Among the congested streets and traffic of Bengaluru, Richards Town is home to Jinsey Samuel. At first glance, you will see a beautiful colorful garden on the roof of Jinci’s house. In which you can see from purple and burgundy to green. A closer look will show you that this is not a common garden. There are also shrimp and tilapia fish among the flowers, herbal plants and vegetables, which makes it quite different. Jinci has grown its plants using new methods like Hydroponic and Aquaponic Farming. In this method plants without soil are grown.
Using hydroponics and aquaponics method
In the month of March last year, there was a lockdown in the entire country. It was a common sight to see large numbers of people queuing outside the supermarket to buy everyday things. This was the time when Jinci’s husband, Benson Samuel, suggested her to grow her own food. “During lockdown, we had to stand in long queues at grocery stores, which was a tiring task,” says Jinsey. My mother-in-law and I have always been fond of gardening but, the lockdown proved to be a game-changer for us. ”
However, Jinci and her husband have no formal training in agriculture. Jinci holds an MBA degree and professional experience working in a BPO. He has also worked in the food sector, running a cryptocurrency platform. At the same time, her husband has worked in the technology industry.
Since both Jinsi and her husband were doing their jobs and had no prior training in growing vegetables etc. Therefore, they began to take time to study possible methods that they could use. For two reasons, he was attracted by the hydroponics and aquaponics method.
There were two important reasons behind choosing both these methods of farming. First, limited space available and second, the rate of growth compared to traditional soil-based horticulture.
Says Jinsey, “Hydroponic systems can be easily installed in an urban home. I have compared growing plants in soil and by hydroponics method. I have found that plants grow faster in the hydroponics method because, the environment is more controlled. As it happens in your polyhouse. Plants are not susceptible to pests and there is no fear of attack. Additionally, you can also control nutrients for plants. It gives better results than soil-based horticulture. ”
In hydroponics, a nutritious aqueous solution is injected through the roots of plants to provide the necessary sources for the plant to grow as much as possible. Explaining this in detail, Jinci says, “In a hydroponic system, there is a tank of water, in which you add basic nutrients such as potassium and nitrogen, in proportion to the plant’s need and water usage.”
At the same time, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponic systems. It uses the waste of one element to benefit another, and thus acts like a natural eco system. Regarding how the aquaponic system works in her home, she says, “You can fish the fish that eat in this system, you can also get fish meat if you want. Subsequently, the water for treatment passes through a mineral tank. This water is used to grow vegetables. This is an on-going process. ”
In short, hydroponics and aquaponics methods use water instead of soil and use controlled environments such as polyhouses to prevent insects and insect attacks on plants.
Learned from Trials and Mistakes
Before setting up their playhouse, Jinsey Samuel and Benson Samuel planned to develop a better understanding of the place and for this, they approached companies in the city that supply hydroponic and aquaponics systems such as Hydrilla and Garden Guru. In May 2020, he started his gardening journey by installing this system.
However, installing the system was only the first step. As he began planting vegetables and fruits, he soon realized that growing his own food required a certain level of planning and regular care.
Says Jinsey, “When I started, I grew spinach in about 96 pots. Soon, I became so foster that I could not understand what to do with them. But over time, we came to understand that better planning can be done. ”
Today, Jinsi grows about 200 to 230 varieties of plants on its 500-square-foot terrace. With the breeding of aquatic organisms such as shrimp and tilapia fish, ginci are growing vegetables like brinjal, cherry tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, radish, peppermint, ladyfingers on their roof and exotic vegetables like red latus, iceberg latus and broccoli.
Says Jinsey, “When we started this system during lockdown it gave us a purpose, it kept us busy and it was a very exciting experience. We were setting everything up with our own hands, which also made our hands dirty. But to grow and eat my own food, it was a wonderful experience in itself. ”
As with each cycle of vegetables grown, Jinci gained experience, he soon realized that the vegetables he grew outnumbered his family for consumption. For this reason, he started selling excess produce to neighbors and an organic store in the city itself. Which is extremely pleased with their high quality yield. By selling additional produce, she earns about three thousand to four thousand rupees per month.
Jinsi’s home-grown vegetables are quite different from those found in the market. When neighbors and visiting guests taste the cherry, they are surprised by its fresh and juicy taste.
Growing her vegetables has not only improved the quality and taste of her family’s food but has also encouraged her to eat nutritious food.
“My husband was completely non-vegetarian,” says Jinsey. Our marriage has been 13 years and during these years he did not even touch vegetables. But when we started growing our food, they also started eating vegetables and this is a big change. ”
On-demand from customers and neighbours, she helps install hydroponic and aquaponic systems in people’s homes and creates ‘hobby kits’ for newcomers in the region to guide them in installing both of these systems.
Jinsi believes that one should start at a smaller level. Then you should see what things are proving useful for you and as you learn the process well, you can expand it.
However, Jincy and her husband are very busy due to work but, they check their garden daily. “I feel very happy to plant seeds and see them growing and maturing,” says Jinci.
Original article – Urshita Pandit