Garden log: April, 2010

French Lace Rose Angel Face Rose
First Roses to Bloom ~ French Lace and Angel Face

I can’t believe that I am already into my second year of gardening. Last year was my first attempt at raised bed gardening. In retrospect, I have to say it went very well. It was a joy to see small seedlings budding into healthy plants and producing so generously many flowers, vegetables and fruits. We had great spring and summer season last year which contributed to the garden success, and it was more enjoyable because we had my mother and father in-law from Nandyala visiting us. They were enthusiastic, encouraging and very helpful towards my gardening hobby, and did a lot for the well being of plants. Thanks again Attayya and mamayya, if you are reading. I miss your kind presence and I wish you are here this year too.

2009 garden efforts produced a decent vegetable harvest. The plants that did exceptionally well were tomatoes, peppers, okra, brinjal, Indian broad beans, Indian karela, Turai and Red alasanda (asparagus beans). Gongura, Spinach, Chard, methi, mint and coriander also grew well. When it comes to fruit plants, they are still in establishing stage and the harvest was 3 pomegranates, 10 sweet figs and few strawberries and blackberries. We had some winter causalities due to unseasonably cold weather. Mango, guava, seethapalam (custard apple), curry leaf, jasmine varieties, nandivardanam, henna and banana plant did not survive the snowfall to my heartbreak. I can now understand the despair the farmers feel when the hard-earned money, effort and hopes of green future give up on them. I have gently laid plant losses to rest in the compost pile. My only comforting thought was to believe that those plants would live on through the feeding of the next generation by becoming the best compost possible.

I am glad spring is here, giving a new chance for life. Days are getting warm. Seeds are sprouting. It is so beautiful here, I am spending most of the time outdoors tending plant beds. Here are some plants I’ve planted for this year’s growing season.

Some good and old:
Alliums: Red onion and garlic
Beans: Green beans, Peas, Chikkudu(Indian Broadbeans), Okra
Fruits: Blackberries, Cantaloupe, Fig, Grapes, Jamaican Cherry, Mandarin Orange, Papaya, Pomegranate and strawberries (most of the fruit plants are planted last year)
Greens: Chard, Gongura, Fenugreek (methi), Kale, Lettuce, and Spinach
Herbs: Mint (spearmint), Marjoram and Rosemary
Squash: Turai, Lauki(Bottle Gourd), Silk squash, Cucumbers, Karela, Zucchini (yellow and Mexican squash)
Vegetables, Fruit: Corn, Eggplant (purple, long and round variety), Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers.
Vegetables, Root: Potatoes (red), radish (red), Ginger

Some new:
I am planning to grow tamarind, turmeric, mango-ginger and vaamu(ajwan) because ever inquisitive mind wants to know how they fare in Houston weather.

Here are some photos from the backyard:

Tomato Plants Brinjal Seedlings
Tomato Plants …………. Brinjal Plants


Red Radish and Cantaloupe … Mint, Rosemary, Marjoram and Strawberry Plants


Beans, Cucumber, Grape …. Curbside Mint Around the Front yard Plant, Free for Walkers

Kittaya with Lettuce
My Garden Buddy, Dear Kittaya Enjoying the Greens and the Garden Breeze

What are you planning to plant this spring? Any new gardening tips and ideas? I would love to hear from you.

42 Comments

  • By sreelus, April 7, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

    Indira, touch wood I have been able to grow curry leaves pretty well, key is to pot it in a big planter and keep it inside during winters. I did this for about 3 years and once stem was strong planted it in ground, since then its been a constant supply not just for me but for my friends as well. Tried my hand at mango and sapota and realized that CA heat is not enough for them to grow, it flowers well but all the flowers drop after few days. Good luck and can’t wait to see your bounty :) Also try to get some heirloom tomatoes boy those tasty heavenly.

    Last year was a good learning experience with tropical plants. I do think they need some years on them to survive the winter here. Thanks for the great tip, Sreelu and I will do that with curry leaf plant this year.
    -Indira

  • By Mona, April 7, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

    Wow, all the pictures look amazing. I wish you all the best with all the gardening that you wish to do. May all your plants flourish.
    Indira, if you have planted mint in the ground, the mint might spread and take over your lawn. I had to transfer the mint to a pot to keep it in check.
    BEST OF LUCK!

