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April 11, 2012

My gardening journey & garden tour

Since early childhood, I recognized my unmistakable attraction to the outdoors. At around 9, I leisurely toured a highly innovative self sufficient home farm. It was clear to me even at that tender age that those few hours had left an indelible mark on my mind.
Later, as a teenager, I spent innumerable hours with friends dangling my legs from low hanging branches in a beautiful garden at home. When surrounded by nature, it had such presence that I never felt alone. I so enjoyed it that I found myself mentally snapping photographs of the minutest 'green' detail.

Mystery of how this zuchini became pollinated.
The zuchini on the left was a surprise. When the flower opened, there were no other male zuchini flowers in the garden. There are however the nieghbour's pumpkins and both of our watermelons close by. Has the unthinkable happened? I really can't wait to see. This zuchini sure does not look as if it is getting ready to shrivel up and die.

As I explained in the introduction of this blog, I was overjoyed by the idea of starting a tropical organic garden just outside my door. I love pets and, although I still consider the sound of paws running through the corridor in the early morning unrivalled among simple life pleasures, I believe that caring for a garden had to be a high priority on my bucket list. It is like caring for pets except that plants, despite their silence, let me know that they are alive with 'loud' responsiveness.

Perhaps my poetic way of describing my garden might prepare you for my confession. Before my gardening journey, my perception of my endeavours was very romantic and unrealistic. Please, what is said in this blog post stays in this blog post! My confession is that I truly thought that all I needed to do was love my garden, provide plenty sun light and water to all of the plants every day, even talk to them occasionally as a bonus and then struggle to keep up with a bountiful harvest.

Anyone who knows anything about gardening knows how uninformed this thinking is. Hopefully, the lives of the plants that I have killed will not stack up as karma against me. Several epiphanies bridged the gap between those initial challenges and the successes that I currently enjoy. However, my key turning point occurred as I watched a video in which an organic gardening guru reiterated the mantra-like saying that "the secret is in the soil". (I laugh when I think about how I had been buying dead top soil for my kitchen garden for several months before I saw that light.)

When I applied that knowledge, the improvement in the health of the garden was absolutely phenomenal. However, I had to learn much more: companion planting, plants with very variable needs regarding water, sun light, pH and nutrients ... not to mention the different organic pest control methods. One day I was so overwhelmed by it all and exclaimed the basis of my epiphany 'Wow! Gardening is a science.'

Walks through my garden are such a celebration of just how far I have come along my gardening journey. I am certainly not a guru by any stretch of the imagination. However, I am just happy to enjoy often abundant harvests of healthy greens, flowers and fruits from my garden. When I harvest, I think of the vibrant colors and patterns as mother nature's wrapping for her gifts. ... And every day is like Christmas. Despite the science of gardening, that 9-year old child still stirs inside me. 

Needless to say, I still have much more to learn. So I just keep plodding on through this gardening journey.   

Aloe vera barbadensis
Aloe vera (barbadensis)

It took a while before finally learning that the name of these beautiful peppers is jalape├▒o peppers. Their shape reminds me of old time Christmas tree bulbs.

Dill flower for salads.
Beautiful dill flowers emerging from a salad bowl.

I grow these beats not for their roots but their greens. They are great for salads. Also included are parsley & oregano
Salad greens & herbs

These beans grow so quickly in length. I saw as many as 2 and 3 inches a day. incredible!
Yard long beans

The long story about the beans

I harvested my yard long beans from my tropical organic garden when they reached 1.5 feet long.
I pick these yard long beans only when they are about 1.5 feet long. If not, something else starts to nibble at it. I've heard that they can get as long as 36 inches.

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