Planting a winter garden in your home

Namma Bengaluru – the so called ‘naturally air-conditioned’ city has long since lost its claim to this epithet. We do have summers and winters now and for all practical purposes, winter is not far away.

Growing Radish in containers. Pic: Manikandan P.

For me winter typically conjures up images of cold weather warmed by the winter sun, yummy carrot halwa, hot radish /cabbage parathas with pickle, comforting soup and masala tea.

And a recent trip to the hills not only convinced me completely that cold weather makes one eat more; It also reinforced the excitement and joy of growing one’s own vegetables. A friend’s 6 year old son took my daughter along to proudly show her zucchinis, carrots, and radish grown on their farm. He helped her harvest some of the vegetables and took them to the kitchen to be used for preparing dinner.

What better way to help children understand the marvels of nature?

Growing radishes in tray. Pic: Manikandan P.

So not only am I looking forward to eating a lot this winter, I am also excited about growing my own winter vegetables and fruits.

Through this series on gardening, I hope to share, learn and get our hands dirty – so that our gardens truly come alive. Case studies, discussion forum, information and lots more.

Bangalore’s location and weather is said to be conducive to grow all kinds of vegetables and fruits throughout the year but now is as good a time to start than any. Winter is good to grow carrots, radish, beetroot, cauliflowers, cabbage, potatoes, palak and brinjal

Vegetable

Sowing/Planting

Propagation by

Life span

Yields in

Carrot

Oct-Dec

seed

90 days

end of 3 mon

Radish

Oct-Dec

seed

90 days

end of 3 mon

Beetroot

Oct, Nov

seed

90 days

end of 3 mon

Cauliflower

Sep – Dec

seed

90 days

end of 3 mon

Cabbage

Sep – Dec

seed

90 days

end of 3 mon

Potato

Oct Nov

Seed

6 months

End of 2 ½ mon

Thondekai (Little Gourd)

Oct, Nov

Seed

180 days (6 months)

3rd month onwards

Palak

Jan-April , July -Oct 

seed

120 days (4 months)

60 days onwards

Brinjal

Jan, Feb, Aug – Dec 

seed

180 days – 3 yrs

60 day onwards

Information collected from "A Guide to set up a Natueco City Farm by Urban Leaves Mumbai. Contact urbanleaves@gmail.com for more details.

Radish, turnip

Harvested radishes and turnip. Pic: Manikandan P.

If you are wondering how to get started, Raja Panda made a useful suggestion at the recently held National Seminar on Organic Terrace Gardening conducted in September 2010 in Bangalore. He said those of us with seeds to spare should start sharing/exchanging or perhaps even selling them to others in the true spirit of networking. Dr B N Vishwanath added that if we are to ensure that terrace gardening is valued, we must charge even our family and friends some token amount for the vegetables/fruits we might offer them from our patch of green.

Thinning is a way of ensuring survival of the fittest for the plant; otherwise you would have a dense growth but the yield would not be high/effective. Particularly in the case of plants like carrots, the vegetable would not have space to grow and would become unhealthy.

Why not plant one per hole from the start?

Because germination is hardly ever 100% so not all the seeds you sow will turn into saplings.

While thinning you need to take care to water the plant first to soften and loosen the soil around it. Then choose the healthiest plants that you want to transplant

In that spirit, I am happy to exchange the seeds from my collection. I have organic seeds of brinjal, tomato, malabar spinach, amaranth, bottle gourd and a few others. These are from Vanastree, Green Foundation and Sahaja Samrudha.

And if you do not have seeds to exchange, you could share some unique/traditional recipes using these seasonal vegetables!

Friends for your plants – Companion planting

If you are planning an organic garden, it would be wise to learn a little bit about companion planting. This means finding friends for the plants you are growing. Friends that would help each other grow. Growing such plant combinations also reduces and often eliminates the need for using chemicals for pest control. Companion planting also has a positive effect on the health and yield of your plants.

For instance, carrot likes to grow with beans, radish, tomato and pea. While cauliflower doesnt always grow too well with peas and tomato.

Growing Veggies – Step by Step: Carrots

1.  You would need carrot seeds to start with.

2.  Containers that are atleast 12 inch deep and about 15 -18inches wide since carrots are long.

3.  Start by sowing seeds in a seed tray or directly in the containers. You can sow 2-3 to a hole but would need to thin it later to 1 per hole.

4.  At the end of 3 months you’ll be rewarded with your very own fresh, delicious crunchy organic carrots!

The images on this page show how Manikandan has grown radish and cabbage in containers.

It would help if you make your own observations from your garden and find what makes your garden grow best.

So go ahead and use this platform and join the Bangalore Terrace Gardening google group as well so that you can begin right away.

About Vinita 31 Articles
Vinita shares tips and experiences about all things related to growing an organic garden.

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