Sunday, 31 October 2010
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Sunday, 17 October 2010
|Exotic yellow flowers that makes the day even brighter.|
|No matter how small is the flower, it can make you stop and appreciate its beauty.|
|Sun rises behind this beautiful Allamanda vine making the flowers even more beautiful.|
|Another Allamanda that makes me smile. Its right next to the door.|
|They are caged but at least they are a part of my garden. Their chirping creates a wild ambiance.|
|It does nothing. Usually people think its a stuffed bird.|
|I planted the a very thick cutting of the scared fig tree for bonsai making. It has sprouted!!|
|All the seeds of the flowers that I planted few days back have sprouted.|
Friday, 15 October 2010
|Poster for World Food Day 2010 by FAO of UNO|
One billion people are hungry and I am so angry! Next time you are having your favorite meal at a restaurant, remember that 1 billion people around the world are facing chronic hunger. When we eat more than we need, we are making someone, somewhere starve.
The plate is half empty
It is extremely heart rending to know that more than 18 million out of 1 billion figure belong to our own country. Half of our country’s population is facing food insecurity. Can we even imagine how that feels?
I felt sorry for such people before, but the recent flood has bought who live below the poverty line closer to us. It makes my heart ache to learn what life is like for people who do not know when they will get their next meal.
The eating day
Sadly, a large percentage of people suffering from poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition are living near us in the cities. There are families in Karachi who have days fixed for their meals. Each day one member eats and all the others wait for their turn.
We all know it is the responsibility of the government to end hunger, but I think that we, as a nation are more powerful. It’s time we take charge and be the change that our country needs.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations) is observing World Food Day . The purpose of which is to shake up politicians around the globe to end the food crisis. But we are not going to wait for the government to take action.
What can we do
Lets sign the petition and make a resolution today that we will act to end hunger. How do we do that?
Here are some ideas.
- Adopt an area and encourage community farming by provide the residents with gardening tools, seeds and basic knowledge.
- Plant a fruit tree for the poor
- Present some vegetable plants to such families
- If you have your own restaurant, why not have a share for the poor?
- There are some NGOs working to provide free meals to the poor. Help them.
- If you are growing crops on a large scale, share your crops with needy families.
( published :Express Tribune blogs- 16th Oct, 2010)
Sunday, 10 October 2010
|A present from www.muslimgrower.com :)|
The best present a gardener can get is a packet of seeds of his(or her) favorite flowers or crops.
I recived my large parcel packed with an amazing selection of seeds by Rizwan of Muslimgrower.com day before yesterday. It contains some herbs, flowers and vegetable seeds. All that I love!
The most special pack among those is the seed pack of dwraf sweet peas because these are the seeds from Rizwan' garden in Luton.
This morning I decided to sow some flowers that Rizwan sent me and some that I bought for my garden. I started off by filling my 5 inch pots with soil and making tags for the flowers I wanted to grow. Flowers that I planted are Nasturtium, Pansies( mix), Hollyhock( rosea), Stock, Sweet Peas(dwarfs) and Night scented flowers.
I used sieved compost to cover my seeds lightly. placed the tags, watered with a soft shower and placed them in sun. Soon my seedlings will appear and soon after that, my garden will be filled with winter colors.
Welcome winters by sowing some winter flower.
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
|Dessert Pine ( Before)|
|Dessert Pine Bonsai ( after)|
I spent this afternoon trying to make my first shari on a bonsai. We have bonsai making classes on every Saturday at Com. Khalid Sohail's ( V.P Bonsai Society of Pakistan) place here in Karachi but somehow I have not been able to post about any one of them yet. Here are the photos of the plant before and after I was done with it. Almost chopped off my thumb in the process.
( ps. just noticed that I need to cut extra wires. bad pic.too much shari. i am learning!)
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Saturday mornings cannot get any better than this. As usual I was up early for my bonsai class. Stopped at a plant nursery at Karsaz where these stunningly vibrant marigolds were blooming. This is a first sign of winters:)
Sunday, 26 September 2010
Imagine waking up each morning and walking into your garden with chirping birds, fluttering butterflies, buzzing bees, dancing leaves, a soothing breeze and a refreshing aroma of moist grass!
While planning your garden keep in mind that a perfect garden is not only pleasing for you but it’s also a haven for wildlife. Try to include vibrant and fragrant flowers that attract butterflies, bees and the blue birds. Bird houses and bird feeders can also be a unique addition to your garden.
