When an engineer made gardening easy, just to help his parents

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Urban Gardening has become a trend since the COVID 19 lockdown and people seem to enjoy their lazy time with the plants. We always thought we can’t grow healthy greens and vegetables on our terrace or tiny city apartments. The lockdown has helped us understand that we do not really head to live in the suburbs or even drive long ways to farms to enjoy the beautiful homegrown produce. With all the greens around I’m sure the gardeners will be all worried about the manure for the plants. Vinayak Garg, the founder of Lazy Gardener just made gardening even easier.

He developed the Lazy Gardner plant food sticks to provide the easiest solution for urban gardeners. Vinayak was among the 12 fellows chosen under the Gurukul program (2008), run by HH Dalai Lama’s foundation. He spent two months in the monastery of HH Dalai Lama, and it marked the start of his journey into mindfulness, meditation, and exploring spirituality. Vinayak is an alumnus of IIT-Delhi. He is a 2014 Fellow in the Startup Leadership Program in Delhi. ZestMD won the Challenge Cup (Health, India), organized by 1776 (a startup accelerator based in Washington DC, US). Vinayak was awarded the Young Visionary Award 2012 under Indiafrica, an initiative of Govt. of India.

Lazy Gardener Food Stix is a 100% natural, minerals based stix which are bound into its shape with an Organic binder This product is the most convenient way to provide essential nutrients for your potted plants. These sticks have all three macronutrients (N, P, K) and six micronutrients (B, Cu, Mn, Fe, Mo, Zn) glued together by a special organic binder. This allows nutrients to be gradually released into the soil, depending on the amount of watering. Vinayak Garg, spoke to The Balcony Stories to share some insight on gardening.

Lazy Gardener is a very cool and innovative idea. How did it pop up?

Lazy Gardener is a passion project born out of necessity. Born into families of avid gardeners, I cherish memories of gardening as a kid. With my parents aging and me getting caught up with the daily hustle my gardens seemed to miss the care and nurture of earlier times. I just wanted to provide a simple solution for my parents. After experimentation, for about two years the first product was launched in June 2019.

You have said it took 2 years to come up with the Food Sticks. What was happening in those two years? What goes into these sticks?

Plant food sticks by Lazy Gardener is an innovative approach to feed plants. The correct nutrition, using natural minerals, is packed as a stick. It takes away the guesswork and the mess of ensuring that the plants have the right nutrition. It comes as a stick, which when inserted in pots feeds the plant, gradually, over two months.

How is the lazy gardener helping the environment?

We started Million Gardeners as an initiative to inspire new people to take up planting. Lazy Gardener is a unique combination of e-commerce and environment-saving attempts and has a broad vision of creating greener and cleaner surroundings. To make this vision a reality, the team has launched a drive #milliongardener on 7 December 2019. The team has a goal of inspiring and creating as many Green Change Makers as possible, and this is what they can do the least for the environment.

Normally a pot is given new manure once in two months and it isn’t that expensive. How monetarily effective are food sticks?

With our busy lifestyles, we neglect the care that plants need. Lazy Gardener plant food sticks are a boon for urban gardeners, amateurs, and the experienced. Once you use these sticks, typically you wouldn’t need to put another one for about 45-60 days. Most fertilizers available in the market are either expensive or the ones that are cheap are not natural.

Post-COVID, the number of gardeners has increased. What do you suggest them to do? What kind of plants do you suggest for home gardening?

  • Choose plants that are cheap, easy to care for, easily propagated, and grow rapidly. For ex: wandering jew, purple hearts, turtle vine money plant, Syngonium. All of these come within 50rs each and are easy to care for. They love bright light and grow rapidly in hanging planters.
  • Hanging planters occupy less space and look super pretty. You can make your own bottle planter for water propagations with scrap glass / plastic bottles and twine. If you don’t have glass bottles you can purchase the same from scrap shop by paying as low as 5rs per bottle. (Excellent way to recycle those bottles)
  • Using planters in decor is the latest trend. You can use fruit crates as planters (available at any local fruit shop for not more than 20₹ per piece) and hide your old pots.
  • Few other budget-friendly easy to care indoor plant which instantly jazz up the decor are areca palm (₹100-150), songs of India (within ₹50) , crotons ( ₹100)

Also, it’s advisable to grow locally grown seasonal vegetables, since they anyways thrive well in that particular area.

Other plants that do well are:

1)    Curry Leaf plant

2)    You want to grow vegetables on your balcony, and then you can grow coriander, beans, spinach, Orka in March! Make sure to plant them in a bright light area, give those proper nutrients and water when the soil starts to get dry.

3)    Philodendron

4)    Marigold

5)    Aloe Vera

What is your opinion on the use of homemade pesticides for the gardens?

Pesticides are anyways not good for the growth of plants. Everything around us is chemicals. Natural does not mean its organic; organic is a subset of chemicals we see around us. Research says that everything in nature present in solid form is made up of chemicals. Plant fibers, bone, soil, etc. For instance, the outer shell of an Egg is not organic but the inner membrane is!

Grafted plants in home gardens are the new high these days. What is your opinion?

Yes, and it’s an easier way to grow plants. Whenever you’re propagating in soil, make sure the soil is moist, keep it away from direct sun, keep it in shade and never lose hope. If there’s one thing I would like you to take away is, propagation is a game of patience. Propagation is a game of patience, never lose hope. I got my snake plant propagated after eight months. If the plant looks healthy, if the stem if the leaf that you planted for propagation still looks like a leaf, keep watering it. If you keep watering it, it will root and you will have success. The second more important point here is to start with a lot of cuttings because you will have some failures. Not 100% of the cuttings we put out propagate into plants.

Can the food sticks be used to grow microgreens?

Yes definitely. The greenstix is perfect for them.

Could you throw some light on re-potting?

Like humans, plants also like a little breathing room.  A big reason to free plants from being root bound is to promote new growth. With repotting, plants can get a strong and growing root system that makes them grow faster and happier.

A couple of reasons could be:

  • You can see the roots coming out of the hole at the bottom of the pot
  • You can see the roots growing thick inside the pots, in turn raising the plant out of the pot
  • Your plant doesn’t seem to be growing or has been growing slowly compared to the usual
  • You can see the soil shrinking inside the container.
  • Your plant is drying out quickly after watering and needs more frequent watering.

So, seasonal fruits, flowers, and vegetable plants that have been started from seed in small containers need frequent repotting into large containers until they are ready for the whole season. These containers should be chosen to accommodate their growing size. Permanent plants like year-round flowering plants, trees, shrubs, may need repotting every few months. Typically they are best repotted when you see their growth is slow or if they are turning dormant.

What are the plans for the lazy gardener?

I’m looking to sell our products in at least 6 more countries, create 10 innovative products for the gardening industry and make Lazy Gardener a one-stop-shop company for gardening needs. Ideally, if you are looking for something for your garden and don’t find something on Lazy Gardener, you definitely will not need it.

Grow your own vegetables is the new normal. Any opinion on this?

With increasing work pressure and not much of social life, people have been looking for ways to divert their minds from the negative news. People are turning to gardening as a soothing, family, and kid-friendly hobby that also helps ease the concern over food security, as sometimes getting access to basic vegetables was difficult.  Gardening could be a rare but positive trend to emerge from this pandemic, but hopefully, people will eat better and garden more.



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