Saturday, October 23, 2010

EMG: Sun Rose, Sun Plant, Table Rose

Do you have a space in your balcony which receives some sunlight. Would you like to add a wonderful array of colors to the garden with minimum effort. Would you like to keep the plant small and tidy and would you like this color to just pop up every day. Well then one of the best choices for you would be the Sun rose or table rose. I am still trying to confirm if the correct name for these are Helianthemums. This plant grows very well in regular or hanging pots. They do not need very big pots to grow as they do not spread their roots very much. They toil everyday and produce flowers which bloom during the day and close by evening. Next day a fresh bunch will bloom. You can find them in different colors orange, red, pink, magenta and accordingly decorate your garden with them. They are not very fussy about water requirements and definitely prefer being watered less than over watering. Use soil with sufficient drainage and do not allow the base to be wet or retain water. Make sure these folks get sunshine for a couple of hours and your balcony will be filled with radiant colors.  The flowers are small, about a couple of centimeters in diameter but the density is what really adds the color.  You can plant them in groups in the same pot to compliment each other too. I have noticed that weeds grow profusely in pots with these plants and casues degradation in plant quality over time. Carefully deweed the pot and add some flowering agent monthly if you think the density of flowers are going down. A definite addition to the Easy Maintenance Garden (EMG). Some pictures from my collection of these plants.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tomato - At a loss for words

So I am writing this post on my tomato plants. About how unsuccessful I have been with them and my plans to discontinue vegetable gardening. Then this shows up today. The wife has a sharp eye for such things in the garden. I was nothing short of tears when she showed me this.

My first tomato starting to grow.
Dont know how it is going to figure out, but I will cherish this photograph forever. Will provide history of this plant in another post.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Difficult Dahlias

I love to grow flowering plants in containers. The amount of color they add to the surroundings is just amazing. I love to tend to them and watch their different stages of bloom. I have listed out a lot of the flowering plants in my blog under the label "Plants from my Balcony". Most of my flowers can be commonly found in many gardens.
I have been writing a series on Easy Maintenance Garden EMG to get more people who are interested in having flowers in their balconies/gardens but are not sure what to get. Starting with these flowers can help in developing more interest in gardening and slowly you will realize that you are becoming an expert at choosing your flowers and plants. Hopefully more people read the EMG series and put more plants in their garden. As with nature and the law of opposites, there is also plants that are not so easy to maintain.
One of the plants that I am having lot of difficulty with are the Dahlias. I love the variety of flowers that the plant can provide. The plants are a little flimsy but the flowers they produce are just beautiful. I structure of the flower has such elegance about it, such pattern and such color. The first time I saw it in a nursery, I wanted to get it. However, after a few weeks, I noticed some whitish patterns on the leaves. Before I knew it the plant stopped producing flowers and died. I thought I would do better growing Dahlias from seeds. Well, the seeds did sprout and the plants did grow. But after a few flowers, the plants are now looking weak and slowly I can see them fading away. I feed them with sufficient nutrition, and water them well. I do not allow the soil to be wet for long as I read about Dahlias not liking wet feet. But something is not right. Would appreciate feedback from those who have been successful at growing Dahlias. Would like some help?

Meanwhile enjoy pictures of some Dahlias I had earlier.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Magic Potion

