Grapefully Yours! Grapes Galore on Blany D’souza’s Terrace Garden even in Humid Kudla
Mangaluru: Who said that you can’t grow grapes in Mangaluru, because of the humid weather conditions. Even though humidity is often the culprit of diseases caused by mold and mildew, and Humidity can also be the culprit of powdery mildew. On the other, the right amount of humidity at the right time can cause one of the natural wonders of grape growing- and that what’s happening on the Roof Top/Terrace Garden of Blany D’souza, residing at 1st Cross-Monkey Stand near Marnamikatta here. D’souza’s 1200 square feet house terrace filled with wide varieties of vegetables and fruits, some very exotic kinds-has also bunch of grapes too.
Blany’s terrace is like walking in a paradise packed with veggies and fruits, nearly 30-40 different kinds of vegetables, around 35 fruit varieties and bunch of different flower breeds. Blany’s passion for raising a vegetable and fruit garden on top of his terrace started two decades ago after he came back for good after working for six years in the Gulf. A passion that he started for fun, Blany says that he never thought he would be in such a demand in the community for setting up terrace gardens at peoples residences. Added to his credit he has set up over 200 terrace gardens on the requests of residents of Mangaluru- and he says that the demand is so much that he feels bad to say No to few people in setting up terrace gardens at their places.
” I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”-John 15:1-2 -these words from the Bible were taken very seriously by Blany D’Souza when he heard them during a Sunday mass few years ago and applied it towards one of his gardening issues- the story goes like this, Blany had brought home a grape branch from a nursery couple of years ago, and planted it in his backyard. The grape plant started growing slowly and within few months it started spreading all over his terrace, but no grapes, just green leaves. Waiting for a year whether the plant would yield some fruit, but his wait was all in vain. He tried to get suggestions from horticulturists and nurseries but no one had a clue why his plant was not yielding any grapes, but had only vast amount of leaves.
This is when he took the above Bible words seriously, and decided to trim/cut the branches of the grape plant and reduce it to half its size. Surprisingly within a week or so the plant showed signs of plenty of flowers and within couple of months, Blany says he got nearly 30-40 kgs of grapes, which at first were green in colour, and later they turned into red, and they happened to be Kabul grapes. This was the first time that someone in Mangaluru had successfully grown a grape plant and got grapes. Happy with the yield, Blany distributed his first yield of grapes to his relatives, neighbours and friends, and the rest he made wine and pickle. That was a amazing story!
And since then there was no stopping in cultivating grapes on his terrace- which has surprised many, including the local horticulturists. Since cultivating of grapes needs low humidity, which Mangaluru lacks- but Blany’s ideas has surprised many as to how he still grows grapes in this humid city. Blany’s dream has come true in growing grapes, and he is very happy that till now he had got quite a few kgs of grapes. Now that the season just got over, but Blany says that he repeats the procedure every six months and the yield has been phenomenon. The funny part is that while the grapes are available only during the months of March-April, but Blany says he grows grapes all year long. Even though he happens to be the first person to grow grapes in Kudla, but he never kept the secret of growing grapes in Mangaluru, instead showed four other residents in the city in growing grapes.
Blany’s terrace garden is not like any garden that you will find around in the City, it is unique and quite amazing to look at it. While many terraces have just flower pots arranged in a neat way, Blany’s terrace is a collage of various vegetable, fruit and flower plants. Among the wide varieties of vegetables, to name a few are- tomato, brinjal, bitter-gourd, green beans, lady-finger, gherkins, red/green spinach, varieties of chillies, cucumber, ash gourd, snake gourd, ivy gourd, bottle gourd, pumpkin and the like. And among fruits are- grapes, musumbi (sweet lime), oranges, star apple, tamarind, guava, mango, custard apple, lime, and others. There are also some herbal and medicinal plants, including few flower plants. Other than plants on the terrace, Blany also has banana, coconut, papaya, chikku, and many other plants and trees grown in his backyard.
When asked how did he get into this hobby of gardening, Blany replied, ” I had a passion for gardening since I was a young boy- while returning from school I used to pluck some plants found in the neighbourhood, bring them home and plant them in my garden. A passion to grow plants that started during my younger days is still continued, and I love doing it. Even though some of my plants don’t yield fruits or flowers, but I am filled and happy with the fascination. My intention is not to make money from the yield, I am doing it for fun, and for the happiness I get from observing/looking at all these plants/trees everyday. Even my mother, wife and kids spend time in this terrace garden and enjoy the fresh air and beauty of the greenery”.
“Having a terrace garden is environmentally friendly, you can enjoy nature right in front of you, it will be fun watering the plants and see them grow, you can breathe fresh air by walking in the garden and sit on a swing enjoying the beauty of it. Sometimes you can also witness the birds come looking for their food. I didn’t started a garden for business, instead I wanted more and more people to grow vegetables and fruits on the terrace space available to them. It brings joy and happiness to me. As time passed, I have been getting more and more into gardening. I do not have the greenest thumb, but I’m pretty happy with what I am doing. If I can do it, anybody can do it. If you touch plants and shower them with love and care, they will not cheat you “said Blany.
In conclusion, a small balcony, terrace or porch will do. Make a start and get your hands dirty! You will not learn everything on day one. It will take some time for experience to kick in and make the best out of the knowledge gained. Grow what you need. Do not get excited and tempted to grow everything at one time. Start slow. If you have the time and the patience maintain a diary. Be prepared to come across some nasty looking insects and bugs! Happy gardening on your terrace, if you have one!
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