Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm back from my home town

For those of you who had been wondering where I am, am just back from a holiday. I visited my parents, and it was a walk down memory lane. I've often mentioned that my dad is an avid gardener and this holiday was an occasion to sit with him and learn more.
I'll leave you with a picture of our lemon tree while I settle down and get back to writing more.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Seed that takes about an year to sprout.

Do you know of any seed that takes about an year to sprout?
Let me tell you about Rudraksh.

The seed of the Rudraksh tree (Elaeocarpus granitrus, Utrasum-bead tree) is of great significance in Hinduism, and is recognized to possess mystical properties. Rudraksh beads are considered auspicious as well as powerful, and are supposed to have profound health benefits. There is a explanation in Vedic scriptures but I'll skip it for the moment. The Rudraksh trees grow tall and bear tiny white colored fragrant flowers that bloom in the rainy season. These flowers turn into black berry like fruits, that mature into brown-red colored Rudraksh seeds. When dried, the Rudraksh seed/bead is about the size of a marble with brainlike configurations which are commonly referred to as its “faces.” A bead’s value is determined not only by its size but by the number of faces nature has endowed it with. It may have one to twenty-one faces. Each of the different Rudraksh beads have distinct powers and properties. It has been shown that Rudraksh beads are considered to have electromagnetic properties and that they affect the human body when worn.

These beads are used to make rosaries and necklaces for prayer and meditation mainly used by Hindus and Buddhists, especially by saints and monks that gave them tremendous amount of tranquility, control over mind and concentration to meditate for a long period. The rudraksh necklaces are treasured by Indians who wear them to regulate the blood pressure and to tranquilize the mind against nervous disorders. Considered a major stress reliever, Elaeocarpus fruits are used in Ayurveda for mental diseases, epilepsy, asthma, hypertension, arthritis and liver diseases. Rudraksh is found in Nepal and India and only a trained eye examining the beads for years can distinguish between a fake and a genuine one. Fakes are thriving due to the rising demand of rudraksh and the lack of knowledge. Growing Rudraksh is not easy. It grows in tropical conditions and I've not heard much on the availability of saplings to plant. When genuine Rudraksh beads are sown it takes around one year for it to sprout to a plant. The potting mix needs to be kept well-watered at regular intervals. It should be moist but not waterlogged. Once about 4-5 inches tall, they can be re-potted into larger containers and finally the yard.

My dad's friend has recently experimented with one. I'll see him in a week, and update this post.

Photos courtesy: Internet
More links/resources:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Banana leaf special

This post on recipes is at the risk of being ousted from the gardening community. But then this could be accommodated well within the value chain of gardening - making the best out of garden harvest- a result of sustainable organic gardening for food :)
Here's to my container banana tree and for my blogger friend Helen.

Fish with mustard smoked in banana leaf

Marinate hilsa/ shad fish (8 pieces) in fresh coconut paste(2tbsp), mustard paste(2tbsp), garlic paste (1/4 tsp), chopped green chillies (3), turmeric powder (1/2 tsp), salt and mustard oil for about an hour.
Clean the banana leaves by dipping it in hot water and allowing it to dry. Fold each marinated fish piece in a banana leaf and tie it with a thread to hold it together. Steam cook for 15-20 mins and serve.

Fish in green paste

White fish fillets (750gms/1.7lb). Marinate with salt and 3-4 tbsp lemon juice for half an hour. Grind grated coconut (1 cup), chopped coriander leaves (1cup), coriander seeds (1tbsp), cumin seeds (2 tbsp), chopped garlic (2tbsp), lemon juice (1), 4 green chillies and salt in to a thick green paste. Marinate the fish again in this green paste for another half hour. Place each marinated fillet on a separate banana leaf piece and cover it with the marinade. Wrap tightly and steam for 20-25 mins. Once done, garnish with lemon slices.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fresh out of my garden - lemon grass!

Lemon grass is a recent favorite for me. Ever since I tasted Thai food, I'd been looking to grow this one in my garden and experiment with any dish I prepare in the kitchen.
Lemon grass is a popular herb and quite easy to grow. From a small rhizome I got, it has now grown into a perennial sedge in full sun and with regular watering. The long leaves have a strong lemony scent and has a great flavoring property. You can use it fresh or dry it to make lemon tea.

Here are some tried and tested recipes for dishes I made for Sunday dinner and everyone loved it.
  • Steamed Hilsa/Shad fish in mustard sauce
Marinate fish with salt, turmetic powder, green chillies, yellow mustard and poppy seed paste for about an hour. Wrap it in lemon grass and steam cook for about 15 mins. Unwrap and ready to eat.

