Saturday, 27 December 2008

Winter's Here!

Coziness of sunshine with chilly winter winds is spreading fecundity all around my garden. .

Finally after long scorching season, weather is getting suitable for growing crops. Although the delayed season made me bit lazy initially but new sprouts inspired me to spring up again.

Sun shines brilliantly over Radishes so does on the lime flowers. Speaking of flowers, Aloe Vera is blooming! Even my tiny cucumber plants have buds! I have transplanted some of flower plants into separate containers. Which include zinnias, asters, bachelor’s button, sweet Williams and some other cut flowers.

The most exciting thing that happened is that foxgloves have sprouted! These according to an article in Review, DAWN, can never grow here in Pakistan. But it is growing here on a rooftop in Karachi! :D hope it blooms too.

I am in love with root vegetables this season. Local beets, carrots and radishes are growing well. So are tomatoes, spinach and lettuce. Although gardening is not as much fun as it was last year. I was growing second batch this time on the year. But this time there is this strange variation in weather that postponed everything. Still the sun is bizarrely hot for young plants; it was never a trouble this time of the year.

This happens. We plan ahead but things don’t happen accordingly. Its to remind us that’s there is someone who is taking care of our affairs, things happen according to His will and we cannot question that.

best is to go-with-the-flow sometimes :)

Enjoy the season as much as you can !

~ Happy Gardening !

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Green Dream!

Now I can be called eccentric! I have literally planted salad greens in all empty pots, even under the lemon tree!

Well that’s what happen when your salad seeds never work and after two years of struggle you get more than 100 plants for just Rs. 50/- ! ! !

But I dint just by 100, bought 200 instead! One set is half grown and the other just sprouted.

This was the first time that I found salad and some other vegetables being grown in nurseries. We usually find fruits but hardly any vegetable. It shows that people are getting involved in vegetable gardening.

Lettuce has many varieties. Butterhead, looseleaf, crisphead, romaine, mesclun, endive, mustard, radicchio, Chinese lettuce, summer crunch are just few of its crispy wonders! And now hybrid and heirloom varieties are available in shades of reds and yellows too.

The salad variety that I bought is the same one that we get in market. It’s the loose leaf type; Probably the Simpson elite type. The other that I have sown is the butterhead one.

It is one of the oldest vegetables that originated from Asia.
Best thing about lettuce is that it can be harvested at any stage. You can start picking looseleaf lettuce as the leaves grow, leaving rest of the plant to grow. Butterhead and other varieties are harvested as a whole.

In Karachi, we have to wait for winters to grow these. Otherwise lettuce can be grown from spring onwards in other parts of the world. It depends upon your growing zone.

Lettuce is said to be pest free crop that requires less maintenance. It grows well in pots as these have shallow roots, they do not require depth.

Scrumptious greens make wonderful salads, shawarmas, sandwiches, burgers, roti rolls and what not!! ! I have already eaten a portion from my baby plants. Can’t help myself!

Lettuce greens were my inspiration to start a vegetable garden. And now that they plants are finally part of my crops in pots garden; I have planted them where ever I could and trust me, my father is not so happy about it!

(There are still some empty paint buckets upstairs, hmm, and many more lettuce plants too: P)

You must try these irresistible greens!
Happy Gardening!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

News Feed: Keeping a Record

Hey All!

I thought I should keep a record of the dates on which I hv sown seeds, when they sprouted, and also the date of first harvest. This will help us next year too! You can do the same !dont forget to include ur location and temp.

Location: Karachi
current temp: min 12 max 30
Date sown: 11th Nov'08
Date to sprout: Carrots(19th) Cumcumber(23rd) tomato roma(19th) tomato marmilade(17th) Cherry tomato(19th)beets(15th) Spinach(16th)

Peppers,some flowers,corn,beafsteak tomato,broccoli hv nt shown any sign yet..

Sec Sowing: 22nd nov '08 seeds sown: Radishes, carrots and all others that hvnt shown any sign yet.

This sowing season is special 'cause this time two of my gardener frds started their kitchen garden along with me. Cant wait to see your photos and reports too ! :D

Happy Gardening
~ Zahra

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Buried Rubies

Next time you hear someone say that you get what you wish for, you better believe that!

Just few months back I was going through and got in love with lush red beets and radishes; wanted to grow some of my own. I saved a photo from her garden which I used to admire all the time.

And now when I started writing this post, I came across the same photo. It dazed me with joy to see that I was able to grow same luscious red roots successfully myself.

Red radishes (Raphanus sativus) are considered the easiest and the fasted growing crop. These are famous for children gardening projects because the crop is ready to harvest with in 20-30 days.

