Garden Log: March 09

Rose from the Backyard Garden

“When I get a home with backyard, I will plant this, this and that too.”

As long as I can remember, this has been my dream about home ownership. I know nothing is owned by us forever or this won’t be permanent, but at least for now, we are home. And there is a backyard. I am enjoying tilling the land and planting the seeds with dear Vijay’s help.

The backyard space we have is in rectangular shape. In the middle, in a row, we planted fruit trees. We think this would give the fruit trees ample space to grow without encroaching on the neighbors spaces. On the sides, we placed plantar boxes suitable for raised bed gardening. After considering all the options for vegetable gardening, we have decided on raised bed method. We thought they would look clean, and it would be easy to control the weed situation. So went and bought lumber from Lowe’s. Constructed 3’x6’x2′ and 2’x6’x2′ boxes. Four for each side, a total of 8 boxes.

Here are the photos:

Fruit trees in a row

Fruit trees: from left to right
Pomegranate, Guava, Fig, Mandarin, Loquat, blueberries, Barbado’s Cherry. We purchased the plants from Urban Harvest and FBMG fruit tree sale.

vegetable gardening in raised beds

Right Side of Rectangular space:
I have kept the four boxes for kitchen basics:
Box 1: 6 kinds of tomatoes and 1 tomatillo plant
Box 2: chilli peppers – Indian hot variety also known as Thai chilli pepper, 2 Serranoโ€™s, 1 bell pepper and 1 chili pequin (small, round peppers similar to tadka chilli type).
Box 3: Red onions, shallots and red potatoes
Box 4: I kept it for herbs and strawberries. Right now spearmint rules the space.

vegetable gardening in raised beds

Left side of Rectangular space:
In four boxes, one box is for green leafy veggies like methi, gongura and spinach. Another one is for brinjal and okra. Remaining two boxes are for beans. So far I planted brinjal seedlings, gongura, methi, and okra seeds. Also beans, Indian broad beans, cucumber, lima beans, turai, peas, and zucchini. Each variety in a row. 5 rows for a box. There is still some space left.

My wish list:
Gawar, Karela (Indian type), Lemon cucumber, Parval, and Tindora seeds or seedlings.
Green brinjal and drumstick (Munagakaaya) seeds or seedlings.
Banana (apple banana) and papaya seedlings.
Catnip for kittaya.

What are you planning to plant this spring? Any tips and advice for this garden newbie? I would love to hear from you.


54 Responses to “Garden Log: March 09”

  1. preeti says:

    Indira, I am really happy to see you back and with this new addition. For the last several weeks I feared you are going away from blogging. Honestly I am now in high spirits ! For someone whom I don’t even know the face, its strange, but you have been such an uplifting personality of my routine!

    Whatever it is you do it with utmost care and detail. So I really wonder if you need other advice ๐Ÿ™‚ Did you have to buy the soil for the raised beds? I tried raised beds last year but was fed up since I had to purchase the soil so often. Can I know where you got the soil from?

    Thank you for the encouraging words Preeti. I greatly appreciate them!
    We have purchased the soil in bulk from local garden shop. We also bought peat moss and cow manure. Mixed everything together.
    The actual plan was no sodding in the backyard and fill it with raised beds for all kinds of vegetable gardening. But we realized it’s not that easy and went with this current plan.

  2. preeti says:

    Oh, forgot, last year I planted large heirloom tomatos, desi eggplant, gongura, thotakura, goruchikkudu and basil and mint. None of them clicked except for gongura and goruchikkudu and herbs. But this year I am going with spinach, green onions, gongura and eggplant.

  3. Mona says:

    I love to plant a few of the essential veggie plants and trees in my backyard too. Picking them fresh for cooking gives a unique satisfaction. This spring I am thinking of a Lemon tree.
    The last year, I and my hubby had planted a few herbs and vegetable plants which were all happily munched up by the Ground hog in just a few days. Rabbits and Raccoons are also a few regular visitors. This has made me truly sad, that I would not be able to plant any from now on inspite of having a large space.
    Enjoy gardening Indira with your hubby, have fun!

