April to October 2015 saw me busy as a bee. But not at my farm. A prolonged overseas stint, domestic responsibilities, and the daily suspense and action that came with boot-strapping a cheeky startup called Mandy’s Farm, left me no time for my own little urban farm. I returned to the city in November – to overgrown containers, weed-choked vegetable plants, and dull, dispirited, denuded earth.
So like Hercules, I decided to up and clean those Augean stables 🙂 And through November and most of December, I unearthed plants from over one hundred containers, and emptied contents – several tonnes of old earth – across my terrace and under the disinfecting gaze of a harsh, hot sun. Several suntan sessions later, the earth got doused in neem oil, then dried some more, and into that I chucked in soft, fresh vermicompost, the goodness of gobar, cleansing woodash and a sprinkle of Epsom salts. This heady mix was then dished back into waiting containers. And by the turn of the year into 2016, my farm was ready to roll again.
It’s now a New Year and a New Season. It’s also (always) a Good Reason – to grow! Here are some early growers doing me proud, one month after the farm’s renewal..
Beans – climbing fast and high, against a brilliant blue sky
Down to earth Onions – edible greens while growing, and an edible root when done
Malabar Spinach – tender, succulent leaves that burst forth with no fuss at all
A bed of mixed greens – Mustard, Radish and more
(Photo Credits: Rhea)
The plants on my terrace are like a community of folks of all types. There are the youngsters – saplings of okra, tomatoes, gourds and watermelon growing under strict supervision and protection (hidden under a grow net), away from the unwanted attention of crows, pigeons and other unsavory characters. There are typical, everyday, middle-class types like curry leaves and chillies, ambitious social climbers like beans, and down-to-earth workers like onions. Some are VIPs like the sugarcane and lemongrass that always get watered first, others are not, like the suffering lower-class ajwain that tends to get overlooked most days. There are the new folks in town – Mr Bay Leaf and Ms All Spice – making a winsome two-some in the center of the terrace. While enjoying a prime spot of real estate is a lush bush of bitter gourd that’s making the most of its time with the butterflies and bees. There’s also the spiky, anti-social pineapple that’s been sent to the furthest corner because of his penchant to poke all who come near. There are even the village elders – a gerontocratic group of perennials who have outlived several generations of shorter lived veggie plants by now, and are yet to approach middle age – fruit trees in containers (bananas, amla, guava, chickoo and more)…..
But I’ve got to run now. So until the next post, and more gossip from my garden….ciao!