Green Thumb

Thank you for you amazing feed back on last weeks Green Thumb column. It definitely shows people still love the idea of greenery in their homes and do go that extra mile to achieve the results. So keeping that in mind I am going to make this column a regular feature, so like last time I got in touch with Veena Nanda of Sunshine Gardens boutique to answer a few of my queries. Sunshine’s Garden Boutique is not just a retail set up for all your gardening needs but also assists you in designing and landscaping your gardens. They offer awesome garden accessories from around the world, giving you the ability to conceptualize a picture perfect garden full of artefacts and accessories. They also conduct Bonsai workshops for those interested. So here are a few questions they answered for us. Do send me more queries and we can request Veena to answer those as well.

Q 1. I have recently moved to Mumbai and have a small balcony where I want to plant potted plants and creepers. Can you suggest which plants I should go in for?
You should be able to grow some hardy variety as it’s a coastal region. Try Roses, Hibiscus, Aglaenema , Marigold (seasonal) , Bougainvillea , Dieffenbachia , Ferns, Ficus, Schefflera and if it’s not too sunny you can try Orchids too. In creepers Alamanda should do well.

Q 2. My partner and I have bought a small farmhouse in Gurgaon, and I am very keen to grow my own vegetables, can you suggest how I can go about it?
It’s nice to grow only those vegetables you enjoy eating. Give priority to those prized for incredible flavor when eaten fresh from the garden: sweet corn, beans and peas, tomatoes and young spinach, among others. First prepare a plot of flat ground that gets full sun nearly all day. Break up and turn the soil and add compost or other organic material. A full day of blazing sunshine is especially important if you Figure out how much growing space you have and plant accordingly. Lettuce, for example, can be grown in a solid mat, but tomatoes need to be spaced about 2 feet (60 cm) apart. Give pumpkins at least 4 feet (120 cm) of growing room. Growing requirements are provided on seed packets, in catalogs, and on nursery tags, go by that. Choose crops that require less room if you have a small vegetable garden or grow vegetables in a container. Lettuce is a great pot plant, and ‘Patio’ or ‘Tumbler’ tomatoes will grow well in a hanging basket. Plants that climb and vine, such as cucumbers and pole beans, can be trained up a trellis to take up less room horizontally. Tuck herbs and parsley into flower beds. Schedule plantings around the two main growing seasons which vary by region: cool (spring and fall) and warm (summer). Common cool-season vegetables include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips. Warm-season crops include beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash and tomatoes. Sow some seeds directly in the ground as they grow best that way: beans, beets, carrots, chard, corn, lettuce, melons, peas, pumpkins, squash and turnips. Start with nursery seedlings of certain other crops unless you are an experienced vegetable grower. These plants tend to do better when set out in the garden as seedlings: eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Buy seeds at nurseries, look for seed packets marked as having been packed for the current year. If you plan to shop for seedlings, do it when your soil is prepared and you are ready to plant. Keep them moist and don’t let them sit around for more than three days. Buy healthy and vigorous seedlings. They should stand up straight and be stocky, not lanky, with no yellow leaves or bug holes.

Green Thumb

Usually the first impression on people is not the inside decor, but the outside if you have a garden or the entrance of your house is through a balcony. Even when you are indoors a pretty balcony with lots of green is definitely a bigger turn on than a bland balcony overlooking other buildings. Now, we all know plants are living beings as much as we are. They require sun, water, care and attention the same as us. So like us, summer months are far from easy for our green friends.Well,I got in touch with Veena Nanda of Sunshine Gardens boutique to answer a few of my queries. Sunshine’s Garden Boutique is not just a retail set up for all your gardening needs but also assists you in designing and landscaping your gardens. They offer awesome garden accessories from around the world, giving you the ability to conceptualize a picture perfect garden full of artefacts and accessories. They also conduct Bonsai workshops for those interested. So here are a few questions they answered for us. Do send me more queries and we can request Veena to answer those as well.

Coping with Summer Heat: Hot, dry summers are rough on plants, especially on non-native plants and those weak from improper care. Since many of our landscape plants aren’t naturally adapted to heat, they need special attention and care. The longer high temperatures persist, the greater the injury to the plant. Hot soils also hamper plant growth. Shallow-rooted and container plants are particularly affected by soil heat build-up. Deeper-growing roots penetrate to a level of better soil temperatures and moisture. Mulching the soil surfaces around plants and watering properly is a good idea to stabilize soil temperatures. The most obvious symptom of a plant’s heat exposure and hot soils is persistent afternoon wilting, followed by foliage burn. During hot summer months hot air, particularly hot, dry wind, causes too much moisture loss from the plant’s foliage. Some evaporation from leaves is normal, but when vital moisture is being evaporated faster than the plant’s ability to replace it, leaves dry out and wilt. To be drought-tolerant, plants must have roots able to absorb as much, or more, moisture from the soil and do it as fast, or faster, than the foliage loses it. First symptoms of hot air injury are drying and browning at the tips and edges of older leaves. Then, tender new tip growth wilts, soon followed by dieback. Rapid moisture loss can cause tender leaves to turn black. Evaporation cools foliage, but if it doesn’t get water from the roots fast enough to provide the evaporative cooling effect, the foliage gets hot, tender growth wilts and older leaves sunburn.

Q. How to get creative with plants in a small space (Like a small balcony since not everyone has big gardens/ terrace)

It is very important not to over crowd a garden with plants and huge pots. Especially ifthe space is small, you could minimise the number of plants so it gets easier on maintainance and instead throw in a couple of artefacts like mushrooms, bird baths, bird feeds, chimes, a water feature and last but not the least some form of seating for you to be able to sit out and enjoy your paradise!! Even using artificial turf is a great idea!!

Q.How do I help my plants grow/avoid decay?

  • Water when they are thirsty not when you have time.That is never over water your plants, one good watering per day should be good enough. Do this only in the mornings before the sun is out bright.
  • Take off dead leaves and flowers and keep your plants clean
  • Make sure the soil is healthy cause that is most important to keep the foliage looking fresh and devoid of pests.
  • Fertilise your plants regularly to supplement the nutrients already used up by the plant.
  • Make sure the plant is place in a spot which is airy and has the right amount of sunlight.

Thanks for these tips Veena, I am sure you helped alot of people with their plant troubles. Ok people, so any more questions please email me at aparna.stylecity@gmail.com or comment on this post and we will request Veena to answer those for you.