Vriksha nursery

Vriksha nursery is a second generation nursery based in Mumbai where we strive to change the face of urban gardening in India with over 25,000 gardens executed in Maharashtra/Goa/Gujarat. We have a team of dedicated professionals who will leave no stone unturned to give you gardens of the utmost quality. Vriksha nursery has been synonymous with innovation in our field be it set landscaping(over 15000 teleserials/movies/adfilms), temporary landscapes (over 2500 exhibitions and weddings),ikebana flower arrangements, urban farming, rooftop gardens,living walls etc.
contact us :9820704069 Email: shaan_lalwani@hotmail.com
or better still
Drop by at: 1 ganga apts ,
irla railway soc(2nd last bungalow lane opp papilon hotel )
mumbai 400056.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Natural sweetening agents:a new healthy way to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Most of us know that processed sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup or sweet ‘n low are bad for us and that sugar in general, no matter what the source, is something we should limit. Fair enough. But when we have that craving, what’s the best natural sweetener to satisfy that sweet tooth?There’s much confusion over sweeteners on the market today. What I look for in a sweetener is not whether it has calories or not, but whether it has nutrients. If I’m going to eat something sweet, I want to make sure that it’s minimally refined and that I’m getting some sort of nutritional benefit.Table sugar provides you almost nil nutritional value and adds empty calories to the plate. Recognizing this fact, more and more people are turning away from table sugar and going towards other sweeteners. At the same time, even artificial sweeteners have been found to have a number of disadvantages.These artificial sweeteners are used in abundance in almost every "diet" drink, "lite" yogurts, puddings, and ice creams, most "low-carb" products, and almost all "reduced-sugar" products. Heck, even most protein powders are loaded with artificial sweeteners too .

Splenda is probably one of the worst offenders of claiming to be "healthy" as they say that it's made from real sugar. Don't be fooled! It's still an artificial substance. What they don't tell you is that

Splenda is actually a chemically modified substance where chlorine is added to the chemical structure, making it more similar to a chlorinated pesticide than something we should be eating or drinking.
As a horticulturist iv seen sugar processing first hand of lately the rise in popularity of Stevia got me thinking....im listing some freely available plants which are as sweet as they come healthy,non fattening & absolutely safe for diabetic patients.

Perilla frutescens:

Family :lamiaceae
Origin: Himalayas, India
Other local names: chinese basil ,banjara perrilia mint.

Uses:oil is used in perfume industry& sometimes as a spice in cooking.
flowers: coloring and pickling of fruits.
medicinal value: diaphoretic,sedative, anti inflammatory,cures cough.

this plant is 350 time sweeter than sucrose and is used in japan to sweeten tobacco.The bitter after taste and low water solubility are some of the plants drawbacks.

Lippia dulcis

Family: verbenaceae.

Origin: central america

Other local names:sweet lippa, Mexican lippa

Uses:a good natural cure for cough,cold bronchitis &asthma

the plant is a fast growing cover abundant all over Maharashtra.The only issue of this plant is its bitter aftertaste due to the presence of camphor and since this plant spreads like a weed no one really like growing them.

Stevia rebaudiana:

Family: Asteraceae

Origin:South america

Other local names:stevia,honey yerba,sweet herb.

Uses:its used as a natural low cal sweetener,its used in the treatment of diabetes, obesity,and helps lower blood pressure.A slender erect plant that grows to a ht of about a ft and a half.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra:

Family: fabaceae

Origin: Mediterranean region

Other local names: locorise

Uses:its used as a natural sweetener in food and the pharmaceutical industry , diuretic, laxative, stomachic agent.its almost 100 times sweeter than sucrose has a very slow onset of taste and a long lingering after taste

Hydrangea macrophylla:

Family: saxifragaceae

Origin: Japan

Other local names: amacha

Uses: Japanese use it to make a sweet which is used in local religious ceremonies.


Family: Liliaceae

Origin:mexico(Spanish and Portuguese explorers probably brought agave plants back to Europe with them)

Uses: making of tequila,making of agave nectar.

