My Veggie Garden Stories (Palak or Spinach Sambhar)

Finally the Palak or Spinach is ready for harvest. Had been waiting patiently for this to make my favourite palak sambhar. 

                                                                  

There was enough perfectly ripened tomatoes of two varieties and mature green chillies too in the garden for this.

The toovar dal or red lentil is organically grown by Mahesh who calls himself the “weekend farmer”. During the week he is a software engineer and weekends he travels to his hometown to take care of his organic farm. Sambhar made with this dal is so tasty. You can`t miss the difference in taste when compared to dals we buy off the shelves in regular stores. How I hate the “shiny” dals we get in the regular stores that are overly polished and rubbed with oil to give it a shine or coloured to make it look a more bright yellow to woo customers.

I am assuming the tamarind I bought from Hopcoms is also organic. I don`t think tamarind trees need pesticides or any pampering. You see them lining many highways with practically no tending. I was told that these tamarind trees along the highway are auctioned before every harvest to the villagers. They then harvest the produce, clean it and sell it in the market.

Tamarind That Is So Well Cleaned and Packed

So I am all set to pressure cook all this together and then season it with Mustard Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Asofedita (Hing), Crushed Garlic and Dry Red Chilli in cold pressed Peanut Oil and bring it to a boil to be had for dinner with Little Millet Rice. Left-over Sambhar will be carried over to breakfast which will be polished off with soft and tasty Ragi and Jowar Idly.

If you want to know how to grind batter for soft and tasty millet idly in minutes in a mixer/grinder, then click on the link below.

https://chocolatenvanillabakes.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/ragi-and-jowar-pillow-soft-millet-idly-batter-in-mixerblender/

Spinach Sambhar

With Little Millet Rice

Updating the breakfast picture

Ragi-Jowar Idly and Dosa with Peanut Chutney, Peanut Chutney Podi and Spinach Sambhar

 

 

My Veggie Garden Stories (Composting)

     

It took me 17 years to come full circle from composting my kitchen waste to terrace gardening.

I took to vermicomposting 18 yrs back. The handful of the fat, long, voracious worms multiplied in no time as they were well-fed with their favourite food, fresh cow dung, plenty of dried leaves collected from the streets and of course! kitchen waste.

Few years later I lost all the worms thanks to life`s ups and downs.

Didn`t give up.

Took up different formats of composting and then from 2010 it was no looking back.

Took to composting seriously and started campaigning and teaching home-composting through demos.

All my compost went back into my fresh compost pile as a starter or as a starter for those starting off collective composting.

Here is the link to the detailed post on how to compost kitchen waste at home which also explains the simple science behind composting.

https://makeadifferencemokshawithme.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/how-to-compost-kitchen-waste-smell-free-at-home/

Gardening had taken a back seat years back. The potted plants were kept alive with just water for years. The hardy ones thrived only to be all given away when we had to shift our home. Not to forget the many failed attempts to grow veggies too.

It was only last year, 2016, that my compost was used in the garden.

I definitely was not prepared for the surprise.

Tomatoes and chilli plants were spouting profusely in all the pots to which my compost was added. I carefully transplanted as many seedlings as I could and what a bounty!

I had 4 varieties of tomatoes growing and I don`t remember ever tasting such delicious, juicy tomatoes in all my life. I must have harvested around 15 kilos of tomatoes.

All the rotten tomatoes and chillies that I had thrown into my compost pot had sprung back to life.

Not carrying the guilt anymore!

I got back mulitfold!

I guess it was the act of respect. Respecting the fact that kitchen waste is not waste but food and seed for the next cycle of food and seed.

The leftover food and seeds is food and seeds for the next cycle of food and seeds. That’s the cycle of life.

All those who think they don`’t have the time, space or inclination to compost their kitchen waste are missing something beautiful and joyful.

 

 

MAKE NATURE YOUR VALENTINE

It is six years since I had decided to make Nature my Valentine.

Six years back I started my Solid Waste Management campaign.

Six years and not much headway.

Bangalore makes more headlines on it`s Garbage issues than on it`s political issues. 

For every 100 converts that I may have managed in the last six years, I saw half a million newbies entering the city, polluting it.

Felt like a wasted effort. 

But my pledge continues and I am still on the Waste Management scene trying my best to convert people`s mindset.

I can`t stop caring for the Earth for if I did then it would mean that I do not care for the 6 billion people living on it.

6 billion people who are actually trying to make sense of their lives.

If only they understood that connecting with the Earth is akin to connecting with Spirituality. 

And when you are connected with Spirituality, You are connected with the Cosmic Divine.

And when you are connected with the Cosmic Divine, You are being taken care of because caring for the Earth means keeping the Earth habitable for the 6 billion people.

And when you care for 6 billion people, wouldn`t You be taken care of???

SO MAKE NATURE YOUR VALENTINE. 

Let your HEART throb for EARTH.

6 billion HEARTS for a beautiful EARTH.

(added the last two lines after a friend noticed while reading the post that EARTH and HEART are anagrams. To have noticed it on Valentine`s Day).

 

 

MENSTRUAL CUP – The Perfect Solution for Sanitary Napkin Waste

  I heard of the menstrual cup about six months ago through an article in the newspaper. I immediately placed an order for a Shecup and a Mooncup. Must say that the shift has been liberating in many ways and on many levels.

   WISH I HAD HEARD ABOUT THE MENSTRUAL CUP EARLIER… GUESS LACK OF PROPER PROMOTION AND PUBLICITY.

  The concept and design of the menstrual cup is amazing. It is the perfect solution to the sanitary napkin waste problem.

