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Thursday, July 5, 2012

An early pepper harvest

A pepper harvest in late June is a rarity for California. Unlike the east cost or the mid west that is experiencing a heat wave, temperatures in the bay area are still not in the upper 70's and occasionally in the low 80s.

Last winter, I dug out some of the pepper plants from my raised beds and moved them into 5 gallon pots and brought them under the porch (not even indoors). They survived the mild winter and have done fabulously well after being replanted in spring. They are yielding close to 2lbs every few days. Needless to say we are sharing the love with friends and family.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The first ever fruit harvest

For the first time in 4 years, the Plums managed to survive the Squirrel attack

Our first ever harvest of fruits from the garden

Flouting rules

This was how bad our Curry Leaf plant looked in early March when the winter protection structure (supposedly) came off. I was shocked to see that the top 3ft of the plant was completely dead. And this was supposedly a mild winter.

My worst fear came true...almost. The biggest fear in considering whether to put the curry leaf plant in the ground was its inability to weather the cold. In spite of the structure and all the protection, the plant took a beating. I looked at my friends plant that is pot bound and looked much healthier than mine (with fresh leaves)

Thankfully, over the last couple of months I see a world of difference. My curry leaf plant is much more lush and healthy than the potted counterparts.

The drumstick plant has been sort of a disaster too. This one lost more than 5 ft of height and 2 of the plants in the ground completely died.

There is still some hope.....the plants have started sporting fresh leaves. Even if we dont get to harvesting Drumsticks ever, we might be able to harvest and use up some of the leaves.

Moral of the story- There is a reason why there are gardening zones and plants that are compatible to those zones. When flouting rules, what else can one expect....sigh

Monday, June 25, 2012

Some Instagram Pictures


Artichoke Flower

Dinner plate Dahlia

Shasta Daisy


Dahlia again

Lace Hydrangea

Asiatic Lily

Red Echinacea


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer 2012 blooms

The bird feeder adventures

When we decided to put up a bird feeder we designed it to be far away from any branch and high enough off the ground. We hoped that this would be enough to keep the Squirrels at bay. We also designed it as a pulley-cable-hook system with a very thin cable hoping it wouldn't give them enough of a foot hold. But they are smart creatures and up for the challenge.

As soon as the bird feeder went up, the Squirrels were all over it. Within a few hours, they had mastered the subtle trick of getting on to the feeder. They seemed to have taken some cliff hanging lessons from Sly Stallone.

Our first step was to mix in some cayenne powder with the seeds. This didn't seem to bother them one bit. In fact they seem to enjoy the added spice and kick and were coming back for more. We then installed a squirrel baffle that we rigged using a cheap metal salad tray that was picked up from Smart-n-Final.

That has seemed to do the trick for the last few days enough to "baffle" them. But the Squirrels are content eating the scraps the birds drop as they feed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Construction of the Thulasi Maadam-Part 1

An idea that has been in our head and hearts for all these years took shape (using insulation) over the last few weeks.

The Thulasi plant aka Holy Basil (Ocimum Tenuiflorum) is commonplace in most south Indian households, and typically housed in a concrete structure.(This is how ones in India typically look like-click here)

The next and the trickiest step is to encase this in cement.

The 2012 veggie garden-new beginnings

Indecisiveness in doing a vegetable garden in early 2012 together with all the turmoil over the past couple of months, the vegetable garden did not take off in time.

Over the past few weeks, we picked up some plants from the local big box store and threw in some bean seeds directly into the ground.

The plants we had saved from the 2011 garden are thriving well, we even have a nice bell pepper ready to be harvested.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Back on our feet

When I was blogging (bitching) about a bumpy March, I wasn't counting my blessings. April and May have made me see the bright side.

1. Living in a country that gives me access to some of the best doctors in the field and the best of the technological developments

2. Having a job that provides a good insurance coverage to pay for those expensive doctors.

3. Having the rainy day (year) fund to pay for the co-payments

4. Having the support of my parents who flew in half way across the world to help us, and all the family and friends that have helped us along this path in so many ways.

