Growing Strawberries in Mumbai
And other unnatural diversions by indomitable city growers!
If you're a grower, especially one who's growing under open skies, you've probably learnt by now who's the boss. No, I don't mean your spouse, or the manager cutting your cheques, or even those demanding kids of yours! It's Nature that calls the shots, right?!. There's simply no getting around climate, season, sun orientation, sunlight availability, moon phases, wind factors, precipitation, humidity levels, airborne diseases, airborne pollinators and more. What we do as growers, when we succeed with our produce, is to listen closely to the rhythms of Nature, and sync our voices to create some music.
Making peace with Nature...
Perhaps rural folk have learnt to listen, because there are legions of urban farmers who seem oblivious to Nature when they grow. Avocados, for example, are all the rage now, regardless of the fact that these trees are unlikely to bear fruit in Mumbai. Canny nurseries will keep mum about it, sell you a sapling for a king's ransom, and our indomitable city-goers will spend years growing in hope until it turns to despair :-) Many commence another Mission Impossible in their attempts to grow strawberries here...not as enchanted with our world-class, native mangoes, papayas and jackfruit, possibly! Others get into a twist over kale, lettuce, broccoli and zucchini when good ole fenugreek, okra and gourds are thrilled to grow here, given a chance. Most disregard the seasons completely, grow tomatoes through the monsoons and then wonder where the fungus on their leaves came from.
Indoor plant growers have it easier as the environment is less vulnerable to the elements. But not all things can be controlled, unless you're growing in a geodesic dome. Our company has a customer from desertified Jaisalmer who insists on growing tropical Philodendrons and Calatheas (gorgeous, no doubt, as seen in pix below!) despite atmospheric dryness that slowly, but inevitably, strips foliage from his plants. Similarly, nothing stops Mumbaikars surfing on the global succulent trend, from valiantly trying to keep their Portulacas and Haworthias alive in Humidity City Central!
Tropicals that are lovin' it in Mumbai (above) v/s Cactii that would rather hang in Jaisalmer (below)
I guess we've come too long a way, and must have what we want, where ever and when ever we want. It's not a bad idea to remember though, that when we take on Nature, it's more often the case that she wins :-) Jus' sayin, y'know.....It's no use complaining later, when your zucchini ups and dies in a single afternoon's city heat, the broccoli gets eaten by desi pests who love the taste of the foreign thingy, the Boston lettuce shrivels sadly, and the expensive cactus bloats with rainwater. We try and guide our customers whenever possible, and never recommend plants that won't work with your location. But if folks are determined, know the odds and are ready to pay the price - like the Jaisalmer grower who simply buys a new lot of tropicals each year to replace his dead plants - go right ahead!
You may just succeed, and it would be to your credit. And if you don't, next time around, just grow with Nature :-)
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