FAQ: #AskTheExpert Gardening Workshop

While monsoon can be refreshing after a long excruciating summer, it can be a little difficult on beautiful gardens and other plants that you may have grown. To give tips to seniors on how they can take care of their plants during monsoon season, Seniority organized #AskTheExpert Gardening Workshop at the Seniority Experience Zone, Pune where our gardening expert Mr. Nilesh Rokade addressed the questions related to gardening. Here are the questions that were asked during the live streaming of this session which you can refer to if you have similar questions related to plants and gardening.  

Q - How do we maintain our garden in monsoon?

Answer- Monsoon is the right season to grow plants or start gardening. Rain makes plants a bit healthier. Purchasing plants during the rainy season and bringing them home reduces the mortality rate of the plant. Rainwater increases the fertility of the soil. We just need to bring our plants outside, in the balcony where there is rain, we should loosen up the soil and use organic fertilizers for natural growth. Do not forget to trim infected leaves and use some organic pesticides. 

Q - Need to create a terrace garden approx 2500 sq ft in open space, can you give me some tips?

Answer- You can purchase some potted plants which can be divided into 3 -4 categories, for example, flowering plants, medicinal plants, herbs and kitchen garden. You can add a vertical garden in your balcony if you have an appropriate wall, that will save your floor space. You can add some hanging pots, in which plants are dropping down, or a bird feeder and water pot for birds. A small corner can be dedicated for compost (natural fertilizer) from dry leaves and waste. You can also add some accessories such as Buddha statues, fountains and succulent mini garden and rock mini garden as a part of your garden space. If you have a good drainage system, you can grow natural grass on the entire floor. 

Q - How much fertilizer should be added to ground plants and which one is the best?

 Answer- First of all, you need to create bouldering around the plant and later you can add the fertilizer according to the size of the plant. Loosen the soil and add some organic fertilizer (organic is always good) like dried cow manure, vermicompost, and compost fertilizers, even diluted cow urine is a great way to fertilize your soil. Please avoid using chemicals. Bigger plants do not require a lot of fertilizers as their roots have already reached deep into the ground. Small plants require fertilizers every 15 days or one month. Just a disclaimer: Over usage of fertilizers is harmful to your garden and plants. #AskTheExpert gardening workshop at Seniority experience zone

Q - What are some of the gardening tool?

Answer- If you have a kitchen garden or small garden you can buy basic gardening tools which include small cutter, hook, weeder, trowel, digging shovel, garden spade, garden hose, gloves and spray pump. If you have a lawn then there is a lawnmower that you can use for shredding the grass. 

Q -Which plants kept indoors are good for 1) oxygen 2) absorbing pollutants 3) Repelling Mosquitos. Please tell me the plants suitable for the mentioned purposes. When we buy potted plants from a nursery the soil mixture is so loose, porous and yet rich. What soil type makes such mixture and in what ratio?

Answer - To begin with, all plants give out oxygen and absorb pollutants because that is their natural function. There are a few plants which are good in specific factors like emitting oxygen, absorbing pollutants and repelling mosquitoes.

  1. Oxygen-producing plants - Sansevieria plants (snake plant) is a good indoor plant and gives more oxygen.  Peace lily, spider plant, areca palm, etc. may be suitable for you.

  2. Pollution absorbents - Raphis palm, rubber plant help in reducing formaldehyde. Dracaena plants, philodendron, money plants, and ferns also help in absorbing toxic gases. Many people have plants in the kitchen or washrooms to absorb toxic gases produced in these areas of the home. 

  3. Mosquito repellants - Citronella, Lemongrass, Odomos plant and plants which have strong smells can repel mosquitoes. For e.g. Ratrani, gardenia.

The normal soil which has been there since years loses its fertility value because the plants absorb all the nutrients. The soil which you get from the nursery is fertile because its nutritional value is enriched by adding specific fertilizers and minerals. There is a ratio involved - 60% good quality red or black soil with 30% coco peat and 10% fertilizer. If you want to reduce the soil in the pot, you can use perlite as that reduces the weight of the pot. 

Q- Can we propagate curry leaves plant by cutting? Any other known methods?

Answer - Hello, the propagation of curry leaves plant usually happens through the seeds and baby plants growing below the mother plant. The mother plant will have seeds after flowering which can be collected and grown. You can also replant the baby plants in the soil so they grow into full-fledged plants. Yes, you can propagate through branches If you cut the branch and plant it to grow, the season should be ideal for growing such as monsoon. You can add some root inducing hormones for sure shot growth.

 Senior watering his plants

Q- Which medicinal plants can be grown in our balconies? 

Answer - Hello, You can grow the following plants in your own balcony 1) Adulsa plant for cold and cough. 2) Mint for digestive system 3) Aloe vera for the skin 4) Insulin and stevia plants for diabetes 5) Lemongrass for cough and cold 6) Kidney stone plant for stone problems (Bryophyllum) 7) Ginger plant 8) Turmeric plant

Q-  I want to know how we can use the kitchen waste and leftovers in the best possible way to make compost?

Answer - Hello, you can use the composting kit which is readily available in any nursery. It is like a bin with a lot of holes. Microbial culture (available in the kit) can be used to enhance the decomposing process. You can make a layer of the organic kitchen waste like fruit waste, leftover vegetables, tea leaves,  eggshells, etc. in that bin. You can add some normal garden soil to it and keep it in a well-ventilated area so that it does not smell. Water should not be accumulated in that bin. With a good garden tool or rod, keep mixing the compost once a week. You can also add some earthworms and cow dung to it to enhance the process.