One of the most important things is the time you can devote to gardening and the space you have.
However, some things will have to be left out but with time you will learn to make the most of even small spaces. For small spaces such as a terrace, balcony and window sill, container gardening is an ideal choice since most of us don’t have large areas to grow plants. Most plants will do well in containers and almost all crops love to be grown in pots.
Terracotta pots are better than cemented and glazed ones. However, you might have to change the size of containers as your plants grow. Where you place your plants is the key to success. Most plants will need full sun, which means eight hours of direct sunlight.
There must be a pleasant blend of all kinds of plants in one garden. One can include tropical plants which require indirect light. If you do not have any open spaces at all, you can still include indoor plants, which can survive on the light coming in from the window.
Plants that need full sun under a tree or near hedges is not a good idea as it will compete for food and water with your plants and will also block its sunlight. Well-rotted manure, compost and leaf mould is what mainly provides food to your plants. Each plant has its own food requirement and need altered ratios of soil and compost. You can buy this in bulk as you will need it after every few weeks to fertilise your plants.
For strong and healthy plants constant water supply is necessary. Water is the medium through which the nutrients from the soil are released that the roots use to provide food to the plant. Irregular watering cycle will disturb the growth of plant and eventually it will die. Over watering is as dangerous. The aim should be to keep the soil moist. If you remember these basics, you will soon be walking into a beautiful garden. Feeling confident? Get few plants and sow some seeds to start your own garden.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2010.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
|Seed potato sprouts|
It usually takes two to three weeks for the potatoes to sprout. Once you see the green shoots prepare your plot, container or a bag for planting potatoes.
|Potatoes ready to be covered with sand|
I have selected a large blue tub. It has enough space for planting 5-7 potatoes. Here are three simple steps how you can plant your potatoes.
- Fill your container 2/4 with a good mixture of sand and manure. (60:40 works for me).
- Place potatoes at 6-7 inch distance from each other.
- Cover with sand. Make sure the leafs are visible.
Simply water it softly and put it in shade. Now your work doesn't end here.
Each week you will have to add an inch of sand or as needed. The idea is to keep adding sand as the plant grows.
|potatoes can be grown in bags and empty sacks|
If you are using strong plastic bags or sacks, you will need to roll them down to 2/4 of the size. Make drainage holes and follow the same steps. As the plant will grow you will roll up the bag as much as needed and add more sand.
You will need to do this for next few weeks until the plant turns yellow and then dies. No need to worry , you dint do anything wrong. Its time for harvest!
Trust me, you will fall in love with the potato again when you will unearth this incredible vegetable that you have planted your self.
Saturday, 18 September 2010
|Map out your winter vegetable garden|
Wouldn’t you just love to have a garden that produces fresh, scrumptious vegetables all year long? It is that time of the year when gardeners from colder countries are preparing for the icy winters that will bring a long pause to their gardening activities. But for us it is just the beginning of a very fruitful and colorful winter.
I have been waiting for September to spread the spell of fertility into my garden. As it is finally here I better get my plan for a rooftop vegetable farm ready.
It is essential to have a good plan for a successful vegetable garden. Each vegetable will have different requirements. Here are some basics that I kept in mind before I made my plan. You can do the same.
Find your zone
Each city has a different growing zone that is calculated by the lowest winter temperatures it get. For example in zone three, the lowest winter temperature ranges between minus 30 to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit and in zone 10 it ranges between 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a good idea to calculate what the range in you area is before you begin to select seeds.
There are mainly two seasons to grow crops; summer and winter. You will have a wide range of vegetables to chose from in both cool-season and warm season crops. Most of the time imported seed packs will say that that the plant needs to be grown in summers but you need to be wise here. Notice the minimum temperature it says is needed for the seed to germinate. You will learn that this is your winter temperature!
Know your seed
Once you know which vegetables you want to grow, you need understand the difference between the seeds:
Heirlooms: These vegetables have been been grown for at least 50 years. They are known for their color, taste and for being organic. These seeds have been passed down by generations. When you replant the seeds from the same vegetable you will get reap a harvest.
Hybrids: These are the result of the cross breeding that is mainly done to produce a pest resistant harvest which is goodin terms of color and increased flavor. You will need to buy new seed packs each season.
Personally, although I love the way seeds have been engineered to create interesting looking crops but deep inside I don’t feel a connection with hybrids. Somehow I always feel they are not a part of nature as it is. Still, I always end up having some hybrids in my garden as well.
