Before the scorching summer sun consumes us entirely, I wanted to dwell on the delights of the last few temperate weeks of Indian weather. In our local Delhi parks, it's been raining sweet purple and pale white mulberries and loganberries. People have been shaking trees and catching these divine fruits on sheets spread beneath, walking away with kilos of sweetness.
I also discovered these delightfully unique and beautiful squiggly seed pods (pictured above). Try googling 'squiggly seed pods' and you'll appreciate how hard it was to track down their name and source! But I got there in the end: acacia nilotica or Indian gum arabic tree. It looks like a mimosa with feathery fronds and pom pom yellow flowers and its pods are poisonous in large quantities (usually only to goats thankfully!), causing Methemoglobinemia, or shortness of breath and blue skin.
Cocopeat, which I thought was the answer to our prayers of hauling heavy bags of dirt up four flights to our roof, has been a huge disappointment. Even mixed 50-50 with vermicompost, it's yielded stunted plants. The cocopeat is dangerous because if it dries out, it's notoriously difficult to soak through again. I discovered that the soil was wet at the top, but dry as a bone at the roots.
Still, the tomatoes seem to have loved it, proliferating into multitudes of small and oblong fruits for weeks on end. There's not much taste to them though, which you'd expect in sterile soil that has all the substance of polyester fibre!
My answer will be to mix the cocopeat with huge quantities of homemade compost which is now happily rotting away again in Delhi's May heat, after having stalled in the dry coolness of winter.
If you're still lucky enough to have access to Mulberries, here are some fabulous recipes by Delhi's Pamela Timms:
Save the squiggly seed pods for the compost!