Decorate your minkas (homes) with some Kokedamas!

A funny word to say and a fun thing to make. The word itself can be bifurcated into ‘koke’ which means moss and ‘dama’ which means ball. So kokedama is basically the art of making balls of moss. And as all the perky innovations usually originate in Japan, the country can have the credit for this one too.

How to make it?

To begin with, gather all the things that you will require. Here’s a list for you –

  • Peat moss
  • Akadama soil or soil with high percentage of clay
  • Sphagnum sheet moss
  • Waxed string or floral wire
  • Plants that will fit to the size of ball you’re creating
  • Scissors
  • Bowl
  • Gloves
  • And some measuring cup or utensil

The next step is to make the balls. Mix peat moss and akadama soil in the ratio of 1:1 and start combining them together like you are kneading a dough. Crush all the big particles into smaller ones. Keep on adding water as per as requirement and don’t add too much moisture as it won’t hold on together then. Once you think the components are coming together, make a hole with your thumb. This the cavity in which you will place your plant. After positioning the plant, cover the ball with sphagnum moss. Use floral wire to keep everything intact. Voila!! You have your very own home made kokedema.

How to take care of them?

Fertilize the balls with water soluble fertilizers. Initially for a few days, keep the ball in a bowl full of water. Place it in such a way that it is partially immersed in water and partially exposed to air. The moss will absorb the water as much as it can and will become heavy. Once this procedure is done, you can place the balls outside or indoors as well.

Preparation of kokedamas can be a very good recreational activity. Furthermore, you can get rid of those boring and conventional pots. You can place them on your desks or they can even be hung as hanging pots. So, its time to make some kokedamas for your minkas!

Happy Gardening 🙂

Written by
Antra Thada

Wondering why the leaves of plants turn yellow? Let’s find out the major causes behind this phenomena.

Whenever I see happy plants in my home or garden, it makes me feel happy and satisfied. The vibrant green coloured leaves and bright coloured flowers always soothes my eyes. I am sure for plant lovers like us this is our happy place. But many a times we see that the plants have started to turn yellow and the leaves start to fall. Let’s talk about the various reasons which lead to the yellowing of leaves.

Improper Nutrition

The leaves of plants are green due to the presence of a pigment called chlorophyll which is responsible for photosynthesis. Absence of nutrients which are directly or indirectly involved in formation of chlorophyll, leads to yellowing of leaves.

  • Magnesium Deficiency – If you observe carefully you will be able to see veins in leaves of plants which act as a network to transport food, water and minerals. If the yellowing occurs between these veins, it is a classic sign of Mg deficiency. The leaves will develop yellow patch like appearance when seen from a distance. The veins stay green and the edges are the last once to lose their colour.
  • Potassium deficiency – In this the outer margins of leaves turn bright yellow. The leaves become mottled means yellowing occurs in between veins. Its prolonged deficiency may even lead to death of plants or it’s parts.
  • Nitrogen deficiency – Due to lack of nitrogen the tips of leaves start to turn yellow first. In the older leaves a typical ‘V’ shaped yellowing occurs which is a typical sign of nitrogen deficiency. The deficiency symptoms occur first in older leaves and later on the younger leaves also start to lose their green colour.

Lack or excess of water –

Optimum amount of water is very important to properly maintain the health of plants. Excess watering can lead to rotting of roots. Overly wet soil leads to deficiency of air which suffocates the plants and absorption of nutrients is also hampered. This leads to yellowing of leaves and other parts of plants. If the soil is dry, plants cannot absorb nutrients from soil which again leads to similar kind of symptoms. So try and maintain proper drainage for your plants and water them regularly to avoid it.

Soil pH –

The acid or alkaline nature of soil may harshly effect plant growth and appearance. Plants can absorb and utilise nutrients only at a certain pH level. The optimum pH level is between 5.5-7 in which most of nutrients are available to them.