    Lemon tree would make wonderful addition to the bakcyard.
    Thanks Mona.

  4. Cilantro says:

    We are still not into Spring here in Seattle Indira. Lots and Lots of snow this season.
    I will have to start once it gets a little warmer. We have a small yard though and would love to plant some tomatoes and some herbs.

    Seattle is having some cold weather this year. Isn’t it. Wishing you warm and glorious summer soon.

  5. moi says:

    How lovely to see your new home, Indira — the one on the web, and the one where you’re planting fruit trees. I wish you, Vijay, and both homes a very fruitful future!

    Thank you Uma.

  6. bee says:

    indira, from my own experience, you need 2 tomatillo plants for cross-pollination to bear fruit. get another one.

    I will get one this weekend. Thanks very much for the info and link, Bee.

  7. bee says:

    and be warned, strawberries will take over everything. so keep one container just for them. you won’t have place for herbs next year unless herbs are in pots. slugs love to eat strawberries, so put crushed egg shells around your strawberry plants.

  8. Ranjan says:

    Hi Indira, Congratulations on the new home at themahanandi and your, Vijay and Kittaya’s home as well. Your garden looks lovely and may you get plenty
    of fruits and vegetables. Really happy to see you back online. I bet Kittaya really loves sitting in the sun while you are gardening!

    Thank you Ranjan.
    Kittaya spends morning and evening few hours in the backyard. He loves going into the grass and hunting for small bugs etc.

  9. Sudha says:

    Congratulations to all three of you for your new home and garden Indira!! Wish you all the best with your gardening. Hope to see grownup plants pictures in the future and looking forward for new recipes.

    Thanks Sudha. I will definitely update the progress of the plants.

  10. Shobana says:

    Congrats on the new site! Wow the garden sounds wonderful! Basil and tomatos grow great together. If nothing else, they kind of keep the slugs out of the soil bed. And of course, starting a cage even now, helps the tom plants to grow strong at the base.

    This spring we are just taking a break from gardening! Will resume next year!!!

    I got get a basil. Will do this weekend.

  11. Madhu says:

    Congratulations on you new site. Graden looks beautiful with plenty of space..Looking forward for new recipe..Good luck.

    Thanks Madhu.

  12. trupti says:

    I’d love to see all the fruits/veggies of your labor sometime! good luck with it,Indira.
    Your passion for all things really shows!

    Thanks very much for all the good words Trupti.

  13. Beautiful roses! I just sent my dad a link to this post. He is an avid gardner. Last summer, he had long snake gourds, peaches, eggplants, tomatoes, mint, roses, etc. The list goes on. He just got a whole new shipment of seeds, so I’m sure he’ll have lots to share with you and your garden log. Happy gardening!

    Snake gourd too? Wow! Seed sharing is good and I would love to exchange seeds with your father. Thanks Nithya.

  14. Hi Indira,
    I have been trying to say hi to you for the past few months but for some reason I was on your web site’s black list. It would always give me an error. Trying again…
    I love your blog and wanted to invite you to visit mine, which is:
    I have also started a mini garden here in pleasanton, california and starting with some tomatoes and basil plants. Good luck with your gardening. Would love for you to visit my blog sometime.


    My old website has some issues with comment spam. Unfortunately some good comments also got thrown into bad bunch. Sorry about that, Anupama.
    Thanks for introducing your website to me. You have some really lovely recipes there. Great work.

  15. Anjali says:

    HI Indira. Awesome garden. I have also bought fruit trees from Urban Harvest this year. Good information about growing vegetables. Hop[e to see more in your blog.

    So glad to meet fellow urban harvest visitor. What did you buy Anjali?

  16. Nirmala says:

    This looks lovely! I could imagine a cute orchard in the near future!

