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.

further reading

crops in pots