P Manikandan used to garden during his school days. After a break prompted by preoccupation with higher education, he restarted in January 2008, at his fourth floor apartment on Bannerghatta Road. So gardening, he says, has always been a passion. He now grows his own vegetables using organic methods so that they are pesticide-free. He also has ornamentals that include roses, Crotons, Coleus, Dahlia, Zinnia, Rudbeckia, Oleander and Jasmine.
Like most planners and gardeners, Manikandan first decided on a few key aspects like the size of the garden, media to be used ( like soil, cocopeat etc), location (in relation to sunlight and water), use of drainage water and finally, of course, the kinds of vegetables and fruits that he wanted to grow.
From his experience, he feels one of the most common fears for new gardeners is whether they are doing it right. To counter this, he suggests starting out small – with simple veggies like palak (spinach), methi (fenugreek) or tomatoes, that give a quick harvest. This helps to build confidence and the motivation to slowly take on other vegetables with a longer growing season, he says.
Manikandan uses a variety of containers like plastic dustbins, crates and paint buckets that he sources from plastic recyclers – so they are economical too. He also has cement pots (sold on the road-side) and some big polythene bags that he uses as well. The crates and the dust-bin containers have worked best for him.
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In the future, he is looking forward to using harvested rainwater (being planned by his apartment block) for his plants. He aims at reaching at least 90% self sufficiency from his garden for his vegetable needs. Presently his garden meets his needs for some vegetables like tomato, chilli, lady’s finger, zucchini and cucumber. He is also keen to try out different vegetables (mostly exotic) and different methodologies of agriculture and horticulture.
If you are interested in organic terrace gardening, you can attend the upcoming two-day National Seminar on Organic Terrace Gardening, on Sep 9th and 10th at the University of Agricultural Sciences. To register contact Dr B N Vishwanath on 9845627217 or mail vishy_kadur[at]yahoo[dot]co[in] ⊕