‘Kodiyalchi Randai’ grown in USA by Glen Mendonca
“Closer to his Roots” -the Vegetable Garden comprising of ‘Kodiyalchi Randai’ (‘Mangalorean Vegetables) grown in New Jersey-USA by Glen and Bing (Vilma) Mendonca, has amazed their American neighbors and friends, and they are all going “Wow” admiring them.
Mangaluru: He is from Kodiyal (that’s Mangaluru in Konkani), to be specific hailing from Upoor/Kallianpur, but presently settled in New Jersey, USA- and his love for local vegetables has not stopped him in growing them in New Jersey, where he has a large variety of Mangalorean vegetables in his backyard. Seems like this man probably has quite the green thumb, judging by the insanely huge vegetables growing in his garden, I guess he can grow any kind of vegetables in his garden. This man is none other than Deacon Glen Leo Mendonca – a self-employed – insurance, realtor . Married to Vilma Villafania Palisoc – a Registered Nurse, Glen is a proud father of son Gervin Livio -a graduate of United States Merchant Marine Academy; and daughter Germaine Laira, who is graduating from Mater Die High School this year.
According to Glen, his uncle the late Mark Lewis of Uppoor, Dakshina Kannada used to say to “Glen, the beautiful thing about gardening is that you can do it virtually anywhere, always pick a spot, dig the ground, choose the plants, nurture growth, be realistic as not to be overwhelmed and learn from the vegetable garden each year.” And for that matter, Glen took his Uncle’s words seriously and decided to start his garden filled with Mangalorean vegetables. For our very own Mangalorean Deacon Glen, vegetable gardening is a step closer to feeling his roots around him, as a resident in New Jersey, USA having vegetable garden grown in his backyard, for he believes it is a wonderful way to enhance his home with some unique charm from his home sweet home roots in Uppoor/Kallianpur in Dakshina Kannada, and to enrich his family meals with garden-to-table-produce. He has named his kitchen patch “Vegetable Garden of Bing (his wife) and Glen”.
So this March 2016, Deacon Glen re-prepared the garden spot and had selected traditional Mangalorean vegetables that require at least five hours of full sun each day, like Long Beans (Midke Saango-Alsando), Okra/Ladies Finger (Bhenda), Bitter Gourd (Karathe), Egg Plant / Brinjal (Vainge)), Cucumber (Taushen), Ridge Gourd (Ghosale), Chilli (Tarne Mirsang), Capsicum/Bell Pepper (Donne/Odle Mirsang), Sweet Potato (Kangi/Kanang), Different Gourds / pumpkin (Kuvvale/Ghar Dhudi), Ivy Gourd/ Gentleman’s Toes /Gherkins(Thendli), including Zuccinni and tomato- totally 61 plants not forgetting the extras of Malabar Spinach (Valchi Bhaji) Red Amaranth Leaves (Thambde Bhaji), Coriander (Kenpir Bhaji/ Kothambari Pallo), and Mint leaves (Vaadthalanv Pallo/Marga Pallo)).
This year 2016, Deacon Glen did not cut corners nor was in a hurry to get his plants into the ground he understood from his earliest days and gathered from his first hand experiences that soil preparation is the most important step in growing a successful garden. Growing the healthiest garden starts with the right soil. Having the best foundation for his plants makes everything that follows easier. Keeping this in mind as soon as the ground was workable this spring, Deacon Glen re- converted a part of his backyard an area of 50 x 40 feet into a traditional in-ground vegetable garden by removing the existing grass and amending the native or top soil.
He rejuvenated the tired soil of earlier years of vegetable gardening, he added amendments to improve soil fertility by adding organic compost and well rotten dehydrated livestock manure to bring the soil back to life. When the soil was dry to crumble easily after squeezing, he turned the soil, working the amendments into the top 12 inches as he hand dug the entire plot using a spade (Korrae) and then used a rototiller a gasoline mechanical plough to furrow the soil, then leveled the same using a wide rake. ( The primary purpose of ploughing is to turn over the upper layer of the soil, bringing fresh nutrients to the surface, while burying weeds and the remains of previous crops and allowing them to break down. As the plough is drawn through the soil it creates long trenches of fertile soil called furrows).
Deacon Glen has organized his garden into rows having walkways covered with plastic mats, dividing the plant rows with sturdy plants on the side and the perimeter has the tomatoes and the creeper plants (Vaali) enabling the use of trellis (Mattos). Glen harvests rainwater through a catchment system (Thoad) emptying into in-ground drums, around his house so that he can irrigate the vegetable garden.
Once the garden is set-up there are a few things to master, (timely pruning, aerating or loosening the soil around the stem, constant watering, applying ash as a pesticide) after that it’s a breeze, and the productivity of Glens vegetable garden is amazing, sharing the traditional Mangalorean vegetable bounty with friends, neighbors, colleagues, and relatives. “Growing my own vegetables had been on my list for long and I wanted to watch the plants growing and harvesting bountiful vegetables. It requires a little work setting up a bed, caring for plants and watering regularly but is very rewarding to see them growing and harvesting great tasting vegetables.The closer the source the fresher and tastier the food!” says Glen.