The year 2013 has turned-out, quite literally, ‘fruitful’ for the couple Thomas Varghese and Mini Thomas. The mini orchard on their terrace has yielded close to 20 kilograms of red grapes of Mangalore variety.On a casual glance, their terrace appears ordinary like any other. A closer look, however, reveals a bamboo fence, meticulously erected and tied together by strings. The grapevine has grown-up around the trellis, forming a natural roof. Bunches of ripe grapes, hanging from the grapevine, are neatly packed in plastic covers, to protect them from bats, monkeys and other nocturnal visitors.
The other half of the roof has another fence dominated by Ash Gourd vine (‘Boodida Gummidakaya’), which has already started yielding the fruit, commonly consumed as a vegetable. The parapet wall is lined with numerous pots of various sizes, in which a host of greens including Amaranth (‘Thotakura’), spinach (‘Palak’), lemon and ridge gourd being grown. This year’s good yield has enabled the couple to ferment grapes and make wine out of it. They even distributed grapes and a part of the home made wine to neighbours. “It is satisfying to share something with neighbours that you have produced on your own without using fertilizer and pesticides. We want to inspire other families in the locality to take up vegetable gardening. It’s not tough and does not need full time attention,” says Mr. Varghese.
In addition to grapes, the couple are also proud of the steady supply of ash gourds, passion fruit, beans, lemon, spinach, Amaranth, curry leaves, ridge gourds and chillies all through the year from their vegetable garden.There is also a special section of plants that have medicinal value like Brahmi, Sarvasugandhi, six varieties of Tulasi, turmeric and ginger.Mr. Varghese, a grocery store owner in Safilguda, insists that maintaining a grapevine and growing all fruits, vegetables and herbs is not a rocket science. The family has become accustomed to plucking fruits, herbs, vegetables and greens from the vegetable garden for cooking.
“Everybody talks about the harmful effects of fertilizer and pesticides. In a Malayalam magazine, we came across a series of articles that described the ways and means to maintain a vegetable garden in the backyard and roof. Along with the column, the magazine also used to supply seeds. I started following the given instructions and soon got a hang of it,” he said.It took three years for Mr. Varghese to achieve a fully matured grapevine. “Grapevines need support, ample sunlight and water to survive and grow. Except for summer months of April, May and June, the rest of the year, grapevines will yield good results. The first two years were not great in terms of yield. This year, however, everything fell into place,” said Mini Thomas.
The couple also learned the art of making natural compost. Nothing is thrown out as waste from their household.“We are piling organic wastes like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and other wastes in a composting bin. Eventually, they will decay and can be used to nourish plants,” they described.
It is satisfying to share something with neighbours that you have produced on your own without using fertilizer and pesticides
courtesy THE HINDU