Learning Life Lessons through Gardening

“When you do something for the environment, you help yourself”, says Shilpi, a kitchen gardener from Haryana. An enthusiastic young woman who wishes to take every small step that benefits the environment, Shilpi mentions that growing vegetables and fruits enhances oxygen in the air, improves the quality of soil, reduces the carbon footprint of transporting fruits and vegetables, and helps in rainwater harvesting. Shilpi has a beautiful kitchen garden in her 500 square yards empty residential plot, and also has a terrace garden, where she grows the plants in waste containers and pots. She grows all seasonal vegetables like Radish, Carrot, Lettuce, Spinach, Mustard, Tomatoes, Cherry, Tomatoes, Bok Choy, Beetroot, Cabbage, Cauliflower in winter. In Summers she grows Vines like Gourds, Sponge Gourd, Bottle Gourd, Muskmelon, Ladyfinger, Beans, Brinjals. Her garden also has fruit trees like Mango, Guava and Pomegranate.

Shilpi’s no-waste gardening techniques can inspire many others and motivate them towards kitchen gardening. She composts her kitchen waste and uses it as fertilizer in her garden. Composting seemed to be one easy way for Shilpi to do something beneficial for the environment. In the last year, she recycled hundreds of kilos of kitchen waste into compost, reducing the load on the environment. Apart from kitchen waste compost, Shilpi also uses Bio Enzymes from Citrus Fruits, and cow dung as fertilizers. She prepares fertile soil for her garden which reduces pest attacks on the plants. Additionally, spraying natural solutions like diluted neem oil and sour buttermilk saves the plants from pests. She buys desi and heirloom seeds from local farmers and is learning to save seeds for her subsequent plantations.

With no background in farming or any other prior experience, Shilpi is the first member among her family and friends who started kitchen gardening. Her willpower to bring a change helped her do something productive during the lockdown period and today she can offer healthy and nutritious food to her family and friends. She has motivated her family and now her sister also helps her in her gardening endeavor. Shilpi mentions that learning gardening skills is a gradual process and that she had also made many mistakes initially. But her interest in kitchen gardening did not let her give up. She gathered help from YouTube videos, books and interacted with experienced gardeners and experts . “I cared for my plants as we care for babies and when the first seed of ladyfinger germinated, I was so amazed and felt content over the miracle of nature”, Shilpi mentions joyfully. She has also learned the value of patience ,as Nature takes its own time and one can not force a plant to grow.

Shilpi and her family have now been able to reduce their market dependency for vegetables by forty percent. She also finds a huge difference in taste, colour and freshness between homegrown vegetables and those coming from the markets. Shilpi dreams of a beautiful urban landscape, with a kitchen garden on every terrace. It fills her joy when she imagines how green, the Earth would then look from Space. Shilpi says, “Gardening not only gives happiness, joy and motivation during the current COVID-19 crisis, but buying organic fruits and vegetables from the kitchen garden also assures purity, quality and good health.

Know more about Shilpi’s work:

Link to her Instagram handle- https://www.instagram.com/wildflowersandspring?r=nametag

An article written by Shilpi- Journey of the Beetroot https://link.medium.com/MvIb7wvx6gb

A nationwide campaign to scale efforts of Kitchen Gardening to build a healthier and resilient future