I have been a silent admirer of the gardening skills of my fellow bloggers. I was awe-struck at the last round-up of the Green Blog Project. You see, I am sorely lacking a green thumb. A few years ago, my friend Revati gave me a trio of African violets as a birthday gift. Three weeks later, one succumbed to my poor care and I hastily relinquished the rest to V's care. In his hands, they thrived and grew and my poor gardening ego took a fall. Then, when I read the announcement for Winter-Spring round-up of this project, I was determined to participate in my own little way and give gardening a fresh start. In the company of bloggers who are far better gardeners, my two little herbs will look quite silly, and I was almost too embarrassed to write this post, but you have to start somewhere, so here I am. The following text is for gardening newbies like me and not meant for more experienced folks!
Methi (Fenugreek) Plant
I used a recycled plastic container as a pot. You need to drill quite a few holes in the bottom of the container for adequate drainage. I used "Scott's potting soil for seed starting". To give the plants a head start, I sprouted the methi seeds before planting them (take store-bought methi seeds, soak overnight in warm water, then drain and place in a damp cheesecloth for 2 days until you see sprouts emerging). Plant the sprouted methi seeds just below the surface of the potting soil, leaving some space between seeds. In my case, about a third of the seeds failed to emerge (a high infant mortality rate!) so plant a few more seeds than you think you need. Keep the plant by a window, keep the soil moist (without over-watering) and within a week or two, you will see saplings emerging! I watched the seeds grow with all the excitement and wonder of a 5-year old growing seeds in her kindergarten science project :)
Now, I find that as the methi stems are growing, they are keeling over from their own weight. Any solutions for that?
Fresh methi is one of my favorite herbs. I think it adds a wonderful pleasantly-bitter flavor when sprinkled on Northern Indian dishes. Baby methi, the kind I have, is hardly bitter at all, but very aromatic. I used some of this methi for two dishes already: I used it as a herb in some Paneer Kati Rolls and added it to potato parathas that I made for brunch last week. My dish for the green blog project is...
Gajar Methi (Carrot-Fenugreek Stir-Fry)
The combination of carrots and fenugreek is a popular North-Indian dish. Sweet carrots and bitter-ish fenugreek complement each other perfectly, and the contrasting colors make for a pretty presentation.
Method: Heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet. Add 1 tsp cumin seeds and 2 tbsp finely minced onion. Stir for a few minutes until onions are transluscent. Add 2 cups carrots, cut in small dice and 1/2 cup finely minced fresh fenugreek. Add a touch of turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala and salt. Stir-fry for a minute, then cover and cook for a few minutes until carrots are just tender. Serve hot with rotis for a delicious and healthy meal!
I also have a little basil plant that is growing quite well. This, I started with a conventional clay pot and a seed packet. I planted the seeds right away, without any sprouting, according to directions on the packet. Other than the fact that the plants are crowded, this one seems to be doing well.
I'm waiting for the leaves to get bigger before I start plucking and using this basil. Come summer, I know I'm going to use it a lot in omelets, pasta, pizzas and salads!
My next gardening ambitions: to have a chili pepper plant and a curry leaf plant. Since I live in a small apartment with limited space, I am realistic enough to know that I can't grow large quantities of produce. Instead, I would like to grow those herbs and condiments that I use in small quantities, where store-bought sizes are too big for my needs and I could just pluck a few leaves when the need arises. Would anyone care to answer my questions:
1) Can you grow a chili plant from the seeds of store-bought dried red chilies? Any tips on doing that?
2) How do you obtain a curry leaf plant? Any reliable sources out there? Or do you ask your local nursery to order one for you? Do you think a curry leaf plant would survive and thrive indoors in a place like Missouri?
Thanks for the inspiration, everyone, and thanks, Mandira, for hosting! This is a wonderful learning experience for me.