herb garden

Greenspiration 2

Greenspiration 1 here.

A couple of weeks back, I visited Varthur area in Bangalore, which has a string of really good nurseries along the road. It was precisely at the time I was feeling really greenspired as some of my consistent efforts (if you can call watering plants that) had just begun to show some results.

I had been looking for a bougainvillea plant. I love these thorny, earthy trees. I get an immense joy out of the many colors that bloom out of this thorny tree. So we set out on mission bougainvillea and I ended up buying six other plants.

The nursery was spread out upto one km inside its gate and there was a dizzying variety of flowering plants, cacti, shrubs, indoor plants and what not. Mera bas chalta to mein sarehi utha lati. The owner was a darling old man who spoke only kannada. So we communicated with signs and excessive expressions (on my part). The plants were all unbelievably inexpensive. When I  checked with my mum, she told me that those were the normal prices, and the smaller nurseries within the city just overcharge. No wonder then that the tiny nursery in Indiaranagar charged so much more. But anyway, no price is too much for plants I guess.

This is the bougainvillea nicely settled in the corner that had just enough space after the washing machine went there.

My precious find

My precious find

The three other plants were what I had gotten earlier.

First house plants

First house plants

Then these lovely flowering plants. I have some kind of bee visitors every morning now. 🙂

After repotting

After repotting

I transplanted my basil seedlings into a rectangular tray, and they started growing miraculously well. I have now figured out that basil and mint grow together in one pot much better than growing a single cutting in a separate pot.

The 3 month old seedlings

The 3 month old seedlings

My mint is growing crazy, and I have repotted some cuttings. I plan to keep multipying the mint by taking sturdy cuttings and replanting them in smaller pots, and giving them away as gifts. same goes for basil.

The cause of my gratefulness

The cause of my gratefulness

Here’s my chili. I am amazed and grateful. I had just randomly thrown in some seeds after seeding an organic chili. Yay! These are organic chili plants. cute, huh?

Mirchi

Mirchi

A colleague had given me her plants when she left the company. Our company apparently gives away saplings once every year. This is my first year, so I am waiting excitedly to find out what’s the theme this year. Last year it was indoor plants, and before that, medicinal plants. So, though the indoor plants she gave me looked great on my desk, they were in serious need of transplanting. They were too big for their paper cup holders, and the roots had started rotting. So I’ve replanted them in bigger pots, and given the creeper some support. It was almost falling off. Here it is gracing my living room.

Survivors

Survivors

And a couple more pics just because I have them.

I think it grows about two inches a day

I think it grows about two inches a day

They share birthdays

They share birthdays

I hope these keep growing. I already have more basil and mint than I need. I can’t believe how generous these plants are. I plan to stick a note outside my home in a few weeks for neighbors to come and take some herbs whenever they need them.

Herb section

Herb section

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Greenspiration

My day started with reading this incredible article about a man who took a patch of land outside his home and converted it into the stuff of my dreams.

And then, just as I stepped out for work, the Bangalore landscape just seemed like an extension of the green thoughts from the morning.  There are beautiful blooms in a variety of pastels all over the city: lavender, baby pink, egg shell, light rose, pink, violet, golden yellow, and what not. It’s just stunning. I took this pic when I went for chai in the office campus. And my pc doesn’t do even one percent justice to the actual colors.

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So, I was suddenly bitten by the gardening bug about two months ago. On a whim, I went to a nursery and got three plants with varying shades of green. All I wanted at that point was to have some soothing greens in my balcony. I was, and still am so clueless about gardening, that I started off pretty scared. I knew I was green-thumb challenged when I had almost killed the one plant I had. And it was aloe vera, which is supposed to be one of those hardy plants that just grow, irrespective of your complete lack of gardening skills. But then, I casually watered my aloe vera along with the new plants, and in just two days it started looking mighty replenished. I also realized that it wasn’t dead after all. So, apparently you are not supposed to water the plant too frequently anyway. It’s a desert plant and can contain itself without water for weeks. In any case, I saw little pups in the aloe vera pot and replanted these in smaller pots.

