Rashmi Shukla, a Delhi resident, is trying to turn her home into a green oasis.
She has set up a garden on the roof of her house that is now home to several species of birds and insects. Her gardening hobby began almost 15 years ago with just five plants. Today, she grows numerous flowering plants as well as almost every seasonal fruit and vegetable. Zero pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used for cultivation, which is why various insects and birds consider the garden as their home.
Rashmi tells The Better India, “For the last 10 years, my balcony and terrace garden contain nests of bulbuls, sunbirds, tail birds and sparrows. The whole house resonates with their chirping now.”
Currently, there are eight nests of different birds in her roof garden.
Originally from Patna, Bihar, her father was an agricultural officer. Even though there was no garden in their home, she used to hear stories of trees and plants on a daily basis.
She moved into the flat located at the top floor of the building 15 years ago. She utilised its terrace to pursue her hobby of gardening. At the beginning stage, she had nothing except interest and willingness to create a beautiful garden.
She started off by growing flowering plants and then fruits. After the successful harvest of pomegranate, lemon and chikoo, she decided to plant more varieties.
“My 1,000 square feet house has a considerably big roof in which four water tanks are placed. I used the remaining space for gardening,” she says.
In the initial days of gardening, Rashmi hired a helper to prepare soil for planting, fertilise them and arrange the pots. But later on, she gained knowledge in each step and now maintains the whole garden by herself.
She then shifted from chemical fertilisers to organic manure by putting together a bio-compost. Dry leaves, cocopeat, kitchen waste and cow dung come as ingredients to produce it. Organic substances are used to scare away harmful insects.
Rashmi says, “When our soil is chemical-free, insects naturally grow in it. Instead of panicking, we should be happy that our organic model has succeeded.”
A village Inside The City
Other than just growing plants, Rashmi uses her creative skills to make DIY pots and other necessary equipment. With the help of a local bamboo artist, she built a hut on her roof. The hut lies amid lush green trees, plants, flowers and birds.
Her fellow residents were initially concerned about the waste water and mosquitoes emerging from the garden. But Rashmi solved the problem by growing strong fragranced flowers, which keep away mosquitoes and by placing pots a few inches above ground so that water doesn’t stagnate.
Rashmi’s journey implies that nothing feels like an obstacle when it comes to pursuing one’s own interest. She could have forsaken her gardening interest by cursing the unavailability of land. But she made use of the existing area and now stands as an example to everyone hoping to build a garden of their own.
She shares her ideas and techniques through her YouTube channel, which has more than 3 lakh subscribers within a period of one year.
You can contact Rashmi for information related to gardening at [email protected]
Read this article in Hindi here.