Along with the expansive kitchen garden, Dipali Shahlot has also set up birdhouses and water basins that are regularly frequented by sparrows and pigeons.
Welcome to My Garden Series by The Better India, where we feature stories about gardening and homebound farming initiatives submitted by our readers. If you have any stories to share as well, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gardening had always been a hobby for Kanpur resident Dipali Shahlot, but it was when her family moved to a sixth-floor apartment in a residential complex 19 years ago, that her passion truly took flight.
The penthouse on the seventh floor, which has a vast terrace, also belongs to the family, and Dipali decided to use the space to grow vegetables and fruits!
After getting the terrace waterproofed, Dipali divided the space into two halves—one became a lawn while the other half was transformed into a veritable oasis of flowering plants along with organically grown vegetable and fruit plants.
“I grow all kinds of vegetables including spinach, onions, tomatoes, ladies finger, fenugreek, capsicum, black-eyed peas, cucumber, lemon, coriander, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, guava and many types of gourds. Besides routing all the biodegradable waste from my kitchen and garden for composting purposes, I also have demarcated space for a compost pit, so that there is no requirement for artificial or chemical fertilisers to nurture the plants,” says Dipali to The Better India.
Dipali is inspired by her mother, who once owned farms and used to practice vermicomposting. “While she doesn’t look after the farms anymore, she makes a point of purchasing only organic produce even now,” she says.
Apart from the rudimentary farming knowledge she possesses, Dipali lets us know that in the beginning, she had turned to Google for guidance and information on organic farming and how she could emulate a working model for her terrace.
Along with the expansive kitchen garden, Dipali has also set up birdhouses and water basins that are regularly frequented by sparrows and pigeons. Many squirrels have made the seventh-floor terrace their home as Dipali regularly feeds these furry little beings grains like pearl (bajra) and foxtail (kakun) millets.
Instead of selling the vegetables that she grows, Dipali distributes the bounty to her gardener and the people who work at her house after keeping some for her own household.
In fact, she hasn’t felt the need to go to the market to purchase vegetables for years now.
“My family is supportive enough of my gardening pursuits, but sadly, despite watching me grow and consume organically grown vegetables, people in our neighbourhood don’t seem to be encouraged or motivated to pursue gardening themselves. As much as I love gardening, I feel this is my way of giving back to the environment,” adds Dipali.
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We sure are impressed by Dipali’s extraordinary gardening skills and hope that those keen on farming in urban spaces, but have teething problems regarding its execution, are motivated by her commitment to start their own.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)