Jun 11, 2009

"Green" Gardens require less effort

Just about a year back, after drowning tons of money on artificial shelf bought Fertilizers & Insecticides, we decided to go "Green" in our garden. And Oh, the benefits are huge and the downsides nil. Yes, absolutely zilch. Our garden had to have its regular dose of artificial insecticides/fungicides fortnightly filling the air with chemicals harmful to our children and destroying beneficial animal life. After stumbling on the concept of Organic gardening from my friend Asha (her garden), I decided to give it a shot though then I had serious misgivings about how effective this was. This is basically what I followed over the last few months in my garden in Bangalore and for a while now, my Bangalore garden has been in full bloom with almost no effort or cost at all. Even the recent downpours have not been able to keep the blooms away. The soil is established and its content improved rather than spoilt (very often that's what artificial fertilizers do) and we have a happy thriving eco-system now. BASICS Weather In Bangalore there are 3 types of weather through the year. Nov - Feb : Cool, Dry weather very good for annuals such Petunias, Phlox, Gazanias, Geraniums, Blue Flambago, Tecoma Erecta, Pink Tecoma, Roses etc. Mar - May: Warm, hot Dry weather good for annuals such as Petunias, Verbenias, Salvias, Gazanias, Geraniums, Blue Flambago, Tecoma Erecta, Pink Tecoma, Roses etc. May - Nov: Rainy days interspersed with Hot Humid days. Good for Perennial shrubs such as Durantha, Texas Sage, Annuals such as Portulaca, Chrysanthemums & Lillys. Some things to consider with respect to weather changes are: 1. Mostly related to rains. Once the monsoon hits, your flowers would be attacked with mildew in addition to the regular insects such as Aphids etc. So an additional Fungicide is necessary 2. Flowers such as Geranium, Petunia & Phlox should be shielded in a porch from direct rains but receive enough sunlight. Hanging pots are great for this. Donot forget to water them though as we often think they'll get watered in the rains. 3. Move your Flowers in Summer from the direct harsh West light as far as possible where on the other hand direct East light would help the flowers bloom. SOIL The next important factor to consider is Soil Content: 1. The soil composition is extremely crucial and most overlooked. The soil composition should be about 1 part Sand, 1.5 parts Red Soil, 0.5 Parts manure. This enables the roots to spread fast and excess water to drain off easily. 2. Enriching the soil with naturals such as Neem cake (doubles as a harmless insecticide) and Manure (Horse preferably) is important for those rich blooms. If you fancy you could add on some shelf bought organic fertilizers like 20-20 etc (NPKs - Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Pottasium). FERTILIZING & PROTECTING And now its all about protecting those flowers of yours: 1. Fertilizing: About fortnightly would be beneficial to supplement the soil with manure, Neem cake or Organic Fertilizers. 2. Protection: a) Insecticides: A cordial made of about 4 gloves of garlic & 3 red chillies (dried) minced and kept overnight in about 5 ltrs of water, strained the next day & sprayed is excellent and completely does the trick. This could be a fortnightly exercise. b) Fungicides: A cordial made of a tbsp of Baking soda, 2-3 drops of vegetable oil(stcking agent) and a drop of plate wash detergent (eg: Prill) applied fortnightly most months but weekly during the rains. This prevents mouldish looking powdery mildew from destroying the leaves & flowers. That's all, you're good to go. Will come up with more postings on specifics such as "Companion planting" etc.

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