The TAO of Vegetable gardening


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The TAO of Vegetable gardening

  1. 1. circleof life the tao of vegetable Rangashree Srinivas T he podalangai poriyal (snake gourd spend quality time as you would with mug, just enough water to moisten the curry) you made for lunch tastes your child; use your hands as much as soil thoroughly. Stop when water seeps fresh, luscious and melts in the possible; have everyone in the family through the little hole in the pot. A pool mouth. Your teenage son gobbles it up love them. under the pot indicates over-watering. with great intent! Impossible? Entirely Once you have internalised these funda- Between 45 and 50 days you will get possible - this vegetable has been grown mental principles, work on the practicali- your first crop. Gently clip the edible in your own garden patch! ties of vegetable gardening! portion from the stalk with scissors, for Vegetables bought in city markets, tend your day’s requirement. to be wilted and are tough to eat. They SETTING UP A contain pesticides and chemicals that BALCONY GARDEN Spread fertiliser mixed with sand once in ten to twenty days as advised by a are used to hasten growth. Home-grown Find a spot which gets four to five hours gardening expert. fresh vegetables are flavoursome and of direct sunlight every day. healthier. Many city residents are opting Buy a minimum of 12 clay flower pots Lakshmi Sriram for roof-top and balcony gardens. of roughly one and a half feet diameter, with her teenage son, Kameswaran Lakshmi Sriram, a veteran home-garden- depending on the space available. You er of 20 years and a gardening consult- can expect 10kg of harvest per pot from ant, shares her experience and wisdom every cycle. on how to grow vegetables all year round Set aside at least five pots for the in a little space within the confines of greens alone, to get adequate cooking your home. quantity every third day. EVERYONE HAS GREEN Prepare each pot by mixing two portions FINGERS! of sand, one portion of red soil, half por- tion of organic fertiliser and ten table- Your children “There is a philosophy to gardening”, says Lakshmi. People who are unsuc- spoons of neem powder. and the vegetable patch Children feel excited about growing cessful gardeners think that they do Leave the pot to stand for a week and their own vegetables, a real-time not possess the gift of ‘green fingers’ sprinkle water every day. lesson in science. Encourage them because they do not understand this. to help out with little chores such as Then plant a few seeds – a handful for Plants are living things that can commu- planning the planting. greens and three or four for vegetables nicate with you if you are willing to listen. like brinjal, ladies fingers, gourds, cauli- Gardening instills a nurturing attitude They can calm you down and bestow flower and cabbage. in children. They will gladly eat the their bounty if you let them. For this you very same vegetables they had have to be gentle in your gardening; Twice daily, sprinkle or pour from a shunned before! 40 Parent Circle / July 2011
  2. 2. The first harvest will last roughly threemonths. When plants get smaller in size, end of the balcony to the other and link them to the plant. You can grow them as Need EXPERT advice?it is time to change the crop. Uproot the shrubs too with careful pruning. n Call Lakshmi Sriram at 9444412111 orplants and plant fresh seeds, even dif- email: sriramlakshmi@hotmail.comferent vegetable seeds if you wish. Let Costs A pot costs Rs 100. Each pot The Urban Horticulture Developmentthe sand, soil and fertiliser mixture dry requires 1.5 kg sand, 750 gms red Centre, Tamil Nadu Agricultural Univer-completely before the next planting. Add soil and 350 gms organic fertiliser. sity frequently conducts one-day trainingsome fertiliser mixed with sand before This is available as a pre-mix in programmes on roof gardening and kitchen gardening. For dates and details contactplanting again. standard packs costing Rs 63 at 044-26263484 / 42170506. Chennai Horticultural Gardens,Climbers like cucumber and snake enough to fill five pots. A packet ofgourd need vertical space. Plant these 100 gms of seeds will cost aroundseeds in the pots near the wall or the Rs 30 – Rs 50 and last for fivebalcony grill. They start climbing after to six plantings. Neem powder isgrowing 4 feet in height. When they available in 1 kg packs costing Rsovershoot the height of your wall, tie 20 each.three rows of thin jute ropes from one Vegetable growing season Do u Weather proof the area for the terrace garden. Water drip- All year round Cool weather/shady patch Non-rainy season ping from the pots can weaken the Ladies fingers, Brinjal, To- Carrot, Cabbage, Cauli- Greens – Keerai, structure and cause seepage in the matoes, Snake gourd, Ridge flower, Capsicum Spinach, Corian- rooms below. gourd, Bitter gourd, Radish, (preferably November to der, Mint, Ginger u Keep the growing area clean. Onion, Cucumber, Chillies, February) u Remove debris and dead foliage. Cluster beans, Broad beans, u Water the plants early morning In Lakshmi’s experience, potatoes, small and late evening. French beans, Cow peas onions, tinda and chow chow do not u Everytime you use fertiliser, mix it (Karamani) grow well in Chennai. with sand. u Remove pests and insects with a strong gush of water from your hose Organic fertiliser and seeds pipe, not with chemical spraying. Insist on buying organic seeds and fertilisers. The seller may persuade you to buy u Change the soil, sand, fertiliser the regular chemically treated seeds and fertilisers claiming that they aid faster and mixture once every 12 to18 months. fuller growth. Do not succumb; organically-grown produce is full of nutrients, tastier u Pour excess and healthier in the long term! Seeds Buy them at reliable nurseries. Lakshmi buys from Shakti seeds and Don’t water. Use just Ashoka Seeds at Natesan Street in T Nagar. You can store the leftover seeds enough to keep the soil moist. u Use cement planters. They gen- in your refrigerator and use them for the next planting. You can also leave the first few plants from one cycle and harvest their seeds at the end of that cycle for the erate too much heat harmful for plant next planting. growth. u Grow hibiscus plants which at- Manure Dry cow dung and goat dung are the best natural manure. Add neem tract big black ants that can destroy cake powder to keep away insects. A word of caution: Buy manure only from your other veggies in days. reliable sources like the people who keep cattle. Do not buy from the cart vendor u Use yellow or salty water. Use on the road as this manure is mixed with toxic wastes. Good quality organic ma- clear ground water or metro water nure is also available at Chennai Horticultural Gardens in Cathedral Road. instead. Undigested seeds in the animal’s manure grow into weeds in your pot along with the seeds you plant. Remove these weeds immediately. 41