A basketful of ripe tomatoes, a few juicy round brinjals, some citrus lemons and a bunch of heavenly herbs – the returns from your garden may not be all that much to look at or to fill your belly, but believe me, there is more to gardening!
It’s the physical activity – a day in the sun. It’s the smell of earth and connecting with mother nature in the most unhindered way. It’s healthy conscious eating, stepping away from the processed packaged foods. It’s the pleasure and the exhilaration of working with your hands. It’s slowing down and taking a deep breath, away from the grind of a busy life. it’s the satisfaction of having grown your own food.
And, a whole lot of savings on your grocery bills!
All these tiny factors just add up. And, in the end, backyard gardening can become your solace and escape, as well as a crucial, incredible, enriching experience. It’s no wonder then that everyone from Michelle Obama to Jamie Oliver, literally anyone who has experienced it, is raving about it.
I am no pro but I am encouraging it too! That is why in this week’s blog post I am saying – go grow your own food. Start a veggie patch. Plant a herb garden. Or a small edible garden. Plant a fruit tree. I am giving you five fantastic ideas to begin with. And I am asking you to go have fun!
1. Taking it slow but steady
Like everything, building a garden too, requires patience, commitment and planning. Planning being the most essential of the three.
- Where will you grow? Think about your space. Locate a spot with good sunlight and easy access to water.
- What soil to use? The quality of soil will determine the success of your produce. Use contaminant-free
- What will you grow? Talk to your gardener friends and neighbours for what grows best in your area. Start small and grow things you really like to eat.
- What are common problems? Bugs and slugs. Slow summers. There will be a handful of problems to face. So, learn to get resourceful.
2. Herbs by the windowsill
Herbs grow well in nearly every space and need little attention. Growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill can be a good idea for two reasons: (1) You remember to water them (2) You can add them to your cooking whenever you want!
If you’ve got little space to spare for a garden, you can plant in empty containers or pots. Some plants like strawberry, chilli and tomato can grow superbly in containers.
A raised garden bed can also work nicely in a small apartment balcony or terrace. They are available in a variety of sizes in your local garden warehouses. There is an added benefit to these – you have far better control over the soil and nutrient blend.
3. Go organic
You have an incentive to go organic with your garden. Everything you put in the soil goes into your produce and so, into your tummy. Going organic is easy with organic fertilizers, soils, soil conditioners, manures, mulch, bug sprays and even pots being available in stores.
Food grown this way is healthier and tastier. I have heard of accounts of people raging on about the deliciousness of home-grown food. Home-grown food that is organic is better and by a huge margin!
4. Start a compost pit or worm farm
Starting a compost pit or worm farm (or both, your choice!) is an absolutely marvellous idea! It is about sustainable gardening, converting household waste into something useful. And it is about enhancing the quality of soil you use in your garden, revitalizing it with missing nutrients.
As activities to take up with your family, they are both highly engaging. Children can play, learn and interact with natural processes. You can expose them to the underlying changes and cycles in nature. They can also prove to be great hobbies for adults. Coupled with a thriving garden, they are an interesting avenue to explore together.
5. Grow from local seeds
Growing local varieties of plants is highly recommended. These varieties are more robust and attuned to the conditions in your region. They are also likely to be pollinated naturally and follow natural seasonal cycles.
While growing from seeds these plants have a higher chance of surviving and growing. They may even require lower maintenance, like less water, making them more resilient in the face of extremities. This is a great thing to have as an amateur gardener, especially when you are all thumbs and a little forgetful sometimes.