CHENNAI: The sight of a beautiful garden makes most of us lust for one just like that. Beds of multi-coloured petunias and other annuals, pots of plants laden with healthy vegetables, exotic flowers and fat succulents all sitting together to make a robust garden — who wouldn’t want this? But like most things that are robust, a good garden demands continuous care and timely action.
If you notice aphids on the bean plant one day and tell yourself you’ll spray neem oil soon, better to do it now, as soon, the aphids may have taken over all the plants in the vicinity. Some years ago, aphids attacked my white hibiscus plant, and within days they had taken up every bit of space on every stem of the plant.
They were industrious, I was lazy. Result, the plant dried up and died. It made me very sad of course, and my conscience kept chiding me for my laziness. But not all of us take timely action when it comes to our hobbies. And so, for this week, as a gift to all the nice readers who may also be lazy, aspiring gardeners, here are some tips.
- Practise inclusion: Reserve one pot for a variety of plants to grow together. Let the weeds grow in this one, and if they take over the main plant, say your prized dahlia, never mind! For weeds too are so pretty.
- Let the grass grow: Yes, let the grass grow, and I mean the common durva or arugampul or Bermuda grass, and not the notorious other, that can make you, well, really lazy! While durva may seem like a weed, it does aerate the soil, and house dogs and cats can chew on it when they want. You can pluck a blade and chew on it thoughtfully too — no harm.
- Make simple self-irrigating devices: Take a few empty pet bottles. Drill holes in the caps. Cut of the bottoms. Bury the bottles half way down each of your plants, cap-side down. Fill them with water. The roots will slowly imbibe the water. Once in a week or so, top up the water. It may look like you’re growing plastic bottles in your garden, but relax, it is not a crime.
- Grow plants that flower easily, produce seeds that pop on their own and germinate without a fuss: Gongura, marigold, impatiens, nightshade are excellent examples of this no-fuss tribe.
- Fill your home with aloe vera: They grow easily. They look good. They give out baby plants, which you can easily transplant into other containers. They are hardy. Do not need any attention at all. If you are out of shampoo, cut one leaf, scoop out the gel, and wash your hair with it. Messy, yes, but makes you feel like an eco-hero for having used something without harmful chemicals.
Happy gardening! And have a lazy day just standing and staring at the plants… however they may be.