Rapid growing radishes can be planted through out the year. Red-skinned and white-fleshed vegetable is a globe of around an inch. There are some elongated varieties as well. But the blushing red color of these tiny globes is unbeatable!

Radishes are best grown in rich, loose soil. We are looking for a pleasant tang which can easily turn into fiery hot. They should be picked as soon as they around an inch in size. Leaving them for longer time will make them taste hot. Simply starts off by filling a tray with loose soil. Randomly sow seeds every 2 inches. Water it regularly. Irregular water patterns will make them blot. Radishes need minimum 6-8 hrs of sunlight. When days get longer, radishes will bloom, producing many seeds that can be saved for next sowing.

Beetroots (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris var. vulgaris) are 3-4 inched globes, rich in color and loaded with flavor. Red roots and bright green leaves make tasty meals. I have sown mine but will have to wait for 2 months to harvest them.

I feel rewarded when I get stunning, scrumptious food, stocked with nourishment for some seeds that I had. Delight of picking up vegetables and fruits from branches is exceptional, but nothing can match the spine-tingling excitement and elation that you get when you unearth the root vegetables. It’s truly like digging up for treasure.

Grow your own …and feel that sensation!

Happy Gardening!


Thanks to all my regular readers. I love to see your comments :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Secret of a Seed

Seeds don’t sprout just like that. They need proper proportions of warmth, water and air to spring up into a new plant which will turn into a large, strong tree one day. I believe same is the case with our children.

During my almost 2 months stay at The City School PAF Chapter, I learned that young minds are like fertile soil, what ever we teachers or elders sow in the form of a thought into that, it develops into a huge plant, latter a tree. Be it a positive thought or the negative one, it always develop roots.

If it’s a negative one, it will have thorns and bushes that will destroy anything that will come near it; underneath the bushes, some snakes might find refuge, or lizards might make their hideouts in its darkness.Trunk will be hollow and some termites might spread from it.

If it’s a positive thought, it will turn into a vigorously lush plant, with strong roots and bright colors, it will bloom and spread its fragrance all around, its flowers will turn into fruits which he will enjoy, it will provide other thoughts strength and shade of knowledge, it might even attract more butterflies to flutter around and birds to make their nests on its branches.

This post is dedicated to my young gardeners of V-P and V-V. I am glad that my students loved the idea of growing plants. They started imagining and thinking over the topic. During the explanation about how fruits produce seeds and seeds make new plants and the cycle goes on, one of them asked, “where did the first plant come from?” And it ended up into a quite interactive class.

Students were very excited to sow their first seeds. We selected one day for the activity. I wanted them to sow radishes but due to the time assigned to the project, we could not do that. Instead they planted “bajra” (Pearl Millet).

Raja Rafay Nawaz from V-V was the first one to bring back the pots with a plant smiling at us. Wasta and Tahseen, twin brother and sister of V-V were the second ones to bring back their tiny pots filled with plants. From V-P Mustafa Mir khan bought a black eyed bean plant!! That was the most amazing thing to see, he did that without anyone’s help and he was absolutely successful!

It was an incredible experience to see the young minds so interested in nature. I was so happy to see my students visiting my blog, reading it and commenting on it too. It feels awesome beyond expression.

During our meeting with the parents on 18th, I loved to hear that parents wanted us to conduct gardening classes as a part of a course because their children got so enthused by the idea of planting food! I made them write that down, as these words are more than a trophy for me.

But unfortunately, Friday was my last day with them. I do get to know how the plants are growing and I am pleased to know that students are taking good care of them.

Another great thing that happened was that I asked students what kind of plants they would get attracted to if they were insects: D and they replied so correctly! They said they would like brightly colored flowers, with good smell and tasty nectar... I thought how man and insects think alike. The Bee movie was great help in explaining the pollination process and what would happen if there were no bees.

It was a fun week! I ll always cherish every day that I spent with students who were full of life. Their inspiring ideas, precious innocence, sweet smiles and that special sparkle in the eye, are the things that will always stay with me.

As a teacher, I almost felt the like a parent. I had to be so sure about what information I give them, I had to be passionate about it as well. May be that’s the only reason why my students also fell in love with gardening.

It makes a huge difference if we teach or simply do something that we are passionate about. It has magical effect on others too. Same are the teachings of our religion.

I feel I have sown a sacred seed of love for nature in the core of the young hearts. With frequent showers of knowledge, warmth of appreciation and with breeze of inspirations, this seed will soon turn into a huge, green tree with dense branches. And before we know it, this tree will be dispersing many seeds of its own. And the cycle will go on and on….

Sow a seed and become the part of this cycle!

Happy gardening!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

NewsFeed: Pollinator bees face extinction

I was going through the paper this morning, and found this article. Must read!

