How Google Lens helped me solve a mystery

I was enjoying my cherry tomatoes harvest till quite recently when it stopped fruiting. Because it had grown to be quite a bush size, I continued watering it hoping it would still bear fruit. As such I observe all my plants on a daily basis, however since there were no tomatoes I did not bother much about the tomato bush for 2-3 weeks. One day to my surprise, I saw 2-3 lush green plants which looked kind of ‘happy to grow’ within the tomato bush! They were too lush and ‘happy’ to be assumed as weeds in the first glance.

I am a believer in of the Reuse, Reduce and Recycle principle and I have imbibed this belief from my mom that all the grey water from the kitchen be it vegetable washed, rice and pulses washed or grains soaked water – all of it must go to the garden instead of the sink. So all my plants are watered by default, once every morning with all such reused water. Due to this it was highly probable that grains or vegetables might have overflown into the pots. Now I was not sure which of my grain has germinated or vegetable has grown in this form. I again observed it for one more week to see if it really survives, it did and it grew further looking to be ‘happy’. It had bright green leaf structure like that of a papaya plant and watery and thick stem like the lotus.

Today as I was cleaning up and de-weeding my garden patch, my eye fell on the lush plant once more and I was tempted to uproot it as I suspected that it was drawing all the water and nutrients due to which my tomatoes were not flowering. As a matter of fact I uprooted one of the three similar “weed” plants that grew between my tomatoes. As I pulled it my eyes fell on the bottom part of the plant, the root, it was of a pinkish brown coloration. It made me rethink the ‘weed’ nature of the plant. I asked my dad if he could recognize the plant with the smell of the leaf or the patchy look of the stem. He couldn’t recognize it but insisted that I search up the plant with its photo and try to identify the plant.

I quickly scanned the plant with the Google Lens application. To my utter disbelief and pleasant surprise it turned out to be Elephant Foot Yam plant. Neither me nor my mom had planted it deliberately. I suspect my mom must have thrown the old and rotting Yam pieces from the refrigerator into the pots and it had lived there ever since, after all these plants bloom as monsoon approaches.

Now I have a wonderful addition to my list of home grown veggies which already includes Malabar Spinach, Onions, Mint, Chilly, Cherry Tomatoes to name a few.

This is also a wonderful example of how Artificial intelligence and Machine learning is greatly impacting all of our lives. If not for the application of AI I would have either uprooted all the plants, destroying some amazing vegetables or would have never known how a Yam plant looks like. Of course I could have asked a Botanist or an expert in farming and plants but where would i go around searching for an expert?

More information about Elephant foot Yam here
Elephant Yam Recepies
1. Yam curry
2. Yam Tava fry

Explore Google lens here
Do you have such similar memories or experiences using google lens or a similar tool? if yes, do share it with us in the comments below!
If no, why wait? Explore the power of Image Processing and Artificial Intelligence now! Share your experiences.

Malabar Spinach – A wonder green

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Scientific name: Basella alba                               Regional name: Bachali kura / Basale
In picture: A fresh harvest of Basella alba from my organic terrace garden.

Basella alba, also called Malabar spinach / Indian Spinach / vine Spinach, is an edible perennial vine.
It is a fast growing, semi-succulent, soft-stemmed vine, rich in Vitamin A, C and Iron. It also has antioxidant properties.

They grow well under hot and humid climates, reaching lengths of 10 meters (33 feet).
They grow in two varieties the green stemmed Basella alba and reddish-purple stemmed cultivar Basella alba ‘Rubra’

Cooking:

  • It is cooked along with red gram (toor dal)  to prepare a accompaniment for rice
  • Also cooked in coconut gravy (mostly in south India)
  • It is often added to salads also
  • It is used as a thickening agent in soups and stews

Health benefits:

  • The leaves and stems are cooked and eaten for their laxative properties. They provide the necessary fiber for the body
  • Due to it diuretic properties it helps eliminate water from body there by flushing toxins
  • A paste of the leaves is applied externally to treat boils and sores
  • It is also used for its anti-inflammatory effects
  • The flowers are used as an antidote to poisons

 

Some reference recipes:
https://hebbarskitchen.com/basale-koddel/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9SN9jVG2MQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONu35bhNgTc