Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Gardening Resolution

Yesterday, visiting the Muthanna family home reminded me of my resolve to stop basking in the glory of my perennials (which grow, no matter what one does to them, in a place like Bangalore) and begin gardening for real - to grow some seasonal edible stuff up on my terrace.

The Muthannas have a wonderful terrace garden, where they grow all the good things that on their farm are normally nibbled upon by wild elephants, jackals or such like. The terrace garden is a supreme array of crates lined with plastic sheets, which one can observe by standing midway on their staircase (and access by vaulting neatly over the garage- which I didn't attempt, but which their gardener does in a matter of fact way everyday). A profusion of lettuce, tomatoes, ladies finger (okra to those not in India), mint, papaya saplings and more greets one from the roof top.

So- anyway, I re-resolved to begin my venture of a terrace salad-garden (beginning with hauling the soil up all the way and unblocking the non-functional tap connected to the water tank). Also inspiring me was a wonderful little book I discovered this week, called 'The Gardener's Year', by Karel Capek (translated from Czech and published in English in 1931, with suitable illustrations by his brother Joseph). It consists of little chapters on gardening for each month of the year with stray thoughts strewn in for good measure- heaps on soil-humus-manure and other marvels and fascinations for a real or back-seat gardener. Who might a real gardener be? I quote from this book-

"While I was only a remote and distracted onlooker of the accomplished work of gardens, I considered gardeners to be beings of a peculiarly poetic and gentle mind, who cultivate perfumes of flowers listening to the birds singing. Now, when I look at the affair more closely, I find that a real gardener is not a man who cultivates flowers; he is a man who cultivates the soil. He is a creature who digs himself into the earth, and leaves the sight of what is on it to us gaping good-for-nothings. He lives buried in the ground. If he came into the Garden of Eden he would sniff excitedly and say:"Good Lord, what humus!" I think that he would forget to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; he would rather look round to see how he could manage to take away from the Lord some barrow-loads of paradisaic soil. Or he would discover that the tree of knowledge of good and evil has not round it a nice dishlike bed, and he would begin to mess about with the soil, innocent of what is hanging over his head. "Where are you, Adam?" the Lord would say. "In a moment," the gardener would shout over his shoulder; "I am busy now." And he would go on making his little bed."

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