I have used chemical pesticides and plant enhancers in the past. Only a couple of times. I realized that these were not dilute solutions, but heavily concentrated chemicals that needed to be handled with extreme care. Since my garden is a balcony garden it makes it all the more dangerous to use such chemicals as it lingers around your breathing space very much. The NPK fertilizers that are used are also heavy on chemicals and are harmful to the environment all the way from manufacturing to usage in the garden.
After realizing the effects of these chemical pesticides and fertilizers, I decided that I definitely would not use them. I realized this early in my gardening experience. Since going organic was the trend, I thought why not join the bandwagon. Especially since it would do less harm to the environment. I started reading about compost and organic mixes and started using them. However, the results were not amazing. My plants did reasonably well but they did not show much vigor in growth. One miss at watering them and I would find them drooping down, threatening to die. The compost was easy to use and I did not have to cover my face or make sure that I was using less than the prescribed amount to make sure that I was not harming either the plants or myself or any apartments around mine. I also like the texture of compost very much. I handle it directly by hand though many people would not prefer to do that. The compost was doing its job but I realized that the plants could definitely look healthier.
So after doing some research I found out about this solution called Panchagavya. It is a age old formula that has been passed down generations . It is as old as the vedas, it is like yoga, ayurveda or siddha medicine which are all early wisdom of ancestors that were recorded millenia before our generation. Various formulas are prescribed for different purposes. Some religious and some domestic. The domestic method of preparation is used to make Panchagavya for farming.  A lot of people that I have spoken to about this make funny faces when they hear about it. What they dont realize that this is less harmful(though  not edible) than what they eat for lunch. It is made using 5 components obtained from the cow. To those outside of India, the cow is considered a holy animal and is treated with great respect here in our country.  For many millenia, farmers have been using the cow for various purposes. They have also formulated the making of Panchagavya which is used for providing nutrition to the plants. It is made from the 5 basic components, cow dung, cow urine, milk, cow ghee(clarified butter), and curd. I guess all these components must be obtained from the same cow. The formulations and details are available on the internet. One of the popular formulations is made by Dr. K. Natarajan from a place called Erode.
Anyway after starting to use this solution 3% solution(i.e. 3ml in a litre of water) every week, the vigor in my plants have improved, they are more tolerant if I miss watering them once, and also are responsive in terms of flowering. I get my solution from the author of Panchagavya. He has been kind enough to provide me the solution each time he makes it. It does require some maintenance though as it is supposed to contain lot of microorganisms. You need to store it in a plastic container and keep it aerated. It needs to be stirred on a daily basis for a few minutes. I would not attribute all the credit to the panchagavya as I have also been focusig on the plants on a more regular basis. However, I do see a difference between plants where I use it and where I dont. So my trials so far have shown good results and I would say that this is a good addition to any gardener who wants to grow their plants completely organically.

This post has been in edit mode for a long time and hence looks pretty distorted and loses continity and flow very often. Apologize if the details are not enough and I will be glad to provide more if required.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gardening A Game

There seems to be an interesting game that is helping find fellow bloggers. I have a long list of blogs that I am following in my blogroll list. I have more on my google reader. Probably forty blogs that I am followingon my reader. Anyway going to the details of the game, I should list of "10 things I enjoy doing" and "list 10 other bloggers to join this game. I was invited to this game by "J.C from from Malaysia" and "Denise from from the Netherlands through Blotanical". Here is the list....not is any specific order

1. I love Hibiscus flowers. I love to grow them and experiment with their growth. I have around six different  varieties/colors of hibiscus in my balcony. I am finding out that I have more fun with flowering plants than vegetables ones. However, I would love to own a piece of land where I can cultivate various types of vegetables.

2. I like to repot my plants, I love the texture of cocopeat and comopost and enjoy handling them while repotting my plants.

3. I love to spend time with family. Just relax at home especially with my sweet little son.

4. I really enjoy watching Rajni movies. The latest being Endhiran. You can find out more about it on the internet and in my other blog

5. I enjoy taking a long drive to any place.

6. I love to take pictures of Trees around the city.

7. I enjoy looking at the different balcony gardens that people have around Bangalore.

8. I love to work continuously for 3 days without sleep.

9.  I would really like to be able to help people set up gardens(especially balcony gardens) in their homes and also help them maintain them.

10. Most of all I love to find new information on the internet everyday on gardening tips .

I invite the following bloggers to join this game.

A truly inspiring set of bloggers who are inspring many folks in India to grow vegetables in containers and at home
1. GG - Bangalore, India
2. Raja Panda - Bangalore, India
One of my most favorite balcony garden bloggers
3. Sue Swift - Milan, Italy
Pictures speak a thousand words. A very informative blog with flowers and associated names.
4. Trees, Plants and more... - Bangalore, India
Another wonderful gardening blog
5. Terra farmer - Bangalore, India
I really wonder how many different plants Jim has
6. Garden Adventures - Jim from the US.
7.Dhara the Earth - Delhi, India
8.The Urban Gardener - Mumbai, India
9. Good Earth - Bangalore India
Not really a gardening blog but a nice one on design
dressyourhome - Bangalore, India

The rule of this game is to:
1) Inform who invite you
2) What are the 10 things you like to do
3) Invite another 10 other bloggers