Green is the color of the season and Going Green is the new mantra. Inherently we all want to do our bit to keep the planet green. Or at least minimize the impact that we make on it. But not many of us are able to do something at least not to the extent that we would like to. But sometimes we just get lucky…
It has been more than six months since I shifted to Gurgaon. And incidentally, here, I live in an independent house, after living in high rise apartments for years. On top of it, the plot next to our house is lying empty. Giving us more space to see around without infringing on someone else’s private space. The lane in which we live is a reasonably green place and you see a lot of greenery on all sides of the house. Like someone said about travelers ‘The people who want to go for a trip are the ones who have just come back from one’, I was also inspired by my new green surroundings. Of course, I had all the time available to me to think and do something about going green.
Going Green – Small steps
Sometime in the middle of April, we hired a gardener. His only task for the first few days was to clear the garden inside the compound and a piece of land by the side. After the land was cleared, grass cut, we began our hunt to find the plants and potential trees. We planted a Neem and a Gulmohar tree just outside the compound wall. Trimmed the hedges and the couple of other trees that were planted by the previous occupants of the house. On the side plot, we planted some vegetable seeds and hoped that they would survive in the upcoming heat and the passers-by, to whom this area was absolutely open. We also bought a few pots for indoors, some of which could survive the heat.
It’s a delight to see our fast growing Gulmohar, we can see its increase in height almost on a daily basis. The banana tree which has one new leaf every weekend, Guava tree which initially struggled to survive but has gained roots now and is growing. The resilient neem tree which people of the street love to break, but it keeps coming back to life with its new leaves. We miss the papaya tree that died an early death, and that too because I stepped on it by mistake.
Plants in Pot
In the pots, we have Tulsi, two varieties of money plant, croutons which are having a tough time. The Christmas tree which refuses to grow and is exactly the way we got it a few months back. And there are lots of seasonal flowers, which bloom during the daytime and sleep off as the sun goes down. The flowers are a delight to watch, on a given day there are anywhere around 70-80 flowers in the various shades of red-orange, pink, magenta, some with hues of blue. There is a deep red colored creeper that grows so fast that if it was eatable it could have been a solution to the world food problem. There is small lawn with green grass bordered by the red hedge.
In about 3 month’s time, the vegetable garden has changed our weekly grocery list. We have been eating vegetables grown in our garden. It all began with mint leaves sprouting along with spinach leaves. There was a week when we eat spinach and spinach. Searched for recipes from the internet and from everyone we spoke to. We had every dish flavored with spinach that week. Fresh mint leaves make the whole house smell good and you can smell the freshness that they bring for almost a day or so. After this, we had Bhindis (Lady Finger / Okra) and Baingans (Brinjal/Eggplant/Aubergine). We made all possible dishes from these two, dry sabzi, put them in sambhar and wherever possible.
The joy of growing your own vegetables
These days we get a lot of Laukis/Ghiya (bottle gourd) and Tori (smooth gourd). We are still struggling to find the recipes for them. The last two happen in so much quantity that we have been giving away more than 90% of the produce and we still have a lot in the refrigerator. There is green leafy Vaali Bhaji, a south Indian variety of spinach like green leaves. This almost happens without any effort, just plant some stems. And have the vegetable for a long time at a steady pace. Along the way, we get green chilies and Kadi Patta to flavor the vegetables. All that we have been procuring from the market had been onions, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and salad items.
I can not describe in words the joy of growing your own vegetables. And eating them as fresh as they can be, you have to experience it yourself.
In terms of buzzwords, we are eating Organic food, slow food, locally grown food. Creating no constraint on the environment by way of logistics. Lowering our carbon footprint by adding greenery and by not buying the transported food. Now, this may be a minuscule effort for going green compared to what we potentially need to do to undo the amount of damage we do to the earth. But it’s a small beginning and lot of such small drops can make an ocean.
It also gives me a feeling of producing a bit of what we have been consuming all our lives. There is a joy of sharing that we produce, especially when you can share it with people in your support system. We are also spending some time every day with nature. Which we would have otherwise spent on some electronic gadget like a computer or a TV or a mobile phone or something like that.
Social Impact of Going Green
There is another interesting aspect of going green that I love to talk about. Most of our interactions in our neighborhood started because of our garden. We are there in the garden every evening, watering it, weeding it off, tying the creepers here and there, cleaning it, and of course doing a treasure hunt for the yield of the day. Our neighbors have been observing and I guess admiring that. As we shared the vegetables with them, they started giving us things from their garden like the other day we got our supply of lemons from one of our neighbors. Above all, we seem to have inspired at 3-4 households in the neighborhood to grow gardens around their houses.
When we stand in front of the garden it is almost like looking at your labor of love. At the cost of being immodest, my garden sometimes reminds me of the old Onida ad ‘Neighbor’s envy, Owner’s pride’.
This is one of my several new experiences this year… Going Green.