Urban Gardening 2. My Plants Bloom

My tomatoes are ripening. Check this out the photo.

And the calendula too.  Although the coriander has failed to grow and my experiment with pomegranate too.

I wonder now if I need to buy coriander seeds from the plat shop…perhaps mine are genetically modified terminal seeds? The argument for and against GE/GM interests me no end. Of course I am no expert on it but the thought of genetic engineering makes me shudder. This is not paranoia. As a qualified medical professional I know the importance of science in saving lives and decreasing human mortality as well as morbidity. A lot of the world’s population would be long gone without chicken pox, polio, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and all the other vaccines we take as part of our immunisation schedule. Small pox was eradicated because of a rigourous schedule implemented by so many countries. Cervical cancers are probably going to reduce in prevalence because of vaccines (and smears that will catch the cancer in situ). So I am not against scientific advances in food or food technology. There has to be a way to reduce world hunger and food prices are going to go up no matter what because there is only so much land to till. That is why I guess for me it is an important part of my life and existence to grow my own food. Some of it anyway. The beauty of Auckland (and New Zealand or even Australia) is that no one looks at you like you are a nutter if you say you are into gardening. My friends in India don’t get that. We never grew up with a culture of growing your own food. Not in Bombay anyway. Old Bombay, Girguam, congested, chaotic, crowded and low on water. We used to and still get our water supply from the great Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika (or the good old Bombay Municipal Corporation-before the parochialists screwed it up) at 5am in the morning. I filled up buckets and tanks and pots for years. My mother still does it. So there was no culture of growing any plants except maybe for decorative purposes. I think that should change. I think with modern technologies we can grow some of our food in our apartments and share it with our neighbours. We can create our own compost-if we follow the rules and respect each other-and use the product to fertilise the land. Give back to Mother Earth. I now dump some of my kitchen scraps in the worm farm that my neighbour offered to share. It is full of gorgeous little creepie-crawlies and other microscopic organisms that do what they are supposed to do. Keep this ecosystem going.

I guess it is hard to spot all the little living things in the last photo but they are all amazing! What we as humans have to do is understand the ecosystem and that we need it for our survival. Long after we are gone due to some nuclear holocaust, when cockroaches are the only survivors, they will continue to evolve. My greenie, hippy heart looks for the day when it will dawn on more people than those of us fringe dwellers that ‘green’ does not mean some decorative useless plant and food does not have to come from supermarkets. In Auckland, up at Bastion Point, in the Orakei Marae, replete with so much history, the local iwi Ngati Whatua are growing food and bringing back native flora. In a project called Ko Te Pukaki the entire land is being re-forested and there are vegetable gardens, kumara pits and all kinds of flax being grown. Even Auckland City Mission send their homeless clients (is that the right word?) to tend the gardens and a lot of the food goes back to the Mission kitchens. The oh-so-dynamic Ngarimu Blair is the driving force behind this project. (Watch out for him..he might be PM one day.)

Yeah so one day I hope more people start being pro-active about growing their own food, understanding where our food comes from and how we consume it. The other good thing about Auckland for me is the fruit that grows on streets or in communal backyards. The feijoa in my backyard is already giving fruit

and I wait for the red guava tree on my old street to start fruiting (right word?). I did not know red guava existed until I saw this tree. They taste really good, slightly more acidic than the green guava I used to have in India. Apparently you can make jam from guava. So maybe if I gather enough next month I’ll try that (and write another blog).

Before that one last picture. The brinjal I planted i just beginning to flower. Another month before I get anything edible.

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