Home gardening spurts in Nagaland during lockdown

Home gardening spurts in Nagaland during lockdown
Home gardening spurts in Nagaland during lockdown

Cherry tomatoes ready to be plucked. 

Morung Express News
Dimapur | April 24

Kitchen and backyard gardens are refreshingly sprouting up in urban neighbourhoods in the state's commercial district during the lockdown period.

Backyards and vacant plots within the building compounds are being cleared, ploughed and converted into mini gardens and varieties of vegetable seeds and shoots sown and transplanted into these gardens.

The month-long national lockdown in the wake of the COVID- 19 pandemic has provided the stimulus and encouraged many citizens of Dimapur to revisit their abandoned or unattended kitchen gardens and to dig new ones.

The extended lockdown and resultant mad rush in the markets to buy and stock essential commodities, especially vegetables, has led to the spurt in gardening activities in almost all colonies and localities.

Office goers, private sector employees, entrepreneurs and other sedentary workers who rarely handled agricultural tools before are now digging the soil with a new passion: to grow their own vegetables to meet minimum kitchen table requirement.

"This lockdown has opened our eyes to the reality that we Nagas are entirely dependent on others for our survival. Forget about essential commodities like rice and dal or meat and fish, even common vegetables and ingredients we use to prepare our favourite curry of chutney are mostly exported from outside the state", said Kevi, a work-from-home government employee.

Kevi along with his wife, also a government employee, have recently set up their own kitchen garden and said they took the cue from their neighbour. 

"Many families were caught unawares by the sudden announcement of the total lockdown and did not buy vegetable provisions to last a week or longer. So it was like a God-send gift when my neighbour offered us vegetables including cabbage, cherry tomato and pigeon pea freshly plucked from his kitchen garden. Overnight, we decided to dig our own kitchen garden”, he said.

Mary, a private school teacher, said the suspension of classes has prompted her resolve to try her hands at gardening. “In school one of our colleagues always include organically grown vegetables in her lunch pack and it was a treat whenever she shared her tiffin with us. That was a real motivation”, she said.

“Also, a teacher who hails from Imphal valley said since they are so used to bandhs and shutdowns, most of the residents of the valley have their own kitchen gardens and make use of any available space in their compounds or buildings to plant vegetables, to make up for short supplies of vegetables”, Mary added. 

With little or no avenues left for menfolks to pass their time during the lockdown, some men  are taking up gardening much to the relief of their wives.

“A week into the lockdown, my husband became restive and so I suggested him to do some real time digging. He was hesitant at first but then a couple of his fiends also told him that they were also into gardening and that is how he took up the spade,” said a housewife.

“He collected varieties of vegetable seeds and saplings from neighbours and friends and scattered all of them in his newly dug backyard garden. He even named his garden ‘Corona Garden’ and now is in high spirits that with timely monsoon rain, the harvest would be good,” she said with a chuckle.

A local entrepreneur who also came up with his own kitchen garden a couple of days back said, “since my patch is only 6x6 feet, I’ll sowing and planting vegetables and herbs exclusively for making chutnies (hot pickle).”

Even as green patches in the form of mini-gardens are likely to grow and dot the urban landscape in the coming months, the first hand experience of growing their own vegetables has ingrained in some citizens a sense of empathy,otherwise overlooked in normal times,towards local vegetable vendors who sell their own produce.

“Many of us are unaware or took for granted the sweat and labour invested to put food on your table. Now, I feel that I should have been less harsh with local vegetable vendors or Karbi women on earlier occasions when I haggled with them to buy fresh vegetables at unreasonably low rates,” confided another housewife.