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Pandemic: Life Essentials – Growing Vegetables for a Self-Sustainable Living

Growing small plants or vegetables in the kitchen or space available is something that we have been emphasizing for a long time, as we follow the same in our homes. 

Pandemic: Life Essentials – Growing Vegetables for a Sustainable Living

Of the many lessons of necessities the pandemic has pitched importance for us is the availability of food – essential vegetables to sustain a living. Growing small plants or vegetables in the kitchen or space available is something that we have been emphasizing for a long time, as we follow the same in our homes.

Through this story, we tried to share how our inclination to grow plants as an interest has turned into something that helped us the most during the lock down. While we are no experts and haven’t done something unachievable, significant results can be achieved considering the lifestyle these days by dedicating some time and efforts.

Unlike our regular stories, this story is kept simple and short. You can continue reading to know about our experiences if you are really interested.

Also Read: Kitchen Plants to Cheer up Your Windowsill

What made us start or shift the strategy?

The first lock down, or maybe we can say the first experience of life, had thrown some unexpected situations that made it difficult for us to go out and get the required vegetables without hassles.

Although we have been growing plants of different kinds (including vegetables) passionately from childhood, emphasis has now shifted more towards vegetables that can help us achieve self-sustainability during hard times.

This situation led to a discussion of most cooked food items and the required vegetables in our family. Concluding the list of plants to be grown, we reduced emphasis on growing ornamental plants to save some space for the essentials, and hence it restarted.

Home Grown Marigold Flowers

Prior Experience:

Feet on the ground, we have grown up playing in soil among many gardens, fields, plants and trees. Spending time in our garden used to be our favourite childhood pastime. So our bonding with nature – sowing seeds, growing plants, watering and nurturing them is not something that needs an introduction. Thanks to the changing times and urbanisation, we realigned our garden, and now there is only a little space available for growing plants.

Set-up and Equipment:

With not much space available to organise, we have used every space available to grow something or the other. Have purchased a few pots, reused old paint buckets by filling them with soil, topped up existing soil levels, and started sowing seeds and growing plants. Plant bags can also be used but not our personal choice.

Equipment usage differs from person to person based on the practices, plantation types and personal choices. We have only used our existing pruning shears, a hand cultivator and a small garden plough to get the work done.


Vermi compost, kitchen waste – fruits and vegetable leftovers and cow dung are the only natural manures used. We wanted to keep it simple and practice everything within available options with no extra expenses.

What have we grown?

The most crucial part. While how to grow is one aspect, what to grow is another aspect that depends on many parameters such as available space, plant type, soil fertility and type, the climate of the region, season, efforts involved, growth rate and how fast we get the yields.

We have gone through some trial and error phases and settled with some vegetable kinds that are regularly used in the kitchen, easy to maintain and yields faster to meet our needs.

Hobby growing is something different compared to growing for self-sustainability. In the former, we are at a relaxed pace, and in the latter, we need to get the yield at any cost to sustain. So it becomes challenging. We needed to plan multiple vegetables which yield at different intervals to cater for our needs.

List of Plants grown:

1. Tomatoes – via seeds
2. Brinjal – via saplings
3. Ladie’s finger – via seeds
4. Chillies – Green/White – via seeds
5. Mint – via plant leftover portions
6. Curry Leaf – via plant
7. Bitter Gourd – Seeds
8. Taro/ Arbi – via Root Bulb
9. Beetroot – via Root Bulb
10. Sweet Potato – via Root Bulb
11. Ginger – via Root Bulb

Home Grown Vegetables
ladies’ finger, Brinjal, Green Chilli, White Chilli, Arbi/Taro

We have faced initial hiccups with vegetables. While some grow well and suddenly die, some grow and don’t flower, and some take a longer time to yield results. At times the quality of seeds matters too. Brinjal was bad in taste, and we need to change the source of saplings. Struggled with ginger to get the yield too. If we water excessively, some plants die and with too many plants there may be issues of mosquitoes and other insects. So, more needs to be done within the available space, unlike our normal way of growing in large spaces with best practices.

Growth Phases of Sweet Potato
Growth Phases of Sweet Potato
Ginger, Spinach, Indian borage
Ginger, Spinach, Indian borage

Leafy Vegetables grown:

1. Amaranth – via seeds
2. Spinach: Maintenance high, delicate, and needs extra care – via seeds
3. Sorrel – via seeds
4. Sour spinach/Red Sorrel – via seeds
5. Malabar spinach – via seeds
6. coriander – via seeds


Except for spinach, all the other leafy vegetables are easy to maintain and does not need much attention. Hence, we focused more on leafy vegetables as the yields are faster, and we can be sure of the crop for our daily use. 

sorrel leaf Plants
sorrel leaves
Betel Leaves
Betel Leaves
Curry Leaves
Curry Leaves

Spreading the Message:

We have shared pictures of plants and flowers grown with a few of our friends, and they got interested and started the same in their homes. While some people re-shared the images as their own and is a different story, we are least bothered as long as our purpose of motivation and inspiration is served.

Some friends have taken inspiration and started doing it better based on their time and space availability. In fact, some relatives and friends are doing great.

If you are also growing vegetables/fruits/flowers, we urge you to share the message within your circle! We believe at least one inspired story is enough for satisfaction.

Sharing or Monetary Practises Followed:

  1. As a hobby or interest for the love towards nature. One can make use of both homegrown and purchased vegetables in their kitchens – Followed
  2. Depend only on homegrown vegetables – We were able to follow the approach only for leafy vegetables
  3. Sell the yield to vegetable vendors and make money – Haven’t done and not interested
  4. Share the yield within family, friends or community – Followed
  5. Barter system: where we exchange something for something grown by someone else – Followed

Within the known circles we have also practised sharing the knowledge, best practices, saplings, seeds for the next crops to be sown based on the yielded results.

As the summer season is fast approaching now, the vegetable crop with us is almost non-existent, and we are relying only on few leafy vegetables in our home now. Maybe, we will plan something in the rainy season.

Success so far:

Restricting our count only from the start of the pandemic, it has been successfully two years (starting 2020 March – till date) now that our kitchen sustained only on homegrown leafy vegetables (5 varieties listed above) for various kinds of dhals. We stopped buying leafy vegetables outside and are so glad of it. While we have our reasons for not expanding to our roof top, we are satisfied for now, considering the time constraints.

Also Read: Hydroponic Farming: Know Types, Setup, Cost, and Startups Around the Same

Final Words:

So, a lots of continuous learning happens whenever time permits, and these plants need to be taken care of like babies. Not a detailed story, but we feel enough to motivate.

Excuse the not so photogenic images, which were meant to be shared among friends and family. We couldn’t click pics in every stage, envisaging this story, as it’s a pretty normal way of life for us. Just like how we click photos out of the joy of new activities or purchased items on day 1, we have been into this, and nothing excited us to have records.

After all, in the end, whoever it is, we need food for a living! Maybe those who are planning to settle on mars can give us the knowledge and skill to self-sustain here on earth with these kinds of little things 🙂

This is our real-life story. Do you have a similar story to share? How’s your experience so far? Share us your thoughts in the community section.

What do you think?

Written by TEAM WSL

At Whatshelikes, we keep the millennial woman updated with everything that’s happening around her be it fashion & lifestyle, health, events, movie reviews to name a few. We consistently strive to bring a gamut of authentic content from all across the country at just a click.

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