Covid 19 disrupted our life as never before. Everything happened quickly, with no time to analyse, plan.
All one had to do was, take the change in one's stride.
For some people, it turned out a time to introspect, visit the bucket-list of things one wanted to do, but could not, bring back the things that were put on the back-burner for a while.
For some, there was never a better time to start a garden.
In this blog, Abhijit Tikekar, shares how he used this break to focus on the garden. And how it provided an opportunity to spend quality time with his 9 year old daughter.
Year 2020 has been unique and I may say, historic. Until February, we were having just another year with our same regular chores like job, family, extended family and friends. By the end of February the monster unleashed itself and showed its true colors. You guessed it right.. Covid 19. In march, our Hon’ble Prime Minister announced 21 days nationwide lock down which was extended for almost 3.5 months.
Honestly, this lockdown unlocked my hidden passion of Terrace Gardening. Firstly, I would like to introduce myself. I am Abhijit Tikekar. Whilst I pursued my B.Com studies , I also appeared for Company Secretary Course. I acquired my CS degree and decided to start with my job. During my employment I decided to further pursue a degree course of LLB and currently, I am working with ELANTAS Beck, a Multinational Company, as Head Legal & Company Secretary.
Naturally, due to studies and later due to job, I could hardly devote any time towards nurturing my hobbies. So this lockdown turned out to be a “Blessing in Disguise”. When on 24th March the lockdown was announced, there was a fair idea that for some days at least we are going to have some non-routine. There was a flood of challenges on Facebook page. Some planned to take up foreign language, musical instrument, a 25 pushup a day challenge also became an in-thing. Frankly, I was not at all thrilled by the lockdown and hence, didn’t plan any such herculean task.
On 25th March, as usual, I got up at 5.30 to get ready for office and realized that hey.. you are under lockdown.
Since I hate to crawl back to the bed once I am awake, I took a stroll in my enclosed terrace with a cup of tea in hand. Due to lock down, the main road which is visible from my terrace was laying lousy with no vehicle movement. There was no car or bus honking on road, no whistling of rice cookers in the household and no frantic waking up of children for school, the atmosphere was almost “sans Human”.
I was surprised to know that there are so many birds in Pune and that too, in the vicinity of my terrace. I would humbly mention here that, my terrace is 422 sq. ft, and due to paucity of time, I hardly had 3-4 flowering pots. Suddenly a thought sparked, why not I start terrace gardening..
My sister Ms. Aditi Deodhar has formed a WhatsApp group called “ Brown Leaf”.
Brown leaves are in abundance in any housing society rather it’s a headache for the society administration. You can use brown leaves for planting . They are feather light , you don’t need to add any nutrients and they get composted well within almost a month’s time.
I had few thermacol boxes and empty paint buckets also due to summer season there was no dearth of brown leaves.
Since it was a challenge to buy plants from nursery, I started with readily available veggies like chilies, onions and Fenugreek .The guys from brown leaves group were more than happy to give me tips and also few nearby members donated saplings to give a jumpstart to my garden.
You will not believe, Nature rewards much more than what a return a stock exchange would cloak to your investment. I just planted 1 seed of bell pepper and got almost 15 bell peppers in return.
Now my terrace was almost full with all the things which can hold brown leaves and water so I got society common terrace under cultivation. To be candid, I am quite a spend thrift person so I welcome all those things which are either free or dirt cheap. All your terrace garden ingredients fit the bill. You can use brown leaves, bagasse from sugar cane, grass, wet waste from our kitchen as a medium. Seeds you can reap from the veggies which you buy for cooking. You can just tuck in the roots of Spinach, amaranthus, coriander and leafy greens would be ready around a week’s time. You can plant seeds of Pumpkin, Watermelon and you don’t need to buy the fruits again.
Believe me, this is completely sustainable, raw material you have, finished product you consume and left out again becomes your raw material. Doing this, you don’t contribute to Garbage Truck which already stinks with the wet waste. In all, you can considerably reduce your carbon footprint.
We all have one common problem, that’s time. But from my experience I can tell you that even doing work from home for almost 8-10 hours day, you can still find some time for gardening .
After initial setup may be half an hour a day and 2 hours on weekends that’s all what it takes . Also, it’s a good stress buster. That’s why I believe that Gardening is not the thing to be kept on bucket list till we grow older.
If you take a look at 20 years ago, there used to be a back yard kitchen garden in every household. That used to be a meditation centre for the homemaker. Even in developed western countries, they have an emphasis on kitchen gardening. Now with the advent of internet technology, one can virtually connect with the world form any place. The disruption caused by Covid 19 has made the Companies re-visit their views for work from home. In fact, we are not stranded in heavy traffic of Pune city, Companies don’t have to spend on overheads hence, work from home has now become a “ New Normal”.
You can spend a real quality time with your family members too. In my case, my wife works with a Swedish multinational and hence, used to be out of country almost 21days in a month. My 8 years old daughter used to spend time with my parents after she finished the school so there was hardly any time left to spend together.
When I started gardening, my daughter’s curiosity brought her to the garden and she could actually see a transformation from a larva into a butterfly . My wife’s aesthetic sense ensured my garden’s beauty without losing its utility. During the Mango season, we could make few planters using the wooden crates which would have been otherwise thrown into the landfills.
Now I will acquaint you with members of my terrace garden.
Medicinal plants: adulsa, 3 types of Tulsi, Aloe Vera, Turmeric, ajwain, black pepper, stevia, lemon grass and all spice.
Flowering Plants: Rose, Honeysuckles, Arabian Jasmine, hibiscus, Garlic Creeper, marjoram, gokarna, ganesh creeper, anant.
Vegetables: Green and Red Amaranth, ivy gourd, Pumpkin, Bottle Gourd, Bitter Gourd, Brinjal, Flat Beans, rajgira, ghol, green chillies, capsicum, tomatoes, sweet potato, spring onion and spring garlic.
Fruits: Dragon Fruit, Passion Fruit, pomegranate, water melon, Strawberry, mulberry, papaya and Grapes.
Since there are abundant insects, my garden is frequently visited by Myna, Sun Bird, Magpie Robin, Munia, Shikra, Sparrows, bee-eater. Some of these birds are giving a serious thought of nesting too.
We all know that honeybees are vital for pollination and in case they become extinct, we will vanish within 4 years. Due to Concreting and plantation of foreign species on hill side, honeybees are getting fewer in the cities. In a countryside also they face annihilation due to use of pesticides. Your chemical free terrace will act as a solace to them and they will surely reward you by pollination.
So friends, start terrace gardening and do share your experiences.
Abhijit Tikekar, Pune