I pinched the delicate stem and the firm red fruit, roughly about an inch and a half in size, fell into my palm.
Although this is not my first harvest, I’ve had a couple of harvest from my Dantina Soppu (Amarnath Leaves), this is the first true mark of success. I kicked-off the project of growing vegetables and other plants at home somewhere back in April. My parents have been gardeners at heart, growing their choice of flowering plants like Yellow Rose, Gorate (Barleria cristata L.), Nanja battalu or Nandi battalu (Crape Jasmine) etc apart from essentials like Curry Leaves (Murraya koenigii) and Tulasi (Holy Basil).
I had some level of interest in gardening always. I remember having grown Kothambri / Dhaniya (Coriander) with my mom when I was in 3rd standard, and having grown Pudina (Mint) when I was in seventh or eighth. It never turned into a hobby. In my adult life, I never went back to it because I knew I’d not be able to give enough time of mine towards taking care of the plants. Those busy days are gone now, stabilized work hours, no pressure of meeting girlfriend every week etc. Moreover, it’s a known fact that we are being fed poison everyday in the form of fertilizers and pesticides. After having spent last few years in researching about various farming techniques in a bid to explore entrepreneurship (and eventually giving up on the idea), I decided to start on a small scale.
I started with potatoes in April. It was summer and the time was right. By July, the monsoon would arrive and so would my potatoes. I researched a lot, read a lot about people’s experiences in growing potatoes at home. A few plastic bags and a lot of moist soil and some natural organic manure were the necessary ingredients. 3 out of 4 plants died because of wet soil, it rained heavily in the month of May in Bengaluru. The potatoes that had shot up plants from their bellies had become slimy fluid in the soil and it smelt like shit, literally. However, all the slimy fluids turned out to be an amazing source of nutrients for other plants. One potato plant, however, survived and grew to about 3 feet in height.
July came and I saw that the potato leaves were turning yellow. My “online” knowledge bank told me that some plants may not flower, but turning yellow may be signs of tuber formation. I grew impatient towards the end of July, hoping there would be tubers in the bucket. I turned it upside down to find tiny tubers still forming. I had done everything right till then, the soil was only moist, never wet, was always loose and I did the necessary hilling of soil as the plant grew. Had I been a little patient, I might have harvested potatoes towards the end of August, given that I was growing them in Bengaluru and the climate this year has been amazingly splendidly cool.
Guess, the potatoes weren’t lucky. In the same period between April and now, my mom gifted me a pine tree (or is it fir? Someone help me out in the comments section) which has grown about a feet tall since I planted it in front of my house in April. People ask me whether it’s the same tree that grows about 50-60 ft tall and I nod my head in affirmative, just that it’d take about half that number of years to grow to that height.
I also set up a small composting plastic tub for recycling most of our kitchen waste. This activity has been beneficial. Not that I ended up with compost, I never let it turn into compost.
Instead, the tub became a fertile container to naturally allow seeds to turn into plants. The tub has supported 3 mango plants, dozens of papaya and tomato plants, dozens of cucumber plants amongst others to crop up every week. All haven’t survived, some have and they’re strong.
Growing plants on your terrace eliminate a lot of pests. But, the winged ones and the tiny ones will always find their way to your terrace. Many plants have surely been infested with insects and infections. I have been preparing some organic medicine to fight the diseases and pests and it has been effective to an extent.
Anyway, I’m happy to share my first harvest. This activity did take a lot of time during weekends, and stopped me from paying attention towards blogging. Plants, after all require more attention till they can carry on their own.
The tomato is sweet, juicy. It may not be the best tasting in the world, but it’s the best I’ve tasted. It tastes of small success, after all.