Many are interested in growing at least a tiny vegetable patch, even on smaller plots, as they want to enjoy fresh veggies that aren’t doused in harmful pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Terrace farming has become incredibly popular in the state, especially during the lockdown days. Meanwhile, Mini Sreekumar, a native of Thrikkakara in Ernakulam, Kerala has impressed everyone by growing a splendid vegetable garden in just two and half cents. Interestingly, she doesn’t grow her garden on her terrace which isn’t vacant.
Mini has been passionate about gardening and tending to plants since childhood. She managed to grow at least a small garden in every house that she had lived in. Her house stands on a meager 2.5 cents plot in Thrikkakara. The house that has an area of just 600 sqft has been built as a three-storey structure, to overcome the spatial challenges. The upper floors have been rented out.
There isn’t any soil on the ground in the yard. However, Mini was keen to grow plants and she began by growing curry leaves and chilies in small pots. Plump tomatoes, fresh carrots and beetroots, spinach, Chinese potato, different kinds of chili peppers and turmeric are grown in pots and grow bags here. The plants take up most of the space in the verandah that is just five feet wide. Pots are kept on the stairway and the sunshades too. Moreover, two jackfruit trees, a guava tree, a mango tree, a drumstick tree and a gooseberry shrub too are grown on this small piece of land.
Inspiration from Facebook
Even though Mini was interested in farming, she lacked proper training and knowledge. She learned more about the new methods in farming, modern technologies and improved varieties of seeds after she became active on social media. She purchased saplings and seeds from many farming-related groups in Facebook. As her house lacked space, Mini made sure that the trees that bear fruits are the types that do not grow tall. Even then, her main concern was the lack of soil on the ground. However, Mini wasn’t ready to give up yet. She filled pots and grow - bags with soil from nearby construction sites and grew her favorite veggies in them. She bought huge drums to grow fruit-bearing trees like jackfruit tree, mango tree, guava and drumstick trees. Mini says it was Facebook that had taught her how to do farming in a smaller space.
The soil is arranged in the pots by mixing it with cow dung powder, neem cake and lime. Mini vows that she doesn’t use chemical fertilizers or harmful pesticides in her garden. Instead, she turns kitchen waste into organic manure which is then used in the pots. Mini is happy that she gets fresh vegetables that are required in the kitchen, from her own garden. Moreover, she supplies the surplus produce to her neighbors and friends.
Mini tends to her plants just like she takes care of her children. She has even given pet names to her plants to express her love and devotion. Meanwhile, the plants show their appreciation by bearing fruits and other produce in abundance. The family was surprised when they saw huge jackfruits and juicy guavas growing out of drums. Even though Mini is eager to grow more plants and vegetables, lack of space is a matter of concern. So, she removes the plants in each pot once they have matured and replaces them with newer ones. Mini, who works as an insurance agent, had spent her lockdown days tending to her beloved plants and trees. Besides vegetables, beautiful flowering plants too are grown in pots that line the top of the compound wall.
Mini credits her family for their impeccable support and encouragement. Her husband is a politician while her sons are students. Mini has shown that one doesn’t need acres of fertile land for farming. All one needs, to turn barren land into a mesmerizing garden, is sheer determination and willingness to work hard.