As Vizag has grown with buildings, apartments and gated communities, the space to grow plants, especially for fruits and vegetables, has been reduced. For many enthusiastic people at home, growing their veggies provides a form of happiness. In fact, the lockdown gave people the chance to take up gardening as a hobby and grow their own vegetables. Starting by growing chillies, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables, in small pots on the balcony, it slowly spread to setting up gardens on the terrace. This is how the terrace gardening trend took form in Visakhapatnam.
Some people have got their own tiny strawberry farms on their rooftops. The amazing feeling of eating vegetables that you have grown yourself is drawing more and more people to terrace farming. Yo! Vizag talks with some people in the city who have taken up terrace gardening and sought tips from them for budding gardeners.
Usha Gajapathi Raju from Vizag is a great example of cooking food from your own garden. Having about 25 varieties of vegetables, she is an inspiration for many people who want to take up gardening. Growing vegetables for more than ten years now, Usha Gajapathi Raju started off by growing flowery plants on a small scale. She then started growing green leafy vegetables. Shifting her house to an apartment, she took her entire terrace for gardening. “After Cyclone Hudhud which spoiled my terrace completely, I had to rebuild my terrace, making my own compost with vegetable waste, using every plastic or waste material for growing vegetables. Within two months, I started producing tomatoes and other vegetables.”
Sharing her photos on social media, Usha Gajapathi Raju does workshops, teaching innovative gardening techniques and educating farmers about organic farming. Giving tips for all beginners, Usha Gajapathi Raju says “Your terrace is fit for gardening if the water drainage system is good. For beginners, it is always good to begin with only 3-4 pots of green leafy vegetables, which get harvested in 2-3 weeks. Once they know the difference in taste when we grow our own veggies, they get motivated to grow more and more vegetables. We get all kinds of seeds like brinjal, tomato, and ladyfinger available in the market and online.” She runs a YouTube channel on terrace gardening in Visakhapatnam called “Ushodayam”.
When P Sudha Madhavi learned that the green leafy vegetables bought from outside are not healthily grown, she began growing her own vegetables. “I love the feeling of eating the veggies I have grown and now, I no longer buy veggies from outside. Growing brinjal, ladyfinger, bottle gourd and some more veggies, I spend one hour of my daily walking time gardening,” said Sudha. Practicing for ten years, her home has close to zero wastage, with the majority of waste used for compost. “I started by growing plants because it is simple to keep them healthy. All the kitchen waste can be manure for the plants. I store water used for washing rice and vegetables for my gardening. Tea and coffee powders, after being used, can also be nutritious for plants. In many of our homes, we prepare ghee from the cream stored. The water used for cleaning the cream can give strength to the plants. Kitchen waste helps my plants grow pest-free,” she added. Sudha believes that practicing little things our grandparents have done for growing their own vegetables would help us a lot.
Tadikonda Anupama started kitchen gardening in 2015 with 10 pots and now has nearly 300 pots of plants. “Gardening creates positivity in us, bringing us peace. For those who want to start terrace gardening, it needs a lot of patience. Maintaining the soil mixture, direct sunlight and quality seeds are key points to remember. Most importantly, the yellow colour attracts bees, and butterflies, which helps in natural pollination. So, it is always good to grow yellow flowers at the terrace, along with vegetables,” said Anupama.
Spending 3 to 4 hours after lunch, Anupama created a small walk path at her terrace in Visakhapatnam, spending time gardening. The best veggies in her terrace gardening are microgreens, which are good immunity boosters. She adds them in salads as they are to be eaten raw and also sprinkle them in the food she cooks like in dosa, sandwich. “Each adult should consume 50-100 grams of microgreens per day. I grow exotic microgreens such as Swiss chard, broccoli, sunflower, pea shoots, beetroot and corn. For beginners, they can start with kitchen microgreens like mustard, basil. It takes 7-14 days of harvesting time and a little care,” said Anupama.
You can follow Anupama on her Instagram page: @the_friendly_terrace_ gardener.
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