Monday, 1 April 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Soursop fruit (just starting to grow)
The temperature continues to rise here in South India as summer has officially set in. The mornings are still relatively cool but the afternoons are steamy. Our temperature and humidity gauge shows 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees F) in the morning. Not so bad to wake up to, but by mid-afternoon the temperature has been hovering around 36-40 Celsius the past week (97-104 F).

You can imagine that it takes a lot of work to grow fruit trees in this heat because they need so much water to keep them alive during these hot periods of the summer. My husband, who works from home, spends many hours during the summer dragging the hose pipe around the garden making sure that the trees get enough water to survive the intense heat. He planted the trees six years ago when he moved into the house and many were small saplings, not even a foot high. We have well water that is fed by a reservoir so are very dependent on the rainy season bringing enough rain to keep the well full for the summer stretch. Thank goodness, we had enough rain this past year to see us through the summer season.

Figs growing off tree trunk
I was introduced to a variety of tropical fruit trees since making my home on South India. Growing up in the USA (Indiana) and living in Colorado for the past 26 years before relocating to India, I was only used to seeing apple and, occasionally, peach trees ....and a whole lotta corn growing up in the Midwest. It's been exciting to watch the fruit trees in our garden produce bumper crops of papayas, mangoes  water apples, lemons and figs. Some of the more exotic trees (to me) are breadfruit, eggfruit, soursop and starfruit trees.

I have included photos of some of fruit trees that surround our home in Tiruvannamalai and keep us well fed with healthy treats year round.
Breadfruit (can get as big as a grapefruit)
Water apples (small, crunchy and delicious)
Two eggfruits
Papaya tree
Lemon tree
Chilies drying in the sun
It is also a good time to dry chili peppers in the hot sun and some of our neighbors have been busy picking chilies and drying them in the sun in front of their house. Other crops being prepared for storage in canvas sacks for future consumption include beans (dhal) and millet (ragi) dried in the sun along with the chilies.

Being from the suburbs of both Indiana and Colorado, I have never had the luxury of eating what is grown just outside my front door, so I am definitely enjoying this new experience of watching how our garden grows...

Beans (dhal), millet (ragi) and chilies drying