The above mentioned reasons may lead to yellowing of leaves. Deficiency of nutrients is the root cause which may happen directly or indirectly. Look out for the symptoms and take care of your plants accordingly.

Written by
Antra Thada

  • Antra is PhD scholar at IGKV, Raipur
  • Receiver of Gold Medal in Master’s
  • An agriculturist by profession
  • Doctoral research fellow in Genetics and Plant breeding

Antra is Author of the Ebook – Finding your Soil-Mate.
Content Writer, Specialist
for Reema’s Garden!

Hydroponics & Vertical Hydroponics

If I talk about growing plants or crops, the first image that pops in our mind is a beautiful landscape, soil and plants growing with the support of mother earth. Fast forward it to the 21st century, where every little detail of our lives is becoming digital and evolutionary, why not farming? Hydroponics is one such revolutionary concept which is contradicting the traditional image of cultivation of food.

What is hydroponics?

Growing plants without soil, by providing them support through a different medium can be defined as hydroponics in the simplest terms possible. The essential elements required by the plants (light, water, nutrients etc.) to flourish are provided artificially in a water based medium. The roots of plants can be supported by various substrates such as cocopeat, vermiculite or perlite which have a good water holding capacity. As we all know that plants are also living things just like us, so they require oxygen to breathe. Usually they fulfil this requirement with the help of air and soil, but when growing in close chambers, they depend on the water or artificial supply of oxygen just like a fish tank!

What about nourishment?

We all talk about consuming a balanced diet, or food full of nutrients. Similarly the small plants also need essential elements to grow. In a hydroponic system these nutrients can be provided through salts which dissolve in water or through pre mixed nutrient mixtures.

Maintaining optimum environment of the system

Just like we need an optimum temperature and ambience to perform our best, plants need it too! For a good harvest and healthy plants, the pH should be maintained between 5.5-6.5. You can buy pH testing kits online easily. Weak acids such as vinegar and acetic acids can be added to lower the pH of water. Proper aeration should be provided in order to circulate carbon dioxide for efficient conduction of photosynthesis. Fans should be installed for replacing the hot and dry air with fresh air.

Why hydroponics?

Switching to hydroponics has become the need of the hour as it allows us to grow any type of food anywhere. With the rise in population and industrialization, there is very little scope for increasing the agricultural land. Hydroponics provide a perfect solution to this problem as it does not require a fertile land, specific climatic requirements and not even soil. Not only this, surprisingly hydroponics consume less water and require less inputs as compared to traditional farming. Isn’t this amazing?

We hope that this information gets you excited about adopting hydroponics and its long lasting benefits for us as well as for the environment.

There are many instances in our lives where we see a garden or our neighbours growing their own vegetables or salad greens and we have the urge to do the same. But then reality hits and we realize that optimum space is not available in our house to carry out such an activity. But there is a solution to this problem and that is vertical hydroponics.

Vertical hydroponics is nothing but a modification of hydroponics where plants are cultivated in a soil less culture but sacked in trays or shelves on top of each other. Imagine a tall building with different floors which are occupied by different tenants. The building is the outer structure, different floors are the different levels at which plants are grown and the tenants represent the variety of crops that can be cultivated. In earlier times the houses consists of single storey but as the land started becoming scarce, multi storey houses came into picture. Similarly plants also need to be cultivated utilizing the vertical space.

Maintaining a vertical system

The maintenance of a vertical hydroponic system is more or less similar to the normal one. The same principles of nutrient management, sunlight hours, water supply, pH etc. are to be followed. Supplying water in a closed circuit is always a better alternative. In vertical hydroponics you can exploit the force of gravity. The water can be pushed down from the top and the force will keep the molecules moving. And just like that you will save water as well as energy. In a vertical tower the plants need to be planted at an angle of 45o approximately. This gives plant sufficient space to flourish and exposure to light is also more efficient at this angle. The water needs to be replaced after 15-20 days. Till then with the help of proper nutrients and pH balancers you can continue to recycle the same batch of water.

