CHENNAI: A garden needs four things — flowering plants, vegetables, herbal plants and spinach. I have all of them in mine,” says Natarajan Manishankar Mythereyan (38) of Indra Terrace Garden, who is also a technician at Hyundai Motors.
“The flowers attract pollinating agents like butterflies, and this helps with pollination of the other plants too. The herbs prevent any kind of harmful insects or bacteria from attacking the plants,” he says as he shows us around his terrace garden, which he proudly calls ‘Oxygen Chamber’.
He became passionate about gardening because of his mother. “My mother Indra was an avid gardener, and it felt natural for me to get into it. I took it up as a profession by teaching people the art of terrace gardening,” he says.
While he is at work, his wife takes care of the garden. “I try to teach this to my kids too, who are in school. I wish they’d take up agriculture. In fact, I’d like it if the younger generation drifted towards farming,” he adds.
His terrace garden is 15-years-old. “I started planting flowers and graduated to a few vegetables. And then slowly, I had a wonderful terrace garden,” he smiles.
So why does he want more people to take up terrace gardening? “Though farmers try to reduce the use of chemical pesticides or artificial fertilisers, it is hard for various reasons. Before, they had large lands with cow sheds to provide the most natural fertilizer- cow dung. But since these lands have been reduced, they have resorted to using artificial products. It’s the need of the hour to promote self-gardening to prevent ourselves from the harmful effects of chemicals,” he explains.
And to those trying to test the waters in gardening, he says, “Gardening is basically a trial and error project. I had to do it repeatedly before I became successful. So, don’t give up just because you failed once. Maintain your garden yourself. If you don’t care enough, don’t do it,” he says.
Though Chennai’s climate is challenging, Mythreyan has managed to grow all kinds of plants. “There is no plant that won’t grow in this climate. It’s size may reduce, but it’ll be in its natural form. I have, so far, not been successful in growing carrots. I’ve tried, and failed so many times, but I’ll find a solution soon,” he says.