My mom has avid interest in plants and our interest in gardening is inherited from her. As we grew up my parents planted saplings of coconut, mangoes, tapioca and many more. I and my brother took turns to water all the plants and the energy was irresistible. The plants that were so small are now tall trees…Today not only all are pickles, thoku, mango bars are made out of the fresh mangoes and some amount of coconut oil are made out of coconut that is yielded from our trees but we also give it away to our friends and relatives.
Accessing food that are healthy is biggest challenge we face today. “Food is your medicine” as we believe and give our children all the vitamins, immunity building substances, minerals etc but today that’s far from reality. We are not devoid from getting fresh vegetables, so we started to grow naturally. With all raising buildings we dint have adequate sunlight, so terrace gardening was the only option. Watching your seeds sprout and growing you find enrichment and the glory of having to pluck something form your kitchen garden is irresistible. Soon we started noticing some tiny ants construct their homes on mango trees. These tiny creatures live in so much harmony that their nests are so beautifully engineered binding the leaves together like a cluster and forming a nest chamber. Interestingly these ants kill other insects, pests and act as pest control for plants. Traditionally in kerala farmers have used ants nests (Puli urumb) as pest control for vegetables. It is quite interesting that we learn so much from nature in the process. Not all seeds germinate and are self sufficient in terms of our requirement but we are thankful for nature’s contributions, for what we are able to consume from what is grown today, for how exotic our yard has turned out to be, for all creatures who has found habitat in our garden, for all the new things that nature has taught us in the process.. My 3.8yrs young gardener is already exploring garden and asks appa, do you want shankpushpa or chethipoo? We started converting kitchen waste to compost which is one of the best soil nutrients. Its almost like a magic to see garbage transform into so wonderful “black gold”.
World is on the brink of natural disaster with polluted environment, earthquake, bad health, droughts, farmers selling kidneys to clear debts, committing suicide what not? Our actions have not just impacted climate and planet but all species.
If every house hold thinks of retaining some precious greenery around, let the trees flourish again, try to grow edible plants in small space, increase soil fertility with organic composting, we are doing our bit to live in harmony with Earth. Society is gradually turning into soil and waking up to the fact that a small piece of land, a backyard ,a balcony , a roof top or a terrace can produce so much. If there is no yard, there is power when people come together and do community gardening in apartments. It will be great to see schools take this initiative to enlighten children with wonders of nature. When I walk into office campus I wonder why so much space is wasted with shrubs and lawns instead of edible plants.. Let us work for the benefit of all species, bigger self, our family, our friends, generation after us and “mother earth”. With little bit of patience, time and care to nurture, it is fascinating to see what nature can give us back in abundance and in this process with nature we can witness the whole “cycle of creation”.
Hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. — Alfred Austin
Quick Tips on growing vegetables:
it’s a beautiful process to bond with plants so get your hands dirty,
Vegetables require direct sunlight, so it’s best to grow them on a terrace or a yard where there is adequate sunlight. On a terrace its better to be done after waterproofing. We can grow them in a patch, grow bags, sacks, gunny bags, waste buckets, pots and any containers.
For soil mixture mix equal proportions of soil, sand, compost made out of kitchen waste, dry cow dung powder.
Make sure some shells are kept under bags so that water do not get stagnated (we use coconut shells)
Seeds – There are various types of seeds (Organic, Hybrid, Heirloom , GMO). This link gives good informationhttp://www.underwoodgardens.com/what-are-heirloom-seeds/#.VuGJWE1f0iR. Be careful to choose the right seeds.
Soak seeds in water and seed them for climbers like ash gourd, snake gourd, cowpea etc. Others can be seeded immediately in soil. As the seeds sprout, make sure they are not over watered.
The age old mantra of farming “Feed the soil not the plant”. Natural manure in the form of kapalandi pinnaku in Malayalam (flat cakes and is cattle feed) , veppin pinnaku (neem cake) Soak in water for couple of days and use that as manure. You will be surprised to the plants grow so healthy. Dry cow dung powder , compost from kitchen waste etc. are other good soil nutrients. Panchagavya don’t require special introduction which is another important ingredient for plants
For pests – Neem oil mixed diluted in water sprinkle them on plants to keep insects/ aphids away we can also mix small amount of detergent to this. Garlic / ginger/ green chillis grinded together diluted in water and sprinkled over plants keep pests away.
Don’t throw away your kitchen waste, make your own compost with Kamba (Earthen pots) and use that every fortnight for your plants. . http://www.dailydump.org/.
There is enough help available online for all.
There is an app called “garden calendar” that can be downloaded, It guides to grow plants according to phases of moon and forces of nature. Most of the time we do not know what is moons influence on nature so this gives recommendations on favorable days for gardening activities, transplanting, seeding etc.
Lastly as we all know plants can feel, so give them all your affection…Nature does the rest.. Happy Harvesting!!