Pollinator bees face extinction
By Shakeel Ahmed
Sunday, 19 Oct, 2008 05:07 AM PST

MULTAN, Oct 18: Five species of pollinator bees in southern Punjab face extinction due to destruction of natural habitats and indiscriminate use of pesticides, says a study. It has been conducted by Asif Sajjad, a PhD scholar of the Bahauddin Zakariya University, who is working on the biodiversity of bees and their role in crop pollination. Bees pollinate crops by carrying pollens from one flower to another and decline in bee population mean decline in food crops. Mr Sajjad studied 80 bee species from five families. “I visited many areas in Multan, Khanewal, Pakpattan, Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh districts but did not found even a single specie of Anthophoridae family,” he said. According to him, almost all bee species are at the verge of extinction but Thyreus sp., Melissodes sp., Xylocopa sp., Megachile sp. and Colletes sp. are at a sharp decline. There are 20,000 species in the world and a report says 80 to 90 per cent of the bee population in the United States died out in last few decades. The loss of bee species is not documented in Pakistan because no work has been done on the biodiversity of bees and their role in crop pollination. Only a few crops, corn and wheat, are pollinated by wind while 90 cultivated flowering crops rely on bees. The researcher says that pollinators are unseen engines driving an ecosystem and they couple plant to plant and plant to animal, spinning the verdant world through endless cycles and feedback loops, providing fuel and fuses and safety valves. He said that bees not only pollinated crop plants but hundreds of wild plants, trees and shrub species and the absence or reduction of pollinators affected pollination (reproduction) in plants. This resulted in reduction of plants in an ecosystem and the primary consumers (birds, insects and mammals) were under stress and so were the secondary consumers (the carnivores). He said the destruction of natural habitats and indiscriminate spray of pesticides were major factors behind the decline while environmental pollution, destruction of host plants and electromagnetic waves of cell phone towers were other bee decline factors. He said the proliferation of cell phones radiation was adding to the bee decline. He said efforts should be launched to educate people about pollinators' critical economic and agricultural importance and suggested prepare a complete list of our native bee species and monitoring their populations.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Jewels That Grow on Trees

Every food that nature produces is exclusive. But nature nurtures some special crops for longer period, resulting in the most preciously unique jewels that hang up in the trees as luscious treats for us.

One can never forget all those childhood days when a planned adventure of climbing a mango tree happened. My childhood was filled with such afternoons, when we made plots along with our friend neighbors to secretly pick mangos in the scorching afternoons of June/ July. Once we were in Islamabad during winters, we had an apricot tree in our house. The dense branches reached our terrace. I‘ll always remember its fragrance.

Pureness of freshly picked fruit is beyond compare. I wanted to have fruit trees in my home but I was not sure where to find them and which one will grow well in pots. Pasha helped again, and told me about Karachi nursery. It’s an amazing place for gardeners. There are some incredible plants imported from different countries. Mr. Nadeem gave a tour of his nursery and I was totally captivated with the atmosphere. It had rained a day before so every thing was looking greener and prettier.

Although I wanted to buy each and every plant that I saw, and was fascinated to know that almost all fruiting plants can do well in containers. They had avocados from Bangkok, large jamans from Japan, some new variety of summer fruiting berries, grapefruit, oranges, mulberry trees (shehtoot), custard apple (shareefa) and many more.

I simply couldn’t resist getting orange and mulberry plant. I even bought seedless lemon plant. It was 13th august’08 when I bought them. Now after 2 months, my 3 year old orange tree has covered itself with new coat of leaves. Mulberry plant was just a long slim stick with 8-10 leaves, that dint survive and dried out very quickly, may be because of the transplant shock.

In few months, my orange tree will bloom; I’ll have to take extra care of it. A friend promised to get pineapple plants for me:D supper excited about them as well. Pineapples and even olives grow well in pots.

I must recommend that every one should buy such trees. They are quite cheap. We all have terrace or a roof top, which is usually never used. Why not plant some trees there?

Besides this, my VP also presented me with broccoli, coreless carrot, radishes and sweet corn seeds! I have already sown them, but it’s still way too hot. They did sprout but young plants died because of the heat. I will have to wait for a week or two.

During my stay at City School PAF chapter, I did a little gardening project with them. My students are actually growing crops! They were so excited and enthused by the idea. I will try to share pictures in my next blog.

Meanwhile, appreciate nature around you, value it!

Happy gardening!

First pic of oranges in pots is from flickr;peaches are from my uncles garden in Houston. next set of pix are from my garden.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Sunshine Solace

I believe nature is exclusively devoted to us, we might forget it, but it never does. And at times it shows us hints to clear our doubts, and whisper messages to reply our queries, or sometimes, it simply become a close friend to support and comfort us.

