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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Kitchen gardening, a love that grows

Chitvan Singh Dhillon, Hindustan Times   August 13, 2014
First Published: 11:13 IST(13/8/2014) | Last Updated: 11:20 IST(13/8/2014)
I’m a nature and garden aficionado. A few months ago, my mother and I decided to give a facelift to a secluded and neglected corner in our backyard. The economist in me drew up the cost-benefit analysis of undertaking this “green mission”. The benefits of developing a kitchen garden outweighed the costs, in all respects.

Kitchen gardens have been around since individuals first decided to grow plants for self-consumption rather than gathering them simply from the wild and forests. I reckon it’s the ultimate in practical gardening—growing fruits, veggies, herbs, and edible flowers right outside your kitchen door. All you need to do is step outside, harvest the freshest and most flavourful produce, then cook and serve. What could be easier?

My mother was chief designer of our very own kitchen. Hours of calibrated planning went into making sure our humble mini garden was attractive yet practical. Since space was limited to the extreme, we reserved our kitchenette for delicate crops that we would require a bit at a time—lettuce, salad leaves, sugar snaps, table-radishes etc.

To add glamour and beauty to our kitchen garden, we planted ornamental hot peppers and strawberries—their variegated foliage and multicoloured fruits, like a riot of colour! We surrounded our kitchen garden with a border of fireballs and gladioli.

A kitchen garden doesn’t have to be right outside the kitchen door; but the closer it is the better. Think about it this way: the easier it is for you to get into the garden, the more likely you will get tasty things out of it. Did you forget to garnish your charcoal-grilled chicken with fresh parsley or dill? No problem, it’s just a few steps away.

I have come to the conclusion that gardening is therapeutic, in a way that it’s a labour of love. Planting your own vegetable garden is a way of relieving stress, eating healthier and safer, providing better nutrition to friends and family, and getting some exercise while soaking in the warm sunshine.

With rapid urbanisation, even flat-dwellers can produce a decent-sized vegetable garden on their terraces or balconies. Whether you have a green thumb or not, you can grow vegetables indoors. No worrying about the weather, battling insects, or slimy slugs.

I just plucked fresh cherry tomatoes, sprigs of mint, bunch of loquats and lime. Oh, green chillies and cucumbers as well. Fresh salad, anyone?
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