Sunday, November 14, 2010

Detergent growing on trees

I was reading about nature and natural products and was amazed to read that we had detergent growing on trees - yes, you read it right. I am talking about soap nuts. The online material suggests that they could be packaged properly and used even with a washing machine. 100% natural and as good as (or even better than ) the detergent that we buy from the supermarkets. Soap nuts are also used in Ayurvedic Medicinal system for treating hair-loss.

My Roses are rare!

The roses in my garden are rare. That's because they hardly bloom. I have alteast 5 rose plants and they all uniformly are growing taller. They are almost 7 feet high. I get an occasional rose(that's why i called them rare), say once in a month. I spoke to another gardener and he suggested that I should cut off all the branches having 7-leaflets. Is there any other way to make the roses bloom better?

Adding gypsum to make the soil better

I happened to run into a horticulturist recently . I enquired if it would be good for the plants if I added some red soil. he suggested that it was not important to add new soil but to improve the soil which is there in the garden. He suggested that I should add Gypsum to make the soil better.
Does anyone have any opinion on this? I would like to keep my garden an organic garden. Will adding gypsum make it chemical?

New Additions to the Garden - Chrysanthemums!

The Chrysanthemums are must have in the garden. I planted some last year, but they failed to survive. Recently, I spotted some yellow and lavender chrysanthemum plants in a nursery. They were in full bloom and i couldn't resist the temptation of buying them. Bought a few pots too for a decent sum of money and lo, now right at the entrance to my home and the garden, I have the beautiful and bright yellow and the lavender chrysanthemums welcoming us and the visitors inside.
Chrysanthemum is locally called Saamandhi in Tamil and is offered to the Lords, especially to Lord Balaji.

Monday, October 25, 2010

One thing I would like to throw out of my garden

As much as I love my garden, I hate one thing associated with it - its the increasing number of reptiles. As I expand my garden, so is the increase in the number of these reptiles, especially the Lizard. And they have a bad habit of jumping from the garden into the house. The very site of a lizard on the wall is so repelling.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My other hobby - low-cost web hosting services

In addition to gardening as a hobby, I also provide low-cost web hosting services. How I got into this is a long story, and to cut it short, i write about it in a nutshell here ..the charges of all web hosting providers are exorbitant and far above the actuals. With a bit of researching, i found that I could do a profitable business by charging mere 2000 Indian Rupees per site including a domain name(of course, assuming your site is going to be fairly medium sized.). I got (and thankfully, am still getting) several requests and am glad that I am operating a business in a win-win model.

Plants - Traditional Worship in India

As I was surfing on the web to read about flowers and plants used in worship in India, I came across this wonderful article titled - PLANTS - Traditional Worshipping by a team of scholars from the Indian Journal of History of Science (Dated Aug, 1982).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Added to the Garden - an exotic and aromatic Origanum majorana

I am looking forward to increase the varieties of flowering plants in my Garden and as part of the hunt, I went to a new nursery in Anna Nagar, Chennai. Every nursery has its own, nice collection and this one too had a unique plant - the Origanum majorana. More commonly known as the Maruvu in Tamil( Names in other Indian Languages: Hindi:Marwa Bengali:Murru Kannada:Maruga Kumauni:Bantulsi Malayalam:Maruvamu Punjabi:Marwa Sanskrit:Maru Sindhi:Murwo, Maru Urdu:Marva khusa), this is an amazing herb/plant that has a beautiful, pleasant and mild aroma. The leaves are really small and the plant itself can go happily in a pot (though I have planted it on the ground to fill a void in one corner of the garden).
While the leaves are commonly used as offerings in prayer or strung together with other flowers like jasmine to make nice aromatic garlands that are offered to the divine, some research on the web shows that they are also dried and used as a spicy addition to food (but I doubt if this is done in India). The plant has settled comfortably and I am keenly looking forward to seeing the flowers spring up from it. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Unable to grow capsicums - Pl. help troubleshoot

Usually, I have been writing about success stories and good yields from my garden. However, the one crop which is really dodging me is the capsicum(or are they called bell-peppers?). I love the green ones and right since last year, I have been sourcing seeds from various places and trying them out in different patches of my garden. However, the seeds are not even sprouting. Is it a curse or am  I missing some detail? Really look forward to those who have been more successful to help me with this.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tube roses - A new entrant into my garden

The tube roses is an aromatic and white flower, so beautiful, especially when strung into a garland. I happened to visit  a nursery which had the tube rose bulbs and grabbed a few of them and now, they have joined the roses, jasmine, oleanders and other flowers in my garden. The flower, also known as Nila Sampangi locally (in Tamil) or Rajani Gandha in Hindi, is offered to God,especially in the form of beautiful garlands, often interspersed with roses and other darker flowers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Corn grows so easily

Corn is so delicious and recently, we bought some corn, made a variety of delicacies and had them. I dropped a few corn seeds in the garden. A brief spell of rains that followed ensured that the seeds caught on and I have about 10-12 corn babies growing in the garden now. I really am not sure how long its going to take to become corn boys(or girls), but each day, I can't wait to open the door in the morning, rush out and check on them.

