Growing plants was only a hobby. His interest developed slowly and led him to create a kitchen and terrace garden, only to be destroyed by pests . “I have begun rebuilding my garden for the second time. But this time with much more enthusiasm,” says Prof Vasantha Srinivasa Rao at the University of Hyderabad.
A major part of the professor’s daily routine is dedicated to tending to the plants in his garden. “After I take classes, I go home and spend considerable time in the garden,” he says and adds that people need not spend as much time as he does to create a garden or grow plants. “We can spend an hour in the garden and grow plants without any pesticides. This helps us stay healthy,” he opines.
Though it started with a few plants, the garden slowly started to produce different kinds of potherbs, vegetables and fruits. “That made it difficult for me to manage it with my day job. Though I dedicated quite a few hours in a day to the garden, it was getting difficult,” he shares adding that though he has started the initial process of rebuilding it, monsoon will be the time when his idea will materialise.
The professor’s garden
The list of plants that once grew in his garden resembled a vegetable market where the produce was ready for sale. Ginger, turmeric, onion, yams, potato, carrot and radish as well as cucumber, ridge gourd, snake gourd and bitter gourd that grew in buckets were a part of his garden.
The list is unending
“I also had leafy vegetables like spinach, amaranthus, Chinese spinach, fenugreek leaves, coriander and also sweetcorn, chillies, tomatoes, broad beans and also sugarcane millets growing in grow bags and wooden containers. Besides these I also grew guavas, pomegranates and lemons in big containers,” he recalls.
Making it possible
Explaining the method and the possibility of growing such a wide range of vegetables and fruits on a terrace, the professor says, “It is a very long process. It begins with the quality of soil,” he explains.
The professor also elaborates on the process. “I take new soil and put some dry leaves on it. Then I cover the leaves with a layer of soil again. This helps the worms present in the soil to stay where they are as they cannot survive when exposed to the sun,” explains Srinivasa Rao, pointing to the fact that the presence of worms is important as they help in bettering soil quality.
He also adds that soil needs to be watered once in two days which keeps it in a good condition.
Protecting the plants
As plants begin to grow, it becomes important that we take care of their health and protect them from diseases. And Srinivasa Rao has his own formula for this. He prepares seven kinds of medicines by himself at home. He has specific medicines for specific problems.
How to protect plants
■ For plants with low nutrition level – Jeevamrutham that is a mixture of both dung and urine of cow or Ghanajeevamrutham which is similar to Jeevamrutham added with dal powder and jaggery makes them healthy
■ Controlling and maintaining flowering of plants – egg amino acid – a mixture of eggs and lemon juice can be used
■ Prevention and killing of pests – Multi-pest control, a liquid made from seven different leaves and Vepakashayam, made of fresh curry leaves, cow dung and urine
■ Controlling and maintaining flowering in creepers – Powdered cow dung cakes mixed with turmeric powder