Does homework, tuition, and school projects cause you stress? Here’s a good way to relax. Gardening is a creative pastime and a right step towards protecting the environment.

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck in his book The Life of the Bee.

What do bees have to do with gardens, you ask? “When you have gardens it is not just about plants, but a whole ecosystem that is sustained through it,” says Smita Kharbanda, of EcoKids, an initiative that sensitises children to nature and environment.

At EcoKids, children are involved in a variety of activities like growing their own pizza patch to herb gardens, vermiculture, recycling, and more.

“It is important for us to have that connection with nature. I call it the connection of the soul to the soil. Children need to get away from the mall culture and spend time in the garden to see how things grow. What we grow, is what we eat and it is what we are,” she says.

If not to learn how the food that is in your lunch box is grown, you could have a garden at least for its health-giving value. According to Smita, seeing things grow builds confidence that you have brought something to life.

So, now that we are convinced that having a garden is good for us and Mother Earth, let us start with planning on a kitchen garden, because while contributing to our environment, we can also pitch in for the kitchen.

Plants to begin with:

Curry leaves

Ease of maintenance: 9/10 - requires very little water

Sunlight required: Minimum 2-3 hours

Space required: These multiply fast! So a large container will be good.

Leaves will start sprouting early, but better to wait for at least two months before plucking.

Tomato

Ease of maintenance: 7/10 - need to water everyday and add in some compost like eggshells or old leaves.

Sunlight required: Minimum 2-3 hours of sunlight

Space required: Needs very little space, but the container should be deep though.

Usage: From 2.5 to 3 months

Chillies

Ease of maintenance: 9/10 - requires very little water

Sunlight required: Full sun anytime of the year

Space required: An old plastic bottle is enough

Growing time is two months.

Mint

Ease of maintenance: 10/10 – water every day

Sunlight required: Full sun

Space required: These grow fast

If grown from a stem, a month is enough.

Methi (fenugreek)

Ease of maintenance: 9/10

requires very little water

Sunlight required: Lots

of sunshine

Space required: They grow and spread very fast!

Methi leaves are ready for use in about 1.5 months

Plant artist Simrit Malhi, of Mumbai-based S.E.E.D (Sustainable. Ecological. Exterior. Design. says

All you need for a kitchen garden is a few pots! The only pre-requisite is that there should be some sunshine falling on the space — a minimum of two to three hours is good enough.

A few containers, good soil - you can buy this at any nursery and seeds and saplings.

Start off with curry leaves; tomato seeds; chilli seeds; the top of a pineapple; a few twigs of mint and methi seeds (fenugreek).