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Gayatri Ganesh

The Nilgiris, Southern India

I live in Kotagiri which is a small town at 6000 feet above mean sea level in the Nilgiris mountains in South India - a global biodiversity hotspot in the Western Ghats. The winter temperature is min5 to max20 C, and the maximum we've recorded in summer was 29 C. Our climate is actually temperate within a tropical country, which is why this region has historically grown what is known as "English vegetables" (cauliflower, brussels sprouts etc) not native to these part because of the climate that resembles that of Somerset. We get two monsoons a year (June-Sept) and (Oct-dec) but now with climate change we've seen very heavy rains for longer spells, and higher temperatures in the summer than ever before. Also the Nilgiris was the British summer capital during the colonial period. You can read more about how the native landscape was altered by the British during the colonial period in my article here: Big Green Lies

The native forests and grasslands were replaced with non-native exotic and invasive trees and shrubs like eucalyptus, black wattle, and lantana, and  tea plantations dominate the landscape. Today agriculture here is pesticide and chemical intensive.

My nodig fruit and vegetable garden sits on 0.34 acres, and the nodig forest of 55 native trees and 80 shrubs and grasses is on 0.30 acres. I heard about Charles and the nodig method from a friend of mine doing nodig in Spain. I began my nodig vegetable garden in August 2021 and it's been bountiful, effortless harvests ever since. I grow about 25 nodig vegetables (tomato (different varieties mainly cherry), onions, leeks, potato, radish, carrot, beetroots, kohl rabi, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale (2 types), beans, celery, spinach, cucumber, brinjal/eggplant, corn, pak choy, tatsoi, lollo biondo, romano, butterhead lettuce, iceberg, rocket and about 7 herbs. Some obvious ones like garlic and pumpkin - i am only starting this year. Planning on a trial of aspagarus and artichokes!. Indian native vegetables like gourds are tougher to grow in the colder climate but it is warming up year on year.

Fruit trees - peach, apricot, mandarin orange, avocado, apple (3-4 yr old trees). lime, pomelo, guava are older fruit giving trees.  

My main issue is with the invasive kikuyu grass and eradicating it has been my mission! Heavy mulching has been the only way but I think I've shown that it can be done on a small scale without pesticides.

A bit of background about me: I was a qualitative social researcher in London from 2002-2008. Returned to India in 2009 and worked with non-profits in public health and education. I moved to the Nilgiris in 2017 and I continue to support non-profits through writing grants to support their causes (ecology, climate change, animal welfare, healthcare)

Charles has been a real inspiration to me - a true guru.

The concept of building soil health with effortless harvests tied all my passions together. Just when I was getting fearful about starting vegetables, a friend from London who has a nodig garden in Spain, introduced me to the concept and the youtube channel. The youtube channel is an incredible resource.

I recently did a nodig workshop and demonstration at the Nilgiris Earth Festival and it was very well received. I have had requests to help people set up their nodig gardens.

We really hope to get Charles to the Nilgiris one day!

My instagram page where I am documenting my nodig and rewilding journey:

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