Urban Leaves India: August 2011

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Urban Leaves organizes the first ever Urban Permaculture Course in Mumbai

Hello Friends

Urban Leaves is proud to host the first ever of its kind in India, a permaculture course-cum-workshop for urban citizens. This is an announcement that registrations are on for the Urban Permaculture course-cum-workshop from 1st -5th October 2011 at the Maharashtra Nature Park in Dharavi, Mumbai.

Permaculture or (Permanent Culture) is about designing ecological human habitats and production systems. It is about using land and building a community system, which will live in a sustainable way with the natural world around it.

This course has been designed with Mumbai in mind and how one can learn from  nature and create changes in and around our urban dwellings so we can live sustainably. The course is being conducted by international permaculture teacher Richard 'Rico' Zook.

Keeping in mind that many Urban Leaves members might not be able to give 5 days for this workshop there are two options provided for attending the course. Read more about the same and about permaculture, what will be covered in the course, registration and course fees etc. in this presentation below. You can also download this presentation and send it to anyone you think, is interested in sustainable urban living.

Urban Permaculture Course in Mumbai - Brochure
To view the brochure click on "View in Full Screen" the first left icon in tool bar below.    

Regards and Best Wishes
Urban Leaves

Sunday, 28 August 2011

A tribute to Kitchen Gardeners all over the world from Urban Leaves in Mumbai

"Reap what you sow and eat what you grow" a short film about urban community gardens in Mumbai dedicated to the kitchen gardeners around the world on the occasion of 
World Kitchen Gardeners Day.

  Happy viewing

 Team Urban Leaves

Saturday, 20 August 2011

World Kitchen Garden Day

Hello friends

Its time to rejoice and celebrate all the hard work we have put together for the last two years at our two community farms. We invite you to join us in this celebration, of " Reap what you sow, eat what you grow" World Kitchen Garden Day festival with Urban Leaves.

Our two community farms, and numerous green balcony spaces are a testimony to the fact that cities (even like MUMBAI ) and farms can co-exist! That little spaces of your window sill and balconies too can be productive.That even you can take charge of your food. That you dont get fooled by the scary talks of those in power about food security. That nature gives abundant fruit when you work in harmony! That you and your children can yet connect to nature and learn to live in sustainable cities.

Without 'you' our celebration is not complete. To all those who have been our supporters, have contributed in our successes and been with us while we struggled with our baby steps, who share our vision and wish to contribute in their own little way.... join us for a get together and an interactive friendly Sunday morning.The programme is as detailed below...

Click on image to view Programme

For those who live in other parts of India and wish to participate with the rest of the world....check out the list below to see activities in your city. Contact kitchen gardeners in your city, join them OR contact us and host an event yourself.

Mail us mailto:urbanleaves@gmail.comfor guidance or help. 

Contact Person
E mail ID
Dr Vishwanathan

Geek Gardener
Samir Kulkarni
Anshuman Das


will be updated soon
sumiba_ r@yahoo.com
Vaishali Athavle
Manju Bagga
Manisha Kavthekar
Sudha Dehadrai
Mr Khillar
Jeetubha Kutmutia

will be updated soon
Manish Jain

With cheers and smiles
Team Urban Leaves

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Garden by the Bay - Purvita's terrace garden

Walking along beach road at Chowpatty, I looked out for Bachelor’s Ice Cream Parlour, which I hadn’t been to in a long while. Locating the building I was supposed to go to, I looked up and tried to spot the house, seeing if I could get a glimpse of the terrace garden. Nothing much was visible from where I stood, and I decided to enter the building instead of standing on the road staring. Who knows, I may have been mistaken for someone staking out the place!!! Little did I know that the house itself was on the terrace of the building, and I had to climb five floors to get there! It had been a long time since I had climbed five sets of stairs, but as I huffed and puffed my way up, I couldn’t help admiring the old wooden staircase and the beautiful entrances that adorned the houses. I was welcomed by Purvita with a big smile, and we at once hit it off, even though this was the first time we had met!
Purvita has been volunteering with the Urban Leaves team for more than a year now. She not only has a beautiful terrace garden but also is leading the Community Food garden at Nana Nani Park.
I was eager to see her garden, and as she took me through her beautiful house, I wondered if I should ask her permission, to shoot her house instead, and write a post on it! However, I decided to respect her privacy, and settle with her wonderful terrace garden, which is what I had come to see in the first place!!
Purvita’s talent for aesthetics is apparent even in her terrace garden. The creepers have crept over her walls, and while that by itself can be a beautiful sight, she has managed to add another dimension simply by enhancing the spaces between the creepers with the dry seeds from her collection!

Her terrace is covered with pots and plants…..

