It’s about the love of gardening for some, the luxury of fresh produce for others.

Tulasi turmeric or aloe vera Heres how you keep your own kitchen garden
Features Gardening Tuesday, January 24, 2017 - 13:48
Written by  Jaya Shravan

With the dwindling square footage of the average home, it almost seems implausible that one can indulge in luxuries like growing one’s own herbs and produce. But that’s exactly what a lot of the urban youth are doing now. Fuelled from the ever trending goodness of organic produce with the added advantage of a bit of fresh green zing to their cookie cutter lives, today’s young families are opting for small-scale kitchen gardens.

Prerna from Mumbai has been maintaining her own kitchen garden for the last 5 years. She is also into composting her organic waste which she then uses to fertilise her soil. She grows mint, Indian basil, coriander, curry leaves, green chilies, two varieties of spinach, tomatoes and parsley. “There’s something wonderfully comforting about being in the midst of cooking, heating the oil in the pan, letting the mustard seeds splutter and then realizing you need curry leaves. And without skipping a beat, just reach over and pull out a sprig, right in your kitchen!”

Can’t argue with that! Krupa and her family are generational gardeners and have a huge garden in Chennai, where they’ve always grown the produce that their family eats – everything from pomegranate, moringa, to radish, ladies finger, etc. “My grandmum spends close to 3 hours every day tending to the garden. As children, we’ve all learned to pitch in on weekends and there’s something that gives you such an independent, accomplished feel.”

With shrinking spaces, the only thing that needs to scale down is the size of your garden, says Krishna of Lets Hug by Nature. “The process of setting up is very simple and cost-effective. And it’s self-maintaining. All it needs is a bit of direct sunlight. And most cities in India have this.” As for space constraint, he adds, “Vertical gardening is big right now. And so all you really need is a wall. Everyone has a wall to spare. You can get pots, soil and seeds at a local nursery without spending a bomb. Or get a gardener to set the whole thing up right at your house.”

In addition to growing everyday herbs like coriander and curry leaves that feature on a daily basis in our food, most urban youth are growing traditionally medicinal plants like tulasi, carom (ajwain), turmeric and aloe vera too. Says Ahalya from Chennai, “We grow carom and tulasi right in our balcony. My husband has digestion issues and the carom is a godsend for this. I drink tulasi-infused tea and water too. It adds such a bright flavour to it and is supposed to be very good for health.”

Adds Priyanka from Ahmedabad, “My aloe vera plant is my go-to multipurpose plant. For everything from cuts and wounds, to even hair conditioning, I find that I’m often slicing open a leaf.” Vishnupriya from Chennai gifted her daughter’s friends a plant each as “return gifts” on her daughter’s birthday. She notes, “People kept me posted about their growth and I’m sure it also instilled a love for plants in kids.”

Other common household plants include henna, floral plants like rose, jasmine and hibiscus, and even brinjal and avocados. The surge in green spaces within homes seems to “stem” from a need to have a relaxed atmosphere at home while being productive.

“It’s therapeutic, beautiful and beneficial. I wonder why anyone would think twice before growing their own produce,” says Veena, a Bengaluru-based terrace gardener.

Before setting up your own garden, make sure you have the right conditions for the herbs/plants you choose. Most herbs need direct sunlight to thrive, fruits need grafted saplings and lot of room and certain vegetables like tomatoes need a trellis. And you’re well on your way to a healthier lifestyle!