Meet Madhavi, a plant mom and beginner’s guide to terrace gardening

As tough as the years 2020 and 2021 have been, both have offered some silver linings.

Published: 19th December 2021 09:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th December 2021 02:20 PM   |  A+A-

Madhavi receiving the Rythu Nestham Award from Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu

Madhavi receiving the Rythu Nestham Award from Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

VISAKHAPATNAM: As tough as the years 2020 and 2021 have been, both have offered some silver linings. To cope with the hard times, many people turned to find solace and good health in activities that they have always wanted to do or never thought they would do. 

With increased concerns around health and food safety, many people started taking up organic terrace gardening, since they are now more conscious than ever about where the food they eat comes from, and how it is grown. But, not everyone can get gardening right in the first time, they need someone to guide them too, as different climatic conditions call for different techniques and expertise. 

For most people in Andhra Pradesh, that “beginner’s guide to gardening” was Madhavi Guttikonda, a caring plant mom, who has carved her own niche in organic terrace gardening. From sowing flower seeds in her small space a decade ago to nurturing a 1,800 sq ft garden with an ever-expanding variety of organic produce and winning Rythu Nestham Award in the terrace gardening category for the year 2021, this Vizagite’s gardening journey has been fruitful not only to her but also to the audience of her YouTube channel, ‘Mad Gardener’, on which she shares the knowledge she has acquired through observation, experience and experiments in terrace gardening.

Speaking to TNIE, Madhavi Guttikonda, the 43-year-old terrace gardener from Visakhapatnam said, “For me, the word peace is synonymous with gardening. Initially, being an anthophile (someone who loves flowers), I started with a few flowering plants like roses, hibiscus, fragrant flowers, and some seasonal flowers. But it was when I moved to my own house that my idea of greens started taking shape. I switched to complete organic terrace gardening and started with growing leafy vegetables.” 

“Needless to say, they had to be some of the most delicious vegetables I had ever eaten,” Madhavi beamed. “Instead of merely reaping the benefits all the time, we get to add and tend to nature through gardening while also reducing our ecological footprint,” she noted.

Half a decade ago, she took up growing veggies like tomatoes, radish, aubergines, carrot, sweet potatoes, different varieties of beans, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, almost all types of gourds, and medicinal plants. She also nurtures mushroom, turmeric plants and fruits like guava, dragon fruit, papaya, mulberries, cherries, sweet lime, lemon, banana, sugarcane, etc.

“I keep on experimenting with seasonal and exotic varieties. Experiments did fail sometimes, but it never deterred me from trying,” said the gardener. “It feels rewarding every time I take a stroll in my terrace garden. Besides physical health, gardening greatly benefits mental and emotional well-being as it soothes our senses and helps us stay connected to nature,” Madhavi said.

Stating that the yield from her garden alone takes care of a significant portion of her family’s food needs round the year, Madhavi observed,  “Being able to harvest for ourselves and our family in a time of crisis, be it a virus outbreak or exorbitant prices, feels so satisfying.”

On the suggestion of her children, the plant mom took her baby steps on YouTube in 2018 by starting her channel ‘Mad Gardener’. The channel now has 4,83,000 subscribers. Not just that, this bona fide gardener also has a notable presence on Instagram with 45,000 followers and 2,18,000 on Facebook. 

“I just wanted ‘Mad Gardener’ to be a virtual library, where one could get their gardening-related doubts cleared,” she said. “My comments section was flooded with thank you messages and questions on how to fix certain plant problems. It was then that I decided I then made it a point to upload videos every week, with a goal to help more people understand the importance of a self-sustainable lifestyle.” 

Speaking of her future plans, she said, “Winning Rythu Nestham Award-2021 drove me to do more despite hardships. Sharing the stage with many great farmers was the moment when my wish of becoming a full-time farmer someday turned into a goal.”

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