Towards a green Mangalore

Mangalore can well be described as a perfect fusion structured to suite the taste of the young and old. What attracts one is the proximity to various places of commercial interest. Right from an entertainment center to a restaurant of your choice or a dance academy for your child, it is all a stone’s throw away and yet with all those new buildings mushrooming another side of Mangalore houses well planned pretty houses amidst shady old trees which seem to house endless tales from years on end.

Mangalore is indeed an urban planners paradise and a foresight into planning the green, sustainable way! Of course, with the burgeoning population, many high rise apartments have made a foray. Staying in high rise, multi-storey apartments, has become a way of life and a gateway to convenience. To some, this may seem a bit of a transformation into a concrete jungle. But a building can be beautified in a number of ways, beginning with adding on a bit of green here and there. Throw in your creative side and presto you can experiment on growing a garden of your own right in your own apartment on your balconies, landings or may be a little area in your living room which has some sunlight filtering in. For some who haven’t tried their hand at gardening, this could also be a beginning of a new hobby. Still better, if your kitchen can accommodate a pot or two, you can take pride in growing your own herbs those soups and gourmet dishes taste so yummy with. This can be an educative exercise for you and your family as well.

* Being plant friendly adds beauty to the house.

*  These plants have a cooling effect in the summer.

* The advantage of having a garden on your balcony is the easy maintenance it would require.

* Choose suitable plants. For a variety, choose seasonal plants or trees.

* Plants not only add on a soothing touch to the eye but also tone down noise and dust pollution considerably.

* To beautify the place even more, little plastic pots which look like terracotta ones can be hung.

* Choose plastic pots instead of real terracotta to reduce the weight on your balcony.

* Available too are little flower baskets and wrought iron stands.

* Take care not to place pots at precarious positions especially on railings and narrow walls on the balcony.

* If there are little children in the house take care that pots kept along the railing don’t become stepping stools for a better view down below.

* Begin with making a little sketch of your balcony, marking out the location of the doors and windows leading into the balcony.

* Second, check out the sunlight factor and climate.

* Direction the balcony faces

* Note how much sun the area receives and for how long.

* If the balcony is recessed, does direct sunlight reach it at all?

* If it is at the receiving end of strong sun and wind.

It is important to scrutinise all these factors before investing your time and money in this project. For example, begonias make a splendid, colorful array, growing best with only the early morning sun filtering in and then shade taking over. On the other hand, Bougainvillea thrives in the sunlight. For those wanting to experiment with seasonal flowers marigolds and poppies make a colorful display and require plenty of sunlight. Anthuriums last the whole year, and also coming in handy for flower arrangements for an evening dinner or a relaxed lunch. They remain fresh for a long time in water. A jasmine creeper close to a window would lend an everlasting fragrance when it begins to flower.
Asparagus make nice fillers.

* Layering a flower pot is very important.

* First of all, choose the same size of pots for uniformity and space and saucers to fit their base to keep them on so that excess water draining out will be contained within and not overflow staining the floor.

* Begin with layering the flower pot, first with little pebbles, then some compost and the top with sand. This acts as an automatic filter. If you want the base of the plant to look pretty, sprinkle a few chips of wood, shavings or moss. Moss sticks too look ethnic when growing tall creepers. Cactus gives any place an exotic touch. In one little section cacti in various sized pots amidst a little rockery can give you that rustic look.

A balcony garden makes a perfect oasis for a meal or a perfect place to drown in a book. A piece of wood fashioned out in a desired shape can be used as a dining table or a writing desk. This piece can be screwed into the wall and taken down whenever desired. The corner of a balcony can have a little grotto too.

Another little adventure you can indulge in is a kitchen garden. It will end up being the pride of your life. Start off with cilantro, mint, basil and thyme. Mustard and garlic plants look pretty as table arrangements too. Tomatoes grow easily and when ripe can be stored in the freezer for the whole year. Ginger grows even with newspaper as a base.

Stuff some damp newspaper in a pot and plant a ginger sprout. See it grow. These plants look decorative too. Don’t throw away those egg shells, crush them, scoop out the top layer of soil and put the egg shells in and cover them with soil. If you are a little adventurous, you can try growing pineapples. I’ve grown them on my balcony and we enjoyed the lovely pineapples.  Watering your garden everyday is a must, especially in the summer. If water is a problem in your area in summer, bring out the sustainable person in you by conserving water. For example, keep a fairly large container in your sink when rinsing out dishes and water used to wash your veggies. This water can be used for your plants.

Your little garden will further attract little birds in spring to build nests! What do we do if we are vacationing? Keep little Ziploc bags filled with water in the pot with a small hole at the base of the bag. The water keeps draining out slowly keeping the pot moist.

Begin now...

Let your creative side of you run riot and watch your dream garden take root. Make Mangalore bloom.

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