I want to share with you some experiences of my life related to gardening. Almost 40 years ago the newspapers had started reporting on climate change and global warming. Our economic growth was gathering pace on account of the increasing number of new industries and technologies. Forest cover was disappearing fast due to land acquisition for these new industries and for towns. The number of vehicles on the roads were also increasing. As a result there was a lot of air, water and food pollution, on account of which a lot of ailments like asthma, B. P. and cancer were increasing. Being a responsible citizen, I felt it was my duty to do something to save our environment. The most simple way was to grow more plants. In our house there were very few plants, some of which used to die quickly due to lack of knowledge on my part. So to gain knowledge about these, I joined the Kitchen Garden Association. With the help of their expertise I started growing vegetables, fruits and flowers at home. The passion I felt for plants was growing. I started plantations on balconies, terraces and every possible place where plants can be grown. In 10 years’ time I had a beautiful garden.
After sometime an underpass came up in front of my house and we had to use our service lane to enter the house. The land behind the house was like a big dumping ground, I felt cleaning this would be the first step in healing our environment. It took about 4 months to clean that whole area! I planted flowering plants and trees on the cleared area of the reclaimed waste land. Since there was a temple on this land, I decided to plant some trees considered auspicious, like Kalpvriksh, Banana, Amla, Banyan and Sami to help in worship by devotees. Some fruit trees like Pomegranate, Mango and Guava were also planted. It was a very rewarding and fulfilling exercise and I would urge everyone to also consider cleaning and developing wastelands around them. All residents of our society were very happy and started coming for morning walks in this previously abandoned area. Some people even started playing golf there. Since the area was big, I thought of making 2 large compost pits to save on green waste going to landfills. This is such an easy and simple step that can be taken by everyone to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. In this way the rich compost from the green waste of plants and trees of the garden could be used to make them more healthy and strong. Another very simple way that I have found to reduce waste, and which again can be adopted by anyone, is to use empty milk polybags for the propagation of plants. By both these inexpensive processes there were plentiful plants and compost that I could distribute and share to help others in planting their gardens. This process gave me so much satisfaction that I developed three parks in other housing societies also. Each of these also included compost pits. I started donating plants to societies where new parks were being developed.
About 10 years later, we shifted to a new house in the same colony. There was a huge 3.5 acre D.D.A. park in front of my house. It was in bad shape. Walkways were broken. Grass was not cut, hedges were not pruned, trees were not trimmed. Everywhere there was trash. Due to gathered past experience I took over the work of its beautification. Walkways were made first. We bought big grass cutting & hedge cutting machines, a bush cutter for smaller areas, pipes for watering and all other things required for gardening. Many flower beds were made. In 3 years’ time it turned into a beautiful ornamental garden. In the meanwhile I also beautified the other smaller gardens of my society. I would urge you all to take on these kinds of projects in your own localities and improve and beautify your environment. You may be able to get funding from local authorities, your welfare associations or you can even set up a group of like minded residents to help carry out these improvements.
The whole process of gardening has been very satisfying and fulfilling. This is also like social work for me in that not only have I been able to clean and beautify the environment, I have been able to help others do so too. Moreover, the people around me are very happy. My husband always makes fun of me by saying that, “you are a ‘Land Mafia’. Anywhere you see any waste land you deploy your labour and do plantation there and the land is yours”. Jokes apart, gardening is now my only religion. I hope it becomes yours too.