Days are still scorching hot, but sun shines with pleasant brilliance in the evening, spreading luminosity and a radiant glow; coddling us with its warmth and coziness after the long hours of blazing sun.

Well, I do need that back up, as I am out hunting for an allotment to go large gardening! Yes you heard me right! I have been busy with all research, study, and in the quest of a plot large enough to start a vegetable farm for marketing purpose.

It surely is a huge step, a challenge. But passion along with self-confidence is the force that makes it all happen. Well for sowing seeds right after the EID in early October, I don’t have much of the time left.

September is almost here, and evenings depict sensation of winters all ready which excites me more to be in the fields. I do not have any resources as yet but I am certain that this blog will be featuring my progressing vegetable farm soon!

I was doing most of the research online. (I must thank Pasha for his patience on uncountable questions of a novice like me) Recently found a book at an old bookshop by oxford press “Principles of Field Crop Production” which turned out to be a guide to every vital detail a beginner needs to know.

There is so much I want to share and it gets delayed every time. But will soon reveal the most delightful addition to my crops garden!

Happy Gardening!
B Happy!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Stroke of Life

Some rainy clouds finally found their way to us this morning just when Karachi was losing hope of Monsoons.

Rain is a sign of renewal; Showering life all around us. Taking advantage of this power of rain, I have sown cherry tomato seeds. The rainwater will work as magic to make seeds sprout, or to bring life to any dead plants. Last time when it rained, coriander plants germinated from seeds in just a day after uncountable unsuccessful attempts during normal days. I guess only this nature of rainwater made my potatoes develop roots too. Pervious efforts were disappointing.

I marvel how nature has planned timings for each plant to bloom. Right before rains, Bulbine Lily, bright yellow flowers emerge, adding eye-catching contrast with the clouds. Some plants are already blooming; one that I have is an attractive silver bush! Deep violet flowers are a wonderful addition. They do not only look great on the plant, but also when they fall off during the rain, and float in water complementing the mood.

With music of drizzling water on the coconut leaves right out side the window, aroma of rain is filling my heart with strange sensation and the thundering clouds are making the scene even more thrilling. I MUST go outside now!

Happy Monsoons!

i have got a lot more to tell what I have been doing! Let us leave that for the next time.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

What a Day !

Saturday, 26 July 2008

News Feed

News Feed: With light showers and cloudy sky, Karachi awaits monsoon; a season when everything comes to life. Nature seems to be in a pre-monsoon celebration mood too! For the first time I was successful in growing fenugreek (meethi). Our cockatiels are waiting for their eggs to hatch, flowers are blooming and bees have been visiting all day! hundreds of pigeons fly over the head every now and then to add more peacefulness to the scene. I even learned to separate suckers from ferns and palms.With flowers,evergreens,crops,water features,birds and the wildlife , i am gratefully enjoying all elements of nature!
Happy Gardening!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Pot-Perfect Ponds

Ambiance of roaring waterfalls, rushing rivers, reflecting lakes, ruffling oceans and sprinkling rain always captivate ones heart to divulge the poet inside. A creative Water feature is bond to depict the same dreamy milieu in your garden.

Any type of garden can creatively add a water feature. Recent visit to Pasha's farm filled my heart with inspirations for my own pot perfect pond

Tofiq Pasha has several ponds around the house which is surrounded by breathtaking view of the farm. Soothe n serene courtyard inspired me the most. Portraying Japanese water gardens, it has lovely pond with beautiful water lilies and trees all around. Chirping birds and music from wind chimes adds special mellowness to the place.
With promised aquatic plants from Pasha; I have been experimenting with my own ponds-in-a-pot designs.
Plants I had included yellow water lilies (Nymphaea mexicana) Soft rush (Juncus effusu) Common salvina (Salyinia minima), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)

It is important to know that aquatic plants belong to 4 categories
1. Submerged aquatics (lives completely underwater)
2. Free floating plant drift about the surface of the pond with their roots dangling in the water.
3. Deep-Water plants have their roots in water that is 45cm or more in depth. Leaves stand out or float on the surface.
4. Marginal Aquatics grow in the shallow water around the edge of the pond.

Yellow Water lily is a deep water plant. Its roots need to be at least 12 in underwater. It Flowers well in sun. yellow lilies are not fragnant but are as divine as the common white lilies.

My plants are still too young, photos of lilies are from pasha's ponds.

Common salvina is a fast growing floating plant. It needs to be controlled or else the dense colonies will cover the surface of the pond blocking all sunlight which will eliminate submerged and deep water plants.

I like them in a traditional clay pot. they are doing quite well in the shade.

