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If you are considering farming on large acres of land or at a farmhouse, you need to re-think the idea as what it requires is a little bit of dedication and perseverance to have your vegetable garden in your own home. The Botanical Society of Goa this year is hosting its annual garden competition titled ‘Eat Your Garden Competition’ to promote organic kitchen gardening. NT BUZZ finds out more about this competition and speaks to previous competition winners to feel inspired

Self-sustenance with kitchen gardens

ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ

‘Eat your garden’ is a catchy phrase coined by the Botanical Society of Goa (BSG) for its annual home gardening competition. This phrase, in a very smart way speaks about vegetable kitchen gardens, which are organic.

It is the first time that the BSG is asking for entries in such a category. “I think it is a great opportunity to showcase your garden to experts which will help in gaining some tips,” says Yogita Mehra member of BSG while speaking about the competition. She further states it is also to promote people to grow their food at home. “We want to tell people that it is not so difficult to grow your own food. You can grow your basic vegetables like chillies or tambdi bhaji in your pot in your balcony. Not only is it a healthy option as these vegetables are chemical-free, but also reduces our dependence externally to procure our food,” says Yogita who is also part of Green Essentials.

While speaking about the competition she informs that this is the 26th year of the competition and the awareness about growing food organically is just growing.

“This competition started out as a home gardening competition. For the last three years Green Essentials has sponsored the award for the organic kitchen garden. We received six entries in the first year and last year there were fifteen. The new committee of the BSG then decided that any gardener who wishes to participate in the competition should have 25 per cent edible crop apart from other plants in the garden. But, this year they have decided to make it a full-fledge kitchen garden competition,” says Yogita who mentions the BSG is also planning to organise a visit to the winning gardens to inspire and motivate budding gardeners.

The competition is open to anyone who produces food to support one’s daily requirements in the kitchen. It could be a garden in your back or front yard, or even a kitchen garden in pots and containers. It must be primarily a kitchen garden, with a majority of edible plants and must use only organic inputs.

It is interesting to note that through this competition one will realise that it is not necessary to own acres of land or have a farm house to have your own little farm. Many winners of this competition grow their food in the humble backyards or on the terrace.

These gardeners or rather farmers are passionate about their work and leave no stone unturned to fulfil their desire.

Showing the way

Rekha Mallya from Ponda has won the home gardening competition five times. In her garden she grows everything from ornamental to flowering, fruiting trees and vegetables. “I manage this garden on my own. I don’t assign a particular time in a day. It is just that when I am free I manage it,” says Rekha who grows all types of gourds, tomatoes, methi, palak, chillies, capsicum, beans, val, drum sticks, etc. She also has medicinal and herbal plants.

Rekha has this garden surrounding her bungalow at Ponda. Her garden is purely organic as she makes her own compost at home to feed her plants. “I don’t like to use chemical fertilisers and that is one of the reasons that I don’t grow cauliflower or cabbage as one tends to use fertilisers for these vegetables,” says Rekha who is a practicing paediatrician.

She confirms that she learnt gardening from her mother and has always had the urge to plant. “My garden is not a pedicure garden. I keep it as natural as possible and allow nature to take its course. Now, it has become a habitat for various birds and I don’t like to disturb it,” says Rekha.

If you think farming or gardening is a full time job which should be taken up only by professionals then you have to meet 12-year-old Abhinda Baretto from Margao who last year won a special prize for growing vegetables on her terrace.

Last year on her terrace she grew knol-khol plants in little paint tubs, brinjals, capsicums, chillies, tambdi bhaji, bhindi and also a watermelon. It is inspiring that at such an age when Abhinda should be busy playing games, she is working hard to make her vegetable garden. She is helped by her mother, Bena. “Right from the start she has had this habit of planting and growing plants. Even when we cut and prune our garden, she will again re-plant them. It is a hobby which I have taken from her,” says Bena.

This year Abhinda is growing coriander under the coconut tree where she has made a bed of dry leaves, which acts as compost and also gives moisture to the plant. Another interesting aspect of Abhinda’s garden is that she reuses waste containers like old paint buckets or even thermocol containers in which she has grown cauliflower this year.

This garden is also organic due to the compost and fish emulsion technique used by this mother-daughter duo to provide manure to their plants.

It is a simple procedure – fish heads are collected and put into two-litre PET bottles. Water is filed and these are kept in the shade on the terrace. The cap is occasionally opened to release the gas. When needed, this water is used on all the plants. You can also add EM solution or little bit of jaggery in this solution to make it more effective. It is ready for use after two weeks.

Such initiatives by individuals are positive steps towards making our lives more sustainable and definitely healthier.

(For more details about the competition log on to

www.smore.com/c28f-bsg-s-eat-your-garden-competition. Last date for entries is January 15 by 9 p.m. Dates of judging are February 7 and February 14.

Contact to register: Raj Paipanandiker – 89757-66032 | raj@panandiker.com

or Yogita Mehra – 99606-43245 | yogitamehra@gmail.com)

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