Poverty Gardening

Grow Your Own India! has started. On a sunny terrace in New Delhi, amidst overcast sullen skies, and one struggling Areca palm, little tomato plants have started to grow.  The commitment is to use everything from the surrounding environment to grow these plants, so that I can then  prove that anyone anywhere with one seed and some basic guidance can also grow food.  Once  each plant matures they will go to families in the neighborhood with a “how to care for me” card in both Hindi and English. 🙂

These little seedlings are planted in dirt and cow manure inside cut up Coke bottle bottoms found laying around the road.  The original seeds came from a tomato bought from Navdanya. The seeds were soaked in an empty cinnamon container for three days until a film formed on the water and the seeds had “fermented”. Then the seeds were planted.

Meanwhile a  broken suitcase was converted into a compost bin. After buying a coconut for 20 rupees, I had the vendor pull off the husk. As a side note I can get the husks for free in the future. I took it to the rooftop terrace, chopped the husks into fine pieces, and with every available vegetable table scraps from lunch and dinner, mix them in.  The ratio: half husks and half vegetables. I’m careful to check the moisture content and to add a little more moisture if the Delhi heat begins to dry things up.  The trick is to cut everything down into tiny tiny pieces when you have such a small space to work with. I also added two fist fulls of dirt.  Wallah…compost has started. In five weeks I hope to plant a new round of vegetables in my broken down composting suitcase! If you do it right, there is no smell to annoy the many curious neighbors peeking from their rooftops!

I am installing  a pigeon roost. Hopefully with left over grain scraps and a little seed I can entice them to eat  and poop in one spot. After it builds up it will be scrapped off and made into fertilizer.

Now the spouts….Take Channa and Moong beans, soak in water over night, and lay in a plastic tray that is covered in a cool shaded place. It two days, you have yummy thriving sprouts.  There are lots of nutrition packed into these little sprouts – Thiamine, ascorbic acid, protein, riboflavin, niacin,  enzymes, fiber and iron .  If you are eating on a budget or with no money at all, every bit of nutrition counts, so for maximizing benefit, eat raw foods.  I’m eating them everyday!

I’m also conducting experiments various “home made” fertilizers. I’ve affectionately named my odd ball research Poverty Gardening. Thus far I’ve discovered the benefit of using urine, menstrual blood, ground bone, burnt wood  and rotting sprouts  for fertilizer. Since returning to India, I have had no “spending” money. So I decided to turn it into a blessing and see how much food can be grown when you have nothing at all!

Time to garden!  Please email your ideas for Poverty Gardening @ actnaturallworldwide@gmail.com!


May we live in a garden together.





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