CHENNAI: Kanchan Jayakumar’s terrace garden is exquisite — it boasts of more than 400 varieties of flowers that bloom in almost every season. The 45 year-old teacher, who has designed the garden layout herself, also grows vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, cabbage and a variety of fruits.
“Even as a child, I was always interested in gardening, being surrounded by plants and trees gave me joy,” she smiles. However, it was only three years back that she started taking terrace gardening seriously, with support from her husband and children. “Gardening helps me relax,” she says, adding, “I initially grew flowers in order to offer the gods, but took to planting fruits and vegetables soon after.” What started as a hobby is slowly growing into a business now, as Kanchan sells seeds and conducts workshops on how to create one’s own terrace garden.
The gardening enthusiast is also a strong advocate of organic gardening and gets all her supplies and material from different rural areas of Devakottai, Madurai, Kanchipuram — she feels chemical pesticides and fertilizers adversely affect the soil, and hence, uses FYM (Farm Yard Manure) and organic pesticides such as neem paste, ginger and garlic paste, in addition to regular waste generated from the kitchen. “Household waste can be very useful in gardening. For example, food-based waste can be used as manure and plastic bottles can be used as flowering pots. The secret lies in creatively using materials to your advantage,” she explains.
Kanchan says that the nature and texture of Chennai’s soil does not support the growth of certain plants. “This is where the use of coco peats come in. They are a really good as a substitute for soil and are low maintenance, apart from being really light and an excellent moisture absorbent,” she avers.
Ask her how she finds time for the upkeep of her garden as a working professional, and she says, “Passion. It is solely because of it that I am able to do it. Through hard work, even a small area can be turned into a beautiful garden and give a good yield.”
With respect to taking her gardening dream forward, Kanchan feels that networking is the biggest challenge as she is not really active on social media. “Most of the people interested in setting up a terrace garden approach me through Facebook. So I guess I should try to be more active on social networking sites.”
Kanchan, who has attended many horticulture and terrace gardening workshops in Velacherry, T Nagar, Perambur and Mdipakkam, is looking forward to conduct a few ‘Go Green Gardening Workshops’ at Mylapore and Tambaram in the near future.