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Workshop on Gardener’s Heaven

Workshop on Gardener's Heaven

Starting a garden can be an unconscious activity for many, but many of us do struggle to decide upon the place and types of plants to pick for our gardens in the beginning. Gardening always doesn’t require a large land area of land or a big balcony. You can have a very beautiful garden and grow a variety of fruits and vegetables in your small apartment place as well.

Are you passionate about gardening? New to gardening? Or don’t have enough gardening space? We got you covered. Here is a complete guide to gardening.

Watch our workshop on “Gardener’s Heaven” with our speaker Sylvester Michael Fernandes. A chef by profession and crazy for plants. He loves to travel and share innovative ideas with people, especially gardeners. And in this workshop, he will be sharing some of his amazing ideas on how to design a beautiful garden in any space provided. You can connect with him on Facebook on his account “Sylvester Fernandes”

Sylvester and his tips on gardener’s heaven: 

“Hello everyone welcome to another workshop with Taos today we have with us, Mr. Sylvester Michael Fernandes. Hello, how are you, sir?” Asked Zehra. 

“Hello everybody it’s a privilege to be on the show and I am very happy to share my views. So, I’m ready to share some beauty tips with all of you so that it becomes very helpful for everyone to maintain their balconies and how we can go about in the day-to-day maintenance of our garden.” Said, Sylvester. 

“We are very glad to have you with us today for the workshop. I would give you a brief about Mr. Sylvester, he is a Chef by profession but he also loves plants and is crazy about planting as you can witness a very lush balcony of plants. So today Sylvester is going to tell us how he got this beautiful balcony and a lot more about having a home garden. So, over to you, let’s get started.” Said Zehra. 

“Hello everyone, I would like to thank you again for providing me with this beautiful opportunity to bring my garden to leave all of you. As you can all see lush greenery is all around me and I will be sharing some useful tips but before that, I want to tell you something, I am a chef by profession and I have been working in the hotel industry for about 14 years of my experience, I have been working all over the world whether its UAE, India, America, Europe, South America, and many more. I have been to places as a chef but one thing it never leaves we doing is gardening. It has been a part of my life since I was a kid. So were all the kids during their holidays we’re going out to play indoor games or outdoor games. Yes, of course, I used to be one of them but also I never missed one-day doing gardening on my balcony. So, as a kid, I used to get fascinated looking at those beautiful plants growing on the street sides or on someone else’s balcony. It used to amuse me. During that time when I used to go out for playing, I used to collect mud from somewhere and bring them home and put some seeds to grow them. Although sometimes they were successful and sometimes they were not successful. But in the end, it was about satisfaction. 

So, today we are going to do gardening it’s not because it’s a formality but it’s purely about satisfaction. We do something in our life because it satisfies us, it gives us joy and happiness. So, nothing is successful in this world if we are not happy about it. I believe that all gardeners have the same mentality that we are crazy for plants, and no matter what happens, we keep trying, trying, and trying. 

So today I have come up with some beneficial points and some useful tips which will save our plants from dying. Which will give your plants a boost. So, the first topic is:- 

Soil and compost proportion: 

It should be in the right proportion. For example, most of us who don’t have the knowledge fill the pot with mud and report the plant and they just keep watering every passing day but have you realized how crucial it is for a plant to receive its nutritional value? The soil contains a lot of nutrition without which the plant can’t thrive well to bear fruits. 

So, when I do potting mix I use a product that I am going to introduce in the market very soon. So this product which I have made is a ready potting mix. So, you don’t have the thing about any mixed cow dung composed of fertilizers no powders nothing it is a complete mixture. When you put this in a pot you have your powder you have your mud you have your sand in it and all the fertilizers and nutrients which are required like Potassium, Phosphorus, etc. Everything is available in the mixture package which requires for the thriving of the plants. You need to open the packet, put it in the pot, repot the plant, cover the top layer of the soil, and water the plant. And that’s all you do every day and nothing else. And you will witness a big difference. 

1) It will give a glossy look all over your plant

2) And you will see that there are hardly any dead leaves over this Curry leaf plant. It will minimize.

3) So, most of the time the plant would be fully green and lush, and most of the time the plant would be fully green and lush and with vibrant colors. 

We need to understand one very important thing when we pot any plant be it a flowering plant or a fruit/vegetable plant, they need to understand, sunlight is a very essential thing for the plant. If your balcony is not having sunlight you will not witness your plans doing well because the plant requires a minimum of 5 to 6 hours of Sunlight very less proportion I would say 4 hours is the least.

Right pot/container:

Now as you can see I have introduced a basket instead of a container. This cane basket is making a big difference in my garden.” Said, Sylvester. 

1. “I was going to ask you how the plant is growing in the cane basket. Like why have you chosen this normally we have a container with a few drainage holes below the pot but the cane basket has holes all over it so doesn’t it water or something?” Asked Zehra. 