Pomegrante - A wonder fruit

I love pomegranate. Unfortunately, a small part of the fruit had become rotten and I dumped the pods in my garden. And lo,after a month, small shoots appeared.

That was a year ago. Even as I tend to the little pomegranate trees which have become about 2-3 feet tall, I read about this article in today's newspaper which claims that the pomegranate is a wonder fruit which fights off a host of diseases, right from the dreaded cancer to dental plaque. One more thing that we all dread is a flabby stomach. It was really heartening to read that a glass of pom. juice every day fights off the accumulation of fat.
I eagerly look forward to the Pomegranate trees in my garden blooming fast.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Karamani (Black-eyed Pea) - an easy vegetable to grow in the home garden

Just back from a break in gardening. The brinjal with thorns is giving good yields, tempting me to venture into the garden again, in spite of time constraints. I have just planted The Karamani -காராமணி (in Tamil) , known as the Black-Eyed Pea,  three days back, and already, more than a 100 seeds have become little plants, bearing tiny leaves. Its a climber and I have to provide a twine to help them climb up. It is quite suited to the climatic conditions of our country. Last year too, the plant gave a super yield. Just two of those plants and it kept producing several long beans every day. This time, there are a 100 saps. and i really look forward to the next few days. Its such a pleasure to see how these plants grow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rain Flower - A wonder of wonders!

Nature is amazing and there is no end to the discoveries we make about it. My Garden is my lab where I see, feel and explore the Nature. And true to its enigmatic nature, here is another trick that nature has up its sleeve for us to see. Immediately after peak summer, we had a brief spell of rains. Lo and behold, I found the quiet green tender stalks bearing a matchstick-tip like pink buds. This morning, the buds have bloomed and lo, the flowers are there to see. 

Some searching on the web and I discovered the flower to be Zephyranthes, and more commonly known as fairy lily, rainflower, zephyr lily, magic lily, Atamasco lily, and rain lily. True to its name, the rain lily is a wonder. I seriously wonder how they distinguish rain water from the water that we pour. I water the plants including the rainflower everyday very religiously but its only the rainwater(any time during the year) which makes the flowers blooom. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Its raining in the garden

Its raining for the last couple of days and the effect on the garden is really wonderful. Green leaves and bright flowers. A host of birds and butterflies descending when there is a brief reprieve from the heavy downpour. Its saved me the task of watering the plants. I was really worried about the tomato seeds which i had sown recently. Mercifully, they have all sprouted and weathered the spell of rains. In any case, its a welcome break from the hot, very hot summer.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Goat manure for the garden

Recently, I came across an article that goat manure is gold for the garden. Living in a semi-urban area, it was not difficult to get some goat manure from the neighborhood cattle rearer.
Since it is naturally dry and pelleted, goat feces can be easily handled, stored and directly applied to the garden.
Goat feces do not normally attract flies or breed maggots. 

A solar light for the garden - Review on D-Light's KIRAN

With an obsession to going green, I ordered for D-Light company's KIRAN, touted as the world's cheapest Solar lamp (price being Under $ 10). After doing some online research, I found the solar lamp KIRAN online. The price is Rs.550 (INR). Here is a review on the product:


  • It harnesses solar energy and is a one-time expense
  • It looks really nice and can fit into your bedroom or drawing room more than the garden
  • Light-weight (feather-weight)
  • Single unit
  • Has 2 lighting modes 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spice it up - A comprehensive spice collection

As promised on the home page, Gernot Katzer’s website  presents solid information on spices. Its comprehensive and contains details on the etymology of the names. The photos are really wonderful and some are very rare. However, the only thing I was disappointed is that it doesn't contain information on how to grow the spices. Otherwise, its  a super site and I would recommend all home garden lovers to visit it to update yourselves.

Visiting someone's blog

I am still blog hopping in the hope of becoming an enlightened gardener. And I chanced upon Its such a wonderful site and the photographs are really amazing. Its by a person based in the USA and the vegetables on his garden are really colorful. A unique table on the site gives details of the harvest month-wise.

