Terrace Garden and Composting session - 8th Oct 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Lets Go Organic. Where? - In your terrace.
Post event write up by Chaitanya Krishna

India – the home to 50% of world diabetes population – NDTV

Unregulated use of pesticides in fruits, vegetables and grains – recent study

It is quite alarming to see these kind of news and the journey of food from farm to our plate in so much disturbed.  Fruits and vegetables are laden with harmful pesticides which paves way for many lifestyle diseases.The only way we could be sure of our food is to grow our own. Terrace or roof top gardening is gaining awareness among people and our government is also supporting such initiatives.

  On October 8th - Saturday, CTC organized Home Composting and Terrace Garden practice session at CTCian Mr.Sundar's home. Mr.Sundar who has been practicing Terrace gardening for more than 4 years, lives in Mugalivakkam, Chennai. He welcomed us with a greeting smile and took us to his terrace. It was a pleasant sight to see his home surrounded with lush green cover acting as a home to colorful butterflies, chirping birds, squirrels and bees.

  Once we all gathered, Sundar Offered us few leaf to take it. WoW !!! What a Surprise. Our Throat was filled with Natural Menthol. Great Relief for Nose. He had called it as “Vicks Tulasi”

Sundar started to explain us the process of composting. "The best way to connect with nature is to feel it" he added as he made us to get our hands dirty by touching and smelling the home made compost. The compost or black gold is rich in nutrients which enriches soil fertility.

Process of Composting:

 Sundar uses earthen pots with holes at sides and bottom for composting in addition to fancy Kamba pots. We can make organic fertilizer at home with wastage from kitchen.

    • At the bottom of the pot, place few dry leaves and start adding vegetable waste.
    • Keep adding some soil or coco peat if the vegetable waste contains more watery stuff.
    • Add buttermilk water to fasten the composting process
    • Cover the pot to prevent the mixture from flies and rain water
    • It is usual to see insects like maggots and ants inside the pot. These insects greatly help in fastening the compost process and we need not worry about its existence.
    • Stir the contents of the pot every week. Fine yield of compost will be available within a span of two months

 Sundar has managed to successfully grow Tomatoes, Brinjal, bottle gourd, lemon, Mint leaves, Lemon grass, varieties of spinach, Sugarcane, Pomegranates, Aloe Vera and different types of cacti .There is an array of herbal plants like Thulasi (5 Varieties), Neem, Thippili, Betel , Pei Mitrati, Nila Vembu, Nanal, Karisalankanni , Manathakkali, Vallarai, Chitrarathai,  Ranakalli, Turmeric, Ginger, Lemongrass, etc., He attributes his success to the preparation of nutrient rich soil, which he has managed to learn with his  experience and through lectures of Nammazhvar. The soil in his garden has many insects like earth worms, centipedes and millipedes which play a crucial role in soil aeration. Recently he has added beekeeping to his hobby with a couple of bee hives on his terrace

He keeps on offering some kind of leaves for us to taste and some are bitter, some are sour, some are nice fragrance, It is really amazing to see several herbs in his garden for the natural remedy.

“I do not throw any waste out of my home and we try to reduce plastics as much as possible. I make use of used milk packets, grocery, oil covers to plant saplings. All the organic waste from home is in turn converted to compost. It is necessary that people start segregating waste in their home. There is no use of even a single chemical or pesticide for the plants. I spend most of my weekend time in maintaining my garden and it gives me a lot of self-satisfaction and Piece. . My goal in life is to turn self-sustainable life style and not to visit doctor for health ailments. The money paid for health disorders can be very much prevented through investment in growing organic foods” ” he continued as he handed us a glass full of fresh Aloe Vera juice prepared from his terrace garden.

Preparing the potting container:

    • The container can be Earthen pot or grow bags. If you are using grow bags, place a thick sheet of newspaper surrounding the bag inside and a layer below
    • Now place dry leaves or twigs as a first layer below and add a layer of soil + cocopeat mixture.
    • Add a handful of neem  and thulasi leaves and cover with a layer of soil + cocopeat mixture
    • In the next layer, add some charcoal and cover with a layer of soil + cocopeat. The soil + cocopeat can be mixed in 1:1 ratio.

Mr. Sundar finds this method quite useful, as the bottom layer will in turn into compost while the roots get down to the bottom. The neem and thulasi act as agents to grow good bacterial medium enriching the soil. The charcoal provides the much needed carbon and potassium. Make sure that this soil mixture to be used only after 7- 10 days for planting.

Once plants are placed in the containers, make sure to add dry leaves around it. This process of mulching prevents weed growth and retains moisture content of the soil. Sundar grows either an aloe Vera or neem plant adjacent to the plant in each container.

Fo Pest Control

  He uses natural pesticides like neem oil, neem cake, liquid drain from compost pot and 3G mixture (Ginger, Garlic, Green chili solution). "We do not need any chemicals. Natural repellants like neem oil (10ml mixed in one liter of water) is sufficient to drive away pests. I use drip irrigation method to water my plants. Initially i invested a lot for garden and equipment but later realized that it is not necessary." he added.

On Lifestyle:
  “I do not use soaps and usually take bath with Aloe Vera gel grown in our garden. I brush my teeth with neem twigs. We maintain fasting once in a month with only liquid foods taken the whole day.  We intake few herbs on regular basis.  I ensure not to skip breakfast. We shop through organic farm markets and through my trusted sources for organically grown rice.

 Mr.Sundar has also installed solar panels to power his home as another step for a cleaner environment which also saves him 50% of cost on electricity bill. It is no wonder that his home had 24*7 electricity even while the floods and power cuts lashed Chennai last year.

Terrace gardening is fun, eco-friendly and helpful for self-sustainable healthy lifestyle. Start by segregating waste and compost preparation and home. Take baby steps in making your own garden. Learn and experiment. Spread this message and create awareness among your community.

Let’s make our rooftops our food factory. Give it a start and start small. You do not need a huge space. Just a balcony with adequate sunlight is enough to grow tomatoes and greens.

Anyone who wish to volunteer during weekends and learn gardening can contact Mr.Sundar through his Facebook page www.facebook.com/ssundar.india  or at9840910551

Let us protect and save our environment. Happy gardening!

Team Ainthinai



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