The Green Bean: A few words about worm poop

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If only gardening came with the sort of results reminiscent of teleshopping channels. “If our worm poop doesn’t bring those periwinkles back to life, it’s mud!”

It has been a few hours since I went around applying an inch of vermicompost to all the pots in my garden and I can’t fight the urge to go see whether anything has changed yet. Have the lemons gotten bigger? Has the hibiscus bloomed? Have the periwinkles come back to life?

This is ridiculous, I know. More so when I confess that I haven’t been around on an inspection for a week. I have a bag full of excuses for this indiscretion, the most honest of which would be that I have been avoiding my plants because I’ve been afraid of what I will see.

But as I do intend to turn the corner, I decided to stop putting off their fertilisation needs any longer. This morning, I tore open that bag of vermicompost – 5kgs of Selli Vermi Vermicompost ordered online, delivered the next morning; could this city be any more convenient for gardeners? – and got right into it.

This was a bit of a challenge because the mud in all the pots had gotten so hard, it forced us to conclude, “They don’t sell mud here. They sell iron.” And it’s true. It never pays to be one of the lazy ones who picks up 10 kg bags of Mixed Matti for Rs 130 at the local nursery because it is just so much more convenient than buying (and more importantly remembering potting proportions for) cocopeat, mud and compost separately.

But it is what it is and if I can keep these plants alive until April next year, I promise to do a better, more thorough job at the potting and sowing process rather than go for the easy alternative of Mixed effin’ Matti – which may very well be stuff they scraped off the side of the road and weighed down with stones, for all I know.

We dug and loosened the soil as best we could and applied a layer of compost to it. This particular compost boasts traits like reduced requirement for watering (ahem), good nitrogen levels to keep the plants tripping and added nutrients to make the soil rich.

So yes, I guess now all I need to do is breathe and let my plants do the same. In a few days we’ll know how this exercise panned out.

In the meanwhile I’m going to keep myself occupied by reading more about caring for gardens. Maybe even getting around to finally learning the names for some of the flowering plants. I don’t think referring to them as “The purple one” and “The pink one” is going to fly much longer now that I’m actively trying to help them thrive!

The Green Bean: Green thumbs down

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Bangalore is undoubtedly the best city for gardens and gardeners. So much so that it’s officially the city’s tag line, or something: Garden City. However, I have sold it as more of a ‘Beer Garden City’ to my friends, family and anyone who will listen, but that’s a sales pitch for another time.

I live in the best city in India to grow things. The sun is always shining. It rains on occasion. The temperatures are pretty balanced throughout the year. Basically, I have no idea what I’m talking about, just that if you plant things in Bangalore and care for them, they will grow. Really, really well.

So how do you end up torturing two tomato plants on the terrace and losing a baby lemon tree to weeds in the front yard?

I have a friend who used to say that before she decided to have a child, she would first buy a plant. “I will take care of it for a while, and if I don’t kill it, I will consider having a child.” I used to tell her this was a silly way to think it. You can’t compare a plant and a child. They’re both completely different things, not to mention their yields and maintenance are like comparing peaches and popcorn.

But having lost (interest in) the tomato plants once my Instagram ‘Likes’ reached double digits, I was made to feel very guilty on vacation recently, by concerned plant rights activists like my sister and husband.

“She doesn’t even water her own plants,” Sabaa stated my as she went about watering the dying orchids in her sun-deprived living room in Munich. “Her housekeeper does it for her! And if he sees something growing, like a tomato or a flower, he lets her know. Then, and only then, does she go up to the terrace to take a picture of it to post on social media.”

“Oh and she didn’t even use the tomatoes for in a salad or anything,” my husband chimed in. “She just totally forgot about them.”

At that moment, I detested the two of them for being right. I had let the tomatoes go. It was my fault that the mint – which, by the way, spreads like friggin’ weeds if you’re not a plant murderer – wilted. And where in the world did that lemon tree go to? Seriously?!

Gardening is hard work! Especially if you’re as slow on the uptake as I am. It’s just that all those growers, gardeners and green bloggers make it look so easy. But obviously it isn’t.

What’s more is that I now actually respect my friend’s decision to keep a plant alive before taking on the responsibility of nurturing a child. Of course, I’m hoping more than ever that my competency in nurturing one isn’t a reflection on how I will fare with the other. Regardless, as long as I have the intention to do better, be more hands-on, learn along the way and bear in mind that photos are merely the one perfect moment of a million imperfect shots, I should be golden. Or green. Or whatever.

So I have decided to stop being such a lazy person and really put my efforts into my little garden. You don’t have to believe me, really, even if I do show you the power point presentation I’ve made, chalking out my plans for a fresh start at a salad garden.

But I know that I am capable of making this happen if I really put my mind to it. It’s just a matter of hard work and determination. Actually, given my reputation across two continents, it is now a matter of saving face!

To add some accountability to my endeavours as an aspiring gardener, I’m going to post an update about my garden every Thursday! I’m calling this series, The Green Bean. It will document many of my own (mis)adventures in the garden and also feature tips, tricks and on occasion, solid advise from seasoned gardeners and friends.