The only issue in vertical hydroponics is that plants which require large spaces to grow and have a higher vegetative growth cannot be fit into this system. It is best suited for salad greens, leafy vegetables or microgreens. These plants can be supported using substrates like coconut fibres, peat moss, perlite or vermiculite.

I can assure you that cultivating crops on your own within a limited space is possible by paying attention to some minor details. It is very easy to learn hydroponics and once you get acquainted to it, you will continue to experiment and get better at it!

Written by
Antra Thada

If you’re someone, who is really interested in understanding different Gardening Concepts in depth, check out our ebooks, click here!

Terrariums

Our world is full of fascinating creatures and for me nothing is more astonishing than plants. But not all of us have the luxury of space to create gardens or mini ecosystems in our houses. Well, I have the perfect solution to this problem – TERRARIUMS!

Terrariums are small glass chambers in which we can grow small plants of different varieties. These are just like a miniature form of jungle or garden. These are perfect for decorating your house. The tiny plants in this transparent chamber can be chosen according to the theme of your home or according to their vibrant colours. They will be a perfect addition to your place representing a perfect tiny little garden.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

What elements are required?

The first and foremost requirement will be a glass container. You can choose a transparent container with large opening or even with a small mouth. Even an old fish bowl will be perfect for this purpose. The container can be fully enclosed with a lid, partially closed or it can be completely open. Partially open containers are most suitable as they allow good air flow and also retain sufficient moisture for the plants.

The next thing you need to do is to gather a substrate on which your plants can grow. As these containers won’t have holes, we need to create a good drainage system in order to avoid the roots from rotting due to excess water. Add a 2-4 inch layer of pebbles or small stones. After this add potting mix or prepare a mixture on your own by adding soil, sand, clay, compost or vermicompost in a definite proportion (3 parts sand, 3 parts soil or clay, 1 part compost) to the jar. Make sure that this layer is well levelled and sufficient space is left for the plants to grow.

How to manage terrariums?

These tiny gardens need very little attention and time. All you need to do is to water them once a week, or twice if the soil feels too dry. Water them using a spray bottle and avoid flooding the system. Try to remove dead or decaying parts of plants regularly to avoid development of bacteria or fungus. Sometimes the plants may grow out of proportion. To avoid such a situation, prune the plants at regular intervals. And the best part is you don’t need to fertilize them as we want them to grow at a slow pace.

So don’t let those mason or pickle jars or old fish bowls go to a waste, instead turn them into beautiful terrariums!

These tiny plants in a glass container are admirable to all. But we all face the same question – which plants will be best suited for our mini gardens?

I have tried to compile plants according to their growing habits and beautiful appearances which will help you decide which plant combo will be most soothing to your eyes?

Delta Maidenhair Fern – These little ferns are best suited in closed conditions. They have triangular shaped arched leaves which are present in a bunch, with many small pinnate leaves. They appear like a beautiful light green coloured tree.

Asparagus/Emerald fern – This plant will add a little thorny twist to your terrarium. It is an evergreen perennial fern with thin leaves which give a bushy appearance. This fern grows very fast only if adequate light is provided. So this could be a good addition in the category of small plants inside a terrarium.

Pepperomia (Pepperomia obtusefolia) – This is also known as baby rubber plant. Yes you heard that right! It is not related to the original rubber plant, but the appearance is more or less similar. Because of its fleshy, thick, oversized glossy leaves it gets its name. It characteristically stores water in its leaves and swells up if water is available, otherwise it remains shrivelled. It is available in a beautiful dark green colour or with white or yellow variegated leaves.

Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) – I would highly recommend this succulent for your terrarium. Besides exhibiting vibrant purple and green leaves it also nurtures star shaped red and pink coloured flowers on its stalk.

