Welcome to the 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, send them to us at email@example.com.
Green beans that grow 1.5 feet long, garlic and Vicks-flavoured leaves and potatoes that grow on the soil…You name it, and 23-year-old Keshod resident, Kripal Dobariya, grows it all in a small space of 300 sq feet, he calls his organic garden!
Living in the Junagadh district of Gujarat, Kripal grew up close to nature as his father and especially his grandfather were nature enthusiasts. His grandfather, Harsukhbhai Dobariya, was awarded the Srishti Samman Award for Bird Conservation by President Pranab Mukherjee in 2017.
A class 5 dropout, Harsukh Bhai spends Rs. 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh each year to feed over 2,500 birds that visit their family home every day. You can read more about it here.
Taking care of a such a large flock of birds can be difficult and sometimes cause inconvenience to the neighbours. And so, the Dobariyas decided to move into an individual home in the outskirts of the city in 2012. They had no idea that this would be a perfect opportunity to continue their efforts, not just in bird conservation but also to set up their organic garden!
From a unique variety of potatoes that grow on the soil instead of under it, to green beans that grow 1.5 feet long, the last six years have seen the family experiment with new types of crops and plants in their backyard. In the process, they also grow enough produce for their day-to-day consumption.
Speaking to The Better India, Kripal says that the family of six grows and maintains over 12 varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs, which include custard apple, bitter gourd, chillies, bottle gourd, wild mint (pudina), cucumber, guava, towel gourd, snap melon, chikoo, neem, ladyfinger, cucumber, lemon, tomato, cabbage, brinjal, banana, mango, among others.
Kripal says, “At most times, we don’t feel the need to visit the market to buy vegetables, we grow most of our necessities in a healthy and organic way in our backyard. Not to boast, but most vegetables we grow in our organic garden are native varieties that were available in the market 15-20 years ago. My grandfather, my father and I have been sourcing and preserving these native seeds from farmers across the district to bring them back.”
He shares the recipe for the organic compost that helps them keep the moisture of the soil intact.
“You need to take a barrel or a huge drum and fill it with water. Add 1 kg of jaggery, cow dung, agricultural waste or wet waste and a liquid decomposer. Leave the bacteria to do its work for the next 20 days. This compost, when added to the soil with a combination of cocopeat will help better its quality, thereby increasing the produce,” he says.
He adds how every time a family member is down with a cold or a cough, the Vicks leaves come in handy. Even their neighbours regularly take a few leaves home in case of emergencies.
They also grow drumsticks, the leaves of which when crushed into powder are beneficial for diabetics.
The family makes it a point that their excess produce does not go to waste. They distribute it to the 12 homes in their neighbourhood, free of cost.
If this simple family from Gujarat inspired you to nurture your green thumb and start an organic garden, get in touch with them at 9638412929 or write to Kripal at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)