Kitchen garden is becoming affordable and you don’t need a huge plot of land to grow your own fruits and vegetables. You can use your balconies and even your window sills if you want to wake up to some cherry tomatoes smiling at you. For some kitchen garden is more than just a hobby. There are serious kitchen gardeners who don’t want to stock up on high priced chemical laden fruits and vegetables. To have these fresh delights right from your own green patch can give you a sense of achievement as you are taking care of the health of your whole family.
For Ansoo Gupta, environment activist and travel blogger from Mumbai, her experiment with kitchen garden started five years back to see what can be grown in a small Mumbai apartment with limited sunlight. She started off as a windowsill gardener. For windowsill kitchen garden one should choose dwarf variety of fruits and vegetables. Says Gupta, “I kept a few plants on my windowsill as this place in my house gets the maximum hours of sunlight. I grew my first tomatoes, ladyfinger, brinjal, mint, basil on a small windowsill so I started calling it my windowsill farm. As I gained confidence, I started to look for spots around the house to make the most of sunlight available. And I started using other parts of my living room too to grow fruits and vegetables. I do not have a big terrace or an open balcony so I have to maximise the usage of sunlit spots wherever they are in the house.”
Many people think having a kitchen garden is a huge investment and you need to have either a huge plot of land or a terrace. But you can plant your fruits and vegetables at any place of your house where there is enough sunlight coming in. And the happiest thing about kitchen garden is that you know where the produce is coming from. It reduces the chances of harmful chemicals going into your system. And you don’t need to invest in expensive earthen pots as well.
Sanya Chawla, a banker from Mumbai says, “I use my plastic bottles, buckets, wine bottles, old pots and pans and even old shoes to plant my fruits and vegetables. I try and make them look a little striking by colouring them up in bright hues. That way you can recycle and reuse. The whole idea is to eat fresh and not spend on expensive organic produce from the market. You can just pluck the vegetables from your garden and put it in your cooking pan.” One can make their own soil too by converting the kitchen waste into compost. “Vegetable peels, used tea leaves, egg shells are excellent manures for the plants,” adds Chawla.
Says Gupta, “When I started my kitchen garden, I had trouble in sourcing good soil, good seeds, organic fertilisers and pesticides etc. It made me wonder about the problems others might also face even if they had the intentions to have a kitchen garden. So not only did I start recording my own experiences and sharing it within my network, but I actively encouraged people to start their gardens and provided them with soil, seeds and saplings.”
For home maker from Delhi Rekha Dixit, the concern about the quality of fruits and vegetables and the harmful effects of pesticides in the food, is what made her start her own kitchen garden. “I make my own amrut jal for my plants by using cow’s urine, cow dung and organic black jiggery. Cow’s urine and cow dung contains essential microbes which helps the plants in photosynthesis.”
The joy of taking care of your garden and sharing your produce with your neighbour and friends is incredible. Patience is another virtue that gardening teaches. “Being inspired by me many of my friends and people in my neighbourhood has started making their own kitchen garden and very often we are found discussing and sharing our experiences,” adds Dixit.
Kitchen garden for kids
Teaching kids to grow vegetables and fruits is a good learning experience as well. They can be taught how to grow strawberries, tomatoes and even avocados in small pots. Says Gupta, “My children understand that living with plants is a fun experience and for them it is a way of life. They are compassionate about plants and trees and don’t like when they see them uprooted somewhere. They have learnt how to grow vegetables and understand how sun and water can covert a tiny seed into fruits and vegetables. In fact my seven-year-old son recently mentioned that he finds the greenery in the house soothing for their mind and body.”