There are plants in plastic containers and wicker basket....
There are creepers supported by wire meshes. It is a kitchen garden, growing vegetables and herbs to be used in the kitchen…

You will find Mint, varieties of Basil and Tulsi galore…
There are Aavla and Curry Leaves (kadipatta)
There is ladyfinger standing up straight, almost ready to 
be picked and green chilies, which we harvested.

An insulin plant, one leaf to be eaten everyday by 
diabetic individuals, which I had never heard of, before!

Amidst all this greenery, there was a riot of colour… The blue and white of the shanka pushpi plant (butterfly pea).. The beautiful yellow flowers of the ladyfinger...This beautiful white flower of the guava…  

There is a guava tree with a guava on the way… and a chickoo tree, Purvita prays for fruit next year!

There were also some other interesting things, which reminded me of Samhith, whom I had left behind… Some friendly, some not so friendly….like this caterpillar… the bee….and the lizard… the bug!  
Purvita also showed us some dried basil flowers, which had to be sieved through thoroughly to get the seeds…. And when we saw the size of the seeds, we were amazed at her patience that made her sit down and separate all that dried matter to get the seeds, which were practically invisible at first!!!
Purvita’s garden is like an oasis in the middle of this bustling city, and it was a wonderful experience to sit and listen to her talk about how she took a sabbatical from work, got interested in terrace farming, and didn’t go back to her job even after two years! Her dedication to the garden is not just amazing, it is also infective. You can’t just listen to her without catching some of her enthusiasm! She is all agog with her plans, helping out enthusiastically at the Nana Nani Park (which I couldn’t visit due to lack of time!), and trying to get more people to actually use their terraces for city farming. She has already made quite a few converts to the cause of healthy growing and eating, and also conducts workshops to help people get started with the concepts.
Meeting Purvita and seeing her terrace kitchen garden was an unforgettable experience, and I am looking forward to taking Samhith there someday!

Anuradha Shankar
Urban Leaves Volunteer

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

5 tips on Daily Care

If you have always desired to own the thumb green,
Here is the key to fulfill your long cherished dream....

Just as you are wished every morning by the  golden sun,
Wish your plants a good morning, as you would your little one.

Check the underside of leaves, for aphids and mealybugs,
Save your plants by nipping those pests off the buds.

Check for moisture in the soil, it should be moist not wet,
Water plants only when necessary, excess water could be a threat.

Check for excessive growth, have your plants timely pruned,
A cut here and a trim there will render them festooned.

Always keep the soil covered with straw or leaves dried,
Then see your green family turn into, your prized possession and pride!

                                                                                                -- Swati Barve
1. Say a very good morning  to your plants

Purvita in her terrace garden

Plants grow in the moonlight and look fresh and green early in the morning. An early morning loving touch, rejuvenates the plant as well our soul.

2. Look out for any signs of aphids, mealy bugs in the underside of leaves and fresh new nodes.
Red spider mite
The problem when detected and nipped in the bud can go a long way in saving your plant.If you observe any of the above, wash and rub them away with a spray of water, and prune off affected parts.
As we believe in the philosophy, " treat the soil and not the plant" check the soil for too much compaction or water.
Add a fistful of wood ash to supplement nutritional deficiency and neutralise acidity of the soil.
Do not use any kind of pesticide. Pests develop resistance to all pesticides, even the so called organic pesticides.

3. Check for moisture and water only when necessary
Soil should be moist and not wet. While watering sprinkle water away from the main stem, under the canopy.Too much water creates anaerobic conditions in the soil, kills microbes and causes disease and pests.

4. Check for too much vegetative growth

a variety of spinach

tiny plant has grown
Prune branches and do not allow to grow straight

Pruning encourages the stem to branch out
and results in bushier plant
Prune regularly to encourage bushy growth.There are different ways to pruning different plants. Observe their physiology, study their growth, flowering and fruiting patterns to prune effectively.
As a thumb rule cut off the branches growing towards the ground. Cut off the smaller dead stems/branches jutting out from main stem.Try to prune and maintain an umbrella shape of  the plant.
Pruned material can be shredded, dried and recycled back to the container/pot itself where the plant is growing.

5. Always keep soil mulched.
spinach in tub, mulched with sugarcane bagasse
Mulch with dried twigs, leaves, sugarcane bagasse, shredded paper, wasted jute bags etc..Mulching keeps the microbes happy, prevents evaporation of water and adds carbon to your soil. All these factors benefit in terms of higher yields and healthy growth of plants.

A little care and discipline will go a long way in fulfilling your dream of a healthy home kitchen garden.

Get started Now!

Thanks to my dear little sister Swati (swatibarve@rediffmail.com) 
for churning out some amazing poems!

Smiles and best wishes
Urban Leaves