Satish and Vibha Charanpahari, a couple living in Patna, are active terrace gardeners. Their day starts as early as 4 am. After taking care of the plants first, they spend some quality time amidst the greens, sipping on chai.
As peaceful as this sounds, the journey to achieving it has been a lot of hard and smart work. The couple had decided to put together a charming garden even before finding their new home.
“It is very difficult to get land and farm nowadays. For years we had been searching for a space with a wide terrace to pursue our passion for agriculture,” Vibha tells The Better India.
They finally found their dream home in Patna, and it was in the year 2004 that the duo began living in it.
“Actually, Vibha had no interest in gardening before marriage. Whereas I had always been fond of plants. But by watching and helping me often, she also eventually developed a keen interest. When we were house-hunting, she was the one who vigorously searched for a house with a terrace so that we could farm,” says Satish.
The couple has divided the terrace garden into two parts. A kitchen garden with an area of 400 square feet and a flower garden that covers 700 square feet.
Satish, a businessman by profession, says, “Since 1990, I have been growing plants in pots wherever I stay. But due to space constraints, I was able to grow only a few plants. I used up to 12-inch pots to cultivate vegetables like tomato, chillies, brinjal, okra and other common ones.”
Organic fruits fresh from terrace
The couple, who are in their mid-50s and 60s, are the only residents in this Patna house.
While Satish is busy with his business-related activities, Vibha is associated with a club that organises several social activities and awareness programmes. They consider gardening as a great way to spend time together in between busy schedules.
Satish is fond of different types of fruit plants. Apart from common vegetables and flowers, the highlight of their garden is the wide collection of fruit trees.
“There are 18 varieties of fruits in our garden,” he says. “Whenever I go on trips, I collect new local plants from the surroundings or buy them from a nursery. From my trip to Kashmir, I brought a fruit plant named Lokat (loquat) and planted it in my garden four years ago.”
Satish says he also collected fig and peach plants from his Assam trip. The plants now bear fruits every year. Mango, cherry, papaya, watermelon, jackfruit and muskmelon are some other fruits they grow organically in their garden.
A compost is set up in the house using dry leaves and kitchen waste. The compost soil supports the plants in their faster and healthier growth.
Vibha says that the first plant she nurtured after setting up this garden was an Araucaria plant — commonly called a Christmas tree — of only three feet. Today it has grown to be around eight feet.
They have also grown many flowers and ornamental plants in their green space. Satish shares that he continuously changes these plants according to the season.
Similarly, vegetables are also cultivated based on the season. Separate beds are made to plant vegetables while all other plants are grown in pots.
But Satish and Vibha didn’t just stop with planting. The couple also set up a small fish pond on the terrace to enhance its beauty. Although the house is situated in the middle of a city, the duo have strived to create a space that feels like the countryside.
“People visit us from time to time to seek advice in farming,” says Satish. He adds that after visiting their terrace, many neighbours have been motivated to take up gardening themselves.
“We seek help from a gardener who visits on a regular basis,” says Vibha. But the ‘plant parents’ say that they feel satisfied only when they have personally tended to all the plants. They spend close to three-four hours a day in the garden.
The couple’s favourite pastime is to relax in the swing in the middle of the garden. “It’s always refreshing to see greens around you. It comforts the eyes and the mind. Both of us find gardening therapeutic and would love to grow more rare varieties of plants in the available space,” adds Vibha.
Read this story in Hindi here.
Edited by Pranita Bhat
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