In 2017, Anna Mani Ratnam (27), a resident of Machilipatnam, moved into a newly constructed house with her family. One of the most exciting aspects of this move was that now Mani could finally pursue a dream he had nurtured since childhood – rooftop gardening.
“In our previous house, we did not have much space to grow vegetables or fruit bearing plants. However, here we have a terrace of 675 sq ft on which I have decided to develop a mini food forest,” explains Mani better india.
Three years later, they have over 100 plants on their terrace, including vegetables like tomatoes and brinjals, fruits like red guava and custard apples, and herbs like amaranthus. Mani spends only Rs 500 a month maintaining his garden and shares tips and tricks on how he does it with 1,000 others on a Facebook group.
organic and homemade
To start the auspicious work, Mani started by growing Tulsi plants on his terrace. He then bought seeds for flowering plants like jasmine as well as vegetables like tomatoes, which his family consumes regularly.
“I wanted to use the produce from the terrace garden for my daily consumption, so I needed to grow it organically. Instead of using chemical fertilizers or pesticides, I decided to use kitchen waste as compost and make organic fertilizers like Jeevamrut and Panchakavya,” says Mani.
To learn more about how to make these organic fertilizers, he attended a two-week workshop in Guntur. Here, he learned all the basics and started applying them at home. To keep procurement costs down, he approached a dairy farm near his home and collected dung and urine.
“The owners gave it to me for free. Using that I could make up to 150 liters per month. I made the compost in discarded drums and covered it on the roof. This was further diluted with water and added to the plants every 14 days,” says Mani, adding that during the lockdown, when he could not buy manure, he used kitchen waste mixed with water as fertilizer. will use.
Soon, he started expanding his garden by planting fruit trees, bhringraj, medicinal plants like citrus, adenium, flowering plants like bonsai and much more in cement pits built on the roof. These were mounted in recycled containers like plastic buckets or steel buckets that he had bought from a local kabaddiwala.
sharing your experience
In early 2019, Mani realized that as his plants matured, he didn’t have to buy anything from stores. This ensured that the cost was maintained within Rs 500 or sometimes Rs 600 per month. Apart from this, he also noticed that less garbage was being generated in his house.
“All the wet waste was turned into compost, while some dry waste, including bottles and boxes, was recycled for the garden,” says Mani. .
Along with Gauri Kavya, a friend she met at the workshop, she started a Facebook page called Bandar Brundavanam, sharing tips on making fertilisers, organic fertilizers and pesticides, and harvesting seeds.
“I shared videos and posts on horticulture hacks and seeds and fertilizers with members living within a radius of 3 to 5 kms. In return, they will share something unique from their garden,” says Mani.
Most of the exchanges were done for free, which Mani says encouraged more than 1,000 people to join the group and become a family. Sharing some positive stories about the group’s activities, Mani says that during the second wave of the pandemic, the group’s bond got stronger.
“When an elderly member of the group passed away, her daughter reached out to the group and requested if her mother’s plants be adopted by others as her last wish. More than 10 members went ahead and took different types of plants and continue to grow them as their own today,” says Mani.
In future, Mani hopes that this group will inspire more and more people to take up organic farming at their homes. He says that it will help a person to follow a healthy lifestyle and reduce the waste spread in the environment.
You can join Money’s FB group Bandar Brundavanam here.
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