Harish Mysore from Mysore, India

“After enjoying more than six decades of living in Bangalore, from childhood to retirement age, we took a decision to relocate ourselves to Mysore for various considerations, the major reason being the ever increasing pollution levels at Bangalore. The heritage royal city Mysore is just two hours by train from Bangalore, and has almost similar weather conditions of Bangalore. The city has maintained its name and fame as one of the cleanest cities of India for long years. The city boasts of organized and manicured gardens in quantity and quality.

Having gone through the various facets of gardening on ground and on terrace, for ornamentals, vegetables and fruits the organic way without using even a gram of synthetic fertilizer or pesticide, I wanted to put my hands into a little larger size of garden, this time, on ground.

Although we shifted ourselves to Mysore during March 2018, it was not until Dec 2018, we could identify a gardener and caretaker who could stay at the garden 24X7. With this, we decided to go ahead and sink a bore well. We were lucky enough to get very good water, sufficient to meet the full needs of the garden. We started our efforts on the land preparation, cleaning and also to put up a caretaker accommodation.

With the help of many friends and well-wishers within 35 days, the caretaker accommodation was ready, the land was cleaned and tilled, trenches were made where tree saplings were proposed to be planted, around 50 raised beds were made for growing different types of vegetables, couple of hundred pits were made for planting many tree saplings, and permanent long term flowering trees, etc..

Parallel efforts were put in to develop a green live productive fencing, where we sowed and developed vine based vegetables like double beans, broad beans, and pumpkin. We have also planted two types of passion fruit near the fence.

In the outer circle, around fifty drumstick tree saplings have been put, and another twenty five flax tree saplings have been put. In the next inner row from the fencing, we have a row of major and minor tree saplings planted on all four sides, which include seven varieties of Mango, five varieties of Jack, pomegranate, Avocado, Noni, Sapota, different varieties of citrus plants, water apple, rose apple, nutmeg, Cinnamon, fig, custard apple, five varieties of Guava, coconut, and neem. We are raising around fifty Cashew nut saplings for planting them on either sides of road in front of garden.

We are populating a public park and common area of around 1.25 acres in front of our garden and on opposite side of the road with all varieties of major fruiting and flowering trees numbering 300. There are many fragrant local flowering trees and plants planted including Champak, Parijatha, and varieties of Jasmine, Plumeria, both within the fence and on the road. We have planted more than fifty sunflower plants all over the garden to attract bees and butterflies. Marigold in numbers is also planned from pest management considerations.

We resorted to raised beds for growing vegetables in the central part of the garden which will continue to receive full sunlight for more than eight hours, even when the trees grow up. Our raised beds are three feet wide and there is a walking path of three feet between beds.

We make our own Panchagavya and Jeevamrutha (Cow dung based traditional Indian fertilizers). We are regularly feeding organic matter in the form of dry leaves, cow dung, plant and vegetable waste etc. We have fed the entire garden with different types of earthworms which will convert organic and biodegradable waste to vermicomposting all over. We occasionally feed diluted sour butter milk to all beds.

We have resorted to live mulching of all tree saplings and plants, by growing Amaranth at the base of each plant. In the process, we get loads of Amaranth and the plants are kept cool and are very much protected from summer heat.

We have also planted around hundred papaya plants and several varieties of banana plants. Hopefully, the drumsticks, papayas, double beans, bananas will generate some cash flow which will meet part of the running expenses of the garden.

My personal message to all our friends is that any and all of us, irrespective of our age, profession and location can contribute our little bit to nature, by planting trees, preferably fruits, and grow safe vegetables free from harmful chemicals and pesticides, which will contribute for the overall safe food production of the country. Not necessary that we alone should be beneficiaries of the fruits of our efforts. Let the birds, animals and the poor enjoy them as well, as they are all part of the same eco system to which we belong to.”