    Thanks very much for all your lovely comments Nirmala. Sorry about the spam karma thing in previous website.

  17. Vandya says:

    How i wish I had such a space to maintain a garden like yours. Everything looks well organized. Is that the black soil that you have used?

    It’s garden soil with compost matter, Vandya.

  18. That no way looks like a garden of a newbie. Very well planned. Indira, mint is known to be invasive. You may want to grow this in a pot. I learnt it the hard way. Gardening in Houston should be fun. Would love to see updates.

    Hello Krithika, so good to hear from you after such long time. How are you and twin doing?
    Will follow the tip, thanks Krithika.

  19. Pritya says:

    Oh Indira, how sweet! All the best to you and wishing you abundance of everything…may your lives be nurtured with wisdom and joy, and may you plant trees of knowledge in every action of yours. It is a much awaited moment to know that your site is finally up…you have kept everyone waiting for too long my dear! May mahanandi truly be the vehicle, the nandi that takes you on the path where you actualize every dream and wish of yours. Welcome back to this space.

    Such good words! Thanks very much for the kind comment P&J.

  20. Brian Pomerantz says:

    I didn’t see any mention of greens. I don’t know what they cost in stores in Houston, but in Coeur d’Alene, ID they’re far more expensive than they should be. I’ve been growing a front yard farm (best light) for the last few years and kale, chard, mustard, etc. have been the easiest to grow and give a good return investment for money saved. Of course, watch out for cabbage white flies and aphids on brassicas which includes kale. The bug blaster, is a good way to control pests along with using a neem oil spray.

    Good to see you back online, good luck with the garden!

    That’s a nice front yard garden you have there in Idaho, Brain. We have been to Coeur d’Alene when we were living in Seattle. Nice town and lake.
    I wish we could plant veggies in front yard but here the HOA’s have strict rules about landscaping.
    Plants are cheap here in Houston compared to other east coast and west coast cities.
    I planted two types of greens – Methi (fenugreek) and gongura(Indian variety Sour greens).
    Thanks for tip about bugspray.

  21. Rani says:


    Great start. I can’t wait to see pictures of your garden in the coming months. I feel that you may have planted the fruit trees too close although there is no way for me to tell by looking at the pictures. Houston is a great place for gardening around the year. Raised beds are great as you can plant a lot in a very small place. Keep adding a bag of cow manure and mushroom compost and top soil all of which are available in Lowes or Home depot every year and you are good to go!
    P.S: Do not plant mint on the ground. It will soon take over as a weed. Plant it in a pot to control it. You can grow karevepaaku so well in Houston you are so lucky to be there!

    They are little bit close, I think they would need heavy pruning in the years ahead for healthy look and growth.
    Thanks for the tips, Rani.
    yes, karevepaaku does very well here in Houston. Some of my friends here have karevepaaku like small tress. very healthy growth.

  22. rajitha says:

    god you are making me feel so guilty of not doing a thing with that huge backyard i had in mi!!..maybe next time…i said maybe :)…enjoy ur garden indira!

    You are lucky not have that garden bug:) .
    Thanks Rajitha.

  23. Usha says:


    The garden looks absolutely wonderful. Great tips. I have always wanted raised beds in my yard but had no clue how to go about it. Right now we are in an apt. in MI(we sold our house) and hoping to move out to a warmer place down South. My dream is to grow all tropical plants. Hope my dreams get realised some day. And Houston seems like a good place to raise a family.

    I had posted a comment for the first time when your mango tree post came up. Don’t know whether you had a chance to look at it.

    Just to reiterate, each and every post of yours is informative and I use this blog as a reference guide for a lot of things.

    Also had a question. I tried your Kalakand recipe and it turned out sticky. Do you know why ? The kalakand that I’m used to (in W.Bengal) is dry but soft.

    Keep up the good work.


    I am glad that you find my website useful. Thanks for the good words, Usha.
    About Kalakand, I think it might be due to the cooking time and also the milk available here.

