Vipesh Garg, a gardener by heart whose childhood fascination for gardening cemented his graduation in Agriculture Science and did his Masters in Vegetable Breeding.
Since 2014, he has been working with the Punjab State Government in various capacities.
Not just professionally, personally as well, Vipesh’s love for gardening drove him to nurture his garden, which has now grown into a mini food forest of 100 square meters. He grows over 100 edible and non-edible chemical-free plants including, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicinal plants.
Vipesh’s gardening design mirrors a natural forest that can decompose, store water, produce clean air, provide access to sunlight, and yield healthier food by the process of ‘Biomimicry’.
1) Natural Mulching
Vipesh uses farm waste like weeds, dry leaves, eggshells, sugarcane bagasse, straw, banana leaves, and farm litter as mulching material. These materials on decomposing provide ample nutrition to plants.
Mulch is a protective layer above the soil that helps in retaining the moisture in the soil, preventing weed growth, and regenerating soil through slow fertilization. He also recommends planting edible legumes such as beans and fenugreek that also act as a bio-mulch. They fix the nitrogen in the soil, benefiting other plants as well.
2) In-Situ Composting
Vipesh swears by in-situ composting as it mimics nature, and the green waste naturally shrinks and decomposes into the soil surface.
“In-situ composting is for those who don’t have a compost bin to make garden compost. All one has to do is dig a one-feet-deep trench in the garden and fill it with kitchen waste like fruit peels and vegetable waste. Cover the waste with over with a layer of dry leaves,” explains Vipesh.
The organic waste decomposes and provides nutrient-rich food to microbes and worms. In turn, improving soil management and soil regeneration.
3) Companion Planting
Companion planting is sowing different crops close to maximize the use of space and increase crop productivity. It also helps in pest control, promotes pollination and the natural proliferation of beneficial insects.
“I grow banana, mint and turmeric as companion plants. The banana tree provides shade and turmeric keeps the pest away. Other combinations are maize, cowpeas and bottle gourd; and moringa, nasturtium, colocasia.”
4) Bio-Mimicked Raised Beds
In raised bed gardening, plants are grown in soil that is higher than the ground. For this, Vipesh has used a layer of gravel and small stones/pebbles. This helps in proper drainage and keeps roots from being damaged in case of over-irrigation during monsoons.
4) Seed Saving & Bio enzymes
Being a horticulture officer, Vipesh often gets an opportunity to visit farms across the state. He collects seeds while traveling from farmers or farms. He prefers opting for open-pollinated and self-seeded plants.
As these seeds are nutrient-rich and some even of rare varieties, Vipesh saves seeds and reproductive material from his garden left after every cycle. This process is known as seed saving.
Vipesh also prepares bio enzymes from fruit and vegetable waste. “I ferment kitchen fruit peels for over 60-90 days and then add jaggery and water. Every month I prepare around 10 litres of BE which is sprayed in my garden every 15 days,” he says.
With the help of these natural practices, Vipesh’s food garden flourishes with fruits like banana, lemon, kinnow, phalsa, guavas, grapes, papaya, cranberry, mulberry, and so on.
Vegetables include fenugreek, spinach, garden cress, mustard, rocket leaves, wild oxalis, coriander. Herbs and medicinal plants include mint, holy basil, Thai basil, camphor basil, celery, fennel, chamomile, insulin plant, ashwagandha, and so on.
Vipesh believes gardening is an integral part of life that has helped him grow in more ways than one, “I feel one with nature and at peace every time I step into my garden. Gardening has taught to be patient and not give up until I achieve the end goal.”