Meet Ruchikaa from Delhi, India

“I am a homemaker trying to use my extra time to encourage and promote organic and ethical gardening amongst my friends and family using social media.

I was inspired by the beauty of nature. I always wanted to contribute to mother earth, gardening is merely me realizing my true purpose.

I have never liked feeding my family mass produced, unethical and unhealthy food grown with harmful pesticides and other unnatural chemicals. I grow food simply because I want my children to eat healthy and clean food. Also, it is very satisfying to cook food from fresh ingredients from my garden.

My rooftop garden, at the moment, is 2200 sq feet. I grow seasonal vegetables such as spinach, fenugreek, broccoli, rocket leaves, tomatoes etc. in winter and in summer pumpkins, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, okra, cucumber etc. I also grow herbs such as multiple varieties of basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, marjoram, sage, neem and medicinal plants such as tulsi, mint, lemongrass, curry leaves, turmeric etc.

I add organic nutrients to my soil like homemade compost and cow dung. I practice crop rotation & regular loosening of soil for better nutrient absorption by the soil. I use a soil testing kit to keep in check the pH levels, Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium and Sulphur in the soil. I protect the topsoil by placing Mulch.

For pest management, I spray neem oil after every 10 days. I use my homemade pesticide made of garlic, chillies and neem leaves (All ingredients are home grown). I also make my biozymes using homegrown onion, garlic, chillies, neem etc. The method of making this is slightly different from the previously mentioned organic pesticide.

I use my own seeds as I preserve them every season or I buy seeds from local farmers. Yes, I share my seeds with my family and friends. Also, I give free samples to my Instagram followers.

My biggest hurdle is my limited space as it prevents me from adding more variety of foods such as Fruits, etc. Also, sometimes it can be hard to work in 112 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and also dealing with water shortages in my area.

My biggest reward is the feeling of knowing that the plants are waiting for me to tend to them when I wake up. My plants love me and they talk to me, they bring me joy. I feel healthier when I am with my plants. The Open sky, plants and soil help me balance my emotions. In short, I feel fulfilled.

I am in a communication group where I teach others how to make biozymes and how to practice organic home gardening techniques. Right now, due to Covid we are conducting free online info sessions. I visit my neighbours and friends near me and teach them how to grow their own food. I give away free seedlings and organic vegetables samples to friends, relatives, neighbours and anyone who asks for it. I donate excess produce to my local temple that uses it to feed the poor.

We all have a connection with soil (Mother Earth) after death, but I think we should have a connection with Mother Earth when we are still alive. Grow your own greens, spread your grown greens and live with greens!”

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