Karthik Vaidyanathan, who manages a business selling Chennapatna toys, decided he wanted an organic kitchen and a few ornamental plants on the balcony of his new house. “I wanted to ensure some greenery in my house. An organic garden also ensures that I do not have to worry about essentials for the kitchen.” Karthik is one among the growing number of Bengalureans, who are fed up of the ever growing concrete jungle in the city and are looking at options to set up gardens and organic kitchens in their homes. MetroPlus profiles some of the city based groups and individuals who are recreating gardens in balconies and terraces besides trying out what works and what does not in the gardening scene in namma city.
Xanadu Organic garden
For many years, Yohan De Nazareth was a high flying HR executive, before he decided to quit and work with nature. “I was always interested in gardening and was concerned about the garden city becoming a concrete jungle. I began by offering organic kitchen garden solutions for friends and family. After my brother, a graduate from Sristhi School of Design joined me, I came up with a business plan and Xanadu was born. I started with only vegetables and herbs and gradually moved on to incorporate ornamental flowers as well. We did not want to use plastic pots anymore and were against using chemicals. We use a lot of recyclable urban materials. Design is one of the most important elements of our work.”
He adds, “A good garden is dependent on easy availability of water resources. We have installed automatic irrigating systems. Before we start a project, we meet customers and check out what works best for their space. We are seeing a huge spurt in popularity. I get more than 10 enquiries a week. A lot of youngsters and new flat owners who have moved from old bungalows love having the concept of a garden in their flats. Builders also approach us to build balcony gardens for the model flats. As the city grows vertically, I’m sure demand for such solutions will increase. A lot of groups such as one headed by Dr. Viswanath want to grow some vegetables at home, using organic methods. They no longer want to depend on the polluted produce available in most markets. It is a welcome development.”
Cost: Rs. 30,000 upwards for a set of gardens
Popular plants: Ornamental and essentials for kitchen gardens such as tomatoes, lemons and herbs
My Sunny Balcony
My Sunny Balcony was born during a random coffee table discussion by four gardening enthusiasts and IT professionals — Reena Chengappa, Sriram Aravamudan, Athreya Chidambi, and Shailesh Deshpande.
Sriram says, “We were talking about how the green cover that the city once boasted about was disappearing fast and the garden city was losing its greatest USP. We were talking about the need to create spaces where the greenery can be maintained.”
He adds, “We realised that balcony could serve as a great space for building gardens. It is one of the urban spaces that we often tend to ignore. I have heard people complain that they live in high rises and are unable to create/maintain a garden. We started with creating gardening solutions for terraces. However, permissions were often tough to come by and we decided to focus on plants that allow customers to have a garden of their own in their balcony. Youngsters no longer want a few plastic pots in place of an actual garden. They are looking for solutions that would provide a good green cover and will match up with the decor of the house. Most complexes have multiple balconies and it makes sense to convert one of them into a garden.”
He adds, “Interest in balcony gardens has increased in the last year. We were one of the first firms to offer balcony and terrace gardening solutions. We get more than 100 orders on a monthly basis and manage to sell plants online as well. Most people prefer plants that can grow in shaded areas.
We visit the houses and depending on the people’s work schedules and interests, decide on the best plants for the garden. While we do offer help in getting the gardening done, some people prefer doing it on their own, once we supply the raw material.”
Sriram says that managing a garden is hard work.
“It is not similar to buying stationary or a sofa. A garden is a living organism and must be cared for. Watering the plants is vital. If you own a garden, it’s always a good idea to get your hands dirty and work at making your garden more beautiful.”
As compared to a generation ago, most people are aware of the need for gardens, contends Sriram.
“The shift to eating healthy has meant that many of our customers also want to grow vegetables such as tomatoes and herbs. They are receptive to ideas of creating home compost and generating stuff naturally. I feel that with more apartment complexes coming up, the balcony and terrace gardening industry will continue to see huge growth in the years to come.”
Cost factor: Rs. 80 to Rs.5, 000 for plant varieties. Garden makeovers costs are variable depending on the plants and the area used.
Availabilty: Online stores and stores located in Ulsoor and Jayamahal extension
Owns a Kitchen garden
Suresh Hinduja, a consulting chef and food designer started a garden at his 1,000 square feet terrace a few years ago to retain his competitive edge in the industry. “I started growing ingredients that are not available in the city. I grew some vegetables and lemons and it made me self sufficient to a great extent. I am able to treat guests to lemon juice made from the finest Bengali lemons. It is completely organic and safe. I feel that more people will start growing plants and gardens at home, since it not only adds to the decor of the house, but is a healthier option as well. I use a special technology that ensures that water is absorbed better. I do not need to keep on constantly watering the plants as well. I enjoy working on my garden. I feel having a kitchen garden is a safe bet in this time and age.”
For more options
* Garden Guru
* The Green Essence store
* Green Thumbs Boutique
* Oota from my Thotha