Sunday, October 27, 2013

Growing food for my table


I'm a happy gardener these days. All the hard work in the vegetable garden has paid off and my table is loaded with the fruits and vegetables we grew. Which is a real relief when I read in the papers about the spiraling prices.

We usually grow a lot of veggies during the monsoon season but this year was a strange one. The Monsoons hit us before time and continued battering the city and elsewhere almost non-stop for close to 2 months. And, I don't think we saw bright sunshine until August. So unusual! I've never seen anything like it in all the years that I've been farming.
Now, I love the monsoon season with a passion. But such a strange season got us a bit worried because all the vegetable seeds we had sown at the start of the monsoons either got washed away or the little seedlings just rotted away. Only the really tough local varieties survived (just about. And that's a great reason to grow local, heirloom varieties if you can find them)



The beans were the first to yield and they did so abundantly. With a whole-hearted largesse that makes you glad for such simple, easy-to-grow vegetables.
I don't know why more people don't grow them in the city. What you see here is the yield on a single day from just 2 plants! And that too, at the start of the harvest before the plants came into their full yielding potential.


And the peppers were full of green berries too. Don't you love the way those pepper berries are packed tight? It looks even prettier when they ripen.


If you have a banana plant in your garden, then you're set for several meals. In fact, almost the entire plant is edible one way or the other. It's not just the ripe fruit which you can enjoy as a fruit or dessert. The unripe fruit , the inflorescence and the pith of the pseudostem, all make great ingredients and feature in several of our regional cuisines.
Oh, and you can use the large leaves as a plate and compost it after your meal. No washing up! How much better can it get?


This is another plant from which we got a surprisingly good harvest this season. I'm not too fond of bitter-gourd as a vegetable but I have to admit that it does look pretty. I love the leaves and the simple but eye-catching bright yellow flowers.
Heck! I think we're doing it an injustice by confining it to the kitchen garden!


And I love how tenacious it is. The bittergourd vines can latch on and climb and smother any surface in a cloud of green almost overnight.


Interesting texture, don't you think? And they're very good for you. There are all kinds of reports of it helping to regulate blood-sugar levels.


Every once in a while, a few escape our eyes (well, it's a green veggie on a green plant, after all) . And this is what we find. A glorious warm sunset-orange rind and blood-red arils that rival the pomegranate in glossy, brilliant red-ness.
Definitely prettier than tastier ... to my eyes, at least!


This one I like, though! The Red Amaranth is grown in my garden round the year.The tender leaves and stem are rich in iron and its grain is increasingly being recommended too for its nutritional value.
This season, however I didn't get around to sowing its seeds. But guess what, some of them volunteered to show up anyway. In the stoniest, weediest part of the vegetable garden!
hmmmm.... I wonder if my garden is sending me a message here? "Don't bother weeding and cleaning"?
But here's my story, all those weeds are left undisturbed on purpose. Some of them are butterfly and pollinator food, you know. That tiny blue flower to the left? The Red Pierrot butterflies love them. So, now you know.


And how could I leave out the Carambola? This tree is just beginning to mature but I love how profusely it is bearing fruit on almost  every inch of bare space! This is definitely my kind of tree! Low on maintenance but high on yield.

Wait, there's more. But I think I'll keep those for another post. Maybe by then I'll have more pics to share. Of the tomatoes and other veggies which are growing and soon to yield any day now. Can you see me smiling?

In the meantime, here's a pic of cherry tomatoes from another harvest. Get growing your own food, everyone. It's not so tough. And it's definitely fulfilling. Also, tastier and healthier than the fruits and veggies you'll buy in the market.

And, if each one grows some, we'll all have a table-ful.
Smile, everyone!


41 comments:

  1. Lovely. I just grew my first green chillies so now I'm feeling encouraged to try some more stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! If you can grow green chillies, beans will be a snap for you. And tomatoes. And .... well, just sow seeds of all your favourite veggies :)

      Delete
  2. WOW such bounty from your garden Sunita. I have never grown that type of pepper and I would love to try some seeds. Everything looks soo healthy. Job well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Helen! It's such a thrill filling my table with food I grew myself :)
      Oh, I'm sure the pepper will definitely grow for you, Helen. But you need to get rooted cuttings for them. I've never heard of them growing from seed.

      Delete
  3. Great pictures! The Carambola is also very popular in the tropics.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the way cucumbers reach out with the coils like your gourds. Nature is so interesting. I too love a good "harvest" and nothing tastes better than food you've tended yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean, Amy. Like tiny little hands aren't they?

      Delete
  5. Oh there Sunita, i can comment again. Last time, my name doesn't show up in the window "Comment as:", now it's already there. I find it happening also in some other blogs like Bernie's and some others. What is the cause of that? Does it mean I have been removed in their reading list, or something happened in mine? You know I am not good in these things, so i can't correct it in my side!

    It is obvious in your plants that you are colder than ours. And our bitter gourds have to be wrapped with plastic or paper while still young, if we want to keep them free from insects to maturity. I love eating them sauteed with tomatoes and egg and a little soy sauce to taste. We mix younger leaves with mungo, sauteed together with maybe tomatoes to taste or with young papaya slices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's probably some house-cleaning being done by the folks at Blogger, Andrea. Just wait it out a bit and if it still doesn't clear up then you ask them for help.

