Category Archives: root

Fool-Proof Farming

If there’s one thing that can and will deflate the egos of even the most accomplished, the most successful and the most self-assured – it’s got to be farming! From ancient times, till date, and forever more – all the money, machinery and mission notwithstanding – what really matters in farming is how well the farmer understands her earth (yes, that’s a ‘her’)!

We’ve all been made classic fools of by Nature at some time or other. Years ago it was me, wondering why my chilly flowers were falling off  – and simply not getting it that there was no way even the most determined bee could buzz past my mosquito screen and pollinate those flowers! And then there was this very interesting plant that emerged just where I had sown okra seeds, so I lovingly watered it for months before I realized it was a weed – and a clever imposter at that too! And then there were the bean plants that shriveled in summer and tomato plants that rotted in the monsoons – instances of Nature rapping me on the head for growing in the wrong season! Farming brings us all down to earth 🙂

So you simply learn, and with time, get better. And guess what? Pretty soon you can actually eat some of the stuff you’ve been trying to grow (and it won’t poison you either)! Then again, that’s me – there are things I simply have to learn the hard way to learn them well. But, for all the Type A personalities who have to see triumph at their first shot, here’s a quick list of my experience-culled, success-guaranteed tips….

Five Fabulous Fundas for Fool-proof Farming

# 1 – Cheat & Choose Easy Stuff – Think mint, basil, wheatgrass, fenugreek (methi), beans, radish, garlic, sweet potato – herbs and veggies that need minimum fuss to propagate or grow (For seasons and more info, see my Plantopedia).

Mint  DSC_0359 wheatgrass

Mint, Methi & Wheatgrass – my top-three winning greens!

#2 – Give Them Their Space – To grow fruiting/rooting veggies you would need at least 3-4 kilos of potting soil in a medium to large container. Leafing veggies & herbs will get by on less.

SAMSUNG   P1040072  Terrace Garden in Mumbai

Containers: small for herbs like Indian Borage, medium for Ginger root, large for Tomato fruits

#3 – Worship Your Earth – Good, healthy soil will be well-composted and manured in contents, and friable or loamy in texture. And organic, yes, of course.

       Earth Compost CowManure

Organic Earth, Compost & Cow-Manure – three ingredients for a basic potting mix

#4 – Get Some of Them Rays – Nothing will grow with less than 4 hours of sunshine, but you really should be shooting for 6 hours of direct access to the yellow god, at the very least.

#5 – Water, Don’t Flood – Over-watering happens to be the main cause of plant death. So, curb your enthusiasm, ensure your container has drainage holes, and go easy on the fluids….


Now, that you know the Holy Grail, get started soon – tick off the fundas, one by one, and then wait for those lovely airborne paramours – the bees and butterflies – to come calling. And come they will, even to your high-rise apartment in smog city central. Just ensure that you don’t have a mosquito screen on your window to prevent them from entering 🙂

Until the next round of insights, or simply to catch up, happy farming!