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I then started reading about gardening and the plants that are very forgiving and would grow even if you were a terrible gardener. I have been taken by the idea of having a lovely herb garden since as far back as I can remember. I then started reading up about growing herbs. But then the question was, whether to grow them from seeds or cuttings. I decided to experiment with a bit of both. The second question was if I was using cuttings, would I keep them in a glass of water till they sprouted roots, or would I plant thicker twigs in a sapling tray directly. I again decided to try a bit of both.

I got some coco-peat, one bag of potting mix, a couple of medium sized pots and a tiny water spray. I then took a few cuttings of mint and planted them in the tray. Unfortunately, by the next day, most of the leaves had wilted. That’s when I realized that I had sed the thinnest part of the twigs which simply weren’t sturdy enough. So I went to the store and bough another bunch of mint and this time stuck the slightly thicker stems in the sapling tray covered with peat. I then covered it with a plastic and kept watering.

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A lot of these wilted away, but some stayed. After 2 weeks, I transplanted them into bigger paper cups to give them more room for growing. And then another 2-3 weeks later, I stuck in 2-3 twigs with the white roots in one small pot. They are growing slowly but steadily.

I also put a few twigs in a glass of water. In just two days these sprouted (much before I could spot any growth in the sapling tray). So I just took the thick rooted twig and stuck it in a pot. This is how it looks now. 🙂

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Around the same time I got the mint, I also got some basil and put thicker cuttings in a glass of water. One of them grew fairly strong , thick, white roots. This is how the little stem with one leaf looks now.

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Around the same time, I had also sowed some basil seeds in a sapling tray. Just when I was beggining to lose hope after about 20 days, the little green miniature leaves started peeping out of the soil. There were about 35. Some off them just died, some wilted off, some rotted. It’s been about two months now, and about 15 seedlings that stayed on have only just begun to sprout the second set of real leaves. I intend to transplant all of these in one big rectangular pot.

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In this same period, I tried to work with rosemary. But it didn’t catch on, neither in water, nor in peat. I am wont to believe that Bangalore weather is simply not suitable for rosemary, or that this just isn’t the right way. I also stuck a few thyme prigs in soil a couple of weeks back, but no luck there either.

I am a big fan of lemongrass and had watched several videos about how it’s one of the easiest and hardiest herbs to grow. Around the same time I started with mint, I got a few lemongrass stalks and stuck them in a glass of water and kept it in my balcony. After 8 days the glass went missing. I found out that it had fallen off the balcony, and I never found out what happened to the stalks. I did the same again, and this time all the three stalks started growing roots almost immediately. In fact the leaves had also started coming out while they were still in water. After about 3 weeks, this is what I have.

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While I was dumping my frustration onto my mother, she suggested growing methi (fenugreek) since it grows very easily. I tried for the first time, and it sprouted almost immediately. It however collapsed after it reached about 4 inches high. I harvested it anyway, but didn’t use it. The second time was better, but it still stayed short. I harvested, and used it this time. It was quite delicious.

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I have planted it again for the third time, but don’t expect much else.  am beginning to wonder if the seeds I am using just don’t grow bigger. This is what I have after a week.

I have also randomly thrown in some organic seeds from chili I used n the kitchen last week. I saw little sprouts peeking out only today. Fingers crossed!

I sowed some alyssium seeds 3 weeks back, but none of them sprouted. I then tried daisy, they sprouted almost immediately, but also wilted and died off right after. Geomphrena seeds have just started sending out dark purple little leaves. Hoping for a miracle here.

All said and done, in just two months, my morning routine has changed. I go to the balcony as soon as I am out of the bed, even before brushing. And then I visit my babies right after I return home from work. It has been a slow process, but I feel so much at peace with myself even when I am in my tiniest garden of barely 12 little pots. 🙂

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