      Colder probably in Jan - Feb, but not otherwise, I think. Mumbai is very hot and humid . There are plenty and more of insects here too. I think the regular applications of neem and compost makes the plants healthier than otherwise. Wrapping fruit in paper is practiced by farmers here too. I just haven't got around to doing it.
      Our vegetables and fruits are grown without chemical pesticides, etc. Which means that there are plenty of predators for the pests around too. Good biodiversity in the garden is a great help for gardeners everywhere :)

      Delete
  6. Lovely! the pics are so beautiful! I love kitchen gardens :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beans, green pepper. Bananas. bitter gourd, such a wonderful bounty packed with the essentials plus wonderful colours, so exciting to grow but I know also work. The seasons are not always kind to our endeavours, here too! I love the photo with the tendrils, so simple and so ingeniously thought out by nature. I wished for some, so soft and so strong. I do not grow bitter gourd and have not tasted it either, but it looks splendid with its knobbly skin, looks odd and fantastic at the same time. The rich orange with the purple leaves, colours one could easily get used to. The versatile tomatoes, I mainly cook Mediterranean food so tomatoes are a lot on the menu, preferably when I grow them myself. A fine and wonderful garden,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Trudi, that's high praise coming from you :)
      I know what you mean about those tendrils, I'm fascinated by them too. Maybe if we had them there would be less spills and bumps!
      Bitter-gourd is ... well, bitter. Not my favourite flavour but my husband likes it so we end up growing a lot of it. For myself, I'd rather look at it than eat it. Though it's incredibly medicinal and nutritive.
      We use a lot of tomatoes in our food too, Trudi. Mostly to add a hint of tartness to balance our spicy curries. And we grow them a lot too.

      Delete
  8. How luscious and delicious Sunita! Beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's a great view of those veggies you've grown, Sunita. Reminded me of the time I had those beans, bitter gourds, a small pumpkin and green chillies, growing in my container garden, about a couple of months back. For now I'm waiting for my potted broad beans vine, that is bearing some flowers, to give me a bunch of broad beans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, CyberKID :)
      Growing veggies or any edible plant is like having the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the flowers and then eat the fruit too. Enjoy your broad beans :)

      Delete
  10. Dear Sunita,

    Lovely images!! And congratulations for the way you present your Blog; impressive it is!

    I was writing on gardening trends in India, and happen to land in your Blog! I was just wondering if you could share your opinions regarding the gardening trends these days. Its for my real estate journal.

    Let me know how you feel about it.

    Regards.

    lavina.h@realtyatsashwaat.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lavina. So glad you enjoyed my blog :)
      BTW, I've mailed you.

      Delete
  11. Wonderful pictures and beautiful colors

    ReplyDelete
  12. Something for you here, Sunita:
    http://rajirules.blogspot.in/2013/12/motivation.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Raji. I'll hop over and take a look :)

      Delete
  13. "wao what a nice post and images that you have share in your post is to good." ... Dev Smith

    Thank you, Dev. So glad you liked it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sunita,

    Great going! We really liked your post with the images of the bounty recd. Not many folks realize that even a few pots of vegetable plants can really supplement an urban dinner table! Not to mention the added benefit of getting fresh and organic veggies without pesticides. We've grown miniature potatoes in Atta sacks on our terrace. The plants have sprouted well and hopefully we'll soon harvest baby potatoes for a great evening dinner or salad!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed this post.
      Yes, you're right, it takes minimal effort to grow some of our most common and favourite vegetables and fruits. I have been farming for several years now but the thrill of eating food which I have grown myself, never ceases.
      Good luck with your potato plants!

      Delete
  15. Love seeing so many vegetables being harvested from your garden. It must be a joyful thing to work on your garden and seeing the plants bear these fruits after all the effort and work put in. Loving it. It's my first time visiting your blog and I really enjoy seeing so many things growing in your garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, JC ! Yes, it is very exciting to see the fruits of our labour. And what I enjoy just as much is knowing that I'm putting safe, wholesome food on the table. I thorougly love that!

      Delete
  16. What a wonderful selection of vegetables. They look so exotic to me! I am so pleased to hear that you leave the wild flowers for the insects. I like to do the same. I wish our local farmers thought the same way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nick. These are common everyday vegetables for us here in Mumbai but they do grow quite abundantly with minimum effort. The luck of being a tropical gardener! :)

      Oh yes, Nick. If we want butterflies in our gardens, we have to give them the food they love and space to bring up their babies. And the wild flowers are clear favourites on both counts. So it makes sense to retain a large patch of it just for the butterflies, doesn't it?

      Delete
  17. Your garden looks awesome. Please keep blogging. dnt put a gap like me. ;-) Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy new year to you too, Mini. And yes, this year I will blog more often :)

      Delete
  18. Such a grand harvest! Went through several of your posts now... Your love for plants is amazing and it shines through in your writing, Sunita!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Ambika! So glad you enjoyed my posts :)

      Delete
  19. You really got your vegetables going so much that it appears to be like a farm!
    I really wish to grow them in my garden but because of limited space and shaded area.
    I doubt I can do much with it except enjoy the hardy ornament ones.
    One thing that I like to know - did you grow your pepper plant using seeds or cuttings?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, James! :)
      I bought the pepper plant on one of my trips around the country. Generally rooted cuttings are used for propagation.

      Delete
  20. What special care you take to grow all this vegetables?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is just a matter of knowing the conditions that a plant likes and then providing it.

      Delete

Hi, hope you enjoyed reading this post? Leave a comment; I love hearing from you.
But please note ... if there's a link in the comment, it will not be approved for publishing (sorry, but I'm getting way too much spam with links).