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Nutrition garden

Every family, even landless labourers, can grow nutritious vegetables. It is easy and very rewarding: you will save money, improve your diet, and avoid eating pesticide-tainted vegetables often sold in the market.

Types of home gardens

Large gardens (at least 500 sq m)

Almost all types of vegetables can be grown in a large garden, including one or two large fruit plants, such as papaya, guava, lemon, grape, or dwarf mango.

Medium-size gardens (150 to 200 sq m)

Choose from tomato, eggplant, fenugreek, chill), French bean, bitter gourd, cucumber, spinach, amaranth, radish, turnip, carrot, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, summer squash, okra, cowpea, or cluster bean.

Small gardens (less than 100 sq m)

Choose from amaranth, spinach, fenugreek, radish, turnip, tomato, eggplant, chill), lettuce, mint, or coriander.

Nutrition garden


If frost threatens, irrigate frequently until the danger has passed.

Pest control

Pests can be a serious problem. Avoid costly damage by practicing the effective and safe techniques described in the section Integrate past management. Using these simple techniques, you can also avoid costly and dangerous pesticides. See also Neem for plant protection and list of Banned and nonapproved pesticides in the glossary.

Market-bought fertilizers

Nitrogenous fertilizers, such as urea or ammonium sulphate, and phosphoric fertilizers, such as single superphosphate, and potassium fertilizers, such as murate of potash, are required for good vegetable and fruit crops. Single superphosphate and murate of potash should be mixed in the soil before sowing or planting. Nitrogenous fertilizers, such as urea, should be top-dressed once or twice in the standing crops.


A few tools can be very useful: spade, hand hoe, watering can, sickle, knife, basket, small hand sprayer, twine, and bamboo stakes.

Container gardens
Some vegetables grow well in pots or containers placed on sunny terraces, window ledges, balconies, verandahs, or on the roof. Fill containers with a mix of sand, soil, and manure.

Choose from chill), tomato, coriander, mint, amaranth, spinach, table radish, kulfa, lettuce, knol-khol, French bean, okra, fenugreek, cluster bean, green onion, garlic, leek, parsley, broccoli, and tomato.

Nutrition garden management

- Sow or transplant seedlings in rows or lines with proper spacing.

- Remove some seedlings if plants are crowded.

- If many seedlings die, plant more to take their place.

- Irrigate after transplanting.

- Remove weeds between the rows and between plants.

- Vegetables need regular watering for good growth and yield.

- On larger plots, irrigate lightly every third or fourth day during summer and once every one or two weeks in winter.

- Farm yard manure and compost are great fertilizers for vegetable gardens. Mix them in the soil about a week before sowing or transplanting. (See Vermi-composting and Organic farming)

- Apply a nitrogenous fertilizer, such as urea, in small quantities in standing crops for higher plant growth and yield. Apply urea only when the soil is moist; otherwise, give a light irrigation after application.

Garden layout

Important points for laying out and planning your nutrition garden:

- Your garden will need plenty of sunlight.

- Rectangular gardens are better than square gardens, but any shape will do.

- Avoid the shade of big trees.

- Locate near a water source if possible.

- Vegetables which lose their quality and freshness rapidly after harvest, such as spinach, amaranth, fenugreek, mint, and radish, should be given priority in the garden.

- Plant root crops along the ridges which separate plant beds.

- Climbing vegetables make good use of space. Train them up fences, walls, or grew them on terraces.

- Dig one or two compost pits in a shady, unused comer of your plot.

Nutritious vegetables

Vegetables supply vitamins, essential amino acids, carbohydrates, and proteins for good health. Dieticians say that adults require about 300 9 of vegetables: 125 9 of green leafy vegetables, 100 9 of roots and tubers, and 75 9 of some other vegetables. But most people eat less than these amounts. The following matches important nutrients with their vegetable sources: carbohydrates potato, sweet potato, colocasia, beetroot

Protein peas, carpet legume, French bean, cowpea, clusterbean, amaranth, broadbean

Vitamin Carrot (yellow type), spinach, turnip, amaranth, sweet potato (yellow-fleshed), pumpkin (yellowfleshed), cabbage, fenugreek, tomato, coriander, broccoli, parsley

Vitamin B peas, carpet legume, garlic, colocasia

Vitamin C- tomato, turnip, green chillies, cauliflower, knol-khol, bitter gourd, radish leaves, amaranth, Brussels-sprouts, parsley

Calcium beetroot, amaranth, fenugreek, turnip leaves, coriander, pumpkin, onion, tomato

Potassium-sweet potato, potato, bitter gourd, radish, carpet legume

Phosphorus garlic, peas, bitter gourd

Iron-bitter gourd, amaranth, fenugreek, mint, Indian spinach, spinach


- Vegetables harvested at the peak of their maturity and used promptly are always superior in nutrition, flavour, taste, and appearance.

- Harvest root vegetables while they are still tender-delay can make them pithy, tough, and unfit for consumption.

- Harvest all fruit and pod vegetables when they attain their proper size, while they are still tender.

- Melons, tomatoes, and ash gourd can be allowed to ripen on the vine.

- Clip leafy vegetables frequently at their most succulent and tender stage.

- Pumpkin, chilli, colocasia tubes, and onion bulbs can be harvested as immature or mature produce.

Vegetable crops for different seasons

In northern parts of India, there are three distinct seasons for growing vegetables. The following lists the vegetables suited to each season.

Winter (October-February)

Potato, cauliflower, cabbage, knol-khol, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, kale, radish, turnip, carrot, beetroot, onion, garlic, leek, broad bean, lettuce, parsley, celery, peas, spinach, fenugreek, mustard, coriander, fennel.

Summer (March-June)

Okra, cowpea, cluster bean, tomato, eggplant, chill), capsicum, garden bean, pumpkin, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, luffa, cucumber, melons, amaranth, colocasia, asparagus.

Rainy season (July-October)

Okra, cowpea, clusterbean, chill), eggplant, tomato, capsicum, cucurbit vegetables (except melons), radish, tumip, carrots, sweet potato. colocasia.