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New Growth at Intrepid Gardens

Meet the Rosmead Garden

Our friends who have volunteered their yard and enthusiasm live just off the cutest lane called Rosmead Place. With the park, shopping, and Town Hall around the corner, we are excited about the prospects of this garden becoming a central teaching opportunity. This also challenges us to design for a more aesthetically oriented population, combining sustainability, high yields, and visually pleasing elements. As the home is rented, we also have to work within the comfort of the landlords and can make few hardware changes or installations. Many urbanites find themselves in a similar situation and we are happy to accept the challenge.

Our partners on Rosmead are an interesting mix of Sri-Lankan and foreign roommates, all bringing different degrees of exposure to agriculture and taste in food. With one from Jaffna, tossing every uneaten seed out the kitchen door to sprout, to those terrified of worms, we anticipate many interesting exchanges and learning more ourselves about local practices.

Initial impressions and first sketches

Immediately upon entering the front gate you are greeted with bundles of palm fronds and tangles of vine, a common scene around Colombo. That is the great thing about where we work – Sri-Lankans still have an appreciation for greenery. However, one also notices the lawn and shaped hedges, leftovers from a time of Western influence and now-status symbols.

This is one of the biggest challenges we anticipate coming up against. Sri Lanka is at a stage of development where those who can afford to make big, swift changes for a more sustainable Colombo are torn between the minimalist manicured lawn, increasingly popular among the elite, and the tropical heritage of lush productive gardens. The latter symbolizing something akin to the village life many sought to escape at one time or another. Just around the periphery and hidden behind the house you do encounter the standard banana, papaya, and citrus trees.

Our plan is to expand on perennial varieties, which are lower maintenance and more sustainable in the tropics, by adding more fruit trees, a Jack or breadfruit tree, sweet potato, ginger, lemongrass, Malabar spinach, clumping onions, self-seeding herbs, and annuals that produce for multiple seasons in the tropics.

We are also installing a kitchen garden outside, you guessed it, the kitchen door. A little lemon tree is already making its own way here and we are building up the beds to include tomatoes, eggplant, lady’s fingers, beans, sunflowers, melons and cukes, pumpkin, and more local varieties like kekiri. The size of the space is easy to manage and pick from daily, perfect for those short on time to maintain an annual garden.

The Plan

The Plan

Other projects include composting, sheet mulching, and establishing forage to eventually sustain a few chickens. I will be sharing more on these over the next few weeks. You can sign up for our email updates in the sidebar so you don’t miss a thing.

Especially with this being a rental, I have been asked many times, why bother if in a year or two the land might no longer be available for our use? Well, as far I am concerned, any opportunity to leave an area greener and more alive than I found it cannot possibly be a waste.

What do you think? If you are interested in similarly volunteering your garden and joining IG, contact us!

Margie is the founder of IG and is passionate about the therapeutic benefits of working with nature in the garden. She enjoys mangosteen, the rainy season, hammocks, and wild visitors in the garden.

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