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Imagine cooking a vegetable immediately after plucking it from the plant! It may sound like a dream but this dream can be made a reality, at least to some extent, by growing vegetables in the kitchen garden. We cannot own a farm, but considering the small size of our nuclear families, we can certainly grow some veggies at home. Even if the quantity is small, the joy of having one’s own grown food on the table is simply great. No fear of unnecessary chemicals, coloring agents or old stock kept in AC. Simply pluck it, cook it, and relish it!

If you have a garden area, an open backyard or side space, very fine. If not, you can still grow vegetables in pots kept in the balcony or terrace. Even gunny bags filled with soil can be used. Preferably buy long pots, about two feet long with a depth and width of at least one and half feet. This would allow the roots to grow comfortably. Fill the pots with a good mixture of soil and fertilizer. The pots should get sufficient sunlight. All vegetable plants need plenty of sunlight, to produce healthy fruits.

Some of the vegetables which can be easily grown at home are-
Brinjal, tomato, cauliflower, cabbage, raddish, carrot, ladyfinger, coriander, methi(fenugreek),broccoli, chilly, pudina(mint), spinach.
If you have ground space you can have creepers like beans, gourd, bitter gourd, sponge gourd (tori), pumpkin, cucumber. Trees like lemon, papaya, pomegranate, drumstick and guava need a slightly larger area.

Sowing/planting time-
February-March- This is the time to sow seeds of brinjal, ladyfinger, bitter gourd and sponge gourd.
July-August- Cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, raddish, spinach, methi, beans, gourd, broccoli and pumpkin seeds are sown during the rainy season. Rainy season is also the time to plant saplings of lemon, pomegranate, drumstick and papaya.
October- Seeds of tomato, coriander and a second crop of cauliflower are sown in the month of October.

Brinjal of different varieties (small, long, big and round, white, green, purple), tomato, spinach, methi, pudina, coriander can be easily grown in pots.
Climbers like beans and bitter gourd should have some support to climb up. But care must be taken to ensure that these do not grow up on other plants, big or small. As these climbers grow densely, they harm the trees/plants on which they grow by covering them from the sun. Pumpkin creeper spreads on the ground.
Cauliflower and cabbage require a gap of at least one foot between two plants, so that the leaves have enough space to grow big and produce large flowers. These along with tomato and brinjal are prone to insects and diseases during the growing period. Therefore regular spray of insecticide is required which should be stopped once the edible flower or fruit start growing. Avoid insecticides on leafy vegetables like spinach, coriander etc. which are consumed directly.

Lemon is a perennial plant and it usually produces two crops annually. There are different varieties of lemon which can be grown from seeds, grafts or stem cuttings. Same is true with drumstick and pomegranate. These plants/trees take one to two years to begin giving fruits. Apart from the regular fertilizers, the water left after washing non-veg food like fish and chicken is quite beneficial for lemon trees.

If you really enjoy gardening and like to experiment you can also try maize, groundnut, potato and onion.  I was so curios when I first sowed groundnut. I simply sowed the packed raw ones I always keep at home. It was an amazing experience when we finally pulled out the plants and plucked the healthy groundnuts from the roots. Same was with maize. Watching the plant grow, flower and then small maize appearing on every node was an exciting experience too. Considering the small spaces we have, quantity does not matter. The immense pleasure and satisfaction that home grown food give is unmatched!


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