Herbal Leaves - Collection

I recently read about Indian Spinach and was wondering what plant it is. After some searching on Google, landed upon

Its a wonderful site containing descriptions on a collection of Herbal Leaves. If you can follow the Tamil language, the names in Tamil are also present, making life more comfortable. It also gives information on problems solved by the herbs, and a nice recipe to turn the herbal leaves into a nice dish for dinner. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gardening Blog Directory-

Its good to be networking with fellow-gardener-bloggers (or blogger-gardeners). I joined last year and I have been getting quite  a few visitors from all over the world. Sign-up if you like to have an international gardener-blogger networking experience.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where to Plant ? One important tip

If you are trying to have maximum plants in your garden, the outer periphery of the house can also be used and made a part of the garden. Of course, the key concern would be a threat to the plants from cattle (assuming people are not a threat). There are certain plants which cattle do not eat. The Oleander, for instance, is not consumed by cattle. Among trees, the Indian Beech tree, popularly called Pungai in Tamil, is not touched by cattle. Any cactus-like plant would also be a safe bet to plant outside. The Parijat Tree(Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, also called Night-flowering Jasmine) which bears beautiful flowers that give off a very pleasant scent, is another good tree to plant outside. The Parijaat tree is revered by Hindus. It also has immense medicinal properties. The flower stem, which is a brilliant orange in colour, is used for cloth dyeing.

A word of caution here. While cattle do not eat these plants, they could trample on them(which is often the case near my house). One should build atleast a simple wooden fence to protect the crops.

Visiting others' blogs - Raj's Musings

I am freaking out to other gardeners' websites and its been a real journey. is a superb site with tons of info on gardening, especially if you like to grow vegetables. The best photographs on the blog are of the harvests that Mr. Raj has. The vegetables look so fresh and inspiring. I am really inspired and plan to get a papaya plant immediately. Any tips?

Visiting others' blogs - iGrowVeg

Another wonderful site by a veggie gardener. The good plus about this website is that it offers a month-wise list of vegetables to be grown. Detailed video-like slides show how the seeds turn into saplings with instructions. A site to treasure for Vegetable garden growers.

Buying Seeds Online in India - Finally a website

Since I am in a small town, we do not have any brick and mortar store selling seeds. I kept looking up on the web and finally found that is the site where you can get a good variety of vegetable and flower seeds online. There are good season-wise categories of plants. With each seed variety, the instuctions for planting and growing is included. The only catch is that you have to buy for a minimum of Rs.200. Otherwise, thumbs up to this website. (I am not sure of the quality of seeds. Need to check it out. If someone is aware, please advise.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Growing plants without soil - Welcome to Hydroponics

I was really amazed to come across this website which speaks about HYDROPONICS - the art or science of growing plants without soil. The site claims that one can grow any vegetable/fruit through this. Read here for more details - The site has some wonderful cartoons as well.

Visiting others' blogs - Geekgardener's Weblog

Its a pleasure to stroll around to other Gardens Online( Hey, I am referring to visiting blogs ). Geekgardener's blog is really impressive, especially with the photos and descriptions on interesting topics like growing watermelons in containers. Visit his/her website at The blogger is based in Bangalore and refers to places/ shops where you can buy seeds.

Bell Peppers

I have been having a really hard time trying to grow some Bell peppers, popularly called Capsicum. I have planted seeds several times with no luck. Any tips on how to get them going? Does it require any special conditions?

Its raining Bitter Gourds

If there is an easy vegetable to grow, its the bitter gourd. My garden is full of bitter gourd creepers now and I keep harvesting bitter gourds frequently. Here are some tips on growing bitter gourds:

While I bought them initally, I would suggest that you buy bitter gourds, cut them to discover wet seeds inside, dry them in the sun and once its fully dry, you have the seeds ready for planting.
Its a climber. So decide upon a location which will easily allow the climber to catch up and grow. Its a lean plant, keeps growing tall and the leaves are very flimsy. Plant the seeds near the building. From the first floor/ any high level, drop a rope(preferably nylon) which will reach all the way upto the place you have planted seeds.
The climber will grow and even within a few weeks, nice yellow flowers will pop out. Its a very tender plant - be careful not to brush against it. Do not touch the flowers. They are flimsy too.
Within sometime, the flowers will dry up and turn into bitter gourds.
And you can enjoy the fruits(sorry, vegetables)!

Growing Mints - Some practical lessons

The Good phase
Growing mints has been a real experience. Initially, i bought mint from the vegetable market. Most of the mint stems had roots. After removing all the leaves and using it for cooking, i planted the stems. Even within a few days, nice little green leaves started growing.
The Mints took a real beating this summer. Not only that, the plants started growing prolifically and covered a large patch of the garden. I always picked the leaves and never removed the stem.

The Bad Patch
During peak summer, the mint plants started drying up. I missed watering the plants for only a day and it resulted in a disaster - except for a few of the mint plants, the rest turned black and no amount of watering revived them.

I would suggest those having mint plants in really hot places to grow them in the coolest corner of the garden. Its a bitter lesson I have learnt.

I have joined Indian Maali - Gardener's Network

One of the comments on my blog had a link to Indian Maali - the Gardener's Network - . Its a nice blog and I especially loved the pictures. I have signed up. I hope to share my knowledge and receive tips on gardening.

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