Keep in mind the space you have and the amount of sunlight it gets. Most crops need a minimum of 6 hour in direct sun light. Some will need partial sunlight as well. If you are short of space, you can always take your garden to your rooftop like I have done and grow your favorite seasonal vegetables at home!
Map out your garden
You garden must be well designed . Map your garden by placing the taller plants at the back and the shortest in front. It would be even better if you play with the contrasting crops.
Wouldn’t you just love to keep your garden producing scrumptious food for you? Keep some space vacant for future plants. In order to guarantee continuous harvest plant seeds every 2 to 3 weeks.
Keep these points in mind when you are ordering your seed packs. Go for a reputable seed store even if you have to pay little extra.
I received my seed packs last month. Since I am expanding my rooftop garden, I have a lot more space so I need more seeds. The seeds I have ordered include three different types of tomatoes (for paste, canning and for salads) baby corn, eggplant, brussels sprouts, courgettes, melon, pumpkin, salad leaf, colored bell peppers, celery, cucumber, bitter gourd, garlic chives, purple ruffled basil, mint, parsley etc
This season I am aiming for a perfect and productive vegetable rooftop garden. Why don’t you grow some crops with me and make your own rooftop garden?
Friday, 10 September 2010
I love the bumblebee's cuddly appearance. These fuzzy bees are usually 3/4 to 1 1/2 inch long and have yellow and black bands on them (although this property changes in some species.)
If you ever catch sight of a bumble bee hovering over a flower, feeding on its nectar and collecting pollen as it hovers from one flower to the other take some time to pause and notice the little creature that is quietly keeping this world green.
Unlike honey bees, bumble bees are not honey producers but they are social servers upon whom cross-pollination is greatly dependent. Although nature has created more than 200 species of bumble bees, but sadly they are facing a threat of extinction. Einstein believed that without bumblebees human race can extinct in four years. According to a research conducted in 2007 by the Food and Farming department of UK, the honey bee will be extinct in UK in the next 8 years. Sadly, bumblebees are also facing a similar threat.
Farmers around the world have good reason to be alarmed as do we all. We are interlinked with bumblebees through the complex ecological system . If the bumblebees die, there will be no pollination. If there will be no pollination, there will not be any flower. If there will be no flower, there will be no crops. If there are no flowers and crops, there will be no insects and birds. Without insects dead plants and dead animals will not decay and thus fertile soil will also disappear. Where will we be?
We might end up eating grass and hunting fish. Food scarcity will result in even greater challenges. In short, I don't think that floods, aliens or meteors will ring an end to the life on Earth. But I think this tiny creature, the bumble bee can become a reason for human extinction.
The only thing we can do is to take care of this wonderful insect created by God so that in return it takes care of us.
How can we thank our humble friend?
1. Plant flowers with rich nectar.
2. If you do not have flowers – make your own nectar! Make a water (70%) and sugar(30%) mixture and fill a little container such as bottle cap with it and put it between plants. Bees will appreciate it!
3. Bees can't resist apple, cherry, plum and pear flowers. They love hollyhocks, geraniums, poppies, roses, laburnum, corn flower, delphinium and sunflowers. Some herbs will also tempt them to visit your garden. Plant sage, rosemary, thyme, chives and lavender.
4. Avoid chemical pesticides.
5. Bumble bees would love to have a home inside a little hole in the a quite corner of the garden.
6. Make your garden bumblebee-friendly by simply planting some flowers!
Published on Express Tribune Blogs
Friday, 3 September 2010
|A local checking for available water|
They are healthier and wealthier as the principle bread winners now have more time to devote to their jobs and have worked to improve their living standards. Children can go to schools. Moreover, local livestock looks well nourished as well. Now that they have water in the desert, they are even trying to grow their own crops.
Isn't it heart warming to know that some people quietly did their work and changed the lives of thousands and are still
working to help all the estimated 1.2 million people of the Thar desert.
The concept of rainwater harvesting has captivated me. I dream of a Pakistan where rainwater harvesting becomes a common practice. Our agricultural lands, deserts and even the urban centres could learn to use rainwater wisely.
|Children transporting water which they need to survive instead of being in school|
Monday, 23 August 2010
|Leeks from the market|
People say that rainy days are for the gardeners to take a break, but I disagree.
Rainy day is a perfect reason to be out in your garden. Karachi has seen monsoon rains during the past few weeks.one rainy day I decided to plant leeks.
