A green thumb that got out of hand

Desh Bir Sharma

IN recent months I had felt a keen desire to go green. It meant using green waste from the kitchen for composting. It meant favouring organically grown farm produce, especially vegetables and fruit.

I had a small piece of land 2 km away from home. I decided to use it for growing vegetables for ourselves. I got plant-beds prepared in about two marlas of land. From the nursery, in I bought seeds and saplings. Two beds were used to plant brinjals and some tomato saplings. Another two were used to sow seeds of okra. Other beds received French beans. The last two went to cucumber and karela seeds.

Meanwhile, composting was in progress in a pit at home. All peals and leftovers of organic stuff found their way to the pit. After 15 days I found myself hurrying to the vegetable beds every morning to nurse my green wards. Manure from the pit played its role and after nearly 40 days, brinjals, beans and lady-finger plants displayed such fecundity that I had to go for harvesting every third day. Not knowing what to do with such volumes, my wife became generous. Neighbours, friends and relatives now came to realise how we were facing the problem of plenty.

A conscious effort was made to reap the produce at the most tender stage. The results were amazing. We had never seen such tenderness in vegetables fetched from the market. There was a kind of taste of freshness never experienced earlier. Yet , this plenty made us compulsive vegetable dispensers. Three domestic helps were administered this dose plenty of times. However, one of them confessed that her children did not like brinjals. That was a bathetic point in my green story.

Then the tomato plants came up with such bumper yield that for nearly one and a half months, we didn’t buy from the market. Rather, these reached many other kitchens too.

By the end of June, the yield tapered off. This was a welcome relief because some beneficiaries had started believing that they were being obliged with throwaway stuff. That is what happens when you get a thing without paying a price. That was my lesson.

Yet, something more was to come. I had emptied the compost pit in the flower-bed outside our house. One day, I found hundreds of seedlings pushing their tiny heads from the seeds that had stayed in the compost. By now I have planted papaya in almost all possible available spaces and gifted stout saplings to many. I am still left with many more, awaiting papaya-lovers (not many are expected to volunteer).

Left slightly wiser by the experience, I have now started growing vegetables on the roof-top in grow-bags, using coco peat and compost, for a family of two, lest the green gift of nature should be underestimated by people who receive it for free.

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