Gardening enthusiasts are literally sprouting everywhere, quite like their plants which they are growing on balconies, terraces, outside their homes, in gardens and even indoors. Gardening groups are all over the internet, including on WhatsApp. Being a member of two such active groups, I can vouchsafe that interest in gardening is at an all-time high, especially now during lockdown days. 

Earlier, gardening meant supervising the mali and handing over money so that he could arrange for plants and manure; occasionally, you would make a visit to the nursery to buy new saplings. The accent was usually on flowers and decorative plants. Now, more and more people are growing vegetables on their terrace and exchanging notes on WhatsApp.

Reena Singh

Spreading Positivity

In the last couple of years that I have been experimenting with terrace gardening, I have learnt that gardening increases positivity, keeps you engaged, builds enthusiasm and also takes care of your kitchen waste. In addition, it supplies healthy organic produce for your dining table and gives you some exercise as you bend and pull out weeds and lovingly touch your plants. Gardening also influences others around you―your friends, relatives and neighbours to take to this very fulfilling and useful hobby.

You can make your own bio-enzymes and compost to use on your plants with your kitchen waste, thus saving valuable money that you would pay out to a nursery or gardening shop. This also effectively takes care of most of your kitchen waste, including bones in non-vegetarian homes. Everything can be decomposed effectively in compost bins and supplied as plant nutrients to your own plants. Ways to make your own compost can be effectively learnt on the net or through people who are interested in gardening in your neighbourhood.   

Stop taking the easier way out and disposing of your wet waste in the dustbin. Instead, chop all your vegetable peels and add them to a compost bin. These are basically covered plastic tubs with a tap at the bottom. Several reasonably priced versions of compost bins are available in the market and on amazon. You can even make your own out of an earthen pot.

Pics Courtesy Cora Bhatia

Some gardening enthusiasts suggest that you can chop up vegetable peels into even smaller bits and feed them directly to the soil in your planters on the top layer. Then, cover with dry leaves. They will soon form into natural compost over a few weeks, giving your vegetables and flowers a much-needed nutritious boost.

Time to Sow

The rainy season has begun in almost all of India. Now is the time to prepare your pots and sow a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, radish, lauki, lady finger and cucumber. Check if local conditions allow the sowing of spinach, as this is one handy vegetable that grows through the year, through even the hot summer months in most areas. Tomatoes, for instance can be sliced horizontally and just sown in pots. No seeds or saplings are necessary. Likewise, coriander―half crush your regular coriander seeds after soaking for half an hour and sow in your pots. You will soon have a regular harvest at home. If you are not confident of the technique, look up YouTube videos and you will soon master these simple techniques.

For instance, YouTube will show you easy ways to grow even mint from what you buy for your kitchen from your local vegetable vendor. Prepare a few saplings, then immerse in a small bottle of water and within a few days, roots will emerge. The mint saplings are now ready to be planted into normal soil in pots, outdoors. You can follow the same procedure with basil.

So, venture into the outdoors and take up gardening. You will soon be rewarded by nature’s bounty.

Reena Singh has more than 37 years’ experience in senior editorial positions in The Times of India (TOI) and Genpact. She was Deputy Editor with TOI’s spiritual newspaper, The Speaking Tree, where she spent nine years.