Agave nectar: It has a low glycemic level and is a safe alternative to table sugar. Unlike the crystalline form of fructose, which is refined primarily from corn, agave syrup is fructose in its natural form. This nectar does not contain processing chemicals. Even better, because fructose is sweeter than table sugar, less is needed in your recipes. It can be most useful for people who are diabetic, have insulin resistance (Syndrome X), or are simply watching their carbohydrate intake.

Some other natural sweeteners:

1)Honey:Sweet syrupy fluid made by bees from the nectar collected from flowers and stored in nests or hives as food. It is composed of fructose and glucose
Benefits: Honey tends to be low-glycemic. You can comfortably use this to sweeten your beverages.
Concerns: Both are high-caloric and high-carbohydrate, so use sparingly.

2)Barley Malt: has a flavored sweetness somewhere between dark molasses and honey. Barley malt works well in baking and making smoothies. The bonus in this natural sweetener is that it has several vitamins and minerals.

3)Coconut Sugar: made from coconut sap, resembles cane sugar, but is very low on the glycemic index. Very healthy, coconut sugar contains sulfur, healthy micronutrients, potassium and magnesium.

Some natural sugars to avoid:
1)Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel)
3)Sucralose (Splenda, Altern)
4)Acesulfame-K (Sunette, Sweet & Safe, Sweet One)
5)Refined Sugar

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Flower Power: Edible Flowers At The Nursery!!

With the influx of food shows all over television you watch chefs from all over the world cooking dishes which are impossible to pronounce with ingredients that sometimes can only be described as absurd.While its hard to watch some of the Indian chefs make a complete mess of Italian /french cooking at times ...(there are exceptions) there are loads of chefs who literally make you drool.On one of these shows i happen to watch the contestant cooked with flowers...i had to try this i taught ...it looked so fresh tasty and happy .Though im not miuch of a cook i know my plants im mentioning a few plants freely available in MUMBAI,INDIA with edible flowers and a basic idea of how they taste.

Edible Plants

Basil: Ocimum basilicum
Tastes like: different varieties have different milder flavors of the corresponding leaves. Tastes like: lemon, mint.

Carnation Dianthus caryophyllus (aka Dianthus)
Tastes like: spicy, peppery, clove-like

Chives: Garden Allium schoenoprasum Tastes like: mild onion flavor.
Chives: Garlic Allium tuberosum Tastes like: garlicky flavor

Citrus: Lemon Citrus limon Tastes like: waxy, pronounced flavor, use sparingly as an edible garnish, good for making citrus waters

Gardenia Gardenia jasminoides Tastes like: light, sweet flavor

Coriander Coriander sativum Pungent. A prime ingredient in salsa and many Latino and Oriental dishes. Tastes like: Some palates detect a disagreeable soapy flavor while others adore it.

Jasmine: Arabian Jasminum sambac Tastes like: delicate sweet flavor, used for teas.

Lavender Lavendula species Lavender oil may be poisenous. More Info. Tastes like: floral, slightly perfumey flavor

Lemon Verbena Aloysia triphylla Tastes like: lemony flavor, usually steeped for tea

Marigold: Signet Tagetes tenuifolia (aka T. signata) Tastes like: spicy to bitter

Marjoram Origanum majorana Highly aromatic and slightly pungent, they add a delicious piquancy to dishes but must be used with discretion

Mint Mentha species The flavor of the flowers are minty, but with different overtones depending on the variety. Mint flowers and leaves are great in Middle Eastern dishes.

Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Cranberry-like flavor with citrus overtones. Use slightly acidic petals sparingly in salads or as garnish. The flower can be dried to make an exotic tea.

Rose Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis Tastes like: sweet, aromatic flavor, stronger fragrance produces a stronger flavor. Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals. Rose hips are also edible 

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Tastes like: pine-like, sweet, savory. 

Sage Salvia officinalis Sage should not be eaten in large amounts over a long period of time. Tastes like: varies by type.

Sunflower* Helianthus annus Tastes like: leafy, slightly bitter. Lightly steam petals to lessen bitterness. Unopened flower buds can be steamed like artichokes.

Thyme Thymus vulgaris Tastes like: lemon, adds a nice light scent. 

