When onion prices shot up last year, Sanjana Rao from Hyderabad, decided to plant spring onions and stop worrying about the cost.
“We planted onions in our backyard. I kept it all organic, no fertilizers and pesticides. We are growing spring onions in our backyard and terrace too. Just neem water, onion peel water, banana peels and egg shells gave us a good crop,” says Rao, a terrace gardener, whose 100 sqft of green space shows her love for gardening.
Some of the common finds in her kitchen garden include variety of green leaves, pumpkin white and yellow, yellow cucumber, Indian beans, brinjals, green bell peppers, methi and sabja (chia seeds), turmeric, chillies, tomatoes and pudina.
Turn a new leaf
With COVID lockdown, the number of plant parents has increased. As most people are at home and it’s easy to take care of plants. The small patch of greenery also lends a soothing environment.
Aswathi Balakrishnan, a young blogger, says that one must be willing to put in the effort and see to it that the enthusiasm of growing plants doesn’t fizzle out. Her cutesy city apartment might have not offered her the leeway to own an expansive gardening strip, but the fashionista’s innate green thumb has led to an indoor space that is teeming with all kinds of greens. From money plants and microgreens to purple pepper chillis and potatoes, her space symbolises green in every sense of the word.
“Research is key. When I started out, I did some research, watched multiple videos, took some courses on Skillshare and asked my dad for suggestions as he’s into vegetable gardening. See what works for you and your space best. Three components to look at are soil, sunlight and water,” says Balakrishnan.
For those living in cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai, where there is space constraint, Balakrishnan advises growing hydroponics.
“It’s a compact machine and slightly expensive, but worth the investment. For starters, try microgreens and herbs if you face a space crunch. They require minimal space and is extremely healthy. Spring onions and tomatoes too require very less space.”
Get your hands dirty
If you want the fruits of your labour, be willing to get your hands dirty. “Plants breed mosquitoes, so daily care is important. Select plants to suit your home and space and ensure there is adequate sunlight,” says Rupa Ramamurthy, a resident of Columbia Pacific Communities, Bengaluru, as she proudly displays her compact yet roomy strip of greens that are an indoor potted community of its own.
“One of the best tips I’ve got is to plant a mix of ornamental and flowering plants. Also, keep some pots for kitchen greens such as onions, fenugreek and coriander,” she says.
Rao stresses on making compost from vegetable peels, rice or dal washed-water, cow dung and among others. “Terrace or kitchen gardening requires interest and patience,” she says.
Her abundant garden is filled with tindli, amla, long beans, spinach, tapioca, tomato, custard apple, cucumber and among others.
Every plant or vegetable has its season, so factor this in before bringing home a plant. The growth and life of a plant depend on the right soil.
“Quality is any day better than quantity. So, pick plants that you know will thrive in the space you have,” says Ushakumari Subhash, a homemaker and gardening enthusiast, whose love for plants is evidenced in her terrace land that is lush with wild herbs, ancient roots and plantations throughout the year.
Are you a beginner at gardening? These tips would help.
If you’re interested in a kitchen garden, you don’t really need a big space. You can start with a place as small as your kitchen windowsill. All you need is a sunny spot and you can germinate seeds of tomatoes and leafy greens to begin with as they are the easiest to grow. If you are impatient, you can get the starter plan itself. There are nurseries at every locality.
The reason why house plants die is due to overwatering. Water your plants moderately and make sure they are getting enough sunlight.
Green chillies, mint, coriander and basil are very easy to grow. You can pick up soil and manure at a local nursery as they usually stock good quality ones.
You can start composting wet waste from your kitchen. For that, you will need to get a compost pot.
But you can get a packet or manure from a nursery too until you manage that setup.
Inputs by Zohara Jamal, content creator, expert gardener and plant lover.
Shaan Lalwani, owner of Vrishka nursery, gives us an insider peek into the gardening bug that seems to have spread with gusto.
1) Sales have been constantly on the rise for the past few years. The pandemic has seen an influx of the younger insta scrolling people take to gardening.
2) The most common mistake is people don’t take light and space into consideration so they end up placing outdoor plants indoors and vice versa.
3) Monsteras have been by far the most popular indoor plant because of their large shiny air purifying leaves. Basil is a very popular herb cause it’s easy and fast to grow and yields almost a weekly harvest