My friend’s 3-year-old wanted to start a garden in their balcony. The friend wanted an easy and manageable aproach. Of course, as with most persons who have had some experience with balcony/terrace gardening, I wait for such opportunities to offer suggestions!
The easiest way to start an organic vegetable garden is with herbs. It takes little space, almost nothing of your time; and the way I see it – the sheer luxury of stepping into your balcony (as opposed to trudging to the nearest store, braving the traffic) to pluck a few leaves and garnish the dish being cooked should be enough reason to get someone started. Don’t you agree?
So here’s what you can do to get started.
Take a few coriander (Dhania) seeds. Lightly crush the seeds by rubbing between your palms or gently rolling over with a rolling pin. This is to open them slightly. Now sow them a few inches apart in a regular 12-14 inch mud pot filled with 1 part sand, 1 part compost and 2 parts red earth.
Water it and watch them grow in just a few days!
Similarly you could sow some Fenugreek (methi) seeds. Sow them directly in a pot. Take care not to overcrowd the pot as the seeds need adequate space to grow well. Methi seeds are one of the fastest to grow and will not disappoint you as a newbie gardener.
Oota from your Thota
Citizen Matters and Garden City Farmers Trust, Bangalore join other Indian cities in the movement initiated by Kitchen Gardener’s International to create awareness and promote ‘grow and eat organic vegetables’ in your own homes – be it terraces, balconies, front or backyards.
10 am Sunday, 28 August,
AICOBOO ground, BTM Layout 1st stage
Includes open house sessions, live-demos and children’s activities, in addition to display and sale of plants and garden accessories.
For more info or taking a stall, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call Dr Viswanath at 98456 27217.
And if you happen to have bought Mint (pudina) or Celery from an organic store, you can just plant the stems with the root (after using the leaves) in a pot. Within a couple of days you will spot fresh leaves growing. Pudina spreads fast so make sure the pot is broad enough. Once fully grown, regularly pinch the leaves for use, so that newer, healthier leaves grow.
Once you have tried your hand at this, you can add to your herb garden with oregano, thyme, sage, parsley etc. And then start with some vegetables. Mumbai-based Urban Leaves group has shared some more tips for sowing seeds on their website here.
You do need to keep in mind that, as with all things new, there will be failure but one must keep trying. Once you start you could even maintain a diary or take pictures of the growing plants and share with the growing family of Organic Terrace Gardeners in our cities. You could join some of the e-groups and use these fora to pose questions and seek information and clarifications. See Bangalore Terrace Gardeners and City Farmers.