Monday, January 18, 2016

Friends Season - Love for Gardening by Roma Mehta

Happy New Year everyone :) Finally the holiday season is over and seems like things are settling down and coming back to routine. In this new year, I want to learn new things, try new cuisines, explore new places and blog about all my crazy experiences. Though I am an amateur blogger, I want to become better this year. 

I wanted to start the new year with something fresh and lively. So I asked few of my friends to write a short post for me which is what I call - My 'Friends Season'. And boom! Here it is - one of the fresh and green blog post of the year by Roma Mehta with her love for Gardening. I have known Roma for more than four years now. She is very creative, enthusiastic person and a Facebook fanatic. Other thing that distinguishes her from others is she has very crazy ideas. She is my go-to person whenever I want ideas to surprise any of my friends or family ;)

Roma in haseen vadiyan!

Over to you Roma --

Jaya and I share a lot of things in common, blogging is just one of them. Like seriously, our lives are very similar in a lot of uncanny ways. When she asked me to write a blog post for her blog, I was confused as I am new to this concept. But later I understood what it means and asked her for suggestions on some topic to write about. She said - “Anything you are passionate about or any of your recent projects”. “Gardening!” was the first thought in my mind. This is the only complete DIY thing in my life right now, just mine! So we got a home in San Jose early this year and the backyard is part patio and rest is open for me to do whatever my imagination commands. I will try to put pictures with each small project so that it’s easier to relate.

Now I have zero experience in gardening, have never planted a single plant myself. But I guess it’s in my blood as my dad is a hard core gardener. So since we moved in our home, patio and backyard got the least attention. After we settled in, I started thinking about having a kitchen garden in the backyard. Immediately made a trip to Home Depot and got potting soil and some plants like green bell pepper, strawberry, mint, tomato and colored leaves.

Once I potted them using potting soil, it just got me going. There was no stopping me after that. I also discovered that planting seeds is easy. I used seeds of green chillies, really spicy ones that Prerak’s aunt got us from LA. Once planted and regularly watered, the green chilly plants actually started growing. But since I had planted about 10-12 seeds, all those saplings grew at once and were competing with each other for the soil and space. I had to move some of them to a different area to allow them to grow separately.

For the green bell pepper plant, for the longest time I did not even realize that the flowers had started growing into bell peppers! I used to water the plants after I come home from work and it was usually dark when I did that. On a weekend I saw 3 of them grown into fully blown bell peppers and it was really exciting! I harvested them and also made a Gujarati preparation out of it!

Bell Peppers - From flowers to bell peppers 

Strawberries started growing well too, but I never actually got to taste a single of them because of the squirrels who always eat it up before I can harvest.

Little strawberries

After a successful attempt at kitchen garden, I moved on to having more colors in the home. Our friends Harsh and Esha gifted us hanging floral baskets for the new home and we found the perfect spot to hang them - the front door! Believe it or not, we got them in August and they are still blooming in the month of November. The colors are just so soothing and add a very fresh touch to the front door.

Now it was time to add colors to the backyard.


I had no more space left on the patio side pots that I had. So it was time to get into edging the backyard. I initially thought I will buy pavers and get it done by some gardener. But then, just out of curiosity I googled up on how to edge the backyard myself, and it seemed pretty doable. Well, it was a little tougher than I thought it would be, but it was a super fun project. I am yet to finish it, but here is a picture of the work in progress.

In progress

Once the initial edge was ready, I planted lilies and eureka lemon. The plan for future is to get fruit plants as spring approaches.

Lilies and Eureka Lemon

The previous owners had some rose plants which add some more colors -


As a couple months passed, California saw rains! That meant that the front yard lawn was going green! Here is a before-after picture for reference:

Before and After

My visits to Home Depot and Lowes gardening sections increased as my interest in gardening grew and I kept adding colors around the home. Since my dad is visiting us, currently staying with my sister in NJ, so I keep discussing new gardening ideas with him. One day he told me that he got 50 tulip bulbs and planted them in the front yard of my sister’s home. I had bought tulip bulbs a long time back but just kept those in the fridge since the rule is, you plant them late fall and they begin to bloom in spring. I just wanted to get hold of the colors I wanted - Lavendar, pink and red. So last weekend I thought the timing was perfect since it has begun to get cold. So I dug 6 inch deep holes and planted a bulb in each of them. I am now eagerly waiting for spring so that I can see those colors in front of my home, will share a picture once they are here!

As you can see in most of the pictures, I have added mulch around the plants, it’s a great way to retain water and I like the red color! Gardening has really given my life a new excitement. In my free time, I keep thinking of fruits, flowers and veggies that I want to add. Watering them is another calm and serene 15 minutes that I get every alternate day. To see them grow, to take care of them, trim and harvest them is really satisfying. My dad will be staying with me for a few weeks in March, which is perfect spring time, so I will use his experience and gardening knowledge at that time to plant some fruits. I have some grand DIY plans for further expansion of my backyard, also planning to expand the patio area, hopefully by next summer it’s ready to welcome the bbq parties!

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