Soft rush is also a deep water plant. It is a dark green grass like plant that grows 3-4 feet tall in clusters. Hydrilla is a submerged aquatic with fine leaves.

Water lettuce is another floating plant with hairy roots.It multiplies rapidly by producing several suckers which furthermore produce baby plants and the cycle goes on.

I started off with 4-5 water lettuce plants last month,and now i have whole container full of them.

Planting water plants is quite simple. I began with cementing the hole at the bottom of the container. Placed the pots containing the plants in the large container and then filled it up with water. Soil and gravel can directly be added to large containers to plant Aquatics that needs soil. Floating plants can be placed on the surface.
Ponds require proper maintenance. Moss can create problems in containers placed in sunlight. Introducing moss eating fishes can control the problem and keep your ponds clean. Ponds in pots might need to be refilled after few days.

One can play with designs and can go absolutely eccentric with water plants especially if it’s a pond-in-a-pot. Fishes can be added to create natural environment. Some birds feed on seeds of lotus, and are attracted to flowers of soft rush.
I am enjoying my water gardening experience. Cant wait to see blooming water lily in a moonlit night!what a experience it would be.

Go Eccentric Gardening!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Go Wild Gardening!

A productive organic garden makes you feel pleasingly wild while being a heaven for not only you, but also for the wildlife !

Idea behind being an organic gardener is that you do everything the nature's way. Scientific evolution departed us from nature. We tend to find quick fixes for everything now without realizing their long-term effects on our environment

Pesticides sprays done on crops that we eat, not only devastate our health and environment, but they also kill beneficial insects that are less tolerant to these deadly chemicals.

These friendly bugs are nature's way of pest control. Attracting beneficial insects and wildlife to your garden will control many pests for you such as snails, slugs and greenflies.

Tiny parasitoid wasps prey aphids and caterpillars. Lacewing larvae and ladybug larvae and adults exterminate aphid populations and the ground beetles target on a variety of ground-dwelling pests. But these friendly bugs are very sensitive and less tolerant to pesticide sprays.

These innocent creatures need to feel welcomed in your garden. For this purpose, companion planting is encouraged. Dill attracts aphid eating hoverflies. Strong scented flowers not only attract bees and other beneficial insects but also discourage pest attacks on your crops. Garlic plants keep away aphids. Planting marigolds with tomatoes also ward off aphids.

Even some crops are grown together with strong fragrance to avoid pest growth such as carrots and leeks are advised to be planted together because they drive each other's pests away.

Peppers, tomatoes and eggplants like to be grown together. Crop rotation also helps in avoiding pest buildup. This means growing crops on alternate plot each year.

For me these pests have not really been a trouble. But being close to wildlife is divine. So this year I am planning to introduce new flowers and herbs to my garden that will make my organic garden complete.

photos: Sweet williams: Foxglove : Cornflower

Sweet William or Dianthus barbatus is a perennial plant and its nectar attracts birds, bees and butterflies and it's an edible flower, which doesn’t mean that I am going to try to eat it, but it will defiantly beautify my food!

Digitalis purpurea or fox glove flowers are usually biennial which means that they flower a year after planted. But now mostly fox gloves seeds available, flower within 5 months of sowing the seeds. These unlike the sweet William are poisonous ones. It is used for medical purposes and in study of molecular biology. I love this one and most excited to see this amazing 4 feet tall flower stem grow!

Corn flower or the bachelor's button, is another outstanding cut flower. It's an annual. which means that the die after flowering. This is also edible and attracts birds, bees and butterflies. Many folklores are associated the flower and its also known for its blue pigment, and other herbal uses.

Zinnias : Asters :Lavender

Do also have zinnias, asters and daisies in my list and the most amazing herb lavender that has uncountable uses. Its essential oil is famous and wildly used for herbal and medical and decorative purposes.

Lavender flowers produce nectar that provides good quality honey for the beekeepers. Which means it attract lots bees and also birds and butterflies. Bunches of lavender are grown in gardens to deter insects.

I am still not sure about flowering season of some of them. But some will defiantly be there when my crops are growing.

I can almost foresight my brilliant crops with stunning flowers; fluttering butterflies, buzzing bees and a perfect natural environment not only for me but also for the wild life.

It’s a sight so heavenly that it must be felt in real.One can never get bored watching a tweeting bird, swinging on a branch, and can never stop oneself from adorning and running after a butterfly, refreshing scents of flowers will never turn off anyone's mood, smell of earth will always make one take a deep breath to fill up the aroma of life inside! Because nature is made for man, and being away from it have flooded our lives with imitations, be it around us or within us.

