Monday, March 28, 2011

Urban Garden Summer Woes

This is a lazy gardener post. Some of you may have wondered what the lazy gardener has been upto. The short answer is nothing. Being lazy and time deprived, there is precious little that the great lazy one has done.

Rain Lillies
White Rain lilies

Although, to my credit, my pink rain lily did flower, ( one flower in 2 years ). Such was the laziness that I don't even have a photo of it as proof. The white rain lilies do flower with greater regularity, no word on the yellow lilies, they seem to quite mum on the subject of flowering.

My rose, Im sorry to say, did not survive the attack of the white fuzzy insects (Mealy bugs). Currently, my sky blue clustervine is also under attack. Ive tried everything except for pesticide, which is my next strategy. No flowers from the vine since the start of the attack :( If any one has solutions, please let me know.
The horrid white things have killed off over the years, my baby sun rose (ice plant),much of my table rose, white alder and stokes aster.

NativeBreed, My Roses - RIP :(

I have acquired some periwinkles - white and pink, which i grew from seed. (Read: I chucked the seeds mom gave into an empty pot and one day was pleasantly surprised to find my self the owner of periwinkles.) They are growing with gusto, as are the chrysanthemum. Seconds generation marigold are now staring to bud.

Pink Chrys
These pink chrysanthemum are strange, as they bloom they turn white

As for the kitchen garden; mint, basil, oregano, lemon grass are doing well. A chilli plant came up on its own and provided 4 deadly hot chillies. My experiments with coriander have proven to be un-encouraging at best. I am thinking of growing dill.

But, enough idle chatter. Let me get to the point. This post is about a recent experiment I have been trying out on dealing with the hot indian summer.

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Am I to endure this till the end of May?
Thou wilt-eth inspite of all i try
when I see thine drooping leaves, I cry.

My approach to gardening is similar to mother natures. Tough love. I don't over water, sometimes I scarcely water at all. :D

But seriously, tough love only works if you have tough plants. Survival of the fittest and all that. I prefer to stick with the hardier native breeds (or shall I say weeds), none of the namby-pamby hybrid ones that require fussing over.

Fox Tails are tough, hardly need any attention

Tough love works better in a ground garden, I have found, rather than in potted balcony gardens. It also helps if you can control the sunlight by placing your plants in such a way as to avoid the harsh afternoon sun.

Off late, I would return home from work in the evenings and find my basil wilting. ( I dont water daily ) Watering excessively is pointless, it wastes water, most of it drains to the bottom of the pot and evaporates away.

White chrysanthemum, needed support, Ive tied it up with some red ribbon

Those who have heard of the plant nannies will be familiar with the concept below. Take a plastic bottle, make a small hole at the bottom with a thumb tac ( i also have tried with 2 holes ) fill with water. Screw the cap back on. To control water drip rate, unscrew tap a teeny-tiny bit at a time. Place in Pot.
Ive tried this with soft drink bottles. Works like a charm. No more wilting.

Don't believe in plastic? Use a glass bottle. Fill with water, plug the mouth with a rag. Invert and bury neck in the pot. ( This is more messy and I haven't tried this )

Introducing (L to R), Basil, More Basil, Mint, Cuban Oregano

Its cheap, an effective use of plastic and conserves water. (did i mention it costs nothing?) The spouse has been very supportive about the deployment of this watering system and has volunteered to consume soft drinks ( which i am not a huge fan of ) till each plant has its own nanny.

Ive also diverted the AC water outlet into one of the pots ( idea provided by the installation people ), though this can present a problem, since there's no way to control the water. So only do this to water hungry plants.

On an unrelated note, did you know Basil can grow from cuttings? I didnt. I bought a bunch from namdharis. Our cook stuck the stems into an pot. Lo and behold, there was basil! There was much rejoicing.


i-me-myself said...

Ah lovely..I just restarted my balcony garden. I have just these as of now - 1 Geranium, 2 Tulsis (did you mean Tulsi when you said Basil), 1 Doddpathre(also called Coleus Aromaticus -useful for coughs,colds), 1 foxtail. (Will try lilies,chrysanthe and marigolds soon)
I have a west-facing balcony - so my plants get afternoon sun only- for 2 hours - and nothing before and after --> surviving so far though.
Thanks for the excellent plant nanny idea!! :D
What do you use for ze gobar milady - dung? :)
Feel your pain with 'em worms - Also, always wanted to understand 'why kitchen garden'- those leaves, veggies we grow are so cheap anyway - and any yield will finish off within a meal (Am i missing a point her)

Unknown said...

Hey I-me-myself,

Thank you for visiting my blog, and commenting.
I have a south facing balcony.
And No, I meant Basil (italian one that goes in pizza). I also have Tulsi.
Btw, Kamkasthuri is also not basil though I thought it was for a long time, until I got the actual basil from Namdharis. Taste and smell differ considerably.

For gobar, I buy Manure with neem from nurseries in bags.

Kitchen gardens are best used for herbs, the leaves stay fresh since they are on the plant! :) Esp for leaves that are used in small quantities. Hence the failure of the coriander experiment.

i-me-myself said...

Ouch....i-me-myself is me..the same old Aashica. :) Is there a nursery somewhere close to our place?

SunilDear said...

Rohini Use Ash (cow dung/wood) it acts has pesticide and also has fertilizer.
Cow Urine this will keep the bugs away.
Both are Bio friendly way to avoid bugs

Unknown said...

aiyo! Aashica! Didnt know it was you. Yes there are plenty of nurseries here. Theres one on Varthur road. Right on the road. You cant miss it.
I get the neem soil from Jeevanbhima Nagar Horticulture Training Institute. I buy in huge bags so that I dont have to go often.

Unknown said...

@Sunil: I will try the ash. Where do you get the ash? Would vibhuti do?

Would like to try the cow pee too, but there is um.. the small problem of where to get the cow pee from.
This would be so convenient if we were in our village in Mangalore. Sigh.

Santosh Bs said...

Ah! the bird enthusiast is now a full time gardener is it...
The loads of information you pack in each of your posts is too good, well done!

The white lillies are looking awesome :)

Keep birding, keep gardening!

Shobha Kamath said...

Good photographs, very informative and nice write-up too. Keep up the good work Rohini.

Unknown said...

FYI People, Im happy to report that my pink rain lily flowered again this morning. Much to my surprise.
Pic below:

anoop said...

voila!! drip irrigation.
I had been thinking along similar lines, but my idea was not half as elegant as yours. As I speak the lone tulsi plant has dried in our balcony, RIP.

GreenPlanet said...

I came across your blog through a friend.. Lovely to know that there are similar species like us who are so plant crazy and sleep, walk talk plants:)

I have a solution which is fool proof and organic for mealy bugs. Try it on any of your plants.

1 full pod of garlic, I medium size onion, 5-6 or more red dried chillis(i used Badgi) - Grind to a smooth paste. add 2-3 litres of water and let it stand for a few hours. To this I added a good dose of neem oil and 1 TB spoon liquid soap(pril) and sprinkle on all plants (as preventive measure) and on affected plants. Be ruthless to the soft tips where the mealy bugs have attacked and squeeze on it wash it off with a little water and sprinkle this mixture. Trust me, your hands will smell but the bugs will long be gone. Try this once in every alternate month if the infection is bad. I havent seen the bugs for 3 months more - Reena Pinto

Unknown said...

Reena: Im going to try this today. Will post back on my success. Thanks for this tip. If this can get my clustervine to flower again, I'll be the happiest person around.

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