Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green Curtains From A Lovely Country

It is a dark time for the human race. We here at Greenbay want to express our grief and sadness of recent tragedies in New Zealand and now Japan. Some of the best things come from Japan- Bonsai trees, ukiyo-e, and Nintendo wii. It is unfair that such terrible things happen to such good people. Our prayers are with them.
 Here’s an example of the fantastic creativity and environmental consciousness of Japan: Green walls at Kyocera Corporation, a leading company of Japan that produces a range of things from solar power energy solutions to kitchen appliances.
Image taken from the Kyocera Corporation Website

 The company website has very interesting information on how to build a green curtain and provides first hand information on how much it can cool your home! They have grown Karela (bitter gourd) on a wire mesh and trained it up the building walls. 
Just Imagine:  if we all do this for our homes in our city, how much relief we would have from the heat…
1) Building a mandvo is the traditional Gujarati way of growing creepers or vine vegetables like Karela , Parval and Tindora.  If you want to do in at your home, but don’t have a big enough backyard, you can do it on the terrace. Just remember, these plants require full sun and long days. Do not plant them in a shady place such as under a tree.

 2) For terrace gardens, install angles on the sidewalls of the terrace to support GI wire mesh structure from all corners at the top. Plant seeds in a seed tray or pot, or get seedlings (dharu) from a nursery (Go to Baroda Roses Nursery in Sama or Tropical Horticultural Service in Gotri for Speedy Dharuรค Seedlings)
3) Plant the vegi plants ideally around Jan-Feb as it starts getting warm and throughout monsoon to early fall.  Fill a pot with mixture of mud, organic manure or vermicompost  and cocopeat. Plant the seedling preferably during late evening to give enough time for it to stabilize before the harsh rays of sun. Water well.
After a few days give it a good dose of micronutrient and liquid chemical fertilizer like Sunpurna. You won’t need to use these again for a while- ideally, use micronutrients only twice a year, and chemical fertilizers very sparingly may be every month.
4) As the plant grows, trail it with a string and help it climb up towards the mesh. As the plant grows it will cover the entire ceiling.
5) Move plant into a bigger pot as it grows, or it will get pot bound. You can get big cement pots (15cm diameter) or use plastic drum or barrels. These are available from factories in Gorwa and some times offices throw them away. Be creative in your container search. If you can’t find anything, nick your neighbour’s.
6) Water once a day during morning or evening for pots, and once a week for soil beds. These plants like warm and humid atmosphere, but well drained soil.  Dig up soil to aerate it once every 2 weeks. Use “Chinni Kam” or a herbal neem based pesticide if you see any signs of trouble.
7) Parval and Tindora produce vegis almost all year round.  Parval goes dormant in winter, and starts shedding its leaves. Don’t panic. Water it less frequently in winter and give it lots of water-soluble nutrients.
 8) Start picking the vegetable 2 weeks from first vegetable appearing, and then pick them once a week.
 9) If the plants starts flowering, but is not developing any vegetable, be sure to use Sunzyme or a similar plant growth hormone. Another reason for no Parval could be that the male plant has not pollinated the female flowers- you need move them closer and pray. Ideally you should have 1 male plant to every 9 female plants. For other plants like Karela and Tindora, you don’t have too worry, all flowers will turn into fruit!
 10) Enjoy your home-grown vegetable in 2 to 5 months from planting. Karela is a powerful aniviral, antimalarial and anticancer food- it’s so good for you, that’s why its bitter. Parval is good for digestion disorders, strengthens eyes and is great for immunity. Tindora is a powerful anti diabetic food. Both have been recently found to have Cholesterol reducing property and they taste good in curries as well.


  1. Very informative post! Besides the veggies that you have mentioned, might I suggest planting peas, as well? Especially in the cooler months. Peas have cute flowers prior to fruiting, and we all love freshly shelled peas, be they in pulao, shaak, with paneer or just popped in the mouth raw while shelling!! Plus, the tender leaves of pea plants can be eaten raw as a salad!

  2. Here's an interesting way to cook karela, inspired by my Chinese colleague: saute thinkly sliced karela strips (that have been previously sprinkled generously with salt, then have some of the bitter alkaloids squeezed out) with a few cloves of minced garlic and some water. Cook until they are soft and then splash with a few tablespoons of soy sauce and sesame oil + sesame seeds. Savour with rice. It's a very simple recipe, but bursting with the goodness of karela and a change from our typical, jaggery-laced karela nu shak.

  3. Thank you GujJew! At the moment we are trying a variety of peas from the Suttind company and will see if they do well in the terrace kitchen garden. Please also share a delish recipe for salad with pea leaves.

    Please follow our blog for more interesting news and pictures of peacocks next week

  4. So where are these promised peacock pictures, hmmm?