Appreciate nature, and be a part of it!

photosfor this blog were randomly collected from different websites.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Fall Fecundity

Hottest days are still ahead of us, but I can almost foresight my fecund fall garden.

In the photo (first row L-R: Cayenne Peppers, cucumbers, tomato delicious) (Second row L-R: Jalapeno Peppers, cherry Tomato, salad greens) (Third row L-R: Tomato Roma, Beefsteak tomato, Mixed bell peppers)

The long, cold nights bring brilliant changes everywhere. Especially to vegetable gardens and farms in our part of the world. As September spreads its colors,sowing of fall crops begin.

Now is the perfect time to have a plan ready. Seeds that I selected to plant in forthcoming months are on their way to me. The reason for getting seeds so early is that unlike the situation here, growing season in the West will end as the winters appear bringing an end to the seed marketing.

This fall will bring glorious new crops to my pot garden. Cayenne pepper is the first hot chilly that I will be growing. Slim, red, 8 inch long pepper is rated hottest. First batch is still young. Gloves are above the list of things needed.

Growing the famous Mexican Jalapeno Peppers will be a thrilling experience. For these I think I will need pizza ingredients in advance!

Mix variety of bell peppers are my favorite. With the big red, yellow diamond and the purple beauty still blooming, and the new plants emerging, I am enjoying 8th month of the same plant’s fruits.

Another cold weather crop, Cucumber will be a blissful addition to the garden. I am not sure if I got determinate or the indeterminate type. But I do have extra canes if it’s not the bush variety.

Salad Greens and strawberries will add more freshness to my garden this winter. For these i will be investing in triple storey racks or tray stands to save space.

Beefsteak Tomato is one of the crops that I am most excited about. This tasty, meaty tomato weights around 2 lb, excellent to make purée, to can or to store. Will need large containers for these beauties.

Similar to the beefsteak tomatoes, is Tomato Delicious. As the name says, it’s the most delicious of all. Weighting 1 lb makes it as special as the beefsteak.

Tomato Roma is a classic Italian paste tomato. Plant is a bush type. So I will not need canes for this juicy tomato. Besides these new varieties, I will defiantly grow cherry and grape tomatoes again.

Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy gardening the most. Pleasantly blazing sun, widespread blue sky, lush colors of your garden and fresh mouth-watering food from around the world growing in your home is the most joyful experience.

Have a plot ready for your productive winter garden.

Happy gardening!

*Vegetables are not the only thing I am trying my hands on this fall, check out my next blog for more.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Lets get a seek peak at what is going on behind the scenes in my garden!

Making of prolific garden requires some insight into technical details too. With basic knowledge anyone can gain success in this fruitful industry! To begin with, check out the sowing season of vegetables you want to plant.

I went through all seeds packs I had, checking for sowing dates, and found out that I can plant almost all. True season for cherry tomatoes is coming up, although they have been fruiting so well in the time of the year when they were not suppose to. So I am excited to see their performance in forthcoming months.

Last time I used mixed pepper seeds pack, and did not know what I was investing in, but I just loved yellow diamond and big red peppers. They were too tasty. So, I saved lots of seeds from them to sow this season. This time I decided to plant, big red sweet pepper, yellow diamond pepper, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and radishes.

My inner controlled spy wanted to add more suspense to the story by sowing red pepper flakes from pizza hut to discover which type of hot peppers they use! So I collected some clues and did some research and found out that they are probably slim, long cayenne peppers. Mystery will be solved only when the peppers appear.

Most important thing you need to know before planting any plants is their season. The lowest temperature recorded determines which growing zone your city falls into. For example, lowest temp for Karachi is approx 10-20 F. so we are in zone 8.

Your Zone _____ Your Lowest Temp (F.)

Zone 10_________ 30° to 40°+
Zone 9 __________20° to 30° Zone 8 __________10° to 20°

Zone 7__________ 0° to 10° Zone 6__________ -10° to 0° Zone 5__________ -20° to -10°

Zone 4__________ -30° to -20°
Zone 3__________ -40° to -30°

The next thing you need to know is whether your plant is determinate or indeterminate type. Determinate means the plant is a Bush variety and the indeterminate type grows as vines upwards and needs to be caged or staked. Once you know this, you can get your containers or the plot ready accordingly. Next you need other details about the plant such as, its height, and color, how often it needs to be watered, what type of soil it needs, amount of sun it requires, pot size etc.

Most of the plants are first planted in seed starting trays, or 3-inch pots. They are transplanted according to given instructions once they have developed a set of true leaves. I have sown Radishes, Peppers and tomatoes this weekend. Instead of going for many little pots, I used one large tray, and made little tags for each type of crop seeds. It’s a good idea to keep a record of the dates sown, day harvested.