(Banana) Yucca Yucca baccata Flowers (petals only) and fruit are edible. Other parts contain saponin, which is poisonous. Large amounts may be harmful. Tastes like: crunchy, fresh flavor Tastes like: crunchy, fresh flavor

Some flowers in particular to be avoided (but not a complete list) are: azalea, crocus, daffodil, foxglove, oleander, rhododendron, jack-in-the-pulpit, lily of the valley,lantena camera,jacaranda,dhatura,euphorbia,jatropha and wisteria. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mumbai's urban railway farms:how safe are the greens you eat?

The 7 in the morning mandovi express ....brings back so many memories from college days...Recently i took the train to mangaon a beautiful little village on the outskirts of mumbai for some landscaping work .What i saw was just plain disturbing.

As a kid one of my Favorite cartoon was Popeye the sailor..., Popeye was depicted as eating spinach to become stronger. The animated shots depicted Popeye as ridiculously strong but liable to be hammered by the much larger Bluto before his eating of the spinach,he would eat spinach, which would instantly restore and amplify his strength to an even greater level infusing Popeye with his extraordinary strength.If Elzie Crisler Segar(creator of the series) was to have Popeye,olive oyl,bluto come to Mumbai, the episode would pan out with Popeye n bluto having a fight sequence on the overcrowded trains of Mumbai and Popeye ending up with food poisoning cause of the adulterated gutter water spinach that he ate from the sprawling spinach farms all along the train tracks.

Looking outside the windows of outbound trains in Mumbai have always been disturbing hoards of slum dwellers all along the track mooning you,open gutters heaps of garbage,swines,rats...and nestled among all this are the farms that produce roughly 40% of mumbais spinach,fenugreek,coriander&other local greens.Plants like radishes,bananas,paddy are also cultivated on these farms.
The railway officials, though, have a reply. V M Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer of Central Railway, said, "We hand over the land for cultivation to prevent encroachment. However, we do not keep a check on quality or the kind of water being used for cultivation. Our primary goal is to ensure that these vacant pieces of land belonging to railway are not encroached upon." It has been decided to allow growing vegetables along the tracks to save it from encroachers. Though the scheme for availing the land for growing vegetables is open to all, we prefer railway employees avail the offer,"

a senior Western Railway official said.
This cant be happening how can these guys be foolish enough to allow these farms to exist.All outbound trains run on diesel engines,the emissions of which have loads of harmful chemicals ..ever notice a waxy layer on the spinach leaves you buy from your local bhaji wala ... harmful chemicals like:•
1)Lead: May cause anaemia; blood, gastrointestinal and neuro-muscular disorders
2)Arsenic: Can lead to kidney and liver disorders and even paralysis
3) Copper: Can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and involuntary muscle movement
4)Mercury: Can lead to involuntary muscle movement and tremors.

are present in abundance.the water that these guys use to irrigate these crops is straight from the drain using diesel pumps to flood these fields.Most slums around the farms have no bathrooms hence the tracks ,drains and farms are visited regularly by the few lacks that stay in these slums.

What needs to be done: the first thing the railways should do is stop this foolish practice, the ramifications of growing these vegetables in this kind of environment are to serious to risk.Long term consumption of vegetables grown on sewage water can lead to early onset of Parkinson's disease, neuron degeneration, hearing and vision impairment and gastro-intestinal infections.
avoid buying your vegetables off the bhaji walas if you do wash them thoroughly before consumption.

The ideal solution is to grow your own greens chemical free,organic and half the market price.plants like coriander,spinach,mint will be soon available in pots/plugs at the nursery and all you have to do is water it for 20days before you guys can pluck the leaves to make yourself a healthy meal.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A confused state of affairs:what the hell is goin on here!

It’s a confused nation we live in..

*you cut a tree ur fined 100rs you break a signal you are fines 350 rs.

*The biggest sugarcane hoarder is our agriculture minister.

*The BEST systematically cuts down...ops trims trees for better viewing of hoardings.

*Our agriculture/horticulture syllabus still tells us to promote and use Glyphosate,DAP!!!

*tree plantation drives are done with tulsi.

* no money to make the roads but have money to change our road divider plantation every 6 months

*people protecting the forests are against development/naxals and socialites roam around calling themselves environmental activists.

*Where a man stops eating food and the media looses the plot ....but half a million people go hungry the media would rather show Kareena kapoors new diet plan.

*where we would rather feed the rats in our grain storehouses than a starving child.

