No matter how high they might have scaled in their lives, human beings will still be attached to the ground, the earth. There is no one who doesn’t love the smell of earth when it rains, nor would be there anyone who is not enthralled by the beauty of sunrises and sunsets. Human beings have been gene-coded to love and admire nature. So, no matter how high raised their buildings are, they still yearn for a patch of mud. A green patch which they can call their own. To tend to a small kitchen garden, whose produce they can boast about. If you are one of those, who yearns for a kitchen garden, but is wondering how to start with one, here we have a few basic steps:
- Select a Spot: Whether you want a kitchen garden or some flowering plants, it is most important to choose a spot which gets good sunlight. The spot should receive sunlight for at least 4-5 hours daily. But in case, your balcony or garden area is unfortunately away from direct sunlight, don’t lose hope. Many plants tend to grow pretty well in open balconies and garden areas, even when there is no direct sunlight.
- Start Small and Scale-Up: You might want your green patch to give you in abundance, but it is always a good practice to start with small steps. Understanding of the ecosystem, which is very important, will happen eventually. Start with green leafy plants, which are easier to grow, and show results almost within a week or so. Fenugreek, coriander and spinach are the best options. Once you have accomplished good results with these plants, you can start with other vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, spring onions etc.
- Prepare the Soil: Having a right mixture of the soil is the best way to ensure that your crop yields good results. For greens, soil should be rich in nitrogen. Remove all the weeds from the soil and add organic compost to it. Pots being used should have the ability to drain well. Ensure that the soil is loose enough and not too cakey. Sow seeds into the soil and ensure that you water the soil regularly and well enough.
- Taking Care of the Saplings: Your seeds will start to germinate anytime from 5 days to 2-3 weeks. For green leaves, keep watering till the leaves are to a considerable size. For larger plants ensure that you keep loosening the soil around the roots once in a while. It’s a good idea to add organic compost once in 15 days. Organic neem cake acts a good fertilizer as well as a pesticide. Add 1-2 handfuls into your pots once in a fortnight. If your plants are catching bugs, a spray of diluted neem oil can keep the pests away. Physical removal of the bugs using an old toothbrush is also effective. Keep an eye on the plants and work according to their needs.
- Home Composting: Having a compost bin at home is useful in multiple ways. Your organic kitchen waste finds a new purpose, and your kitchen garden finds a good source of organic manure.
While these are the basic steps to start a kitchen garden, gardening is a vast subject. Various other kinds fertilizers and pesticides can be prepared with other benefits. Different methods are used for composting. Plants need other kinds of care like cutting, pruning, repotting etc. While there are many books and websites to help you, there are also many social media groups of avid organic terrace gardeners who are ready to help you with all your big and small queries. Finally, it is important to remember that it requires a lot of patience and love to create your own sustainable garden.
‘The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.’ — Alfred Austin