When I look at a visually dead seed, it’s hard to imagine how many fruits are hidden in it packed with thousands of more seeds! Its enchanted world I tell you! It is nature’s magic that turns seed into a tree. Whenever I am near plants, I always recall an Urdu poem that I learned as a child.

Chota sa aik beech ager hai to kia hoa
Kitna bara darakht hai uss me chupa hoa

Choate say til me aankh ki kitni barai hai
Darya hon ya pahar hon sub ki samai hai

Mil jul keh paani ka aik darya bahati hain
Bondain hain choti choti jo sagar banati hain

Choti si Ummer me jo iradae rehay karae
Dunya me tum bhi kaam kero gae barae barae “

We truly live in an enchanted world. Gardening gives us whole new perspective to look at life.

Open you eyes to it!

Happy sowing!

Thanks for appriciating my effort and for your wonderful comments.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

News Feed: Rainbow-struck Garden

Rainbow has just struck my crops in a pot garden. These vegetables are not only a treat for your tummy, but these are also truly a feast for your eyes.

Just have a look at my astoundingly beautiful garden! O My! It’s looking startling! I cannot wait to harvest my sweet dazzling peppers! BIG MAMA/Godfather 8-inch long peppers are coming in abundance. They are still half the original size. As they mature they will turn into red. Harvested my PURPLE BEAUTIES last week! They taste superbly sweet but some thing strange happened when I cooked them. The color turned back into green! All the purple shade was gone unlike the first time. And even when I tried to refrigerate them they turned back into green. I think they should not be kept on vines for too long after ripping. And it is for sure that they don’t like moisture… well although they look stunning on vines and they produce fruit in large numbers, but I don’t think I will grow them again. Instead I’ll go for yellow, orange or red ones. Speaking of yellow peppers. I am madly in love with this vivacious variety. Brightly painted peppers look so gorgeous. They look so apitizing, i can not wait them to ripe!
I harvested 10 beans yesterday! It is so great to have grains grown in your garden. I was delighted to see my first bean pods. In my last post about beans, I said that beans should be picked up while they are still green. But for white lobias or the cowpea, it is not true. If they were picked before the pods color fade, they would still be green from inside. The ones kept on vines little longer will properly mature and get larger.

My tasty tomatoes are just superb. Plants are producing more and more. And there are new bunches of blossoms. I have moved my plants to a partially sunny area. As there is always water shortage and watering pattern changes. But they are doing well.

Nature has played with all colors and textures for every thing it has created but it has blessed food with unique flavors, shapes, sizes, colors, fragrances and special attractiveness, That one can never get bored with them. There are always marvelous creations of nature around us, waiting to be discovered. Find them!

Love Nature!

Share your thoughts and experince growing crops.
in mynext blog i ll share some interesting pictures of how differnt crops get colored.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Grape Enchantment

Who is not in love with divine grapes? Imagine having romantic grapevines in your own garden!

Well not exactly grapevines, but grape-tomato vines! These blissfully lovely vines are not less in anyway. I am totally in love with these and best thing is that I can have them in my garden whole yearlong.

Grape tomatoes are amazing to grow! They are best for summer crops too. They come in bunches of shiny, 1/2” red, elongated globes. The vigorous vines grow up to 8 feet high with abundance of fruit. These are sweetest tomatoes ever! I am totally in love with them.

Mouth-watering grape tomatoes are absolutely irresistible. Vines look stunningly beautiful and they produce fruits like crazy. I planted NAPA HYBRID grape tomatoes. Seeds are little expensive than others and there are hardly 10-15 seeds in each pack. But you can always save new seeds for next round for non hybrid grape type tomatoes. Hybrid will very rarely produce plant exactly like itself. But i accidentally squeezed one tomato in a pot and now there are around 30 tiny plants! So I'll experiment! May be I'll get a plant true to the original one. This award winner variety is a must for every vegetable garden.

I planted mine twice since august’07. And as my second batch of crops is still fruiting abundantly, my next batch will be ready to be transferred to larger pots in 3 weeks. These will produce well through out the summers too. It takes almost 60-70 days after germination to harvest your crops. These are the sweetest, most delicious tomatoes you have ever tasted!

Fruits come in stunning clusters and it’s amazing how each bunch gets colored. Sunlight makes red globes even more tempting. I love all stages of grape tomatoes. Yellow blooms come in beautiful clusters, as they dry out, little green globes emerge which enlarge into grape’s size green bunches.

Recently most exciting thing happened! My enchanted grape tomatoes did their magic on a little 3 years old girl. A friend was visiting me with her little daughter. And as a “tradition” they had to see my garden before they could enter. Little girl, who hated tomatoes before just like her parents, got attracted to little shinny red globes. She was totally spellbound! Some popped out of her month and ran across the terrace, as she tired to swallow them as a whole! But she just couldn't keep her hands off them; there were hardly any left on the vines after her attack on them.