  Contrary to belief and inhibitions, the menstrual cup is totally smell-free, safe and hygienic. The silicone material used in the making of the menstrual cup is body-friendly, rather, safer and more hygienic than the chemically-treated sanitary napkins which cause severe rashes and itching.

Silicone is used as body implants and it has also entered the lingerie and baking world. Since silicone can take high temperatures (the rising popularity of silicone baking molds), the menstrual cup can be sterilized in boiling water after use and put away to be reused for the next menstrual cycle.

  One menstrual cup can last beyond 5 years. It can be a one-time investment. A great money-saver.

  Since sanitary napkins are totally done away with, the menstrual cup saves landfill contamination. Many in India resort to burning of the used sanitary napkins which means contributing more to the already heavily polluted air. 

The menstrual cup is very easy to use. Youtube has a lot of information on how to use it.

The cup is 98% leak proof on heavy flow days thus requiring only a reusable cloth liner for protection and 100% leak proof on lean-flow days or for lean-flow users.

  If the menstrual cup has not gained popularity, it is because of narrow mindsets and also most importantly because of vested interests of the disposable sanitary napkin manufacturers.

Responsible E-Waste Recycling

Handing over E-waste (Electronic and Electric waste) to authorized recyclers is something that not many have taken up seriously though it is known that E-waste if disposed off irresponsibly leads to toxic contamination of soil and ground water as these end up in landfills either through direct consumer disposal or through the unorganized e-waste recycling sectors who dispose all irretrievable and toxic material to landfills. 

The first approach to tackling the burgeoning e-waste problem is making a conscious effort to reduce the usage of such products and the next most important approach to tackling this problem is to NOT support the manufacture of inferior quality and short shelf life electronic and electrical products.

One should shift over to using LED lighting over CFL bulbs, Florescent tube-lights and incandescent bulbs as they are more Eco-friendly and power-saving too. They are less toxic and easier to recycle. CFL bulbs and florescent tube-lights are toxic and thus their improper disposal can lead to contamination of soil and ground water.

Get Bin Bag www.getbinbag.com is an effort to collect E-waste from disposers and hand it over to authorized e-waste recyclers. This service does come at a cost though this cost can get covered up if the e-waste disposed has enough remuneration for Get Bin Bag from recycling the waste.

HOW TO SEGREGATE WASTE

WASTE SEGREGATION CAN GET SIMPLE ONLY IF WE MAKE EFFORTS TO SIMPLIFY AND REDUCE WASTE. WE NEED TO SIMPLIFY PRODUCT PACKAGING AND KEEP IT UTILITARIAN.

IF CONSUMER IS KING THEN “LET THE KING DICTATE”.


SEGREGATION OF WASTE:

*To segregate waste one needs to first have the required number of bins placed such that they are easily accessible to everyone. This would ensure everyone`s participation in waste segregation. 

* The bin for collecting wet waste should be kept in the kitchen and all kitchen waste and left-over food should be emptied into this bin. Used paper towels and paper napkins can be used to line the bin instead of plastic carry bags or newspaper (newspaper contains toxic ink).

*This wet waste should be composted using any convenient composting method. One such method is described  (click here for the link) on this blog.

* Dry waste should be segregated properly for effective recycling and disposal.

One should have the appropriate number of bins for dry waste segregation.

Bin 1: for all kinds of paper and paper cartons.

Bin 2: for all kinds and all grades of plastic and metal.

Bin 3: for sanitary and bio-medical waste like sanitary napkins, disposable diapers, needles, syringes, blades, gloves, cotton swabs and all such things that can contaminate the environment.

Bin 4: for E-waste.

Bin 5: for all other inert waste that do not fall into any of the above categories.

*Toxic and Chemical waste also needs to be disposed off carefully so as not to contaminate the environment but the environment would be far cleaner and safer if everyone made efforts to bring down the usage of things that produce these toxic and chemical waste.

 

The Solution To The Garbage Problem Is In Our Hands

If a garbage problem exists in Bangalore it is only because we as citizens have not taken it as our responsibility to manage the waste that we generate. It has become a problem because we want somebody else to manage our garbage for us.

Decentralization of the whole system is the only solution, which means that we need to manage our own waste. It is doable and barely costs anything. If not for anything else we atleast need to do it for all those villagers living near landfills as we are the cause for their unhygienic living conditions. How right is it to dump our domestic waste at their doorstep? How right is it to expect the villagers to put up with the stench of our garbage? It`s just that we do not want to dirty our hands or waste our “precious” time over it.

It is surprising that it doesn`t seem to be weighing on our conscience because if it did, we wouldn`t have allowed this problem to reach a level where the very existence of these villagers is threatened. We are snatching away their right to a decent and dignified life in their own homes. A “sin” in religious parlance.

A garbage mafia exists because garbage exists. If each one responsibly managed their own waste at their own doorstep, then this problem would cease to exist. It would no longer be a money-making racket.

If the grouse is that segregated garbage is being mixed up by the pourakarmikas then why are we handing over our segregated garbage to them? Why can`t we compost the wet waste ourselves and hand over the dry waste to recyclers ourselves?

We lack the will to change that wee bit to solve this problem at the root itself. One`s responsibility does not end with just proper segregation of garbage. It needs to be taken to the next level of recycling it responsibly too and it`s easiest when done at the source itself, that is, at our own homes rather than making it monumental by collecting the whole city`s garbage at one point and then trying to recycle it.

We need to respect this Earth that sustains us. All wealth, intelligence and relationships will be brought to naught if this Earth begins to spew the venom that we have engulfed it in.

We are already seeing the venom but are turning a blind eye to it?