How (not?) to garden in Kathmandu

One of the weird things about bouncing around the planet so much is having to continuously adapt to different climates.  We are here for two years in Kathmandu, and have now been though the annual seasonal rotation once.  In theory, we are back where we arrived, at the end of the rainy season, except that it doesn’t really remind me very much of last year. But then again, I’ve only done this once….when does it start to get cold again?  What’s the season for tomatoes?  What can you grow in the winter if it there’s hardly any frosts?  Its confusing.

In theory, October and November are very warm and sunny during the day and starting to get cool at night.  December and January are sunny and mild during the day, and can get down to frost at night (occasionally).  I didn’t have much in the garden last December.  I have no idea how our geraniums are going to handle it.  They certainly didn’t like the rainy season very much.  Almost nothing did.  Pots became waterlogged and septic if we didn’t move them into a covered location.  Plants just went yellow and died.  But finally the rains are going away and the soil is begging to be turned and planted.  Who are we to say no?!

There’s a plot to the side of the house that was a kiddy sand pit when we moved in.  The previous tenants very kindly left it there for “other families with kids.”  As Latham is a little to old to play in a sandpit we were stuck with the problem of getting rid of it.  The sand was dumped in the corner behind the mango tree, but the soil underneath was dusty and lifeless.  Our staff threw in a few flowers higglety-piggedly and it was hard to access or water.  Security guards stepped on the strawberries.  Nothing did very well.


The ex-sand pit.  Not quite the “before” picture.. more like “before the flowers went in”

Finally I got smart.  I bought some cheap local bricks (with swastikas I might add – explanation here) and made a  simple path through the mess. Then I did triage on everything that was growing there, dug it over and added compost.  Everything is looking so much healthier, and I can get in to water and weed .  Next we went shopping for fall plants and a few supplies.  You can find plants and compost, but things like supporting sticks, wire, ties, that kind of thing are non-existent.  Robert made sticks by quartering big, fat bamboo poles with a cleaver.  We didn’t need much else, but what we did need had to be ordered from Amazon.  There’s very little in the way of gardening supplies here.


So my path is lined in swastika bricks. Isn’t everyone’s?!



Shopping for plants always fills me with joy. Lots of new colours!



Robert’s very healthy looking tomato plants. They are starting to flower so we should have fruit set starting in a couple of weeks. Hopefully with a little plastic each night once it starts to get colder they will survive the cold and get enough sun during the day. Unfortunately, the house next door is blocking too much sunlight already.


My finished garden. Just waiting for the mums to grow and blossom. Hopefully it will look pretty for the next couple of months.

I remember how much I missed having a garden in Manila, and its taken almost a year (or half our tour) for me to head out to plant things.  It was Robert’s insistence on planting tomatoes that got me past all the challenges of gardening here and back outside again.  Even if we only get a couple of months outside poking around in the dirt,  its valuable time outdoors while we still can.  Who knows where we’ll be living this time next year.  More photo updates if all grows well!

5 thoughts on “How (not?) to garden in Kathmandu

  1. I loved hearing about your gardening adventures and challenges. For me, it would be hard to get plants established and then have to uproot, so to speak. Perhaps you have addressed this in a prior blog, but I would be interested in knowing how you obtain housing ~ is it assigned or do you find it yourself? Is it usually pretty nice? When we were in Thailand last month we noticed and were curious about the many swastikas ~ disconcerting, to say the least, and were interested in learning about this connection to Buddhism. I am really enjoying this blog and I am very happy to know that Robert married someone with such creative flair!


  2. Hi, dear C, I love your posts and now, in Belle Mead retirement, have found loads of time to read your really interesting notes on Nepal. In re your comments on the swastika, I note that it is a digammodian cross –two Greek gammas together, and is all over Greco-Roman architecture, itself a fusion of Indo-european cultures (think Roman Empire and trade). Related to your going to a (so fun!) slam–at which events NJ Dodge Poetry winner Michael Bodel spent much time–the double gamma fits beautifully here, a further fusion of east and west–as Holman said about great US poets Ginsberg, Kaufman and Corso–

    “Slam! Into the Mouth of
    the Dharma!”
    Because Gregory Corso says, “Why do you want to
    hang out with us old guys? If I was young, I’d be
    going to the Slam!”
    Because Bob Kaufman says, “Each Slam / a finality.”

    I’d love to see you guys…any trips to us planned…?

    Liked by 1 person

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