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With cities becoming increasingly polluted, many home owners are turning to gardening, by keeping small plants at home, to provide some greenery. However, installing plants at home also means that one needs to know how to maintain the plants and also have the time to do it. Maintaining a garden is not just a personal responsibility. People living in housing complexes, also need to ensure that having a personal garden adheres to the code of conduct of the residential complex and does not affect other members.
Laws governing house plants
As per the bye-laws under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, it is the responsibility of every member to refrain from any activity that may cause inconvenience to other members. A complaint can be registered with the society management, if any member fails to follow this law and it can have serious legal implications for the member.
Bye-law No 50 reads as follows:
(a) No member, shall do or suffer anything to be done in his flat, which may cause nuisance, annoyance or inconvenience to any of the members of the society, or carry on practices which may be repugnant to the general decency or morals of the members of the society.
(b) It shall be competent for the committee, either suo-moto or on receipt of the complaint from any member, to take steps to stop all such practices referred to in the Bye-law No 50(a) forthwith.
Individual apartment owners can register their complaints in a cooperative housing society (for example, issues pertaining to car parking, unauthorised construction, leakages, etc.), with the management or association. Members also have the option to raise an issue with an appropriate authority, such as the consumer or cooperative court, municipal corporation and the police.
Factors to consider, before growing plants at home
Sudipto Chatterjee, business director, Mediacom, cautions that there is no such thing as carefree plants or gardening. “If you do not have the time to take care of them, it is better to avoid having plants at home. Plants need a lot of attention. You need to water them regularly but you cannot water them too much, as this may create a breeding ground for seasonal diseases like dengue. Also, if you travel a lot, then you need to be very mindful about their care,” he explains.
It is also good to be aware of certain facts, like poisonous plants, plants that may cause allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting or itchiness, as these can harm the people, as well as pets who come into contact with such plants. Moreover, there is no garden space that does not have insects and pests, or the risk of certain diseases or fungal infections. So, how an individual manages the garden space is very important. Waste management is also crucial. Removing dead leaves, fallen fruits and other organic debris, are essential for maintaining a healthy garden and to avoid polluting the environment further.
“Many people are opting to have small gardens in their apartments. After all, any home owner would love to brag about tomatoes grown in one’s own balcony. Terrace and rooftop gardens are also gaining popularity,” says Krithikha Muthukrishnan, architect and principal consultant, Green Sketch Consultants.
“There are now many service providers, who help you to set up a garden and also supply seeds, fertilisers and other necessities. Plants that are well-cared for, can yield lots of fruits, vegetables and flowers. When it comes to the maintenance part, just like any living being, plants too need extensive care,” Muthukrishnan sums up.
Gardening tips for home owners
1. Plant only as much as you can care for: Plants need your attention. Allocate at least two minutes per plant per day. So, if you have only 10 minutes in the morning, grow only five plants. Trim dried leaves, look for weeds and pests and water the plants suitably.
2. Research, to find out which plants to grow: Plants need certain atmospheric conditions, soil conditions, etc. Make sure you have the suitable environment, for the plants to thrive. Native species of plants will be the most suited to the local conditions, most resistant to pests and will grow with least care. So, while choosing plants, prefer local species – for example, choose broad beans over French beans, bottle gourd over squash, cucumber over zucchini, tulsi over basil and so on.
3. Water the plants as needed: Do not water the plants excessively. Excess water may cause stagnation and lead to breeding of mosquitoes and withering of the plants.
4. Use compost and natural pesticides: Your kitchen is the best source of compost. Nowadays, easy to use compost bins are available in the market. Use natural neem, garlic, ginger or turmeric-based pesticides, to reduce pest attacks.
5. Arrange for care, when you are away: Just as you wouldn’t leave your pet dog locked up and go on a long vacation, similarly, do not neglect your plants. Ask your neighbours or your maid to care for them, when you are away.