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Inflation impact: for some, terrace gardens aren’t just a hobby but also money-saver

Most of them never look at monetary benefits; but they stand to gain in times of sharp increase in vegetable prices

June 04, 2022 10:29 pm | Updated June 05, 2022 01:04 am IST - CHENNAI

Padma Rameshkumar, a terrace gardener from Chennai.

Padma Rameshkumar, a terrace gardener from Chennai. | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

Imagine walking up to your terrace, plucking a few tomatoes for rasam, some ladies finger for curry, a ridge gourd or two for kootu and cooking your meal. That’s what 39-year-old Thayumanavan Gunabalan has been at for years now.

A professor of electronic and electrical engineering at Panruti, Mr. Gunabalan buys only onions and garlic from the market. From sweet potatoes to lemon grass and tomatoes to chillies, his terrace garden yields a terrific harvest almost throughout the year.

When vegetable prices were soaring this month, some terrace gardeners barely felt the pinch as they could sustain pretty well without having to rely much on the market produce. “I have close to 200 plants on my terrace. Every week, we plan the menu at home based on the harvest we get. From Murungakkai Sambhar to herbal tea, we make it all at home,” he says. 

What’s more, with the harvest he gets, he also manages to sell spinach and earns ₹1,500 every month.

Watch | Terrace gardening: from hobby to money-saver

Padma Rameshkumar, 42, of Madipakkam, says that for most part of the year, she gets brinjal, tomato, different varieties of chillies, spinach, bitter gourds, snake gourds and ladies finger. “I have used close to 250 water cans and pots, too, for the vegetables. Every month, I’m able to save close to ₹2,000-₹2,500 as I needn’t buy all the vegetables,” she adds.

Mythreyan Manishankar, a 43-year-old technician who also does business, says the pandemic helped several persons get into terrace gardening with seriousness. He started off with a few plants nine years ago. Now, he grows not only vegetables but also a variety of fruits. “The terrace is filled with close to 300 pots for not just the routine vegetables but even lettuce, cucumbers, rosemary, dragon fruits, chikoo, lemons, guava, orange and water apple. 60%-70% of my kitchen needs are taken care of and I save nearly ₹2,000 a month and sometimes even more.”

Most of them never look at the monetary benefits before they get into terrace gardens, but in times of a sharp increase in vegetable prices, these gardens help them significantly, says Anoop Kumar C.P., organic farming and horticulture consultant. “The most important aspect is that a family gets to eat organic and healthy food. The happiness and satisfaction that stems from it is immeasurable. If a person has a garden for about 1,200-1,500 square feet, he can definitely manage without having to purchase most of the vegetables,” he adds.

Subashree Vijay, a terrace and herbal gardening expert, says that for someone who starts on a full scale, there is a susbtantial investment; but it won’t pinch their pocket thereafter. “From the kitchen remains, you will get the compost and homemade natural insect repellent. Then, one has to buy neem cakes and a few other essentials which may not cost ₹400-₹500 a month. All you need to spend is an hour or two every day in your garden. Gardening won’t just fill you with joy, it also saves your money a great deal,” she adds.

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