Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Chasing pumpkins

This begins, like most of our stories do, with Madhu Bhaloo. She had been waking me up several times in the middle of the night, and with good reason. There were ominous rustlings in the pumpkin patch. I went out several times with a flashlight, but saw nothing. Alone, I sat and fretted.

That pumpkin plant, and the one in our kitchen garden marked a turning point in the life of our garden. Since we moved in, Mian has been bringing  home the seeds of sugar pie pumpkins for me to sow. Every year, they have failed. Our soil has been too poor to raise a crop, the critters have been faster than us, we did not know enough about raising pumpkins.

But all this time, our garden was falling into place. We got chickens which provided us with manure, we set up a rainwater fed irrigation tank, we fenced in our kitchen garden, we learned.
And this year the pumpkins rewarded us. The sugarpies flourished magnificently and gifted us 8 pumpkins. It was the volunteer that the village was oohing and aahing over though.

This seed, probably thrown into the compost, grew till it took over the slope facing our bedroom. First there was one, and then there were six large pumpkins.

These were what the mysterious visitor was after, and concern for them was  keeping Madhu and me up. Mian saw me online late one night and asked me what was the matter. 'Something is chasing our pumpkins' I said sleepily. After a short pause, the gentle Mian tried to reassure me, 'well, it can't be very fast then, can it?' We laughed long and loud then, but today I was vindicated.
The 'pumpking' when still a young one

The giant pumpkin broke its stem, trampled the supports we had placed around it, and disappeared. Madhu, I, G, two men who are presently tilling fields for rye, and one woman who was cutting grass for our household all joined in the search. We found it at the very bottom of the orchard, miraculously not shattered to a pulp, but cracked enough that I could not store it for the winter.

This made me a little sad; I had been looking forward to seeing it gently ripen on our roof. But no matter. I cut it up and shared it with all who had joined in the Great Pumpkin Hunt. There was enough for all..the pumpkin weighed just under 9 Kilos. And I was not perfectly fair in the sharing out, our fridge has a 3.6 Kg wedge of the finest (if not quite ripe yet) pumpkin waiting for Mian to return.
Everybody else's share
Our share

Saturday, September 10, 2016


That word sums up what I want my garden to look like. I want it to be exuberant, to reflect plenty.
It has been tough going.. Plants take a long time to establish themselves, I didn't have enough compost, the summers were mean. 
And when I did get the chickens as a source of compost, they proved to be garden destroyers. I had to protect all the plants with chicken wire fences. That repressive prison environment was exactly the opposite of what I wanted.
And yet.
There are things that do work. Parts of the garden that in the here and now, are what I want them to be.
self-sown kidney beans and amaranth climbing the apricot tree

I see us growing more amaranth next year

Despite its atrocious location (behind the compost pile) this 'saptrangi' rose always delights. First with its multi-coloured flowers, and then the nice fat hips
Here's a closeup

For 4 months every year, the fern wall is as lush as I can wish for

Here's a closeup

velvety purple salvia behind pink phlox. Not sure what Mian thinks of this combination, but I like it!
Getting there, getting there