Sunday, October 07, 2012

Tale of a terrace gardener and rice husk

Being active on Facebook has become a time consuming job. I have neglected my blogs, neglected my readings and am only showing off my collections, which are not much anyway. But I learnt a lot of techniques , and being the newbie gardener that I am, I am eager to try it all out and get a (self)pat on my back, with a bounty harvest. When one has garden friends, achieving  bountiful harvest by using Panchgavya or Jeevamrithum, or whatever else, one  wants to try , organic of course, and prove to oneself ( and to other friends ) that one can activate nature to offer a basketful. I learnt to use cocopeat, and other stuff, and have a terrace garden and called myself organic terrace Gardener. Felt good. All that changed recently.

I stumbled on to a FB group of knowledgeable, qualified and inspiring gardeners, who are harvesting such magnificent capsicums and lettuce, gourds, and cucumbers. I got hooked. Though the language was different, I scanned for days, to see the English versions too, embedded somewhere in conversations. They were growing it all by themselves, without relying on those chemical fertilisers. I saw in awe , the rows of neatly arranged platforms of grow bottles with special growing medium, full of greenery. I learnt that it contained soil, compost and some pig/chicken manure etc., most of which was not in my reach. 
As I dug deep into their conversations, I was drawn more and more into their style of raising vegetables, which could feed a family of twenty at least. Rows and rows of recycled plastic containers, used in innovative ways, inspired me. I already knew how to cut a Coca-Cola bottle and put growing medium. I had raised some greens and felt very pleased. Here I saw the bottles were pretty big. That set me thinking, to find where in my dear city I am going to get those. I started looking at scrap shops, wherein the guy used to look at me strangely asking for impossible sizes of soft drink / or any other used bottles. ( I have not located any so far).

After scrolling through pages and pages of conversation , I figured that they were using some rice hull.  I know what the stuff is. After all, I grew up on my grandfather’s land holdings and seen them stack those stuff in summer. But to get rice hull in Hyderabad area seemed remote. I searched the Ice depots, requesting for information. I re-read the FB conversations. I Googled. All pointed out to the one thing that I must procure, to improve my growing medium and, and the yield. 

Meanwhile, I noticed that another young garden enthusiast( Mr.X), had already procured some rice hull and was kind enough to share the photograph with the other FB friends. He was also generous to share the location where he procured it, a remote place from where I lived. Luckily another equally enthusiastic, experiment minded, excited gardener too wanted a look at that magic ingredient. That made two of us, trying to travel to the outskirts of our city, to add a special ingredient to our plants,resulting in good yield.:-). 

We both were, busy ladies, who are needed at home, our absence will be felt if it was more than two hours.
It took us weeks to plan the visit,contemplating how to get to that unknown area where paddy was being de-husked and hull was strewn about. We also bombarded the person who already bought it. 

Finally , the trip was in place,but it was raining heavily, next, it was threatening to rain, and another day, a forecast that it might rain. We waited. We were also worried that the roads may be lonely. It might not be safe for ladies to go that far, in an auto, to an unknown area.

What can stop determined gardeners?

One fine sunny evening, we did make the trip. It was a long drive, luckily on the main roads. We had to ask a few people on the way, and found the place, pretty easy.( after almost an hour’s journey by auto).The auto driver was very nice and helpful , and patient with two ladies and a child, trying to reach this rice mill. When he understood, he was smiling wryly. ( madcaps?). 
Added to that we also caused mild sensation ,to the helpers in that place, who were delighted that two well-dressed people came all the way from city, for the hull. We were asked to shovel them in the bags, ourselves, and we did that. (Gardening makes you do strange things). We came back, mighty pleased with ourselves, and a lighter purse due to the racy meter, and exorbitant auto fares. Never mind, we had the satisfaction of getting what we sought.

Well, this is not end of the story.There is another procedure to this. One is supposed to carbonate the hulls to add strength to the growing medium. Our enthusiastic Mr.X has already demonstrated how to do that, on the social web sites. Now you know , readers, it is not fair on our part to leave job incomplete with the damp hull. We need to learn to carbonate. That will be another long story…

All pictures except the first one is Courtesy Google.

Reblogged from here , due to Indigblogger connectivity difficulties.