Nerve Plant – Adding a creeper will increase the diversity in your terrarium. This plant has green coloured leaves but has a unique venation of silver colour which separates it from others. It can bloom occasionally as an indoor plant with yellow or reddish inflorescence.

Pteris Cretica – It is commonly known as brake fern. It has variegated leaves with green colour on the edges and light yellowish or cream colour in the middle. It doesn’t look like a typical fern but is very popular as indoor plant.

Helxine soleirolii – Commonly known as baby tears, this succulent is a perfect addition to your collection. It is perennial so it will live for many years to come and with its creepy nature and small leaves it gives a mat type appearance. It even blooms with vibrant pinkish flowers.

Strawberry Begonia – These plants are a treat to the eyes due to red coloured, hairy and hued leaves. They can form a clump of bases in the container and can spread as creepers. It will grow very fast and as a bonus you can let it hang out of your terrarium to give a fresh new decorative look.

Taking care of your terrarium –

All the above mentioned plants have almost similar requirements for growing. They require high humidity, which is easily available in a terrarium. Don’t water them by flooding, instead use a sprayer or mister to water these plants. In terms of light requirement, they all require low and indirect sunlight. This keeps their growth under check. Always try and keep your set up in an area where low or indirect light is available because glass magnifies the intensity of light which can be harmful for out tiny plants. If your terrarium is a closed system, try and allow fresh air to circulate through it once a week. Clean the surfaces with a moist sponge or cloth which is not dripping. Don’t overcrowd the container in order to avoid formation of mold.

Just take care of these little things and your plants will flourish at their best. And I can assure the amount of satisfaction which you will get from looking at these plants, will be worth all the effort!

Written by
Antra Thada

PS: To read more articles like these every week, subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

Watering

To think of it, watering plants is one of the things I look forward to especially in the mornings.

I usually start my day by having a cup of tea and watering my plants simultaneously… I have a watering pipe which I use in the morning. Usually it is very pleasant, there is less pollution in the air. The moment water touches soil, I am engulfed in the pleasant smell of soil. I always find it so calming and relaxing! The sound of sprinkling water, mixed with leaves rustling, and the change in the sound with every different texture it falls upon, it just helps me to get fully awake. The way it seeps into the soil and you know your plants were thirsty and now are going to look happy and fresh again makes me happy. I also think different smells that hit me while I am watering my plants also play an important role in the calming process. Certain leaves have a certain scent that intensifies with the water, similarly do the flowers. You can see the growth or the parts that need cutting while you are watering and it is as good as saying hi, good morning to your friend!

Let’s learn about the wizards of plant kingdom – The AIR Plants!

Written by
Antra Thada

The world is filled with absolutely stunning things around us. One of the latest obsession I have is with air plants. Their whole mechanism of life, growth and survival is nothing less than a marvel. We wrapped our heads around hydroponics where plants grow without soil but now we have air plants which do not even require water to grow. These plants grow in the air without any soil or water. Now isn’t that fascinating?

The scientific name of these plants is Tillandsia and they belong to family of Bromeliaceae. These are also known as epiphytes because they grow on other trees in forests but don’t misunderstand them to be parasitic as they cause no harm to their hosts. These plants need a supportive base to rest upon or grow. They can be grown on any surface in your house like old wooden photo frames, nets or even old pottery pieces. They will be a perfect addition to your collection of plants. You can even make a vertical stand of air plants or even in terrariums. (Wondering what’s terrariums and how to have one? Don’t worry! We got that covered for you in the upcoming posts).

How to take care of them?

They need bright but indirect light. Don’t let the sun directly shine on them but rather keep them in a room or near a window. During summers, shift them in a cool area which has ample of day light as the heat in a sub-tropical country like India can burn them badly. They can be grown in a closed space where natural light is not available with the help of white light lamps so that photosynthesis can occur efficiently.

