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Fresh fruits and veggies on your balcony

Kusum Kanojia, Nov 23, 2012 DHNS:

Kitchen Garden

Pest free: Ritu Mathur plucks tomatoes from her kitchen garden.

In the age of high inflation and pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables, nutritious food has become a luxury. However, with a little effort, one can enjoy fresh fruits and veggies at home without feeling the space constraint.

The concept of a kitchen ‘garden’ in pots, planters and bottles provide an option to ditch the fruits and veggies laced with pesticides. While roof gardening needs more dedication and space, sowing saplings, seeds and grafted plants is relatively easier.

Spinach, methi, sarson, coriander, pudina, tomato along with radish are some of the vegetables that ripe in as less as 21 days. When it comes to fruits, beetroot, lemon, guava, strawberry and chikoo or sapodilla are convenient to sow in pots through sowing grafted plants. Growing fruits and veggies through grafted plants means sowing a branch of a grown up tree.

Ritu Mathur, a resident of Gurgaon, who is enthusiastically practicing and encouraging others to have gardens in their kitchens and balconies, says the key to have fruits and vegetables in pots and bottles is that the place dedicated to it should receive sunlight at least four hours a day, be properly ventilated and receive controlled wind.

“Six-eight hours of sunlight is ideal but four hours would also work. Leafy vegetables like spinach are ready to eat after 21 days of sowing. It is important to grow vegetables like spinach, methi and sarson at home, since farmers use maximum pesticides on them - owing to high presence of pests in them. The best season to grow them is between November to April,” says Ritu of Upavan which promotes garden landscaping and organic farming.

Flat bed planters of six-eight inch depth are appropriate to grow these leafy vegetables. At the same time broccoli, cabbage and cauliflowers need at least four months to grow up. Terracotta and cemented pots are best but if one is using plastic pots, they should have holes on the sides and the bottom.

“Among the root vegetables, radish can be grown very easily but carrot is very difficult to plant. One seed of radish in one bottle is good and it will be ripe in around two months. Round radish takes even lesser time,” she says.

How people can grow some of their food on their own was exhibited at Deutsche Pavilion of Indo-German Urban Mela, held a few days ago here. Britta Riley’s concept, ‘Windowfarm’, a vertical, hydroponic growing system that allows for year-round growing in windows, garnered attention.

It lets plants use natural window light, the climate control of the living space and organic liquid soil. It allows city dwellers to grow food all-year-round in cramped apartment spaces. Made from recycled and easily accessible materials, the first Windowfarm produced 25 plants, enough for salad for one week.

“Whether using pots or bottles, saplings, grafted plants, planters and seeds should be bought from good nurseries. Besides, since 40 percent of the plants are inside the soil, working on the soil is important,” adds Ritu. 


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