    I am going to be careful with mint. Thanks Mona.
    -Indira

  • By Mona, April 7, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

    By the way, the rose clicks are immensely gorgeous!

  • By SS, April 7, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

    Your garden looks amazing! :)

    Thanks, SS.
    -Indira

  • By Kay, April 7, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

    Perfect time, buddy! I’m just back from my community garden meet up. :) I’m all geared up for this year with a small plot in community garden. And also my balcony garden for greens. The community garden plot is small about 4 x 10 ft. But right size for beginner me. :) I am think of two types of beans (orca and another beans), tomatoes, basil, chives, kale, swiss chard, fenugreek leaves, mustard, maybe onions and nasturtium. I also have some seeds for purple cauliflower, don’t know how that one would go though. I was just encouraged to grow broccoli as well. I am also planning to volunteer in the communal garden – so that will help me with some education in basics.

    look at kittaya proudly posing!! :) I am not a big fan of kitties esp. after my neighbor’s kitty gave me a fright, but I have grown to love kittaya.

    Curious question – I’ve been reading in a couple of blogs that the buds of fruiting trees are removed in the first 2-3 yrs so that the tree can put in more roots and grow stronger than spend life energy concentrating on fruit production. Are you guys going on that route as well?

    Congratulations on the community plot, dear Kay. Little Meera is going to have lots of fun, I think. Plant some strawberries for her from me.:)
    About the fruit trees- Yes. It’s true. We went to a fruit tree class last year and the teacher told us to keep the buds to a minimum in first year for the same reason you mentioned. Pomegranate had lots of flower buds last year and it was hard to pluck those pretty flowers but we did it.
    Do write garden updates at your blog, Kay. I’d love to read and learn.
    -Indira

  • By Cilantro, April 7, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

    I have few rose plants in my little yard and I have the problem with the mint too,it is yet to be kept under control. I am planning a trip to India so have`nt bought any new ones and also the weather is not co-operating, we had summer like winter and now it is like winter now.

    I heard about the weird weather in Seattle. It must be confusing for the plants.
    Have a wonderful trip to India, Cilantro.
    -Indira

  • By Sandhya, April 7, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    Stunning Kittaya. Kittaya always looks like he is posing for the photo. Does he actually pose and compose himself when u click his photos?

    Thanks Sandhya. Kittaya looks in photos as if he is especially posing for us. But in real, he is very fluid and mobile like a toddler, and we have to capture the right moment. Many shots, like sport action shoot, we may get one good, rare shot.
    -Indira

  • By Sreedevi, April 7, 2010 @ 11:30 pm

    Hi Indira, i read your blog every now and then, impressive and inspiring… i have a question, how and where do u get ur seeds for the garden and what do u do care for it. want to know and do some gardening of my own!i do have some seeds that i got from india couple of years ago, will they work? do let me know..

    Seeds are, some I saved them from last year harvest, some from friends and garden centers.
    The only way to find out is plant them in soil. Soak them in water for two to three days and then plant. It will increase the success rate for seed germination.
    Good luck with your garden, Sreedevi.
    -Indira

  • By Manju Rajender, April 8, 2010 @ 2:23 am

    Spring brings with it new life, beauty and lots of happiness….May the godess of spring take special care of your garden :) I love the pictures posted in Mahanandi…Indira if you don’t mind could you tell me the camera model you are using.

    Thanks for the warm wishes, Manju.
    My camera is an old one. It’s a Nikon D70s.
    -Indira

  • By Ranjan, April 8, 2010 @ 4:01 am

    Indira, garden and plants look great, best of Kittaya looks so handsome, is he protective of his garden? I find Chloe and Max always want to see what I am digging up or planting. Hope you soon enjoy your fruit and veg all fresh.

