Let’s start Gardening….

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Start Gardening

Welcome Gardeners to my first post at Garden of Avalon. Hope me and my friends here will be able to give you some good information and change some minds about the amazing hobby that is Gardening. This post is for those of you, who are about to start gardening as a hobby. There won’t be too much technical information in this one. Those will come in future posts soon. I will talk about things you should expect and mistakes that could discourage you and potentially result in end of your gardening.

When I started gardening as a hobby, a lot of people around me used to ask me (some still do), Why are you wasting your time on this. You are spending so much money in this and wasting so much time in this barely 200 square feet space. You won’t be able to grow anything noticeable here. Besides tomato is Rs.10/kg in the market. BTW the last one is from my Dad.

Normally I keep my silence on this, specially in front of my Dad, cause I know what they are saying is correct. In a world where spending thousands of your money at a multiplex for a single movie without any substance whatsoever, spending something in gardening without getting the equal or more worth of produce seems kind of stupid, isn’t it? Specially when you can get fresh, cheap vegetables in the market loaded with expensive pesticides and fertilizer traces.

But I do wonder myself, why can’t be gardening treated like any other hobby we pursue. Where is this question of worth coming from. You will all agree that greenery gives you peace of mind. You will get some form of physical exercise with gardening. The process from a tiny seed to 7 feet plant and then fruits, must give you some kind of fulfillment right?   And then if you can give your kids even 100 grams of organic, nutritious and poison free food, isn’t this worth it? And let me tell you if you have ever tasted  a homegrown cherry tomato, questions like these will never cross your mind. But still comments like this can be a deterrence when you start gardening.

Ok, that’s all for the ranting today. BTW between three of us friends, Oryza and I rant a lot. Only Abu is a gentleman here but Abu is recently married now, so he won’t be able to give this blog too much time as of yet. So there will be a lot of ranting in our posts for now. If you don’t like that, we will make a point to keep those in separate paragraphs so that you can skip those. By the way, Abu here is also a national level seed distributor in India. He has a good collection of organic and heirloom seeds which you can check out at Florafields.com.

Now the point of this post was to making you aware of some facts you can expect, when you start  gardening as a hobby. Some of them might make you think, “This was a very bad idea..”. The first season is always hard. You will face a lot of teasing like above. Some background laughs and narrow eyes. Apart from that, here are few things you should expect and be ready for.

It’s not a cheap hobby.

Most of us including me thought this can’t be a costly affair. Some seeds, some containers, soil from backyard and a watering can. I should be set. Then one thing led to another and I ended up spending a lot of money in this hobby. I won’t give you a figure, cause I think by doing that, I will scare away half of you guys. Suffice to say that it can be as costly as you want but it won’t be cheap. It’s like photography as a hobby. You can very well use a point and shoot or you can go for an expensive DSLR. But you do need to buy a camera. So be prepared to spend some good money on this.

Nothing is available in this damn city.

Now things might not be that difficult if you live in places like Bengaluru. But in most places like mine, people are not so opened toward gardening, so availability of most of stuffs needed locally will be difficult. Mostly you will be able to order online or contact vendors directly. We will provide you with some sources we get our stuffs from. But before you buy online or contact vendor, do check out what’s available locally. Contact you local agricultural university. I found professors in my local university very helpful and passionate about helping small scale hobby gardeners.  Buying locally can save you a lot of time and money on shipping.

Automate the irrigation.

It’s not absolutely necessary but make proper arrangements for watering. There will be client deadlines in summer also, Boss can ask for overtime anytime. A trip may be in the line. It’s always a good idea to install a drip or sprinkler system on timer. Having a hobby doesn’t mean you can’t go on a holiday with family. I will make another post on this explaining in detail and costs involved.

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides will look cheaper than their organic counterpart but in long run you will destroy your garden. Organic fertilizers and pesticide acts slow but it will keep the health of your garden intact. Besides it’s one of the reason you should start gardening, that is to grow pure organic food. It’s a personal request from all of us, DON’T use chemical fertilizers or pesticide in your garden.

Start Composting / Vermicomposting

Making your own compost is always a good idea. You can actually skip buying fertilizers if you have enough compost. And nothing beats vermicompost. In fact in home environment vermi composting will be much more practical than regular hot composting. Your kitchen waste will produce more food for you when you add earthworms in between. Vegetable skins, grass clippings, old newspapers, cardboard boxes are not waste. They are more costly than you think they are.  There will be a lot posts about earthworms and composting in coming posts.

Pests will always be there

Nothing you can do about that. You can spray nuclear bombs on them and they will eventually come back. Learn to live with that. One thing you can do is to make your plant so healthy they will do their own pest control. And if you make it a point never to use chemicals in your garden, the healthy natural eco-system will take care of it’s own. To think that a life form with 450 million years of evolution behind it, doesn’t have an immune system is sheer stupidity.  We will discuss some natural way of pest control in coming posts also.

Absolute need to roll up your sleeves. 

No matter how organic and natural we make our garden, we are going against natural scheme of things. There will be a limited amount of soil in our containers, very limited diversity in plant species. Basically this is not how plants are supposed to grow. So you do need to work a little harder to make them comfortable in our barely natural setup. Let me tell you soil preparation for containers is a back breaking job. I just finished my last batch of containers and my hands are still in pain. The good news is you will get a good exercise and ……..I can’t think of anything else I’m getting here….I’m certainly not losing any weight……May be I shouldn’t combine soil preparation with beer. So basically you will get a very good exercise. The potato needs to come of the couch to grow tomato here.

Now I think I have gone a little far here to explain things that will discourage you from gardening on a blog that’s supposed to encourage you to start gardening. My idea was if you have some kind of idea what you are getting yourself into, it will be much harder later to discourage you from it.  But if you will allow your trust on me, I can assure you that it’s an amazing way to pass your free time. This will give you more fulfillment of soul than any other hobby. Watching, birth, growth and life of a living thing is something else and you can always rejoice your contributions in it. I will leave you for now with some snaps from my past seasons.

Happy Gardening….

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Well to begin with, I am no expert in gardening. Nor do I have a huge and amazing garden that TV channels are rushing in to get some footage. I'm just an average gardener with nothing but roof and patio space to grow. One thing special about me is the mistakes I made. Trust me I made them all. So at least I can tell you on good authority "What NOT to do...". Cheers :-)

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