  • Baked pomphret or White fish wrapped in lemon grass
Marinate fish with salt, pepper and ginger garlic paste for about an hour. Wrap it in lemon grass, sprinkle worchestershire sauce, olive oil and bake for about 15 mins with fresh vegetables. Unwrap and serve piping hot.

Vegetarians could try these recipes replacing fish with cottage cheese. Lemony scented coconut rice or a fresh cup of lemon tea in the morning are others. It's absolutely refreshing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Green corner in my living room

This is a sunny corner in my living room.
On the left, you'll see two brass vessels (antiques handed over by my grand mom). These were used to cook rice in olden days and were lying around unused. I've propped one of them up on a slice of a bark which is not clearly visible in the picture. I picked up the wicker hanging baskets (those on the window) from Thailand and found them to be really nice ones for tiny, slow growing succulents. I'll put those up on another post.
The earthen lamp on the side lights up the place in the evening. I re-arrange a lot, so I'd clicked this one to share before I move to something else.
Wish you all a happy and bright weekend!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mountain beauty and its green

I decided to share my travel experience over others that brought me closer to nature. I traveled to Ladakh (in the state of Jammu and Kashmir) and here are some of my green favorites. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I do.

Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It has been strongly influenced by tibetan buddhist culture. The largest town in Ladakh is Leh. Its considered an high altitude desert as the Himalayan mountain range that surrounds itde creates a rain shadow, refusing entry to monsoon clouds. The main source of water is the winter snowfall on the mountains.
Vegetation is extremely sparse in Ladakh so I've made an attempt to capture the patches of green and bring it to you.

The first photograph below is that of Lamayuru Moonland. It looks like the dusty surface of moon with its hills and craters. It is one of the most spectacular views with barley fields in a green contrast to the yellow and brown mountainscape.

This is another monastery around Leh. Check out the green.
The picture below was taken on our way to Khardungla, highest motorable pass in the world in the lap of the Himalayan mountain range. Trust me, it's a treat to watch.
This is a view from the top of a monastery in Leh. Isn't it beautiful?The photograph below is the one at Alchi monastery situated on the banks of the Indus river and has countless pomegranate and apricot trees.
Here you see Ladakhi women selecting and deseeding apricots for processing.

As we descend, this is on our way to Manali (a popular town in another state, Himachal Pradesh)

I don't know the name of the flower. The hotel garden was full of them like a snow cover of sorts.

Hope you all enjoyed this post!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I am back with a flowering bonsai

My husband has a passion for bonsais, so I dedicate this post to him. He has immense patience needed to deal with bonsais, resilience to experiment and energy to keep learning. So there is a lot I've picked up from him when it comes to good gardening practices.
Here is one from our collection of bonsais-in-making, a flowering one. It's been flowering profusely this season. Exposure to full sun and limited watering has worked wonders.
We'd be re-potting it soon after it slips into dormancy post flowering. The soil is compact and caked with the roots crowding around the side. The caked on dirt will be brushed away, the pot scrubbed clean, and the wire mesh would probably need a change and new wires to thread, twist and hold the roots together until they are settled in. More importantly, it's when we prune the roots and branches to encourage new growth.
I'll come back with more pictures from our bonsai collection, and keep writing on our tried and tested ways of gardening.

Monday, September 14, 2009

out of action

Hello everyone,
I've not been well - minor health irritants have been keeping me away from blogging.
Hope to bounce back in a day or two. See you around.
Happy gardening...!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

a plant for hanging baskets

I have no idea what this plant is called. I had spotted it as a creeper in a hanging basket and it looked really nice. The plant has thick fleshy leaves, and flowers at the tip of the main stem. I took a piece to plant and to my surprise, it rooted quickly and flowered in less than 4 weeks. I'm waiting for it to grow more and be shifted to a hanging basket.
In case any of you identify this plant, do let me know what it's called.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

another garden nook

I love teaming up plants, and terracotta figures. And that's what I do here. You'll see ferns, Dracaena, spider plant and foliage (that turns purple at cooler temperatures) in the picture. Next, accommodated the frog and the tortoise planters to complete the picture.

Monday, September 7, 2009

dazzling desert rose aka adenium

Adenium is an evergreen succulent plant ideal for a houseplant. What strikes you is a pot full of twisted gnarled stems with red and pink flowers. It's an owner's delight. It needs full sun but less water, and turns out fab. I'm looking for the deep pink and the red ones now.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blueing succulents

Been a couple of days since my last post. So, here's a section of my teeny weeny garden on succulents. Didn't I tell you how much I fancy blue?These containers that you see here are from Khurja (small town in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India). I'll write about that another day.
Happy gardening!