The beauty of a graft
I had stopped going to Hoskote after the case on the property had reached the High Court. It was disheartening that such a wasteland, which I had unwittingly bought, which was turned by us into a beautiful garden of Eden, was being grabbed back by the greedy original owners. No wonder people are fed up with the shenanigans displayed by so-called SC/ST’s. I was definitely not willing to give up what I had sunk all my savings into. PLUS, it had a piece of my entire family in it, including my Dad and Mum who used to visit in the initial years.
The Bangkok sweet tamarind
When we first bought it, it was literally what the word ‘kharaab’ means. Wasteland, fit for nothing. The previous owners had just planted eucalyptus on it and left it to prevent squatters on the land. The previous owner was an Anglo Indian gentleman who ran a vegetable service from Hoskote to Mysore. He bought the farmers produce in our village and ran trucks carrying the vegetables to Mysore. The 2 acres he bought off one of them.
The double scented Quis Qualis from Mangalore.
His sister sold me the land in a terrible state and it has taken 30 years of hard work from all of us, to get it to the condition it is now. Like I was telling a sustainable gardener in Goa, redoing her badly eroded garden. “ I had to work on the two acres like you have to patiently work with a little child. There is no silver bullet. You need to give time and energy to revitalise the land and mainly to control and retain the rain runoff. I used gut feel as at the time, I was not educated in sustainability yet. I worked along with my young son's sweat, to start the process, as we did not have money then to hire labour.
Planting theTabibuea on Sunday
I began by buying a truck load of granite stones, which we carried ourselves and laid across where we saw the rain runoff flowing. There we built a long check dam. It was so exciting to see with the first rain after that, the soil carried by the water all stood up against the dam and so did the water, slowly percolating into the soil. We dug trenches horizontally in other parts of the land to hold back the water that ran down from right to left and slowly over the years the slope righted itself with the collection of soil.
The trees have grown to maturity
Then, in the heat of the noonday sun, I put down three cement concrete circular wells into which I emptied tankers and began my first round of planting our graft mango trees. They were bought ONLY from Lalbagh. Dad and Grandpa believed in that nursery and so did I. The grafts were Raspuris and a new breed called Mallika with delicious orangey flesh and a slim, thin seed. The trees are over 10 years old now and have grown sideways and not upwards.
Cow bought for the family. We cant stand unpasteurised milk!
I can just stand and pick the fruit. And Narsimappa has to hold up the fruit with V Forked branches of other trees. Over the years we have planted pomegranate and more mango, over 30 chickoos and roseapple. And ofcourse I got two star fruit trees from Lalbagh which are now 4 feet tall and we get a few fruit occasionally, as the kids on the farm finish them.
The mallika graft lifts my spirits
The Jamuns and Jacks are massive and fruit every alternate year and the lichie too.No luck with guavas so we will give them a try once more. I want only the Allahabad variety which I enjoyed when I worked for a year in Lucknow. And then, on my trips to Bangkok on conferences, I brought home a kg of sweet tamarind for 100 bhat each time and planted the seeds. THREE, yes THREE trees have grown and have begun to fruit -- SWEET expensive tamarind to my utter joy, besides the Salem sour variety.
Almost time to pick
The chickoos are of two types -- the cricket ball and the oval with pinkish flesh. They are so delicious I have friends beg me for some every time we bring home a bag of them. The Butter fruit or avocado fruit and Narsimappa takes them off when they are very young. Really needs a kock on his head to learn when they are ripe to remove.
With a loaded Raspuri tree
This Sunday we planted 10 Tabibuea Rosea I rescued from D’souza road, left there to die by some fool. We fussed them for a month and they threw out fresh leaves in no time. Then we went and put them down in Hoskote with a generous sprinkle of dried cow dung. The older ones we planted bloom during this season and were quite spectacular according to Narsimappa.
And ofcourse now with COVID 19 we have a pet peacock come in to be fed from the wilds. It’s wonderful to see it scuttle about foraging in the leaves and sitting in the shade quite tamely waiting for food.