‘Vegetables and fruits grown will supplement the meals of children'

Chief Executive Officer of Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat K.N. Vijay Prakash said on Wednesday that the panchayat would raise gardens in 500 government schools in the district. If the schools did not have compound walls, they would be built through donors.

He was addressing a gathering after inaugurating a training programme in terrace gardening here. He said that the district had 800 children who lacked nutrition. If vegetables and fruits were grown in the gardens, they would supplement the meals of schoolchildren.

He said the panchayat had planned to construct parks in taluk headquarters in the district for people with disabilities. The process of identifying land for the purpose was in progress.

Mr. Prakash urged those participating in the programme to take up terrace gardening. They could grow vegetables and fruits in the space available, he said.

He said that the area under farming in the district was shrinking because of various reasons. Children in urban areas were not being exposed to farming. Terrace gardening would also give them an idea of farming and greenery.

Rajendra Hegde, Director, Garden City Farmers' Association, Bangalore, who was one of the resource persons, said that bushy plants should be kept in the centre of the terrace while pots of fruits, creepers and drooping plants should be kept on the sides.

Mr. Hegde said that in summer, plants should be watered twice in the morning and evening and in winter once, either in the morning or evening. He said that plants should not be watered during the day.

Mr. Hegde, who was also project leader at Vittal Mallya Scientific Research Foundation, Bangalore, said that ants would not damage plants. “Ants are not pests they are only a nuisance,” he said.

He said that coconut water acted as a rich nutrient to plants. They did attracted ants. If people could tolerate ants, they could feed plants with coconut water.

Mr. Hegde said that coconut coir fibre pots were available in the market. There was no need to pin holes into such pots for de-watering. These pots absorbed water. Plants would spread their roots in these pots easily. These pots were best for terrace gardening. Their durability was two years.

In addition, expandable grow bags were available. Soil-less growing material was also available for terrace gardening. Mr. Hegde said that 50 varieties of vegetables could be grown through terrace gardening.

He said it was advisable to rotate crops.

For example, after growing brinjal in a pot, beans could be grown next.

The Department of Horticulture and Siri Totagarike Sangha organised the training programme.

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