Last week we met again after a month or two, and her parents told me that now she leaves no tomato lying in the fridge. I was so excited to know that. Kids don’t eat vegetables. But picking up fresh vegetables from branches makes it exciting experience for all. Even I can never forget when I pulled out carrots and potatoes from the ground for the first time; I was almost the same age. It was such an extra ordinary feeling! May be that’s the only reason why I wanted to grow vegetables myself.

Oh its delightfully divine experience to grow and harvest your own vegetable. And an excellent way to encourage children to grow, to nurture and to enjoy nature’s fast food!

Enjoy Gardening!

Share your experience of growing crops.
In my next blog, I’ll be updating you on my garden!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

A Warm Greeting

As i walked into my lil garden this morning, a new friend greeted me. Oh My Black-eyed bean Plants are Finally blooming.

That’s the first sign of summers! Warm days and warm nights are here. Not really good news for most of us but summer bring new colors and its own tasty flavors to our gardens! I am so excited to grow my summer crops!

Black-eyed beans/cowpea or the white lobia as we call them, should be sown early in spring. Scorching summers will bring end to the production of this wonderful crop. So if you want to try this delicious bean this summer sow your seeds ASAP. Try mid-season varieties. I planted mine local seeds in late January when weather here was still chilly and I have already shifted my plants to larger pots.

These delicious peas need little attention. Pests and disease are rarely a problem. Just watch out for aphids! You will have to wait almost 75 days after germination to enjoy these yummiest beans. 8inch long pods will be ready when they feel round and are freshly green. Use deliciously flavored peas fresh or dried! Remember, frequent harvesting increases yield.

Well, I am so excited to see these beautiful blooms in my garden. You should also try growing peas. They have the most beautiful and the most fragrant blossoms among all vegetables. Peas have pole and bush varieties. Lama beans, Soya beans, yellow bush beans are just few of widely used ones. I was amazed to know that there are purple peas too! We are missing out so much here, I wish people try new things and make everything possible. Our lands lack nothing; we lack in trying new things, experimenting. I think, we need to get inspired by nature! Get inspired! Try new things!

Happy Summer Gardening!

If you have tired these wonderful crops do share your tips!
Watch out for my next blog, I’ll be talking you to the enchanted world of Grape tomatoes!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Crops in Pots

There Is nothing better than waking up in the morning and walking into your own garden, It gets even more amazing when you garden is packed with mouth-watering food!

Last fall, I had this wonderful experience of growing vegetables. Not just any vegetables! But, some pleasantly unique varieties, such as grape and cherry tomatoes, Yellow pear tomatoes, Purple Peppers, Big red, orange sun and diamond Peppers and some other crops like juicy, 1 inched, crispy, red Radishes! That’s not all! These “crops were grown in pots” on a roof in Karachi! Amazing or what!

Initially it was very hard for many to imagine crops in a pot. And they found it impossible for my little rainbow garden to survive in Karachi’s brutal weather. But I was so determined to grow crops that it was just not possible for me to give up before even trying.I came across this idea of “crops in a pot” at Before that I never knew that we could actually grow vegetables in pots. It totally inspired me to have my own little crops in a pot garden.

At first, I tried local varieties; it was not a good experience although, it taught me a lot. Credit goes to Mr. Tofique Pasha, who encouraged and helped me a lot with millions of troubles I encountered. Well, my first experience was not good. Plants got severe attacks by mites.

While searching for different varieties of tomatoes and peppers I was astonished to discover that there are so many varieties of these vegetables that one cannot imagine! I totally got lost in the world of tomatoes! And I had to get those varieties for my garden. I requested my uncle to get them from Houston for me! And luckily he found all that I listed.For my garden I selected Grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and yellow pear tomatoes. And wanted mix verity of sweet peppers too.

Visualize vigorous tomato vines, packed with mouth-watering bunches of ripped red tomatoes and young green ones, little yellow colored pears hanging here n there on the branches, smiling at you, Crispy, shinny Purple peppers catching your eyes, and dazzling red ones waiting to be picked!

You must experience sowing tiny, visually dead seeds into the soil, watering them, and seeing them come to live! Enjoying their blooms and fruits. It’s just out of this world experience to pick fruits from the branches or to harvest them from the soil.
Oh! You got to have one of your own to peek into heaven’s unseen gardens!

I ll be updating my blog regularly, giving an update about my garden and what new things I learned. I would love to see your comments, suggestions and contributions!

further reading

crops in pots