For 70-year-old Lizy John from Bengaluru, Karnataka, nurturing a lush vegetable and fruit backyard on her terrace has been extremely rewarding and satisfying. With out a second thought, she credit her ardour for farming to be the only purpose for staying wholesome and energetic even at this age.
After working a snacks enterprise for over 25 years, she determined to retire and concentrate on increasing her farming enterprise. Although there wasn’t sufficient area, she says that it wasn’t a problem in any respect.
“Although we’ve a 1,200 sqft terrace, I develop my veggies in lower than 1,000 sqft, because the photo voltaic panels and water tanks devour the remainder of the area. However it was greater than sufficient for me. I admit that I’m happier and at peace ever since I began rising my very own meals at residence,” Lizy tells The Higher India.
She grew up in Kerala, watching her father, a trainer and a farming fanatic, working actually laborious on their farmland. This impressed her a lot that regardless of the frequent modifications in areas and residences because of her husband’s job, she at all times tried to develop one thing or the opposite in restricted areas.
Lastly, after settling down in Bengaluru in 1998, Lizy arrange her terrace backyard with some primary greens like chillies, curry leaves, spinach and so forth. It was round 9 years in the past that she expanded the terrace backyard that now boasts virtually all of the greens and several other fruit timber.
At present, she harvests round 1 kg of greens from her terrace backyard each day, which, she says, is greater than sufficient for the five-membered household.
When requested about what number of sorts of greens and fruit timber she grows, Lizy says, “The query needs to be — what do I not have in my backyard,” she chuckles.
She proudly says, “We solely rely available on the market to purchase onions and typically potatoes. The remainder can be found in our backyard.”
“I’ve been rising virtually all of the greens from seasonal to unique ones and I haven’t saved a rely on the numbers. There are completely different varieties of every sort of vegetable, spice, and herb in addition to a number of fruit timber. Due to this fact, for the previous a number of years, we’ve been consuming solely contemporary and non-toxic meals harvested immediately from our terrace day-after-day,” she elaborates.
Lizy has been rising her greens principally in develop baggage saved on elevated stands on her terrace. Apart from develop baggage, she additionally makes use of plastic containers, buckets, drums, PVC pipes and even plastic bottles to develop fruit, spices, herbs and leafy greens.
“My coverage is to utilize something and every part. I by no means throw away plastic water bottles and as a substitute flip them into small planters, particularly for rising fruits like strawberries. Moreover, I take advantage of PVC pipes to plant leafy greens like spinach, coriander, and so forth,” she says, including that although these are her concepts, it’s her husband John who has been serving to her make them a actuality.
“With out his assist, it might’ve been inconceivable for me to handle. He’s the one who units up every part for me and has been continually serving to me on this enterprise,” she provides with a smile.
Relating to combating pest assaults and plant ailments, Lizy says that she solely makes use of natural fertilisers and pesticides in her backyard. In response to her, it has been her years-long experimentations on farming which have helped her in developing with the perfect natural mixes, fertilisers and pesticides.
“Cow dung is likely one of the greatest natural manures, however being within the metropolis, it has been typically tough to get it simply. Due to this fact, I’ve been principally relying on natural substances like residence compost, peanut cake, rice water, and so forth to nourish the soil and improve the expansion of my greens and fruit timber,” explains Lizy.
She makes use of a singular method for a continuing provide of natural fertilisers, particularly for fruit timber. “I take advantage of plastic bottles and lower open its backside. Then, repair the open mouth into the soil within the planter. Fill the bottle with the each day kitchen waste, dried leaves, and so forth, and add some jaggery, buttermilk, or cow dung into it. Then shut the underside of the bottle utilizing a coconut shell. The slurry shaped contained in the bottle will drip into the soil, nourishing the expansion of the plant,” she says, including that she refills the combo a few times every week.
For protecting the pests at bay, Lizy says that she makes use of an array of measures. One is the utilization of yellow entice which, in response to her, helps in protecting sure pests at bay. “Apart from that, I make a mixture utilizing 5 ml of neem oil in a single litre of water and add some cleaning soap or detergent. Spraying this combine onto vegetation infrequently would resist pest assaults. One also can ferment rice water, dilute it in water, and spray it onto the plant,” she provides.
Lizy says that she treats her soil effectively earlier than planting something. “For that, I combine soil with lime and dry it,” says Lizy who at all times makes certain that she buys solely good high quality seeds and saplings.
“I purchase vegetable seeds/saplings by means of individuals I do know or by means of trusted farming teams on social media. Additionally, in relation to fruit timber, I acquire the saplings from completely different locations I journey to,” she says.
Completely different sorts of tomatoes, brinjal, peas, okra, beans, spinach, chillies, bitter gourd, chow chow, air potatoes, cucumber, drumstick, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and so forth are a number of among the many lengthy checklist of greens that Lizy grows on her terrace.
She additionally grows spices like pepper, turmeric, ginger, pippali (lengthy pepper), and even cardamom.
One of many main highlights of her terrace backyard is the gathering of strawberries that are principally grown in water bottles or on PVC pipes. Apart from strawberries, guavas, pomegranates, mangoes, jamuns, grapes, custard apples, water apples, western cherry, avocado, dragon fruits, oranges, blackberries, mulberries, and so forth. are a number of the different fruits on her terrace.
Lizy has gained a number of awards and accolades for her terrace gardening enterprise from completely different organisations in Kerala and Karnataka. “I’ve up to now acquired round 15 awards together with the Sarojini Damodaran basis’s award, Haritha Keralam award and the Mathrubhumi award,” she provides.
She says that with a whole lot of laborious work and slightly endurance, anybody can develop their meals even in restricted areas. “Even whether it is only a chilli plant when it flowers or bears its first fruit, it offers us a sort of happiness and satisfaction. It retains me going, and although it’s difficult, rising one’s personal meals is extremely rewarding by way of well being,” she says with a smile.
Edited by Yoshita Rao