought of it. Some days, it would particularly become hard to even sleep at night, let alone, concentrate on work (the one, I do for a living) during the day, when we all were locked up in our homes, for the sake of our lives, and yet, someone or the other would come up requesting for a leave for themselves, or their family members, someone else would request help in locating medicines, beds, oxygen cylinders, oxygen supplies, ambulances, and anything and everything we took so casually.
Particularly on these hard days, during day, I would move up to my rooftop garden, to try and find some solace in my plants, which, I know won't talk back to me, but, would really help calm down the waves of thoughts going on in my head. My plants did a lot to get me over it. It was a really depressing situation.

With the last a year and a half, we have restricted our movements outside, so there were hardly any new members in my rooftop garden. With the pandemic eased out these days, I was craving to get in some new plants, and around this time, what better than adding some exotic winter flowers in my garden for quite some time now. The last winter's exercise went haywire and resulted in a total loss of a bunch of tulip bulbs I had ordered online, from a famous plant supplier stores, that did break me up quite a lot. Besides being costly, I wasn't even able to see even a single flower, out of a bunch of five tulip bulbs I had bought for 450, worst of all, all my efforts to save the bulbs failed, as the last of the bulbs rot out in the moist coco-peat I stored them in.

This time around, since winter is almost round the corner, I again got some new members. There's a new Yellow Allamanda creeper that I got a couple of months back, and another bleeding hearts plant, that I got roughly a week back, and its appears to have settled down well in the new home. Just yesterday, I received a package I ordered containing some asiatic lily bulbs, gladiolus bulbs, freesias, and a couple of seeds including cypress vine, that I have been trying to get my hands on for a really long time, just that I couldn't get the red and white ones, but was lucky enough to get the pink one, at the least, and a couple of other seeds, that I plan to sow soon as this is one of the perfect seasons to get in new plants and sow new seeds, as there is neither too much heat or cold, and there are still frequent rains in this part of the country these days, which make it much favourable for the plants to survive the initial replanting shock, and for seeds to germinate well.

Growing Medium

As of today, I have planted the asiatic lily and gladiolus bulbs, the lilies came in well germinated, so luckily it won't really take too long to grow into green plants, which I can't wait to share with you all. The first step was to prepare the growing medium. The soil I have with me is primarily clayey soil that holds water for a good amount of time, and with most of my earthen pots ageing, I have not been pruning their roots too often, or trying to remove old soil, and replace it with new one, as I could end up with a lot of damaged pots to replace. The growing medium mixture I made was a mixture of around 35-35-30 (35 parts of coco-peat, 35 parts of soil, and 30 parts of vermi-compost, mixed well together, after wetting the powdered coco-peat with water.) For now, I will leave you with the pictures of bulbs I have planted today.

Asiatic lily bulbs
Asiatic lily bulbs

Asiatic Lily bulbs sown

All the five gladiolus bulbs sown together

I'm eagerly waiting for all the bulbs to grow and start blooming, which should start happening in the coming couple of months. I'm too excited for that to happen, as my previous experience with the asiatic lilies and gladiolus has been great. You can check out my earlier posts from around four years back on the Asiatic Lilies here and here and gladiolus that featured a number of times, in 2014, 2015, and 2017 - here, herehere and here. I know, it's been a really long time since I posted anything here, but, in the coming weeks, I'll try to be regular, as I try to revive this blog, and share the updates on a regular basis, on what's happening back here, in my garden. I have got a lot to share with you all!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Birds in my garden