* where a policeman kills a leopard that is actually attacking a villager, and instead of being felicitated he is booked for the crime of saving a human being at the insistence of some Wildlife Organisations.

* A nation where Rice is Rs.40/- per kg and SIM Card is free

* Where a pizza you have ordered reaches home faster than an ambulance or police, even if you were being murdered or having a heart attack

* Where a car loan is charged at 5% but an education loan, so necessary for our youth is charged an interest of 12%

* A nation where students with 45% get into elite institutions through the quota system and those with 90% are sent away because of merit.

* Where a millionaire buys a cricket team, spending crores instead of donating the money to any charity. Where two IPL teams were auctioned at 3300 crores, yet still a poor country where people starve for two square meals per day.

* A country where footwear is sold in AC showrooms, but the vegetables we eat, are sold on the footpath and very often next to garbage dumps.

* Where everybody wants to be famous, not by doing good for others, but by looting others and finally getting their names in the newspapers through some scam or other!

* It’s a strange nation we live in, where assembly complex buildings get ready within a year while public bridges, flyovers and sea links take several years even to get off the drawing board and another decade to be completed

* We have malls, and sky-rises, with slums forming their boundary wall.

* A country where men and women squat on railway tracks, with no where else to go while watching them from windows, are couples with three bathrooms and one for the guests.

* A country where politicians who are supposed to serve the people accept money from the same people they are supposed to serve, then take a salary from the government for their services to the people

*the only bill that has all the Ministers in 100% agreement on is the one that calls for their salaries raised 6 times in 4 years.

* A politician is paid more than an army MAJOR.

* We are a nation where we talk in hushed whispers about the corruption in the country and then dig into our pockets to bribe a cop when we are caught cutting a red light


Friday, July 1, 2011

Agave : The Tequila plant...

Iv been on the run collecting plants from across the country for my site (GODZILLA BUNGALOW(mudh island.....its named funnily but is a oriental themed bungalow for parties n shoots).So while researching the plants i came across something that i just had 2 share...Agave is a common plant iv used it and seen it almost everywhere its a hardy landscape plant that when used on mounds or groups look stunning.
.Archeologists say the Aztecs cultivated the Blue Agave starting over 9,000 years ago and made a variety of wine or beer from the plant.Contrary to popular misconceptions, tequila is not made from cactus but rather from the agave plant, a member of the lily family.Agave plants are succulents with long spiny leaves. There are more than 400 species of Agave all native to america and mostly to Mexico. They live for many years as a rosette of thick, fleshy leaves, then flower once (often around 30 years old or so) and die. Like a bromeliad , once an agave blooms it will die. But before it does, it will produce several new plants around its base.So when entering one of these forest nurseries i was stunned to see these plants used as a natural fence all around the nursery..(mainly because the plant has a nasty thorn on the end of each leaf...and cattle don't seem to like the plant).

PROPAGATION:Easy to grow, the Blue Agave plant grows best in tropical conditions. Blue Agave wants lots of sun, warmth and little water in good soil. Great enjoyed for a few years in a nice pot then into your landscape for a unique look guaranteed no neighbor of yours will have .one important care tip this plant hates water logging & frost.It will be its bluest in full sun which will also help to keep fungal diseases at bay

How is tequila made:Tequila is made from the distilled sap from the hearts (pinas) of the Blue Agave plant.Plants are harvested after being in the fields for 8 to 12 years. The long spear shaped leaves are cut off leaving the large pineapple-like cores.The pinas are then slow roasted or steamed, and pressed or ground to release the juice.This liquid is then fermented and, at a minimum, double distilled.

Agave nectar is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than sugar. Agave nectar is often substituted for sugar or honey in recipes. Agave is commonly used as a Vegan alternative to honey in cooking. Because it dissolves quickly, it can be used as a sweetener for cold beverages such as iced tea...

tequila has to be one of the most sought after liquors has influenced many artists ,world leaders and has made people do some things that they have been proud of and somethings that they are ashamed of whats your drunk tequila story the best  25 stories get one of these awesome agaves delivered to your doorstep. Ne ways signing of this post with
One of my all time fav song :

We also sell the plants for rs 350 each drop by to own this absolutely beautiful plant