It is really a pity that the city dwellers hardly get the benefit of naturally-grown vegetables in their place. Rather, they are necessitated to consume vegetables that are grown with the help of chemical fertilizers and insecticides only, as a consequence of which they are devoid of proper nutritional values for their health. Instead, they get affected by various diseases. Varalakshmi who belongs to Purasavakkam, Chennai, does vouchsafe that the city dwellers can reap the benefit of natural vegetables by resorting to terrace garden in their own living places.
Varalakshmi is totally self-reliant in terms of growing different vegetables and flowers for her consumption. She has been actively engaged in this for the past eight years. Initially, she just started with 20 pots whereas now, it has touched 200 pots in her terrace. She is of the opinion that what is required is only one’s own mind to involve in this activity.
Varalakshmi has been growing ribbed-gourd, bottle gourd, green chillies brinjal, thudhuvalai (solanum gilobatum), chitharathai (alpinia galangal), long pepper, pirandai, balloon vine, mint, plantain, guava, fig, mango and spinach etc Since it is her own house, she has not left any space untouched. She has effectively used window sill, staircases, front yard and the terrace. She has hanging garden too. She has put up a shady net on the terrace so that direct sunlight on the plants could be avoided. She proudly says that she is getting all naturally-grown vegetables including spinach and hence hardly does she buy from outside. Whenever she requires anything additional, she will buy it from the organic shops. Her expenditure on vegetables is substantially less.
Varalakshmi further says that she spends nearly three hours a day on nurturing these plants. She waters the plants only with the help of bucket fitted with filter. If the heat is more she will pour water twice; or else, only once in a day. She will remove the decayed leaves then and there. If necessary, she will use ginger-garlic mixture or asafoetida mixture and ashes to drive out the insects. She will produce the saplings herself
Before planting, she will put red soil, vermicompost, cattle manure and sand in equal proportion in the pot. She will ensure 1 ft depth for vegetables and ½ ft. depth for the greens like spinach. The left-over leaves of plants will also be used as manure. She confirms that direct sunlight is essential so that flowering will be consistent and successful.
In fine, Varalakhmi lists the essentials and values of terrace garden as under:-
Basic green vegetables including spinach and other vegetables are being produced in an organic way
Flowers required for worshipping God either at home or in the temple are made available
In the process, sufficient physical exercise is obtained every day
Abe to enjoy good health and mental peace with this active engagement
Space is not a constraint at all. However small the house, a little space is enough to have terrace or home garden
A plastic bucket, pot and bag are essential tools to maintain this garden
Regular maintenance is really important
Where there is a will, there is a way. The resultant benefits of terrace garden are manifold.
(This article written by Durai.Nagarajan in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan magazine issue dt 10/12/2018 has been transcreated in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)