    Love to see Chloe and Max again, Ranjan. I like them very much.:)
    Kittaya acts like a fortunehunter, about to discover some great riches, whenever I dig the plant beds.:) He really enjoys outdoors.
    -Indira

  • By notyet100, April 8, 2010 @ 6:39 am

    lovely clicks

  • By ruchikacooks, April 8, 2010 @ 7:05 am

    Thats an amazing collection Indirakka. Dont worry about the plantain, mine is back though I thought it’s gone for ever. Im gonna try okras, tomatoes and brinjals- standard ones..yet to plan :(

    Lucky you, Sowji. Mine is not coming up, it need some more time or may be it was too young to survive the winter, I don’t know. How are the brussels sprouts? Thinking of going for a walk tomorrow. Looks for a bell ring.:)
    -Indira

  • By Aparna, April 8, 2010 @ 7:47 am

    Hello Indira,

    It is always pleasure to see ur blog and respond as well. I am more partial towards your non-cooking blogs :) Coincidentally this is our second season of gardening in our new house and yes, all my last year plants almost died including mangoes, we live in the same zone as you. Alas! is the only word of comfort. This year we planted few roses, malle, etc., and yes I plan to buy a camellia soon :) I did not do many flowers last year. As for veggies I did a lot of greens including gongura, bachali and thota kura thankgoodness I was able to harvest seeds. This year I am planning to plant less tomatoes, I had too many last year even for my neighbors..hehe! As for tips, I took mine indoors a few days before fall, cut them down,stopped fertilising and put them in my garage. The highlight from us – my finicky gardenia survived this bad winter!! Good luck and cant wait to see more gardening blogs from u . Thank u again for inspiring me to reply :)

    Looks like you had a great garden season last year, Aparna. I loved reading about your plants and I am glad that pretty gardenia survived the winter. Love those beautiful, fragrant flowers.
    Thank you for sharing the tips with me.
    -Indira

  • By Kamala, April 8, 2010 @ 9:00 am

    We started gardening for the first time this year. We are in an apartment right now. So I am choosing plants that can grow well in limited sunlight and in pots. I started off with mint, fenugreek, coriander and some indoor decorative plants that my colleagues generously shared with me.
    As you said, it’s amazing to see the seedlings budding into healthy plants. The first thing I do every morning is check on my plants. If we succeed this summer, then we have plans to expand my patio garden next year.
    Good luck to you! May all your plants flourish well!! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    You have a good selection there, Kamala. Thanks and all the best with your container garden.
    -Indira

  • By Malini, April 8, 2010 @ 9:24 am

    Your garden looks beautiful. Looks like you have great start. The weather here is still cold, so we have to wait a few more weeks for planting weather. I do have a few seedlings sprouting inside though. I enjoy your site, thanks so much for sharing.

    Thanks Malini. Warm wishes for a great garden season.
    -Indira

  • By Kay, April 8, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    Now you are making me think seriously about moving to Houston :-) Dallas weather is good, for the most part, but the winters are very cold and we had record snow last year.

    You got to move to Houston, Kay.:) The Ganesha you handcrafted looks so beautiful. Any new art works, recipes?
    -Indira

  • By krithika, April 8, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    Its a joy to see your garden pics. Love the last pic, Kittaya enjoying the garden breeze.

    Thanks, Krithika. It’s always good to hear from you. How are you and hope the twin bundles of joy are keeping you busy.
    -Indira

  • By sri, April 8, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

    Great garden! Indira, Can you write about how you do composting? I plan to start once we move to a house,but worried about the smell.

    Thanks Sri. I do basic composting. Save the vegetable waste from cooking preparations. Dig a hole in plant beds, cover it with dirt. This is what I did throughout last fall and winter until March this year. Now I started composting in a bucket. Take a bucket with a lid. Make few holes in lid for air circulation. In bucket, add some dirt and keep adding vegetable waste. I also dug up few earthworms and added them to this mix. Combine and stir everthing once a week or so. Keep the bucket away from home in a corner to avoid the smell. I just started doing this and will write about it in detail in few weeks.
    -Indira

  • By Harini, April 9, 2010 @ 7:33 am

    great garden..raised bed gardening is interesting!!

