I have been passionate about gardening since childhood. In the past six decades that I have lived in Bengaluru working as an engineer, I managed to build a terrace garden from scratch and maintain it. But after retirement, I knew that I needed more. So it was a dream to move to Mysuru, a cleaner, and less congested city, and that came true in March 2018,” said Harish, while speaking to The Better India (TBI).
The overwhelming traffic and pollution were a few other reasons for his migration. “We wanted to live a toxin-free life and help others do that as well. So it was decided that we will move to a place with cleaner air and grow our food organically,” he adds.
In the next nine months, with the help of relatives and friends, Harish and his wife managed to transform 14,000 square feet of land into a fully organic farm that boasts over 300 varieties of fruits, herbs, vegetables, and flowers. “I have had some experience with on-ground and terrace gardening, but working on such a big land is a different ball-game altogether. So we reached out for help and hired a full-time gardener and slowly began the work in January 2019,” he shares. O keep things in order; the huge farm has been divided into parts.
The outer circle has around fifty drumstick tree saplings along with twenty-five flax tree saplings. In contrast, the inner circle is surrounded by fencing and a row of tree saplings planted on all four sides, including mango, five varieties of jackfruit, pomegranate, avocado, sapota, different types of citrus plants, water apple, rose apple, nutmeg, cinnamon, fig, custard apple, five varieties of guava, coconut, and neem.
We are also growing around 50 varieties of cashew nuts on either side of the garden entrance. In addition, we have tried to grow as many varieties of plants as possible, thus enhancing the biodiversity of the place,” he says. After almost six months of hard work, Harish now grows 300 varieties of plant species that include vegetables, fruits, herbs, greens, and flowers. One hundred varieties out of these have harvested half a ton of produce so far, he added.
A passionate gardener with substantial experience, Harish uses homemade organic traditional fertilizers to nourish his plants. “We make our own Panchagavya and Jeevamrutha at the garden and are regularly feeding organic matter in the form of dry leaves, cow dung, plant and vegetable waste, etc.
e adds that to improve soil quality and reduce weed growth, he grows the Amaranth plant at the base of each plant due to natural live mulching. “Not only does it protect the tree saplings from heat and weeds, but also produces two sacks full of edible greens high in nutritional value, every single day. In addition, we send this harvest to a nearby hostel mess for students, free of cost,” Harish says.
However, the garden is not the only project Harish has his hands on. In his efforts to make Mysuru greener than ever, he also volunteered to work on 1.25 acres of public park and the common area of a complex close to his farm where he hopes to grow 300 trees and has managed to plant around 50 till now. But that’s not it. Taking his efforts a notch higher, he also planted some 60 trees in the area,