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Create a green oasis in your home

OCT 6, 2016 | By Antra Bhargava

Got a green thumb? We tell you how to fake it without killing your potted friends.

Urban gardens are the ideal way to breathe some fresh air into your home – no matter how small or large a place you may have. There are numerous benefits of building your own little green cover in the city – from reducing indoor temperatures to increasing the oxygen supply. Smartly planned, they are a great way to grow your own greens and can result in being the focal point for your social gatherings.
The feel good factor and potential of doing your bit for the environment should also be borne in mind – composting using kitchen waste, recycling plastic bottles as plant pots and reducing the landfill burden, rainwater harvesting and growing your own food, the possibilities are endless.
From a single pot to a ledge to balconies and terraces, there are plenty of options and people to help guide you through the process. You just need to start. As Leah Umrigar from The Green Bowl advises, “You can start with any amount of space. For plants, the two most important things are sunlight and water, and you need to get the balance right.”
So the first step is to ensure that you match the selected spot in your home, with the requirements of the plants you intend to cultivate. Depending on how much direct sunlight you have, you can choose between flowering and fruiting varieties, hardy plants like cacti or shade loving varieties. Where water is concerned, one needs to be mindful that overwatering is as much a problem as dehydration.
Starting your own kitchen garden allows great flexibility in terms of cost and scale. You can literally start from scratch by making your own compost and using leftover seeds. Vani Murthy of Solid Waste Management Round Table fame began her foray into the gardening world in this manner. She conducted a workshop on composting for the Organic Terrace Gardening group on Facebook, founded by Dr Vishwanath Kadur, which has over 29,000 members. There she exchanged her compost for seeds and that has resulted in her passion being awakened to the extent that at one point she was managing three separate terrace gardens on her own.
There are many innovative ideas in urban gardening to explore. Particularly where space is a constraint, gardens are going vertical. Green walls can be an eye-catching accessory in any urban household. Hydroponics or the art of growing plants using a soil-less medium is also fast catching on these days. The use of smart technology is also evolving to cater to the urban gardener – Vani uses a highly recommended app that can help manage drip irrigation in your plants from anywhere in the world, turning your system on or off at the touch of a bit, thereby controlling the water supply.
Help can be found on a number of sites and one can also choose to join the innumerable gardening groups on social media platforms. With so much information and support available, there really is no excuse for not having your own little green city patch.