Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fertilizers and pesticides

Fertilizers and pesticides-Are they necessary?

In my small backyard I do not use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Segregated kitchen waste of vegetable peels and dead leaves from the yard are composted and used as manure. Calcium for my lime trees? That comes from eggshells. Natural pesticides are used when needed. The most effective pesticide I found comes from the oil of the Neem tree (available in ready to use form).

I have uploaded some slide shows of the plant and animal life who have made my garden their home. See the link

Hope you enjoy watching them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Red Cotton

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Red cotton trees line the road in front of our house. Come March/April and the trees are in bloom and the road lined with fallen red flowers. "You can make a vegetable with the petals" " Take out the red color by boiling the red flowers; best organic red color for Holi!" But one normally finds that no one picks up the flowers, they are just swept away.

Come May and the tress are full of cotton pods which open and pour out the cotton fluff all over the neighborhood. Some murmur "These cotton fluffs cause Asthma" But before the murmurs die away, the fluffs disappear and the short flowery season of the "Semul"tree is over. The trees are back to providing shade to passersby with their large branches.

Come June, and new bugs in bright red color spring from nowhere in my garden. I search their pictures on the web and realize they are "red cotton bugs".

Red cotton bugs? Is it because of their color? It seems they survive on cotton seeds. We have had a few drizzles in June and the cotton seeds on the ground must have got soggy and soft. That is the stage at which I noticed these young bugs devouring the seed. See the short clip below. So, now the web of life of Silk cotton was falling in place. Observing nature around you can be really stimulating.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hoopoe and Shikra

Birds(and animals) live a life of "high alert" at all times. This hoopoe is busy using its long pointed beak to dig out and eat juicy worms from the freshly mowed lawn. Cars and people are passing by the road nearby and my camera is not far away focusing on him. He is unperturbed. Experience tells him "not to worry".

Suddenly he freezes. I wonder why. Can you guess?. Look at the video below and I have tried to bring the action in the background through the recorded sound.

Listen through the din of cars and wind and you can hear the shrieking of a "shikra" -a raptor, who is circling above the lawn. The hoopoe knows that any movement on the lawn will attract the raptor's attention and he will swoop down for a meal.

As the shikra flies further away, the hoopoe resumes his meal.

Here is the disappointed shikra taking a break

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cat and the pigeon

Mention the domestic cat and the vision is that of a 'purring' furry creature happy to sleep on your bed, slurp milk from a bowl and eat cat food for breakfast and dinner keeping the pet food manufacturers happy.

A very different picture from that of "kitty"-the cat who roams our neighborhood. Her territory consists of the back and front yards of at a least a dozen houses in the neighborhood and loathe she will, to enter a human household.

So we are not surprised when at times we find bird feathers in the yard, remains of kitty's meal. We also know that kitty keeps in check the rodents and garden lizards.

The latest hunt of kitty surprised us though. A full grown pigeon attacked and downed in a jiffy. The pigeons usually avoid the small hedges and lawns in our garden but this one did not and paid with its life.

Kitty Claiming the prize hunt

Kitty the hunter with the pigeon she felled