  24. Meenal Mehta says:

    Hey Indira,

    fantastic to see you back , I had left a comment on your previous website and hadn’t heard abck, made me wonder if you were bidding adieu to the blogging world. Vey glad to see that’s not the case

    take care
    -Meenal @ Meenal’s Kitchen

    Glad to be back. Thanks Meenal.

  25. Bubbuj says:

    congratulations on the home. The garden looks very promising

  26. dale says:

    Great to see you back indira!! I love the garden but where is the curry plant? I have a baby I could donate ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Sushma says:

    Hi Indira,

    Nice to see you back! Good luck with your plants. My mom has karepaku (Curry leaf) and Jasmine plants apart from roses and champaka( don’t know its Indian name, but they are so pretty.

  28. Kay says:

    ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Lotsenlotsenlotsenlotsen (in my daughter’s words) hard work!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    We are moving soon to another apartment and the place is small. but we’ll have a balcony! Which we are sp happy about. It’s east facing, so not much shade. We are planning for a herb/greens garden. ๐Ÿ™‚ Indosungod has a swisschard challenge. I’ll be participating in it.

    Indira, Maybe you can plant more greens – like spinach, swiss chard, kale, etc apparently they are easy to grow. Store bought greens are full of chemicals. ๐Ÿ™

  29. Lavanya says:

    Hello Indira,

    Congratulations on your new home & garden!
    I have one suggestion for your garden. Plant some Arabian Jasmine (Malle puvvulu). They are low maintenance plants. But
    during most of the year they remain green and all through summer you will have fragrant and beautiful flowers. They like sun and acidic soil.

    Key for any raised bed garden is the balance of nutrients with pH=~7. I think you have garden soil in the raised beds. I recommend mixing organic manure or vegetable compost of 1 cu-ft for every 3 cu-ft of garden soil. Once your plants get established try to put vitamin B which has trace elements like Cu, which the plants really like.

    For typical pest control (aphids,white flies) you can use the mixture of thai hot chillies and garlic in water,which really works.

    Thanks and good luck

  30. Krishnapriya says:

    Hi Indira,

    Are you not interested in flower bearing plants like jasmines, and other desi flowers. I missed you too much while u were not posting on the blog. New Home for u and Mahanandi toooo ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Anu says:

    Indira, so nice to see you back with great posts. Good luck with the gardening.


  32. Victoria says:

    Indira, your garden looks very nice and well-planned. So far, we are in a rental situation, so we have to make do with the boxes on our patio. I am going to grow Japanese scarlet carrots (they are dark red, very striking,) Russian golden turnip, arugula, endive, some herbs. I also have two jasmine plants indoors, which love to be outside in the summer. To be honest, my planting ambitions exceed the available space, so I am trying to pace myself.
    I also hope that the tiny wild strawberries I planted last year will bear fruit again this summer. They are as tiny as my pinkie nail, but each tiny berry could scent an entire jug of lemonade with its delicious scent.

  33. Miri says:

    Congratulations on your move to Mahanandi’s own special space – this baby has been so well looked after, no wonder it is growing fast!

    The garden looks very well planned and am sure your hard work will pay off soon!


  34. moe says:

    You requested gardening tips from your readers. I’m no gardening expert, but one of the things I once did when I had a backyard was to plant lavender by the deck. It’s not food, but it can make a meal a wonderful experience! If you’re having a meal or drink outdoors (or even just reading), the scent of fresh lavender growing nearby will soothe your senses. You can bring the flowers indoors, and keep them fresh or dried on your dining or living room table. They will make your room look and smell beautiful. Given how creative you are, I’m sure you’ll get a hundred ideas for gifts, potpourri, aromatherapy, etc. If there’s a heaven, I’m sure it smells of lavender!

    Well, coming back down to earth, lavender is a perennial and easy to care for. If the winter is cold enough for it to wither, no worries — it will come back next spring. You can grow it in a bed or perhaps a large planter, ideally near a seating area.

