Monday, March 28, 2011

Urban Garden Summer Woes

This is a lazy gardener post. Some of you may have wondered what the lazy gardener has been upto. The short answer is nothing. Being lazy and time deprived, there is precious little that the great lazy one has done.

Rain Lillies
White Rain lilies

Although, to my credit, my pink rain lily did flower, ( one flower in 2 years ). Such was the laziness that I don't even have a photo of it as proof. The white rain lilies do flower with greater regularity, no word on the yellow lilies, they seem to quite mum on the subject of flowering.

My rose, Im sorry to say, did not survive the attack of the white fuzzy insects (Mealy bugs). Currently, my sky blue clustervine is also under attack. Ive tried everything except for pesticide, which is my next strategy. No flowers from the vine since the start of the attack :( If any one has solutions, please let me know.
The horrid white things have killed off over the years, my baby sun rose (ice plant),much of my table rose, white alder and stokes aster.

NativeBreed, My Roses - RIP :(

I have acquired some periwinkles - white and pink, which i grew from seed. (Read: I chucked the seeds mom gave into an empty pot and one day was pleasantly surprised to find my self the owner of periwinkles.) They are growing with gusto, as are the chrysanthemum. Seconds generation marigold are now staring to bud.

Pink Chrys
These pink chrysanthemum are strange, as they bloom they turn white

As for the kitchen garden; mint, basil, oregano, lemon grass are doing well. A chilli plant came up on its own and provided 4 deadly hot chillies. My experiments with coriander have proven to be un-encouraging at best. I am thinking of growing dill.

But, enough idle chatter. Let me get to the point. This post is about a recent experiment I have been trying out on dealing with the hot indian summer.

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Am I to endure this till the end of May?
Thou wilt-eth inspite of all i try
when I see thine drooping leaves, I cry.

My approach to gardening is similar to mother natures. Tough love. I don't over water, sometimes I scarcely water at all. :D

But seriously, tough love only works if you have tough plants. Survival of the fittest and all that. I prefer to stick with the hardier native breeds (or shall I say weeds), none of the namby-pamby hybrid ones that require fussing over.

Fox Tails are tough, hardly need any attention

Tough love works better in a ground garden, I have found, rather than in potted balcony gardens. It also helps if you can control the sunlight by placing your plants in such a way as to avoid the harsh afternoon sun.

Off late, I would return home from work in the evenings and find my basil wilting. ( I dont water daily ) Watering excessively is pointless, it wastes water, most of it drains to the bottom of the pot and evaporates away.

White chrysanthemum, needed support, Ive tied it up with some red ribbon

Those who have heard of the plant nannies will be familiar with the concept below. Take a plastic bottle, make a small hole at the bottom with a thumb tac ( i also have tried with 2 holes ) fill with water. Screw the cap back on. To control water drip rate, unscrew tap a teeny-tiny bit at a time. Place in Pot.
Ive tried this with soft drink bottles. Works like a charm. No more wilting.

Don't believe in plastic? Use a glass bottle. Fill with water, plug the mouth with a rag. Invert and bury neck in the pot. ( This is more messy and I haven't tried this )

Introducing (L to R), Basil, More Basil, Mint, Cuban Oregano

Its cheap, an effective use of plastic and conserves water. (did i mention it costs nothing?) The spouse has been very supportive about the deployment of this watering system and has volunteered to consume soft drinks ( which i am not a huge fan of ) till each plant has its own nanny.

Ive also diverted the AC water outlet into one of the pots ( idea provided by the installation people ), though this can present a problem, since there's no way to control the water. So only do this to water hungry plants.

On an unrelated note, did you know Basil can grow from cuttings? I didnt. I bought a bunch from namdharis. Our cook stuck the stems into an pot. Lo and behold, there was basil! There was much rejoicing.
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