Successive lockdowns have resulted in a spurt of amateur gardeners discovering the joy of harvesting their own produce. Now, with DIY kits, grow a dinner of spinach, microgreens and edible flowers
According to gardening experts, the boom in seed sales during the past three months is the largest spike witnessed in the recent past. Interest in kitchen gardening, especially, is seeing a spurt like never before. Across social media platforms, plant lovers are sharing their kitchen garden produce and landscape projects taking place in their homes. Riding on this wave, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kits have flooded the market.
Gardening kits are the easiest and most rewarding way to go. Curated for the exact quantity of seed and soil that you would need, they are ideal for beginners.
Bombay Greens, Mumbai
Tanvi and Ankur Agarwal realised the importance of being self-sustainable when they had limited access to fresh produce during lockdown. Bombay Greens came out of this need.
“During the pandemic, we were very lucky to have our own vegetable garden. This made us realise the importance of being self-sustainable and we thought of creating products that can help amateur gardeners grow their own produce easily and quickly,” says Tanvi.
While their initial investment for Bombay Greens was ₹30,000 when they started in the initial phase of the lockdown, Tanvi and Ankur broke even in a month’s time and their turnover has grown to ₹9 lakhs in the past five months.
These DIY Grow Kits offer a step by step guide, including set up and instructions, for success. Every kit has three different types of seeds, three grow pots, cocopeat discs, fertiliser, name tags and an instructions manual.
They include edible flowers, herbs, gourmet salad mix of seeds, exotic vegetables, herbal tea kit and detox kits.
(Their products are currently available on Amazon and will soon be available in their website www.bombaygreens.com)
Upaj Farm, Vadodara
Upaj was started by Avanee Jain, an architect turned farmer, after thorough research in organic farming techniques. To extend this knowledge to urban dwellers, Upaj Farm introduced the Grow It Yourself (GIY) kit. These kits simplify different agricultural techniques. They offer biodegradable grow pots and bags which facilitate growing saplings that can then be transplanted into larger pots.
The GIY kits offer a wide range of herbs, vegetables and microgreens in biodegradable coco pot, besides cocopeat coin, soil mix, organic fertiliser and an instruction and observation manual. These kits are made by a team of women from economically backward sections of society and seeds are sourced also seeds from them to help support their families.
“We recently introduced a subscription model: Chhota Kisan GIY kits, says Avanee, explaining that the multi-activity kit has been designed to engage children in gardening activities through different seasons, all through the year round, using fun instructions. Materials in the box are biodegradable or can be recycled.
She adds, “This year’s winter season kit talks not only about how to grow spinach in your home garden, but also how to make spinach paratha.”
Sow and Grow, Gurgaon
This Gurgaon-based enterprise was started by Neha Saharan about two years ago, offering a range of eco-friendly gifting solutions. The pandemic, however, shifted her focus towards DIY gardening kits when she saw a sudden spurt in sales.
Says Neha, “Kitchen gardening kits now account for about 80% of our sales. We have seen great interest in people buying these kits. Even if you have the smallest space on a window ledge or a balcony space with a bit of sunshine, you can make a beginning with these kits.”
The kits are plastic-free and include a coir pot, cocopeat growth medium, seeds, organic micronutrients and a marker stick. Italian basil and tomato kit is the most fast-moving, according to Neha. “We get about 100 orders from our website alone, of which a majority are for the basil and tomato kit,” she adds. The kits include spinach, lady’s finger, coriander, mint, peas, brinjal, beans, thyme and oregano. Sow and Grow also has a seed ball collection of tomato, chilli, brinjal that come in jute potli or pouch. Soon, they will be launching the microgreens DIY kit in five different varieties as well.
The Organic Farm, Chennai
The Organic Farm was set up in the year 1995, with the idea of growing and supplying chemical-free food. Since then, it has focussed on sustainable management of natural resources, including soil, water, flora and fauna.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, wiping grocery store shelves bare. Months later, the pandemic’s imprint is still easy to see. On receiving a flood of queries for kitchen gardening kits, 36-acre farm in Kalpakkam launched their Greens Kit, a zero-plastic concept with “gro-bags” made from banana stem and seeds, potting mix and detailed videos with instructions on how to grow fenugreek (methi), amaranthus, spinach, red spinach, and other varieties like ara keerai and siri keerai.
“I think people are growing more conscious of their food and health, and they also have more time to spend on their gardens,” says founder Alladi Mahadevan. “The gro-bags take very little space; and the kit is absolutely complete, so you don’t have to run pillar to post to find any other material. At the end of 40-45 days, not only can you harvest and enjoy eating your greens, you can also immediately re-use the gro-bags. We provide seeds for three cycles, so you can repeat the whole cycle, or grow other suitable seeds of your choice.”
The farm is also introducing multi-cropping into small urban gardens by providing germinated sapling and growing many species together in the same pots and spaces. They recently also started making bamboo trellis (pandals) for balconies and terraces on which many pots can be hung. Says Alladi, “These make it feasible even for small households in flats to grow their own food.”
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