What is an organic garden ? Why do children need to know about gardening ?

What is an organic garden ? Why do children need to know about gardening ?

A organic garden is one thats free from chemicals in every way. No chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used to aid quick growth. Artificial practices of sweetening fruits or brightening the colours of  fruits and vegetables are not followed .
There are a lot of malpractices carried out in the market to make apples and tomatoes look bright red. To make grapes larger or water melons sweeter. Think about it when was the last time you asked your fruit vendor to cut out a cube of water melon to check if its red? While this was a common practice in Mumbai 10 years ago; it s absolutely not practiced anymore. Reason all our water melons are sweet now.How come? Well they are injected with sugar and colour . So it looks and tastes picture  perfect.

So how does an organic garden grow?

An organic garden also needs fertilizers as per the crops requirements. Here the fertilizers would consist of natural options like compost made from food waste or animal waste such as cow dung or goat dung and other domesticated animals. Did you know a common Gir Cow Native to India produces enough of dung/ urine/ amruth mithi to fertilize 5 acres of land!!! Not only this, after continuously adding this to the soil for 3 consecutive years the micro organisms boost the nutrition of the soil for the next 10 years. Using good fertilizers attracts good bugs that feed on bad bugs that harm your plants. Yes there are good bugs too and that’s why its important to introduce our children to organic farming. Today the media only instructs us to kill on site/ spray on sight anything and everything that creeps / crawls needs to screamed at and killed.

I realized the same only when my 5 year old expressed fear towards ants or any insects that move (that pretty much all of them). At this time I had my set up my composting business and we had alot of really good compost so the most natural thing to do was to start a garden. To encourage both the kids to help we started with flowers, yellow wadelias, orange marigolds, pink pansies and purple pentas. Gardening was delightful and very physical. While both the kids enjoyed digging and planting they each had their share of screams. The outcome though was really pretty and that kept them coming back for more.  At the end of our day no one was screaming maybe they figured not all bugs are bad and maybe they were too tired , or the bugs didn’t have the same effect on them anymore. Thus started my workshops with schools and preschools who would come visit our beautiful garden flowers, compost and all the beautiful creatures init. While flowers are great to start with growing fruits and vegetables is way more fulfilling try it.

It was 6 months since we started composting and adding the same to the soil from full of rats and ants our garden turned around night. In 3 months we hed millipedes these little black insects with a yellow /white line across their body; they roll up into a shell if you touch them. They are indicators of good soil. Then came in a festive host of lady bugs in red, orange, yellow and green !! they come in about 7 colours apparently. Good news they feed on the mili bugs that harm our plants. Then they were butterflies to cheer you up anytime of the day. Soon we had dainty geckos in yellow, green and brown; never before had I witnessed so many colourful insects/ reptiles . Strangely enough I too didn’t get scared of them anymore.   Thanks to the compost my garden was alive again. This I have seen at each and every of my 100 sites (housing Socities) that we have taken up since then. Along with all this colour play we had alot of schools like oberoi International goregaon, billabong school etc who would come visit our butterfly cum vegetable garden.  

I remember ever so clearly on one butterfly tour the children and I were admiring a beautiful fluorescent green and black lime butterfly as it fluttered down daintily on a bright yellow wadelia only to be devoured in a split second by a gecko. That was indeed a WOW-OHHH moment. The flowers and herbs we grew made exquisite soft drinks – marigold delight , peppermint rush and basil lime were the hot favourites. Madumalti and chamomile made great infusions . Blue pea flowers that changed colours in our drinks. While our garden did start as a sensory garden sight, smell, taste and touch for preschoolers . We had primary schools dropping by to see the life cycle of a butterfly . Paint Colours from flowers. The secondary section experimented with home composters and lots of upcycling activities like bottle benches, lights and lots more. A student brilliantly described urban farming as all subjects rolled in one . Teamwork and maths to make vegetable beds, science and ecosystems to irrigate and grow; and the importance of Mumbai’s hot sun that helps fruits to ripen. – Our lady Of Perpetual Succor school – Chembur. Beautiful garden with plants growing at various stages . A great experience for our children to see so much of variety in one place.- Billabong International (Malad)