In this series I will share about the history of gardeners our family had before me, what all they have grown in the garden, their hacks: hits & misses to what I am growing in the same garden these days and the hacks I am using.
Our family has a long line of gardeners in them. I am the third generation. My maternal grandmother started gardening when we first moved to our current independent house about 25 years ago. I have given a brief verbal glimpse of my garden in one of my previous posts: Multi-Pulse Punugulu. If you haven’t read it already here is the post link: https://saudhaminimylaram.in/2020/06/25/mutli-pulse-punugulu/
Anyway, our grandmother first started off with the Curry leaf plant, which now is a giant tree (as old as the house itself). Now, these curry leaf trees have attachment issues! We grow one and from their roots they keep sprouting new small ones. It is very annoying to weed them out every week.
Moving on, our grandmother also had Bottle Gourd, Dosakaya (one kind of cucumber), Bitter Gourd, Sweet Lime, Tomatoes and Green Chillies in her garden. Tomatoes and Chilli plants survived for only one season giving us one cycle of vegetables before drying up. Bottle gourd creeper occupied more than half of our terrace, that’s how wild it grew back then. The shape of the bottle gourd should ideally be round but occasionally we would spot a bell shaped, hook-shaped and many others. As kids we would wait eagerly to see what shape they would take!
With bitter gourd, the creeper was just half way through going to the terrace (while still growing as a plant), it started to flower and we had early bitter gourds too. They were quite small comparatively and ripen on the plant itself. Funny thing is, birds would come and eat the ripen bitter gourds and we never had a chance to eat them. The creeper dried up within few short weeks and we never bothered with another try until quite recently. Sweet lime tree grew up to be quite massive with its huge trunk and big leaves. It also gave us couple of fruits, but for the fear of the tree growing even bigger, our father cut it down completely. Yeah, Sad!
She also tried growing Brinjal, Okra, Bachalkura (also called as Malabar Spinach, is a leafy vegetable) and Gongura (also a leafy vegetable). Some were successful, some not so much.
Our Grandmother’s hack of growing healthy plants was: she saved the water used for washing vegetables and grains, used this water for the plants. Said they would serve as natural supplements for plants.
Along with our grandmother, my two elder sisters and I would also contribute in gardening. But our interests back then was in flowering pots! All three of us together would care for a variety of Roses, Jasmines (It is a part of the plant our paternal grandmother was growing, now dried up mostly because it is ages old! And we are glad to have it in our home and to carry on her legacy) Chrysanthemums, Corn (although this was an experiment tried by one of sisters to test if it would actually grow. The experiment was not only successful; we also enjoyed corn from that very plant!) Marigold flowers, December flowers, Rain Lilies, Money plant and Crossandra (What kind of a plant is it, you wondering? Well, even I have just discovered Kanakambaram is called Crossandra in English! One new thing I have learned today!!)
Rain lilies: my sister got this plant from one of her friends place. You just need the roots for these plants, they will be in the onion shape and you don’t even need to put it inside the ground. Just leave it in a pot and water them. These plants need excessive water to start flowering but otherwise they generate leaves pretty fast and roots also multiply in no time. We have two different types of rain lilies: wild orange lilies and pink lilies.
Aloe Vera: Just like rain lilies, my sister got aloe vera from one of her friends. Easy thing with Aloe Vera is: it does not need ground to grow, which I have realized only early this year. It was growing in a pot, quiet wildly if I have to add. Then I decided I need that pot for one of my experiments (which I will cover in my next article of gardening) and I uprooted all the aloe vera plants that were growing in this pot and thrashed them carelessly in one corner of my garden thinking if they survive well and good if not no loss, not at least for me. You see, I don’t use aloe vera for any of my beauty hacks, my sisters did. With them living in different parts of the city and world respectively, I have no use of it. And it proved to be as wild as I imagined: with root turned upwards they are still surviving and growing!
Guava: we actually don’t know how it came to be in our garden, it just did and we were glad about it. Because the inside of the fruit is pink!
When you have two elder sisters while growing up, you learn through their mistake. Now, all these roses and chrysanthemum were from a nursery and they needed supplements every week, without which they would die. That is what happened with all our rose plants and chrysanthemum plants in our garden.
Did these plants not survive when they grew in wild without supplements? Why do they need it now? And, these plants are accustomed to the supplements provided by the same nursery! At least we had fun with the other plants which kept us busy.
One hack my sisters used for gardening: use all the cooking wastes such as: used tea powder, eggshells, etc., as natural supplements for the plants. You can also include vegetables wastes in the mix.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. In the next segment on Chronicles of Gardening, I will be sharing my experiences with gardening in the last ten years, attempts I made at growing few organic vegetables (I am calling them experiments): hits & misses. Stay tuned!