keep India smiling
Ankit Bajpai from Lucknow is teaching vertical gardening to those who stay in apartments in big cities so that they fresh vegetables and upcycle the waste.
Ankit Bajpai, who lives in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, was fond of trees and plants since childhood. After completing his studies, he took up a job in Mumbai, but his love for gardening never died.
In 2017, he returned to his hometown after leaving his corporate job, and started terrace gardening at home. Gradually, he filled his 390 sq-ft terrace with several trees and plants.
In his rich and beautiful garden, there are flowers like rose, marigold, lilly, as well as vegetables like brinjal, capsicum, coriander, spinach, broccoli, potato, radish, tomato, green chilli, cabbage and lemon.
Along with the garden, Ankit also manages a YouTube channel with 4.5 lakh subscribers, where he gives tips on growing these varieties of plants.
Where to start?
“In order to start gardening, choose an open space with good sunlight. Nowadays, you can do vertical gardening even on the wall or in your balcony. Just ensure water is available,” says Ankit. “Winter or spring is the right time to start gardening.”
What to choose?
For beginners, Ankit suggests trees and plants that do not require much care. “Gradually, you will start to develop a friendship with plants and then automatically plant more.” Marigold, basil, mint, aloe vera, money plant, potato, spinach and moonshine are some plants that are super easy to grow, he says.
What about the soil?
Coming to soil preparation, which is most important, mix sand and cow dung manure or vermicompost in the soil. “Remember that the ratio of soil, sand and compost should be 30:30:40.”
Will terrace farming cause damage in the building?
“If you are using pots, grow bags or planters, then you do not have to worry. Your roof will not be damaged,” he assures.
How to be creative?
For people living in small spaces and apartments, gardening might feel like a strenuous process. “But I want to tell them that you can easily do it on your own small balcony or terrace. Put in some time and effort. Everything will fall into place,” he says.
“Vertical gardening can be done on the balcony wall. Any plant can be grown by hanging old and waste plastic bottles on the walls. It elevates the beauty of the wall and helps with fresh veggies,” Ankit adds.
How to avoid wasting water while gardening?
“I think there is no right or wrong way to water plants. You just have to make sure that the soil in your pots is not dry. Whenever there is no moisture left in the soil, sprinkle water immediately,” he says.
How to nourish plants?
Ankit suggests making liquid fertiliser in compost. Wet household waste and dry leaves can be used for this purpose.
“Vegetable peels come out of your kitchen every day. Collect them and add a piece of ginger. Then, put it in a mixer and grind it,” Ankit shares. “Ginger acts as an antifungal and antioxidant. It does not allow any bacteria or disease to grow in the trees.”
After grinding, leave this paste in water for 12 to 14 hours and pour this water into the plants. “It is highly nutritious for plants and keeps away pests,” says the gardener.
In addition to this, banana peels can also be used. Dry them and turn them into a powder and add 10 grams of powder to a 12 inch pot. The mix is rich with calcium and minerals needed for the plants.
“You can also make a liquid fertiliser from banana peels. Put 12 peels in a box with 10 litres of water and close the mouth of the box. Keep this box in shade, but allow a little sunlight. After a week, your liquid fertiliser will be ready,” he adds.
- Remove yellow and dry leaves from the tree.
- While planting, make sure that all pots or bags have holes in their bottom.
- Never pull the plants out while planting them in another pot. Take it along with the soil.
- It is better to water the plants deeply than frequent light watering so that the moisture in the soil remains.
- Pay attention to the soil to understand how much water is needed.
- Fertilise every 20 to 30 days.
To connect with Ankit Bajpai, you can follow his Facebook page, Ankit’s Terrace Gardening or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read this story in Hindi here.
Edited by Divya Sethu