  • By kavitha, April 9, 2010 @ 7:52 am

    Hi Indira,
    don’t worry about your banana plant. It will come back once the weather is little warm. We stay in NY. I have my banana plant in the ground. it dies in winter and again in spring i see it comming back again.

    Fingers crossed.:) Thanks Kavitha.
    -Indira

  • By Anu, April 9, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

    Hello Indira garu,

    How do we grow vaamu (Ajwain)? Does it grow from the seeds we use for cooking?

    Hi Anu: Yes, I soaked our regular, cooking type ajwain seeds in water for about a week and then planted the soaked seeds in soil. Seeds sprouted and plants are coming up. Give them a try.
    -Indira

  • By Leena Goutam, April 9, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

    Dear Indira,

    Love your Garden !!! What Lovely Roses !!!

    ~ Leena

    Thanks, Leena.
    -Indira

  • By bindiya, April 9, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

    Dear Indira,
    We grow our own turmeric(http://inlovewithfood.blogspot.com/2009/01/homegrown-turmeric-and-healthy-burfi.html), its really satisfying, and use that through the year, we also grow a lot of other veggies.

    I have to make that turmeric halwa. It looks so good. Thanks, Bindiya for the link.
    -Indira

  • By madhuri, April 10, 2010 @ 10:23 am

    amaziing garden!though I live in an apt, I have a huge balcony, I have curryleaves, kanakambaram, some flowering pots, mint, hibiscus, money plants :) I love my garden..But its hard to maintain my plants in winter but I manage.Touchwood, they were doing fine during winter as well.

    It’s good to know that your garden is doing well, Madhuri. Love those kanakambaram puvvulu. Do you still have kanakambaram seeds?
    -Indira

  • By Narayan, April 11, 2010 @ 1:40 am

    Living in an apartment in Bombay with no balcony brings along some constraints. I have tried to add some plants on my windowsill.
    http://riteriterite.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/garden-on-the-window-sill/.

    When I was younger and lived in Kenya – we used to have a lovely kitchen garden which my mother tended. She passed away last year – but here is a piece I wrote about her kitchen garden hobby.

    http://riteriterite.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/sita%e2%80%99s-kitchen-garden/

    Hope you enjoy reading them.

    I am envious of Kittayya…

    Hi Narayan, I really enjoy your unique writings, combining mundane life tidbits with money tugwars.
    Loved reading about your mother’s garden. Your mom sounds like a very special person and I am sorry for your loss.
    -Indira

  • By Anu, April 11, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    Dear Indira,

    We moved recently, and I have a balcony now. Last week, I planted serrano chilly, cherry tomato and better boy hybrid tomato seeds. This being my first time, I brought home indeterminate wines by mistake. But, it isn’t right to throw the seeds and punish them, so I planted them anyways. Keeping my fingers crossed now :) . My green chillies are just beginning to sprout, it’s such a joy to see the little darlings!

    Looking foward to more from your garden log!

    Anu

    That’s a great selection, Anu. I used to plant cherry tomatoes in containers and they do very well in limited space.
    All the best for a great gardening season.
    -Indira

  • By Usha, April 12, 2010 @ 6:15 am

    I was gone for a week(spring break)and you had so many postings. Visited Dallas and enjoyed the warmth and the sunshine.
    Loved your garden update. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty but unfortunately we are still waiting for our much anticipated move(out of state). So no gardening this year and maybe next year.
    Will be watching for all the garden updates.
    Best of luck.

    All the best with the move, dear Usha.
    -Indira

  • By Shilpa, April 12, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

    Hi Indira,
    I am in love with ur garden. I have a question…. how did you manage to grow gongura? Did you get the seeds from a nursery? I would love to grow gongura. My husband and daughter love the dal recipe u have on the website.

    Hi Shilpa, Gongura seeds are from Andhra, India. Last year, my friend gave me some seeds. They did well, flowered and I harvested some seeds for this year. I would love to share, but I have very few. Sorry.
    -Indira

  • By Radhika Vasanth, April 12, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

    Gorgeous Roses. I love your garden Indira. Very neatly maintained and your kittaya looks very cute.