Q - Hi, my cucumber plant is flowering but there is no fruit formation, what can I do about it?

Answer: Hello, make a mixture in a grinder using egg shells, milk, water, and banana peel. Add the solution to the base of the plant. All these ingredients will provide natural calcium and potassium which will help in fruit formation.

Q- Which plants are best suitable for terrace garden that can also survive in extreme summer?

Answer: Hello, plants like aloe vera, Desert oriented plants like variants of cactus, sturdy varieties of palm-like Raphis palm. You can also use drip irrigation for your plants to take good care of them in extreme summer. Also, add a small shed net above your plants to avoid direct sunlight. 

Q- How can we plant bonsai plants?

Answer - Hello, you need to have a bonsai pot & bonsai soil mixture along with different tools that are required to make bonsai plants. It's basically, keeping the plant deprived of food to keep it small. However, as per many experts, it is not advisable to keep one because it restricts the growth of the plant and they feel suffocated as they are not allowed to grow as per their natural growth cycle. 

Bonsai plant

Q- What kind of plants can I grow at home? What is the procedure for sowing seeds? Should I soak them in water and then sow?

Answer - Hello, the home plants that you can grow are Areca Palm, Snake Plant, Money Plant, Song of India, Peace Lily, Rubber plant, Lucky Bamboos, Spiral Bamboo Sticks, Succulents, Lyrata ficus. The sowing of seeds depends on the kind you are using. Some require water treatment, some require drying treatment. 

Q- I want to know how to grow plants properly in a mud pot? Our plant is either damaged or dry on most days. 

Answer: Hello, please check the holes of the pots properly, there should be four to six holes in the pot. The water should not accumulate in the pot, it should drain out from the hole properly. Use good quality soil and fertilizer for your plants. Use sturdy plants, select healthy plants from the nursery. Avoid roping seasonal plants, they die easily.

Q- How can we make compost soil? 

Answer: Hello, use organic kitchen waste from your home. Collect some dried leaves from garden waste, add some microbial culture in it and some cow manure & earthworms to it. Keep stirring it for better results. Repeat the process for many days you will have better compost ready. 

Q- How can we grow a mango tree in unsuitable conditions?

Answer: Hello, you can try to create a microhabitat which is suitable for the mango tree, by providing it with red soil and a good fertilizer. You should avoid growing them in unsuitable soil and condition, the result will not be fruitful. You can look for new varieties of mango in upgraded nurseries which are suitable for growing in harsh conditions.

Q-Sir, which plants can we keep inside our home for decorative purposes?

Answer - Hello, you can keep succulent plants,  cactus, small fairy gardens & indoor plants like peace lily, different palms, monster plants, etc. inside your home. 

Q-The rose plants in my garden are two years old but their branches are dying and leaves of hibiscus plant are turning yellow. What can be the possible reason and what can I do about it?

Answer: Hello, trim the branches of the rose plant, change the soil, put new soil and good fertilizer in it. Check the holes of the pot, open them and ensure proper ventilation.  Shift the rose plant in direct sunlight. You can follow the same process for the hibiscus plant. Also, remove the yellow leaves, check for any kind of infection and for white mealy bugs. If an infection is observed, cut the branches & discard them. You can use cow urine to spray on the plant and to get good results.

Q-Hello, I want to ask are essential oil good for plants if we put two to three drops? The second is how many times should we change the mud in small home plants? And how to remove weeds from plants?

Answer: Hello, Neem oil is used for plants to avoid infections and disease. You can change the soil once a year. You can use a weed remover tool to get rid of unwanted weed and you will have to do it manually. Make sure while doing it, you remove it from the roots. 

Q-I have a mango tree in my garden. Last year it bore fruit but this year no fruit growth was seen, what could be the reason?

Answer: The mango tree has its own natural resting period, due to which it did not bear fruit. Don't worry after the resting period is over, it will bear more fruits for you.

Q- What are the preferred gardening plants for a riverside sloping terrain?

Answer: You can try to sow native trees near the riverside sloping terrain, like neem, Banyan tree, There are more trees that can be planted such as Ashok tree, fruit trees like Mango, Avenue tree, Jamun, etc.

Q-Which vegetable plants can be grown in pots in monsoon season?

Answer: You can grow tomato, capsicum, chili, coriander, ladyfinger, okara, spinach, etc in your home garden in the monsoon season.

 pepper and tomato for a house kitchen garden

Q- I live in Pune, I have observed that every time I plant a Tulsi in my pot it gets infested with white color insects, which eventually dries it and spoils it completely. What should I do?

Answer:  You can cut and discard the infected part, and use a neem oil spray. Spray the neem oil after every 15 days. Loosen the soil properly and use good fertilizers. 

Q-I have Chiku tree at my home but I do not get any fruits. I also have a guava tree but it gives me very poor quality guavas. Kindly tell me what fertilizer can I use to get good quality fruits?

Answer: You can use calcium & potassium-based fertilizers for your fruit trees. Try bouldering the area near the tree and keep adding fertilizers to the soil every month. Check for any kind of infection on the plants and remove them if found. Use organic pesticides for your spraying on your fruit trees. Add some new soil to your garden.

Q- One kind of bacteria white which often get stuck into the trees and trees life goes away for this what would be the solution?

Answer:  Hello, trees have a good regeneration power so try to cut all the infected leaves, bark, parts and discard them. Use good organic pesticides like neem oil, cow urine, You can use milk spray on your trees which is a good fungicide and provides calcium to trees.