It’s been a month since the new year began. Since a year has 12 months, it should remain new till the half mark in June; shouldn’t it? I believe that a year remains new at least till the end of the first quarter. So if any of you find me yelling “Happy New Year” in February, do not panic. It’s a part of my “Staggered New Year Wishing” programme. I wish people later than others because otherwise my wishes would drown among hundreds of other wishes. See? I’m not lazy. I’m smart. With a programme. 😀
Like most other people, my new year also began with a set of resolutions. Like most other people, I’m going to abandon most of them. Unlike most other people, however, some of my resolutions are achievable so I won’t be abandoning all of them. Since gardening is now a part of who I am, I have gardening related resolutions too. My Gardening Resolutions for 2016 are:
1. To grow vegetables for my kitchen
2. To save seeds from my plants
3. To bring more variety in the garden
4. To recycle household items as garden ornaments or plant pots
This post is an exercise to check my progress (and possible derailment) from my resolutions. I am hoping that if I keep a monthly track of my activities, I’ll probably end up fulfilling at least about 3.18 out of my 4 resolutions. Let’s see how far I’ve gone towards each of the above resolutions in a month.
Please click on the images to enlarge them.
1. Growing my own food has been on my mind for a while, because I want to eat healthy and reducing pesticide intake is a major contributor. I’ve never tried my hand at planting vegetables, although I’m not sure I can come up with a reason for that; so this year I decided to give it a try.
My first step, being the bookworm that I am, was to buy books to read about the topic.
I bought these two books and they have turned out to be just what I needed. I felt emboldened and set out to grow my own tomatoes. Tomatoes in India are a food staple in all seasons, but the crop season is winter. Hence the quality of tomatoes available in the market goes drastically down in summers. I decided to take out the seeds of the juiciest tomatoes while they’re still available and grow my own. From what I’ve heard and read, growing tomatoes is very easy and anyone can do it. I couldn’t have asked for an easier first step into the world of balcony kitchen gardening!
I started with preparing the soil before sowing. I ground the soil with a stone to break the lumps. I mixed the soil with some compost and lined the bottom of the pots with pebbles before filling in soil, to ensure good drainage (you can read about the importance of pebbles and drainage in this post).
The advice I got about the seeds was divided – the gardener said that the seeds should be dried before sowing and my mum said that even fresh seeds would do. So, I started an experiment to check whether the type of seeds makes a difference.
To one pot I added fresh seeds (after washing off the pulp) and to another pot I added the seeds that I had dried for two days. I sprinkled a fistful of soil on top of the seeds to cover them up nicely and then watered the pots using my own home made hand sprinkler. And of course, like a good scientist, I labelled the pots 🙂
I also sowed a germinated pea, and an onion showing plant growth. The pea is an experiment, but I know that the onion will surely give me a nice spring onion plant a few months hence. I plan to plant more onions with green growth, so that my spring onion supply in summer is sorted 🙂 If the experiment with the pea is successful and it grows into a plant, I will germinate more peas and plant them.
If these plants give satisfactory results, I will attempt to grow more vegetables 🙂
2. My second resolution is to save seeds from my plants, to ensure a steady supply of the annuals and a good back up of the perennials.
Annuals are plants that grow/flower once a year in their specific season. Most of the annuals die after their season. Seed saving means that you can grow the next batch of your annuals without any investment. Since most of the annuals are expensive if bought from a nursery, it means significant savings. Perennials live through all seasons, but no plant lives forever. Pests, diseases, overwatering, underwatering, harsh sun etc are some factors that can cause a plant to die. If you have the seeds, you can grow it back again.
In terms of food, it means organic produce from your own garden and a steady supply of healthy seeds. If you buy seeds, you can not be sure of the quality or the age of the seeds. The success rate of germination depends greatly on the age and quality of the seeds, as I learned when I ordered seeds of flowering plants in bulk and most of them did not germinate. You can read about the seeds I sowed in this post. If you save seeds from your own garden, you know that they’re fresh and of good quality. I am planning to save seeds from my plants whenever possible.
Seed saving is not just about collecting seeds from your plants, storing them well and away from moisture is a very important step. I have saved seeds from my sweet yellow rain Lily (which you can see in this post) in an airtight ziplock bag. My Tulsi seeds are also similarly stored in a resealable pouch. However, for my Aparajita seeds (you can see the plant in this post) and my freshly dried tomato seeds, I did not have such pouches. Hence, I decided to make my own envelopes to save these seeds.
These envelopes have been sealed and kept together with the other seeds. I will try to collect more seeds and save them as and when possible.
3. My resolution to bring variety in my garden was more out of despondency at the state of my winter garden than anything else. Since I started my little balcony oasis in summer, it had all summer plants which had gone into dormancy at the onset of winter. My balcony looked woebegone, and I decided that for my balcony to look alive throughout the year I need to have a mixture of perennials and annuals for all seasons.
You can see multiple plants laden with flowers. Most of these are winter bloomers, and I have already covered my summer bloomers in great detail on the blog in the past. Hopefully with a collection of these plants and of course gradual addition to the group, my balcony will never look dreary again 🙂
4. My last resolution for the year is to make my garden prettier by adding ornaments and decorative planters. However, all of this is to be done by recycling old junk and at no extra cost. That is a challenge, but I will definitely attempt to do so. I have not started on this yet, but hopefully the next few months will see more art and beauty in my garden 🙂
So that was all about my gardening resolutions for the year, and the update of my progress in January. If you have any gardening resolutions, please share them with me. If you don’t, well what are you waiting for? Make some resolutions for your garden and use your free time to work on them. Gardening is a great stress buster. The hard work is very rewarding, and the pleasure of seeing a tiny plant bloom with colourful flowers is beyond words.
Among other things, my little garden has started attracting bees! This little guy was found hovering near the Marigolds and the Calendula. I couldn’t click fast enough and it had moved from the flower by the time I got the shot.
My succulent leaves have also finally begun to show new little plants. I’m so happy! I hope I can keep them alive and soon have pots full of succulents. *swooooon*
That’s all I have for now, I hope my progress with my resolutions has inspired some of you to try new things in your gardens. Until we meet again, keep digging, keep watering, keep gardening!