As someone who grew up in a small town, we were lucky to have a small patch of land around the house where my mum would grow an assortment of vegetables. We grew carrots, cauliflower, peas, beans, even cucumbers and bhindi at different times of the year. We helped plant the seeds or seedlings and were thrilled when these grew to sprout flowers and then turn into actual vegetables that we could pick and have mum cook for us. Our vegetable garden forever changed my relationship with vegetables.
Having moved to the city, I do miss the old vegetable garden. I thought it would be interesting to have my children experience some of the joy that I felt as a child in being able to see vegetables grow in front of my eyes and then being able to pick and eat them.
I’ve decided to try and plant a small vegetable garden in my balcony.
Would you like to join me in teaching our children about vegetables?
I’ve consulted with the experts and looked at how practical this might be.
You might be floors away from real ground, but you can still get a great crop on a balcony or a terrace or even a windowsill, so long as it gets sunshine.
What you will need:
- These will depend on the space that you have and the vegetables that you want to grow.
- Smaller plants, like chillies and curry leaves will require very small pots as compared to vegetables like cucumber and capsicum.
- Remember, you can buy containers or you can reuse old cans and plastic tubs, so long as they have a large opening.
- Don’t forget to make small holes at the bottom of each of the containers for drainage.
- You can get soil at any nursery.
- You can even get organic manure or compost.
- It might be useful to get your hands on some old coir, which will act as a good moisture retainer.
- You will find both seeds and seedlings in most nurseries.
- The quality of the plant will depend on the quality of the seeds – so you need to consult with the nursery to ensure that these are of the right type.
- There are six vegetables that you can generally grow year round – chillies, capsicum, tomatoes, coriander, mint, and beans.
Getting the magic started:
- Once you have collected everything, prepare the containers.
- Put in the coir at the bottom and then the soil.
- When done, plant the seeds or seedlings in the soil a few inches apart.
- If planting beans, make sure that you place the pot next to a railing or something else that will support the bean creepers when these start to grow.
- Ideally, only one type of plant should be grown in one container.
- Remember to leave plenty of space in the pot for your plants to grow freely.
Making it your special project with your children:
- Set a schedule for you and your children to look after the plants.
- You will need to water your plants twice a day, making sure that the soil is adequately moist. Remember not to over water.
- Nitrate manure is available in most nurseries. Put about 25-30 gms of organic manure to the vegetable pots once in 30 days and till the soil a bit once the plants have begun to grow.
Your children can watch the plants grow and very soon, you’ll have little flowers that will turn into ready vegetables for them to pluck and for you to use in a healthy fresh meal.
Let us know how it turns out.
Share your story and pictures of your project. We’ll post your contributions and everyone else’s on this site. We look forward to seeing many children enjoy their first experience with growing their own vegetables!