I have had many unsuccessful attempts to grow leeks and onions from seeds. But there are always shortcuts. Here is a simple way to grow your leeks!
1. Buy leeks from the market. The younger bulbs the better.
2. Prepare a container that is wide but not very deep.
3. Chop off most of the leaves.
4. Plant the heads in the soil.
Let few drizzles fall on the newly planted leeks. Keep it in shade for next few days.
|Heads of the Leeks freshly planted.|
Growing crops cant get any easy than this. Plant some leeks!
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
It rained here yesterday and the plants have enjoyed it the most. Here are some pictures I took after the rain.
Thursday, 5 August 2010
Every one loves potatoes. Why not grow your own this season?
For those who don't know, I have a roof top garden where I also grow crops in pots.Potatoes are my favorite crop that can be grown in bags, bins and large containers. This afternoon I decided to chit some potatoes.
Chitting potatoes simply means to encourage tubers to sprout before planting. The easiest way to grow potatoes is in bags, bins or large containers. Here is how you can start chitting your potatoes:
You can simply select any potato that you like the best. Its hard to find potato seeds ( which are basically baby potatoes) here in Karachi, so I use the potatoes I get from the grocery store. Make sure the potatoes you select are healthy and do not show any signs of a virus or infection.
Eyes of a Potato:
Yes! A potato has eyes. Notice there are black spots all over a potato. Those are its eyes from where the shots will begin to appear.
Before your potatoes go in a container or a grow bag, you want them to develop shots. For encouraging that, place your potatoes in an empty eggs tray or any empty cardboard box with maximum eyes upwards. Place this tray in a well lit place but not in direct sunlight.
As soon as you see sprouts emerging, leave only 2-3 on each potato and pinch off any extras.
Last year I selected a sack to grow potatoes. This year I am using a huge plastic tub. It gives me more space and I also like its color!
Lets chit some potatoes together and share our experiences.
To learn how my potatoes are doing in a tub and to know what to do next, stay tuned!
For any problems you face growing your potatoes write to me email@example.com
Monday, 2 August 2010
|Grade 3 at the vegetable patch besides an iceberg lettuce plant.|
Vacations are coming to an end and that means another year of productive farming can begin!
Teaching gardening to young people is rewarding on many levels.The best part is that you get paid to practice your hobby.
I can proudly say that I belong to a team that are the pioneers of teaching gardening at the school level. It was the combined effort of Ms Sabrina Dawood and Mr Tofiq Pasha Mooraj to introduce gardening as a subject and to spread the awareness about the environment. For me, it was a dream come true! Dawood Public School took this initiative last year in July, and now we are beginning our second year.
Teaching more than 800 students who belonged to grade 1-8 has taught me many lessons. The most important one is that a love of nature is in every heart – all we need to do is make children realize that there is nothing more human than being close to nature. The other lesson was that a love of nature is contagious!
|First grade students get introduced to the pleasures of gardening|
When my students started planting crops in their pots, everyone was amazed to see the results and soon, farming fever began to spread. Management, teachers, parents and domestics all fell in love with gardening activities and passionately participated as well. Guests who visited us couldn’t stop themselves from jumping into the vegetable patch! They couldn’t resist touching our dazzling eggplants and tasting our tomatoes. The feeling you get when you see people falling in love with farming and becoming one with nature is divine!
I was lucky that my colleague Mr. Fahim Zuberi took out time to organize gardening activities for my students and together we launched DIGS Dawoodian Inspirational Gardeners' Society which quickly gained popularity across the campus.
I still remember the day I entered the school and saw my students watering their pots before the assembly and later saw them having lunch beside their pots. They did not want their plants to be out of their sight! It filled my heart with an unexplainable joy. At one point other teachers started to hate me because students were always thinking and talking about their plants. They were concerned if they sprouted or not. After each class they wanted to run to the windowsill to see their progress. Eventually, even those teachers got addicted to gardening.
|Grade 8 student with her corn plant|
Now I am beginning to miss my students and their repeated questions, ” Ma’am, when will my seed sprout?” ” Can I take my plant home for the weekend, please?” ” Ma’am! There is one more leaf in my basil plant!” That is the best reward a teacher can get.
I can already foresee my students making their gardens beautiful and taking care of the environment long after they will leave the school. I am glad they are coming back.
This morning was spent preparing the gardens for them. We weeded a vegetable patch and have arranged their pots. Now we are all ready to welcome our young gardeners !
Published on Express Tribune :http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/868/learning-to-grow-paradise-from-a-seed/