Growing your own food – An exhilarating hobby

IIK Staff Reporter
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

My daughter Snigdha was very excited. We had just arrived from a brief trip to Kerala amidst the greenery and sylvan surroundings when I told her that I would be taking her to harvest a large crop of tomatoes . “In Kuwait?” she asked incredulously. I told her Öff course. We are going to the house of Markos Williams in Salwa and you can see for yourself”.

As we entered his home in Salwa, what struck us immediately was the lush greenery around. It was almost as if we were still in Kerala. Snigdha was blown away when he gave her a basket and pair of scissors and told her to cut as much tomatoes and vegetables she wants. She went berserk as the pictures will tell the reader.


Markos with Bottle Gourd grown at his home in Salwa

Asked about how he managed to grow such a variety of vegetables successfully, Markos explained “First of all, its important to have an interest in gardening whether you grow fruits, flowers or vegetables. Then we need to keep aside some time for it. I found gardening fascinating and I got down to it quite earnestly. I have a lot of space around my house and I began planting a variety of vegetables and fruits. I had a hard time in the beginning as the soil was very resistant. Fortunately my friend Rajesh Sagar who has a large catering business sent me quite a few bags of vegetable waste. I personally dug up the ground and filled it with the vegetable wastes and covered it with soil. This method known as dry composting enrichened the soil. I also applied dry composting to pots and drums in which I grew some plants. From then on it was only a matter of choosing what to grow. I became a member of the GROW YOUR OWN FOOD group on Facebook where an organic farmer and nature lover Alladi Mahadevan is the Admin. I have quite a few friends in the group like Pramila Adiga, Asha Ramamurthy, Cecy Kuruvilla among others who give sound advice from time to time based on their experience. They are an inspiration. That is how I got started. The GROW YOUR OWN FOOD group provides a goldmine of advice and assistance to those interested in gardening, especially growing food you can consume. I strongly recommend anyone interested in gardening to join the group for their benefit.”


Markos with Radish grown at his home garden in Salwa

When asked about the variety of plants he grows Markos said, “I grow mainly vegetables which I personally use like a variety of beans like French beans, cluster beans, broad beans and gourds like bitter gourd (karela), ridge gourd and bottle gourd. I also grow yam (chembu or colacasia), curry leaves and garlic. It is quite interesting to watch onions and carrots grow. Their flowers are unique and fairly similar. Most of my friends have never seen carrot flowers and find it unbelievable. I grow tapioca and was surprised when one tapioca almost grew so tall as to touch the adjoining palm tree as you can see in the photo. I grew the tapioca from tapioca grafts thoughtfully brought by my friends from Kerala. I also grew a giant turnip. I have experimented with growing pineapple but I haven’t succeeded yet. It grows to some extent and then ceases to grow. However I have grown the famous Andhra variety Banganapalle mangoes and I have three small trees which are now growing quite well. Recently I have grown Passion Fruit from a seedling given to me by a friend from KISR. I also have grown a small avocado plant from seed which I have kept indoors to beat the heat. Tomatoes grow in abundance and I harvest a standing crop about three times. For me, its sheer joy to care for the plants and watch it grow. The happiness you feel when you see a plant sprouting can never be put in words. One has to experience it.”
Regarding flowers, he said that he grows the morning glory whose brilliant blue is immensely captivating and pink bougainvilleas in addition to jasmine. “Jasmine surprisingly has the ability to withstand the summer heat,” he revealed.

Meanwhile Snigdha happily ran riot filling up her basket with cherry tomatoes and regular tomatoes. She did refill her basket a few times and was quite happy when she was told that she could take all she harvested



Responding to my question “What advice would you give those who are interested in growing plants, but who live in apartments ?” he said “All one needs are a few pots which they could keep in their balcony or open areas with some exposure to the sun. They can dump their kitchen vegetable wastes collected over a period of time in the pots and cover it with some soil. In a couple of months it will be ready for planting. Ideally I would suggest they plant vegetables like radish, beans, greens, tomatoes, chillies and gourds. These are seasonal and grow faster and does not require much attention. But they yield a lot. I get my seeds from India where a packet of seeds cost just Rs 10. Some seeds cost about Rs. 30 a packet. I retain some seeds from my harvests so that I have enough for my subsequent crops. These seeds are much stronger and grow well as they have already become acclimatised to Kuwait’s weather”.



Asked what drives him or motivates him in his pursuit of gardening year after year, he said, "the greenery all around is invigorating. I use the garden space for barbecues with friends. But more importantly, I believe in the words of David Hobson, a garden enthusiast and writer who said, I GROW PLANTS FOR MANY REASONS: TO PLEASE MY SOUL, TO CHALLENGE THE ELEMENTS OR TO CHALLENGE MY PATIENCE FOR NOVELTY, OR FOR NOSTALGIA, BUT MOSTLY FOR THE JOY OF SEEING THEM GROW."

It was indeed a memorable visit for us to the house of Markos Williams- a man who has managed the elements, the weather and the harsh soil in pursuit of his passion to bring life to plants in Kuwait.

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Express your comment on this article

 
Elangovan
Monday, July 1, 2019
It is unbelievable, very nice treat to eyes. have to wait for summer to get over also can you please suggest what can be grown in summer.

Markos Williams
Thursday, June 27, 2019
After the summer is over and when the next cycle of plants are ready I will invite those interested to my home garden. Kindly email me on [email protected]

Maya
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Fascinating... how can we visit?

Jacob
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Great article on a genuinely worthy topic. Had the privilege to visit this garden multiple times and of growing more amazed each time. Mr. Markos is a great example of will power and innovation to make such a miracle garden possible in Kuwait. Hope this article will encourage more people to make such gardens where ever possible to ensure our global environment will rejuvenate itself to better climatic conditions, especially for us in Kuwait which has now recorded highest degree of temperatures in the world!! Hats off to Mr. Markos....

Stephanie McGehee
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Very nice article. I can attest to the wonderful taste to your homegrown vegetables! It is so nice to read a positive article and encouraging to let people know that you don’t have to have a farm to be a farmer !

Ar rafi
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
?????? It is appreciated and Inspiration to all the followers .I have seen you doing hardwork at your house for these plant to grow, even it interest me to do like u. Its great that being one of ur follower .
What do plants have to do with making a difference in the world? Gardening and growing plants is good for the Earth, good for you, and good for other people.A garden does more than just help you focus and breathe better. Hope everone do and put an interest to make our earth Green????????

Sekhar Bonthapuri
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
I know Markos personally. What I admire in him is, he is nature friendly and constantly thrive and innovate new ideas to keep his garden up to date. He makes his own soil and manure rich with vegetable waste , etc.. His skills not only limited to gardening, but in other aspects too. He is a perfect planner and a man of unique style of his own.

He is very friendly and more than happy to allow if anyone wants to visit his unique garden in Kuwait.

saro
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Nice information. How did you arrange visit to Markos home? Is he known to you or he invites anyone who wants to visit his home? How to contact him for a visit?

Shireen Daly
Monday, June 24, 2019
Markos,Amazing work. Overwhelmed with joy watching your hard work amidst your heavy schedule. I love greenery & how I wish I could take a walk into that beautiful garden & walk out with a basketful of fresh veggies . Happy are the ones who have visited it..

Rejula
Monday, June 24, 2019
Wow that is something interesting and amazing!

Keith
Monday, June 24, 2019
It''s an inspiration to see someone with the passion for gardening. I love it my self and have tried it at my small balcony but had to stop it because flies used to gather. I need help with that of the flies can be stopped then I''ll go back to gardening.
Like to visit Mr Markos Williams.

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