|Hope is not lost for those who have tiny patches of space but with no inclination of full-time gardening. Radha Prathi throws light on the green good that can come out of such spaces.
There cannot possibly be a sane soul who abhors the idea of having his or her own garden, yet the space constraint in the growing cities is making the idea appear a distant dream for most people.
And then there are others who live in individual homes with a ribbon of land around their homes left vacant in order to abide by the rules of house construction within city limits.
Most such owners prefer to lay a flooring of cement or clay tiles around the house because they are under the impression that if they grew a tiny patch of greenery around their homes it would lead to seepage of water into the very foundations of the house.
Besides they also feel this arrangement makes it easier to maintain the home as it becomes too much of a responsibility to take care of plants which are not the members of a conventional garden.
Yet if you choose to think green but are not very well inclined towards hard work right round the year, here is an idea that you could follow by using up the tiniest bit of land around your homes and turn it into a productive green patch.
We are likely to have irregular spells of rains till at least two weeks after Diwali. These rains can be put into good use if you choose to start your ribbon garden as they will help your new plants to gather roots by keep the soil moist for a couple of weeks.
Use a day or two to clear the soil of big stones and debris and turn the soil. Shape small ridges from the wet soil with your hands along the outer end of the soil which will serve as a tiny dyke to your garden patch and prevent water from seeping outside the margin.
Many people prefer to place bricks or stones by way of border, but that really cannot be a good idea for these stones in turn will house white ants which will not hesitate to make a meal of the tender roots of your plants.
Use of insecticides to get rid of the termites may also turn harmful to the plants, hence, a soil bund is best and the most practical option. Once you are through with the bund mix a small bag of sand and urea over the earth and allow the spattering rains to help them sink into the soil and blend with the earth.
The right choice
Selection of plants for your garden is an important criteria for there is really no point in planting greenery that needs constant attention especially if you do not plan to spend a lot of time tending to the plants.
It will be in the best interest of the both the plant and yourself to select plants that have a long life and those which will not wilt or die if you choose to ignore them or when you are away from home for a couple of days.
Native tropical creepers can turn out to be the best choice because native flora has developed the knack of taking the rough with the smooth and surviving all odds.
Jasmines of any variety is the time tested choice of south Indians for they not only add the green charm to your home as they trail along your walls all the way up to the terrace but also fill your evenings with worshipful fragrance during their flowering season apart from taking very little space of your garden.
Surviving the test
There are several varieties of these jasmines all around the local area and in nurseries which sell plants. If you are unable to buy them, identify the varieties you particularly care for and cut off a fairly thick but green stem measuring not more than a foot.
Strip the leaves off the stem and place it in plain water for a few days till these stems sprout a small shoot of leaf. This is a sure sign that they will certainly survive. Once you see the sign of life in them plant them in the soil, in a slightly oblique manner so that a larger part of the stem is embedded in the soil. Make sure the planted spot is wet, for next forty five days till they gather roots. Even if the rains fail, make sure that you do not fail to water them during the initial fortnights.
At the end of the specified period, you can water your plants on alternate days or once in two days depending on the aridity of the soil. The creeper can be trained according to your wish by allowing it to entwine a biodegradable cord or a gunny thread.
If you are prudent you will avoid pruning the creepers during the first two years as pruned plants have a tendency to branch out irrationally causing chaotic uncontrolled growth that cannot be kept under check without professional help.
Once you allow these creepers to survive you can be rest assured that they will adorn your garden at least for the next quarter of a century without being a burden. You really do not have to go out of the way to spend on maintenance and nourishment of your green patch if you get into the routine of watering the plants with the water that you have used to wash your rice or vegetables or the water used to mop the floor or rinse the clothes.
If you do carry out this idea in action, you will be surprised to notice that the tiny ribbon of land that you thought was of no use, was able to actually awaken the green thumb in you.
Do not be surprised with yourself when you do give away jasmine stalks to wannabe gardeners when you prune your jasmines at a later date because you will not be able to curb the urge to make another patch of earth greener.