    A friend has a trellis with honeysuckle right outside her door. Don’t know whether it requires much care, but it’s another delightful scent.

  35. Sapna says:

    Hello Indira,

    Ugadi Subhankshalu! Excellent job here with growing your food. I live in a Condo so I have been doing only container gardening for a few years now. This year I couldnt bear the itch to garden on land, so I have rented a 10X10 plot in my town’s community garden. And now my countdown to the last frost date(May 15th here in CT) has started.
    Meanwhile I have started my seedlings(onions, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers) and some more seeds to be planted in the coming weeks. I guess you can plant the seeds directly on the ground.
    You could do some companion planting like, interplanting carrots with onions, tomatoes with onions and carrots, cucumbers with sunflowers etc. But there are some rules to this, some plants like brassicas(cabbage family) dont go well with tomatoes etc. Its a good idea to have some flowering plants(sunflower,lavender, marigold, nasturtium) to attract pollinators to a vegetable garden. Also its good idea to build/install trellis for beans, gourds, tomatoes etc before the plants grow a lot so that the soil structure and roots are not disturbed.
    Anyways all the best to you. And keep in touch.

  36. Seema says:

    Hi Indira, I have enjoyed your web site for quite a while now, but had problems accessing your old website. i am happy that you started this new site.

    We have done some vegetable gardening last 2yrs, here in Indiana. Ground is still frozen, so we have not started this year’s garden yet. What we learned was, for tomatoes, it is best to put the cage around the sapling now itself before it grows tall. Basil and tomato in the same bed is a good combination. Do not let the leaves of tomato touch the ground, put newspaper as mulch around the plants. Also pinch the suckers, so that the plant does not get very tangled.

    We have rabbit problem, they decimate beans, peas and cucumber saplings. I have not found a solution yet.

    When we were living in Houston, sometimes you could buy kariveppilai sapling from the temple. Ofcourse, at that time we were living in an apartment. Now, it won’t be able to withstand midwest winters!

    All the best with your garden.

  37. Priya says:

    Oh Indira, u r living my dream – of a home with a backyard! For now I live vicariously, looking forward to the day when we have our own little space. Thank u for posting pictures of your garden – it is lovely.

  38. Latha says:

    Dear Indira,

    I am sooo glad you’re back and with a new place. It’s nice to note you have settled in your new home and your journals have a new home too….

    Wow wonderful garden tips. Bee thanks for those tips on strawberries and egg shells… last year the slugs did a great damage!!

    I have only a little balcony:( this year i have already sowed mini aรบbergine seeds and carrots. I am not at all sure about carrots in balcony cartons but this was my son’s wish… so… otherwise we’ll have our regular flowers… pansies, some herbs all mixed up. My roses are budding to life again and i await some good weather to nourish them. This time i found a nice shop that sells natural manure!!!

    i’ll stop by ever so often this summer… you’ll have lots to offer from your garden.. i know that for sure!!!

  39. Theo says:

    Indira – living in Houston definitely has some benefits. I also got some fruit trees this year (mainly citrus) and already see fruit on strawberry, blackberry, and blueberry bushes. Have already picked the first few chiles as well. I have a lemon chile that has quite interesting flavor and would be happy to share if you’re interested, or you can also get from Burpee/others. It’s called Aji Limon and is originally from South America. I’m looking for baby curry leaf plant in return (or will be stuck waiting for India Grocer to get some in stock). One interesting twist re. your raised beds… our garden is on the roof! We designed the house with a green roof… not too much plot space available, so had to go up.

  40. usha says:

    hey indira i totally love ur website i llok at it every day as if i am looking at some newspaper…i am interested in gardening …can u let me know how do u grow methi tomato,brinjal and chilli and other plants..i mean do u plant seeds or do u by plants.where do u get them from..please let me know…

  41. Bhuvana says:

    I was waiting for you to publish something after you bought the house. Nicely planned garden. I also read the link on the raised bed. It said you have to have 8-12 inches deep for the vegetable bed. Did you till the earth first and then add top soil to make it a raised bed? About how many inches is the bed raised? Appreciate your response. I am planning to add one now.