When it comes to fulfilling their water requirements, they can be a little nasty to take care of. They can be hydrated by misting or by soaking them in water. The amount of water required depends upon the intensity of light it is receiving. If the temperature is hot and light availability is also good, water the plants once a week. Soak them in water for 10-15 min and then dry them on a paper napkin or cloth for 3-4 hours. Make sure that they are properly dried otherwise they will start rotting.

But how do air plants fulfil their nutritional requirements?

This was perhaps the first question that popped in my mind when I came across air plants. They prepare their own food through photosynthesis and their nutritional requirement is fulfilled by air, dust or the occasional watering. One other source of nutrition for air plants is dead and decaying microorganisms on the surface of its leaves. So basically it gets its nutrition from the sources which we could have hardly imagined.

I think these air plants would look wonderful in a glass container hanging by the window. And they couldn’t be prettier as they don’t have roots or don’t need soil to grow in. They bloom once in their lifetime but I feel like air plants are not grown for their flowers.

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to read more posts like these? If yes, then click here and to subscribe our newsletter and get these amazing posts delivered to your email inbox every Thursday.

Finding Yourself

There are some things that make no sense, and in a way, it makes them more beautiful.

Why do we get attached to a certain type of plant, we feel a pull towards a certain plant, love them for something which goes beyond the color and type of plant? It makes the whole experience of gardening so much more than just some mundane work. It makes the whole process a wholesome experience. And like I said before, it keeps teaching us but it keeps surprising us, and that keeps us really alive; I think.

Sometimes I think it is like finding yourself, at least a part of yourself. Like the saying goes, show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are, similar is with plants. Show me what plants you love and it might just give me a glimpse of your soul… So to all my fellow gardeners, all the very best for the future, I hope you will get frequent surprises by knowing different plants!

Gardening

Gosh! That’s a start! Never had a post named Gardening! Gardening for me is more than just getting a plant and keeping it in my garden, whether it is a balcony garden, terrace garden, indoor garden kitchen garden or any other type of garden. Of course, one cannot have a garden without any plants. So, what is it about gardening that we may go wrong in?

Let’s start from the very beginning. Getting a plant is probably only the start of a beautiful journey that we call gardening. But the kind of plants we want, and the kind of plants we can have or get, is sometimes totally another story. Where you want to have a garden, what season it is, what type of soil you get, compost and fertilizers, gardening tools, pest attacks and what not comes along. So, in a way, gardening is easy until something goes wrong, which eventually does. And to go ahead after something has gone wrong, to not stop gardening, that is where the real journey of gardening starts.

Also wanted to remind you that our gardening consultation is now available along with our courses, workshops and E-books. So, you can take help from google, YouTube videos, other books, our courses, or learn it all by yourself. Don’t ever give up on Gardening!

Why I write about Gardening is a very peculiar thing.

Like journaling helps us in so many different ways, writing about my gardening experiences is similar.

There are a lot of things that we enjoy while gardening and then there are so many days when we get caught up in the speedy hustle of everyday that we often forget these beautiful moments we experienced. So, when I sit and start writing about these experiences, I first of all go back to the beautiful moment and relive it almost. And when it is written down, I may just come across it very unexpectedly and that might just make that almost forgotten moment that much sweeter. The efforts I put some day and the aim I achieved may just help me feel better on days when things are may be not-so-great…

The beauty of writing about gardening is that sometimes I realize some beautiful aspects of life when I’m looking back at them…

Gardening & Décor

Do you think having a plant in any room changes the look of any room? That it makes the room more lively and cheerful, bring inside some warmth and freshness while helping you stay refreshed mentally and emotionally… Do you think having any plant in your home helps increase your creativity and productivity? Because I think an indoor garden does that and much more.

Gardening brings home life, joy, warmth and a sense of belonging. My home before I introduced it to my indoor plants was just as dear to me and just as beautiful as it is now, but bringing in some plants highlighted some areas in my home. It made my home as a whole very endearing. Now I may be biased so do tell me, did bringing some plants indoor change anything about your home???