5. Being young enough to be able to weather this storm and come out in the end.

6. Having discovered such an enormous health problem just by accident without any symptoms. Had we not spotted it, things might have just blown up in our face later.

Well, things are beginning to look up, even though we have more than a couple of visits each week to see the docs. We still need to figure out how the long term strategy will play out, but hopefully all the bad karma is done.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Sometime in the summer of 2011 I received 2 artichoke plants in a blog giveaway from

They were planted in the ground in the fall, and one of them sported a healthy artichoke that we did not harvest and sported a very beautiful flower. Over the winter and the most recent and abundant spring rains, the artichoke plants are thriving. Actually one of them is doing really well, whereas the other is just starting out. I am wondering if the smaller one is set at higher level in the ground and all the water that it is getting is draining off into the more healthier plant just below it.

The struggling one

The bigger of the two plants

And there was a vision

Over the years, both Guru and I have had a fascination to have a really massive Buddha statute in our garden. That wish came to fruition this past week(end).

Over the last couple of months or so, I made a resolution to steer clear of unnecessary shopping, and I did that fairly successfully. I happened to stop by a store to return a few things that had been in my car forever. I accidentally spotted this massive Buddha statue and fell in love with it. I didn't buy it, not figure out even how much it was priced for, but mentioned it in the passing to Guru. Friday evening we decided to check it out assuming it would be too pricey for us to buy in any case.

It turned out to be marked down significantly, because it was super heavy and 6 people had purchased it but never took Buddha home. After much debate, we made the purchase, and went back to pick him up on Saturday.
He is happily placed under the Oak tree in the backyard. (facing east and on a couple of stone pavers to keep him off the soil). We also picked up a couple of tuned wind chimes (one of which you see here)

 As we went around, on the shelves, hidden in the back, I spotted another Buddha statue (just the bust), a rather sharp looking one might I add. With a fairly cheap price tag, we decided to buy that one too. Here is a comparison against the original one I had.

We set it out under the Maple in the front yard. A concrete cinder-block as a base and river rock piled up all around. Ideally we could do with some more river rock to go around. That will have to wait the weekend. In the interim, here is what it looks like.

A headstart to 2012

When I talk to people (mostly Indian) that have no idea about gardening, the most common question is "do you have to start from scratch each year?". I am assuming that tomato plants in tropical climates never die like they do here in winter, and hence the question.

It has had me thinking for a while and thanks to the very mild winter in 2011, I actually did one such experiment. As you can see in the picture below, my Eggplants continued to survive in the raised beds in February.

I also dug out some of y pepper plants that i could not protect in the planter beds and kept them in the porch.

Now that the weather has started to warm up, I put them back into the raised planter beds. They seem to be thriving well. Hopefully they have a decent head start into the season and I have some yummy eggplants and peppers in spring.

Monday, April 16, 2012

New(er) trellis

After multiple tries at getting the trellises set up in 2011 (read here), we decided to let go of the biodegradable twine and switch to a more permanent solution i.e. a coated galvanized wire. The coating help us set up the trellis fairly quickly (unlike the biodegradable twine that was super difficult to thread through the eye hooks). Hopefully, even if the coating weathers off, the galvanized wires hold up for a few years. Considering how expensive they are, they better last.

All the seven beds now have the new wire trellises and are ready for the emerging seedlings.

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.
~ J. Lubbock

After thinking about it for over a year, we finally decided to get a pair of "Chaise Lounge". We set them up on the concrete patio and have been thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and getting some much needed rest.

Bloom Time - April 2012

New Hydrangeas added to the garden

Calendula Officinalis

The potato tree that was recently moved out of the pot and into the ground (nice sunny location). It still needs some pruning it get it back in shape. (These are original to the house and had been badly pruned over the years)

The eerily gorgeous Borage (notice the tiny Caterpillar)