  42. smitha says:

    Very very glad to see you back Indira. Congrats on the new site, lovely garden, and a wonderful home. Hope you will have lots of fun gardening, cooking and posting delightful recipes time and again. Eagerly awaiting your new recipes. Missed you lots.

  43. manila says:


    I always dreamed of a house with a backyard. At least you have yours now, go full blast treating it.
    It looks beautiful. All the best to you.

  44. Amit says:

    Indira, congratulations on the “new” blog and welcome to raised bed gardening. I’m a bit envious as I have to wait another month or so in Boston before I plant anything in my raised bed (third year in a row!), though I have started seedlings indoors. ๐Ÿ™‚

    One good rule of raised bed gardening is to plant what you like to eat. Also, a bit of integrated pest management is good, as well as planting companion vegetables. I usually grow a basil plant next to my tomato plants as it helps keep pests away from tomatoes. Marigold and zinnias (or similar flowers) on the borders of the raised bed ensure that bees and other friends keep visiting and pollinating.

    By the way, having a compost bin or a compost pile goes well with gardening – it turns organic matter into black gold for next year.

    Looking forward to reading about your gardening experience and sharing notes.

  45. Amit says:

    Oh, and this is a useful resource for questions:

    Good luck!

  46. jyothi says:

    Hi Indira! Saw your garden pictures. Nicely planned. We live in Houston. Me and my husband love gardening. We have all kinds of Indian plants in our back yard. You can buy guava plants in Houston. They do really good in Houston weather. Ours is 3yr old plant and last summer it gave 300 to 400 fruit! Just thought may be you would like to plant one. I have 2 types of banana plants from India (koora arati and Karpoora arati). I will be glad to share my plants with you. Let me know if you need any.

  47. Shri says:

    Hi Indira,

    Very nice pictures of your garden. We too have a huge garden with fruit trees and veggies, roses, jasmine, lillies and native shrubs.

    Shrubs and plants like used coffee grounds and used tea as well. You can get big bags of used coffee for free from Starbucks or Seattle’s Best cafe. You can dry the coffee and put it for the plants.

  48. Sreeju says:

    Very nice to see ur fruit Trees.

    I wish to collect all the fruit trees which will grow up and bear fruit in the Climate of Kerala, India.

  49. Sreeju Nair says:

    You can visit this web sites, for all type of fruit trees avalable in Kerala.

    For US Fruit varietis visit.

    Sreeju Nair

  50. JNR says:

    Your garden looks so good. I am curious about what kind of wood you used to build the beds. Can you let me know. Great work with the website. All good wishes to you.


  51. Rajani says:

    Hi Indira,
    your garden log is really awesome and i am the fan of your food blog. I am not much aware of indoor plants. If possible can you post one log with available indoor and outdoor plants available in USA. I hope and i will wait for your log. Thank you.

  52. Sumana says:

    A friend of mine told me of your website as I love gardening and live in SL too. I can’t believe I didn’t know of your website before! I love it and your work shows in your results.
    Her’s what I am growing: 3 types of tomatoes, 2 types of egg plant, okra, bush beans, bell peppers, banana peppers, mirchi. Alasandalu, cantaloupe, dosakai, squash, chikkudu, tindora, snake guard, turai, karela, lemon dosakai in creepers. bachchali, amaranth, gongura, mint, parslane, methi, cilantro in leaves. Rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, bayleaf (biryani patha), betel leaf, curry leaf in seasoning spices. I have some tropical and local fruit trees too. As to results: no complaints.
    Take care,

  53. Sumana says:

    Forgot to mention, I love flowering plants and have a variety of them but I don’t want to bore you with a list of those : )
    If you are interested in any of the above or any thing else, I have seeds or little extra plants of most. Let me know.

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