    Thanks Radhika.
    -Indira

  • By Sridevi, April 13, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    Hi,
    I can say I am a seasoned gardener in India and in here.From past 7 years I have grown everything almost..including Tamalapakulu.This yr, I am thinking of wooden beds.Can you pls tell me how you have made those boxes for beds?When I go to lowes, what shd I get and what is teh HW and toools I need for making this?Boxes are made then deply in teh ground?

    Thanks much.I have some Dosa,Mullangi,Totakura, beera vittanalu if u would ike.

    Thanks,
    Sri

  • By jennifer, April 13, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

    Hello,
    I love your web and love to garden as well. I have a few questions for you, our house does not have a flat backyard like yours so what is the best way to build a garden bed? We also have clay soil, what is the most economical to make them better? I hope you will answer my questions. Thanks.

  • By Padmaja, April 14, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

    Hi Indira,

    Love your square foot garden. I am in the process of building my own. How did you make yours? did you buy lumber and made them yourselves or did you buy assembled units? Please let me know. Thanks

  • By Su, April 14, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

    I have had organic vegetable and fruit gardens for over 30 years and admire you for such a successful start to what may become a lifetime of growing delicious things for your table and to share with others.

    I know your heartbreak when a plant dies. May I suggest that you purchase an inexpensive greenhouse to protect those precious plants like the custard apple? In my 15′ greenhouse that I got on EBay for about $125 are mango, ylang ylang, champaca, sugar apple, papaya and more. When the summer heat comes, they can go outside and play.

    Happy Gardening!

  • By Theo, April 15, 2010 @ 7:52 am

    The joy and agony of gardening… it certainly has its ups and downs! I was excited yesterday to get first crop of strawberries, after putting bird netting down last week to prevent avian pilfering. Much to my dismay half of them had been visited by hungry snails. I didn’t even know snails ate strawberries. Luckily the good ones were tasty. Will have to post some pictures of the garden at some point.

    In the meantime, I was reading chow.com today and noted they had posted a site for heirloom seeds (http://www.chow.com/stories/11572). I can also add (http://www.tradewindsfruitstore.com). It’s certainly not as interesting or interactive to buy these things over the internet, but sometimes it’s the only choice!

  • By Ramya, April 19, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

    HiIndira,

    I noticed you mentioned mango ginger – are you referring to mamidikayiallam? My husband and I are huge fans of this and it will be a big help if you can let me know as to where I can purchase this to start my own little garden

  • By Anupama, April 20, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

    I have a patch full of mint which I use and share with friends too.Just a tip…keep plucking the fresh leaves as they grow and toss them in a preheated oven for a few mins.They can be crushed easily once they cool,store in an airtight jar(just like kasuri methi) and a sprinkle goes a long way.
    Had a query…how do you grow gongura??

  • By ashwini, May 1, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

    HI indira garu,

    please provide some tips for growing plants from seeds like tomatoes brinjal etc
    and roses too

  • By Champa, June 13, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

    Beautiful plants. I almost envy you for growing such beautiful plants. Don’t ever let me around your cat. I might just bring him home. He is so beautiful. No, I should say he is gorgeous.

  • By Anu, March 4, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

    Did you try the square foot gardening method (by mel bartholomew). Heard very promising things about this method – and am planning to start it this year. Good luck with ur gardening efforts. Do take a minute to read up on it, if u havent already – u might find some useful insights into gardening.

  • By Badari, May 1, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    Looking for “Moddu Bachhali” seeds. Do any of you know the source in North America? If you know the source please email me. Thanks.

    badari.nath.k.m@gmail.com

  • By Anjana, September 29, 2012 @ 1:15 am

    Hello Indiraji, I saw you replied to Anu regarding soaking ajwain seeds for a week but I want to know if you soaked it completely inside water or just into a damp paper towel in a container?? And how soon did you start seeing the sprouts??

    Thanks!!

  • By kavitha, February 11, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

    HI indira garu,
    For ur raised beds did u use mulching sheet? this year i am planning to put raised beds any ideas plz

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