The Happiness Garden Setup

Home Micro Garden setup

I rekindled the joy of growing plants in my tiny balcony. I posted pictures of it with a hash tag #happinessGarden on Instagram (crossposted to twitter and FB as well). I augmented this with another experiment and hobby – indoor composting of kitchen waste.

I received a lot of encouraging comments and my teachers and friends prompted me to write more about how I did it. I thank them for keeping me at it, and my wife and family too!

Long Story short

My micro garden is setup on a ~25 square feet grill space that overlooks my room balcony, as seen in the cover image. Plants are potted in earthen, and plastic pots. Some of them are discarded and reused plastic container.

Click on the images below to see a full size slideshow

I use TrustBin to compost kitchen waste using Bokashi indoor bin technique. It gives awesome probiotic liquid fertilizer (also called Bokashi tea or Leechate) , and some great compost I use for potting plants. This has undoubtedly made almost dead plant blossom with many flowers, and fruits too!.

Since I work mostly from a beside-home office space and all by myself, the gardening hobby helps like meditation, other than the joy of seeing good things grow around you with Oxygen. Staring at the balcony between work breaks feels really good!

Rough start .. that’s learning!

The results took its own time since my first couple of tries were destroyed by pigeons and rodents. It was heartbreaking to see seedlings and young plants being trampled over. I did almost give up, before retrying. I was armed and dangerous with black pepper spray, and rodent cakes (the last ones they eat), during my next trial.

On the home composting experiment too, I had a bit of stink (literally), due to a bad choice of composting bin, and location within the home. Since my house is a small apartment on level 3, I do not have the luxury of a large outdoor space. I had fights with my protesting parents about the stench from the failed compost bin, each time i opened to check it(they had a genuine reason to). I learnt from my mistakes and kept at it, thanks to support from my wife, and my father giving me the hint to use the rooftop space to cure the compost.

I stuck to using the TrustBin setup for compost which ensured airtight composting with hardly any smell. I started layering pickled compost in a small shaded place on our building rooftop.

What’s grown so far?

What’s grown so far?

I have been able to grow tomatoes, bell peppers, green brinjal, fenugreek ( _Methi_ ) , corriander , Spear mint, Lemon grass and bitter gourd so far. The crop i get is much smaller than what is available in the market, maybe because the roots cannot grow deeper here, like in a bonsai. The quantity too is something i can count on my finger. The joy of seeing it grow, and monitoring the ecosystem is immense though!

Stages in Bell Pepper growth:

Stages in brinjal growth.

Other delights

The whole exercise of maintaining it does not take more than half hour a day. Quite a few days, my father waters the plants. He has a larger collection of flowering plants and basil in our other balconies.

Reusables

Broken mop bucket sets, old CD rom stack containers, join the conventional clay and plastic pots to hold plants.

On a hot and humid summer day, my air conditioner sweats out about 25 – 30 liters of water. I collect this in a bucket outside, and I use it to water plants. We also use water used for washing vegetables in the kitchen during morning time to reuse and minimize the water we draw.

About 50% of the potting mix comes from recycled kitchen waste. The compost derived from it is highly fertile and gives a great yield. My first brinjal plant, for instance bore flowers barely after its fourth or fifth leaf. It had a flower turned into fruit as well!

Indoor Composting

Bokashi composting method was invented by the Japanese, and it is ingenious! It is smell-free, although it requires a consumable – composting bran. After trying three different methods and setup, i found TrustBin to be the best one.

It comes with a sealed airtight bin that prevents flies, maggots and ensures great anaerobic composting. This makes it really smell free and safe for indoors, since in my case i do not have the luxury of doing it outdoors.

All that i wrote, is still learning in progress. I will be happy to share any further information you need though to help you pursue the same joy i am experiencing with this awesome hobby.

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