Monday, January 31, 2011

Tossing banana skins to improve yield - A tip for gardeners

Recently came across an article about how Banana Peels are rich in both phosphorus and potassium. These are important macro-nutrients that plants need. I have started implementing this in my garden. I really look forward to the results. One blog specifically refers to the benefits that rose plants get from such banana peels.

An advantage of these peels is that they very quick disintegrate into the soil. Also, this is a better method of disposing off an otherwise "waste" commodity.

Here are some specific steps for creating the Banana Peel Fertilizer:
1.Cut the banana peel up into small pieces and put them in your soil. As they break down, they will help your plants by adding nutrients to the soil.

2.Cut the peels up into small sections and put them into an empty spray bottle. Fill it with warm water and let it sit for a couple of weeks. The peel will ferment and turn the liquid into fertilizer.

3. Blend the peels in a blender with warm water, and pour the results directly onto potted plants or into the dirt in your garden. Same result: fertilizer!

A creepy wonder - the Betel leaves

Betel leaves have several medicinal properties as described in Ayurveda. It helps in digestion and also acts as an antiseptic. I bought a betel plant about two months back. Its a very slender creeper and hardly occupies any space. It has a tendency to cling on to other plants which are beside it. I planted it right next to a wall and very amazingly, the creeper has clung to the wall at several places by letting out small roots. These roots bind the creeper to the wall pretty strongly and the creeper keeps growing steadily and vertically. Its really amazing how these plants adapt to the various conditions.

Betel is popularly called Paan in Hindi and Vettrilai in Tamil. Its a tradition to have a few betel leaves immediately after food due to its digestive properties. It feels good to walk out to the garden, pluck one or two leaves and have it fresh. It looks so tender and nice as compared to the betel leaves that are sold in the market. Its pretty pungent too and spicy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Maiden attempt to make compost at home- the results have arrived

Plants need to be taken care of like kids - they need to be given good feed and water. Watering alone is not really sufficient to keep them growing. Plants need minerals and nutrients. While buying readymade "nutrient" packs from the store is one option, most often, they mostly chemicals which do more harm than good.
A better alternative is to make compost at home. I read about it on the Internet and started to do home composting about three months back. And finally, the results have arrived.

A description of the output first... Its a nice, good-to-smell black powder and it appears so nice and good, considering what went into making it. I am just adding this to the soil with a little prayer on my lips, seeking bountiful fruits, flowers and vegetables in my garden.

Coming to the input and process...Just kept piling up vegetable and fruit peels, fallen leaves, and anything organic, into a big bucket with a few holes in it for air circulation. Placed this bucket in the terrace to ensure it gets adequate sun light and added little water once in a while to encourage the decomposition. And lo, (of course, its a very slow process, but you have to do nothing except stirring the contents once every few days), the output is ready.

I did come across some fancy websites and products (like but I wanted to try it out with stuff I had at home. The result is amazing. 
  Some tips:
a. If the mixture is not stirred occasionally, the layers at the top will not decompose
b. Ensure a right mix of sunlight and water so that the mixture doesn't get too wet and soggy

Monday, January 17, 2011

Home-grown turmeric plants for pongal

Every year, its customary in our part of the world to prepare a sweet-milk dish on the day of the Pongal festival, which usually happens in January. As per customs, turmeric plants are tied around the vessel used to prepare the dish. This time, we had the double joy of reaping a good harvest of the turmeric plant in the home garden and using the same for tying around the sweet-milk dish vessel. The joys of home gardening are really wonderful!

Its winter and the roses are blooming

Winter is that time of the year when gardening takes less effort and there is a higher yield of flowers. Not to mention, there are fewer reptiles like lizards to deal with. This year has been wonderful (my garden's second winter). Last winter, the rose plants were really small. This time, They have become pretty huge, almost blocking the path in a few places. The yellow, pink and red roses are flowering almost every day and its quite a site to see . 
There is one special variety of rose called the "Panner Rose" locally in Tamil. This one too is in bloom. The flower gives off a very sweet smell. The petals are often soaked in honey and eaten. Its quite delicious. Rose water is also made from this variety.

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