I am not a great farmer or gardener; in fact far from it; fumbling along with more enthusiasm than know-how. When we had some indoor plants in our Mumbai apartment years back, they would regularly wilt and then die to be replaced with new ones (maybe due to my ignorance or lack of sunlight). I heard my better-half tell someone who came home, with a poker face, that the pots was an art installation about “stages of death”. I have graduated from a few pots in the balcony to a garden and a farm, my farming skills have improved marginally.
My enthusiasm and energy trumps better sense; I pluck weeds; dig the ground, harvest, whatever, all organically. I could in the process pluck the crop instead of the weeds or harvest something which is not yet mature, or something else, again giving my better half the golden opportunity to coin my farming efforts as “do-something farming” ( in lieu of the famous “do-nothing farming” propounded by Masanobu Fukoka , the father of modern day organic farming). But I did manage to grow pulses, oil seeds and millets ( however, the millets were helpfully harvested by the friendly neighbourhood peacocks ) .
The most important thing gardening taught me is to respect farmers, the enormous skills they possess , the resilience they have and the patience they display in dealing with the vagaries of nature, the uncertainties of seasons and the hard work they put in, without a break, to grow food for us season after season…year after year. The going is much tougher for organic farmers.
So on this World Environment Day, coming up on June 5th, let us resolve to grow something- to respect farmers, to revere nature and to revive our health! I believe that kitchen gardening or farming; planting a few fruit trees is a responsibility all of us have to undertake. There is really no choice, we have to learn and we have to do it: start with herbs like pudina, lemon grass; greens like palak, parippu keerai. Do you know that being in touch with the soil is the most therapeutic thing for our mental and physical well being? Also, do not forget to eat organic and use chemical free toiletries and cleaning materials, so as not to burden the earth, the toxic load on which is increasing unbearably thanks to humans!