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.
Until about four years ago, Archana Bhargava, a resident of Bhopal, had never engaged in gardening. Furthermore, she had no idea about how to pursue it in the limited confines of her home.
Today, if you visit her, you will be astonished to see a terrace that is replete with several varieties of vegetables—local and exotic—fruits, herbs and even spices!
The bounty includes radish, ladies’ finger, bitter gourd, pumpkin, carrot, beans, spinach, fenugreek, tomato, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, knol khol (wild cabbage), chaulai (amaranth), bathua (pigweed), lettuce, coriander, mint, sweet potatoes and fruits like pomegranate, strawberries, grapes, sweet lime, and figs.
The best part is that everything is organically grown!
Lending a hand and support to Archana in her gardening pursuits is her husband, Dr Rakesh Bhargava.
So, how did it all start?
Speaking to The Better India, Archana shares that their journey into the world of organic gardening started four years ago, after she and her husband were inspired by a course on Natural Living.
“Following the course, our desire to consume homegrown organic food became more pronounced. We learnt to make jeevamruta to improve soil fertility. This was just a start. With time, we learnt Agnihotra as well, which is a kind of hawan. This is beneficial for the environment, plants as well as for the person engaged in it. We started with 3-4 vegetables, and our organic terrace garden has over 35 types of vegetables today,” she says.
In addition to that, she also has been growing some exotic vegetables like black cherry tomatoes and red beans. She mentions very few people in the city know about these.
The couple even prepares organic fertilisers and pest repellants at home.
“Earlier, we used to add aged cow dung as manure. Now we make our own fertiliser—Agnihotra jal—which is an all-inclusive fertiliser, made using fresh cow dung and Agnihotra ash. For pest control, we use a spray made of neem water, plain sour buttermilk, diluted cow urine and ash,” Archana adds.
Their terrace garden today is setting an example for people in Bhopal, and the couple has regular visitors, who want to see their fruits of labour and learn.
“Many have been inspired by our journey and have begun pursuing organic farming,” shares a happy Archana.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)