My Edible Garden: Rotten tomatoes is all it took to get me to garden

Living in Nepal, I was inspired by many families who garden and compost. With a huge terrace in Ahmedabad, I just had to get into it.

My Edible Garden features notes and experiences from gardeners across India as a blog series every week. 

The constant gardener

I am a psychologist who works with children and adolescents. I love reading books, watching movies, travelling, gardening and composting, and blogging about this when I can.

Starting my own kitchen garden

I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal, before I moved to Ahmedabad, and many families there still have huge vegetable gardens (some as big as fields) where they grow corn, mustard, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. They also have huge composting pits in their backyard and it’s a common thing to compost. I was inspired by this. I also grew up in my paternal grandparents family home that was filled with fruit trees. I grew up eating fruits I plucked from trees, and that is a joy incomparable. So in Ahmedabad, since I have a huge terrace, I decided I would fill it with plants for want of a green space to relax in.

The first harvest

The first were tomatoes. I threw some rotten tomatoes in a pot and threw some mud on it, and a few months later I had tomatoes! I seriously didn’t think it was that easy. I do have a gardener who advises me on water quantities and organic compost proportions, etc. I have learnt so much from him.

Challenges and lessons

I vowed to keep the garden organic, so I constantly struggle with insects, especially white mealybugs. They cause the plant to stunt, and ants spread them to other pots. I isolate the plant and apply/spray diluted neem oil. I find that when I have the time to be consistent and meticulous about this, it works well, but if I am too busy and can’t attend to them immediately or regularly, I end up losing the plant. But I prefer losing it to putting insecticides, which apparently do the job in no time. But it is not my solution.

Gardening guide for the geeks

I usually use rotten vegetables (works perfectly for tomatoes and aubergine), dried up chillies, potatoes that begin to sprout, etc. Lemon and lemongrass, I buy at a nursery.

Communal gardening

It’s very hot in summers in Ahmedabad, so watering the plants at twilight and enjoying the sunset on the roof is great. In winters we invite friends over for barbecues.

Recommendations to first time growers

I recommend starting with tomatoes, as they are super easy and everyone uses them. It’ll get you motivated to grow more.

Gardening has helped me live more sustainably because…

It has forced me to compost and to connect with the earth. It has provided me a green space to relax in, in a hectic, polluted urban city environment.

Tend to a garden everyday in your backyard, front yard or window sill? Or join your friends every weekend in a community space to grow your own food? Write to to start sharing with our readers every week!

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