Who doesn’t want to live in the lap of nature surrounded by swaying trees, plants, and flowers? I spent my childhood living in large bungalows with huge gardens that had all kinds of trees and flowers growing. When I moved to the cities for work, all the flora disappeared from my life for a while due to space constraints.
However, a few years ago, I determined that I could have a ‘bit’ of a garden in some way or the other. Of course, it was all in pots and pans and plates on my various window sills and so-called balconies. Not all of them thrived, but, hey! I was growing something. Sometimes, some of the plants would shrivel and die. Some others did sustain and I was thrilled. For me, it has been a never-ending battle to sustain some greenery in the concrete jungle.
What is an urban garden?
Welcome to the concept of urban gardens. Window boxes, window sills, balconies, patios, porches, rooftops are spaces where you can create your own bit of greenery. Indoor plants can occupy the often-neglected corners of rooms, giving them an eco-friendly look.
If you cannot put anything on the ground or have no empty ground to put anything on, you can have hanging pots of plants and flowers. Window grills are ideal for growing creepers and other climbing plants.
Urban gardens are created out of using the indoors and living spaces, to grow plants and flowers. If none of your windows receive any sunlight, then you can grow plants that can live without the sun.
Why is it important to have some green in your homes?
I don’t know about you, but I find it extraordinarily soothing and calming sitting next to flowers or under trees. I try and visit gardens and parks as often as I can, time permitting. Otherwise, I find pleasure in just looking at the little bit of foliage in my house.
So why is it important to create some greenery in your homes?
As I said, it is relaxing to be with plants. Next to having pet animals, plants help in de-stressing. There are studies, which show that plants and trees actually raise productivity of people. Flowers also brighten up the place, and enhance your mood.
Plants and trees ‘clean’ up the air and environment around you by removing the toxic chemicals in the air. People who live amidst greenery are less prone to illnesses, while their concentration levels and memories are found to be superior to those who are deprived of greenery. Hospitals and wellness clinics are recognising the healing power of plants and are making it a point to have more greenery within their premises.
Easy-to-manage home plants
There are plenty of plants that can be grown within your house and require just minimal maintenance.
Money plant is a commonly found indoor plant that can be easily grown within a pot. It cleanses the air quality within the house and is also expected to bring in prosperity.
Snake plant is another indoor plant that looks good while purifying the air inside the house. It can survive in artificial lights or even low lights that filter into most flats these days.
Bamboo plants are those small plants, which can be kept in containers within the house. The water in the pots have to be changed once a fortnight. The leaves can be pruned to give a clean look and they can be kept anywhere to brighten up the place.
Creepers such as Ivy also grow without too much sunlight. They can be draped on outside grills to create a natural ‘curtain’ and cool the house. They're required to be trimmed and pruned regularly in order to keep them tidy.
Apart from the above, if you have sufficient space, you can also grow green chillies, tomatoes, coriander leaves, curry leaves, etc in baskets or pots. They would, however, require some amount of sunlight.
How to take care of your plants
Watering, changing the water, cleaning the pots, pruning the leaves are some of the things that you have to do regularly to keep your house plants in good condition. Pruning should be done right, otherwise branches can just wither away and die.
Inspect the leaves for insects and other vermin that can destroy or infect them. Ensure that there is enough soil in the pots for the roots to anchor themselves. Periodically, sift the soil so that the roots can breathe.
The soil requires replenishment from time to time, and for this, you can use natural ingredients available in your kitchen. Waste food can be mashed and mixed with the soil to enrich it. Egg shells are a rich source of nutrients for the soil. So are used tea leaves.
To prevent pests from destroying plants, use natural pesticides such as neem oil, which is a natural repellent. Tobacco is a natural insecticide, while tomato leaves are also effective repellents.
Other natural pesticides are orange peels, crushed garlic, pepper, and salt.
Urbanisation and concretisation is robbing us of the green cover that is part of our lives on earth. They are important for our survival, and I would urge everyone to take the trouble to ‘grow’ something. We need to leave behind a greener planet for our children.