“Yes, that’s a very good question. Why are there so many openings? As we all know and if we have noticed many times when the municipality people when the starting the roads and they start covering the roads with tar sometimes they don’t leave we space around a tree and they covered it with the cement or bricks or whatever. And gradually you will see in a few months you see such a big tree, it ends up drying out, and eventually, it dies. What makes that happen what is the cause of that? I have been studying this for the past 8 months that many a time and have come face to face with the situation where many trees die in certain situations and the reason for this is that I have introduced this. The roots of plants play a big role in the growth of a plant, as we need oxygen to survive plants do also need oxygen to survive and to breathe and that is from the roots. They release the oxygen from the leaves that are for us and they need oxygen which they get from roots. So, when they have ample openings all around they can have a maximum supply of oxygen. The benefits are, that you will witness less drying of the leaves and very minimum chances of a plant dying because the water retention is excellent. Even though there are many openings in the basket the water doesn’t flow from all sides it will only flow from the bottom. I have experimented with it with the baskets first and it just sinks in from the needle and it just drains off from the bottom. The reason for that is the proportion because I have sand, cow dung, and mud so this keeps the mud loose it doesn’t tighten the mud which helps this plant grow. The package needs to be used according to the size of the basket or the pot and you need to accordingly order because the proportion that I am showing you is okay for a small pot, not a pot of 10 inches above. I will be introducing the bigger version of it like the 5 kg of bags which will be very useful. So, this cane basket needs 5 kg of potting mix. 

You need only the packet of the potting mix you have to fill the pot with half the amount of the porting mix and report the plant and then again at the remaining it to cover it up.” Said, Sylvester. 

2. “Is this a special or a normal cane basket that we find on roadsides or in the shop?” Asked Zehra. 

“I have got it done by one of my people, he designs it for me. So, he is coming up with many more baskets of different shapes. I just wanted to do something different on the balconies and I don’t want to do what you see everywhere.” Said, Sylvester. 

3. “So, if somebody tries with a normal cane basket that we find in the market, how will that work?” Asked Zehra. 

“You can still work it out because you have a similar type or kind of basket I am not saying that it’s not available only thing is that my person design it for me because I need to be careful with the basket so that the mud should not leak out when it dries I am keeping that in mind it is made in such a way that the mud will not flow outside. But I do believe that you can get this basket in the market and their quite reasonable. 

Like, for example, if you buy a big size pot the market price is around 400 to 500 rupees but these baskets are not costing you more than 250 rupees. And it is making a really good impact on the plants. As this is designed by my person so I do sell it for the price of 250 each. So the reason why I have kept the price very minimum because it’s not about money but it’s about passion. I want everyone to enjoy the benefits of this because I don’t want to introduce anything in the market which is not within the reach of people, especially the middle class. Because we do gardening for happiness and our goal is to achieve the target to reach out to people and keep everything minimum so that people can afford it. I have come across so many people who have been doing this drive of planting trees all around the city and it gives me happiness to see the greenery because many are plant lovers and understand them and take it seriously but the people who take it lightly do not understand that how much big role these plants play in our life. If plants are not there on this planet we will have issues, especially with our health, they are a part of our life and we cannot approve of them and say that we don’t need them. If there is no vegetable we can’t eat food, if trees are not around what would we breathe?  

Selecting a plant:

We usually go to the nursery and get attracted to a beautiful plant but we do not ask questions we do not talk about the life of this plant, will it survive? What about the climate, will it survive? Many times nursery people bring plants from somewhere but they do not survive on our balconies. The reason is that we have not implemented our ideas on how to go about when we do the planting. Have we understood the balcony very well before doing any gardening you have to understand how your balcony functions, how is the sunlight, how many hours I receive the sunlight, do my plant requires that much amount of sunlight. 

For example, I am going to show you one plant now this plant they call it Gerbera so this plant is a very delicate plant you cannot put this plant where it can receive sunlight for more than an hour, I think 1 hour should be the maximum sunlight given to this plant and that also not the afternoon sunlight but the morning sunlight. Because if this plant receives more than one hour of Sunlight in the afternoon time you will see the flowers of these plant burning. 

For example, this is Bonsai Bougainvillea so this plant will not grow tall after reaching a certain height rather it will spread around like a round ball. This plant needs a lot of Sunlight so if you keep this plant in Shade you will see these colorful leaves and flowers will fall off. We need to be careful about which plant needs to be positioned or in which direction and for how long and for what period these plants face the sun. 

The location: 

For example, when he plans out something to do like how we need to plant or how we need to landscape the plant, all these things are planned and nothing happens overnight. And when we work it out with our efforts we can make our garden look like heaven. In this little oasis, my mini forest has many Bonsai Orange plants then have Chiku plants, I have mangoes, I had pomegranates, I have other varieties of mango going, tomatoes & cherry tomatoes and I have gooseberries. My garden is doing very well this year when it comes to fruit-bearing, every tree is loaded with fruits. 

So, I live on the floor, and on the 7th floor that is above me have 2-3 honeycombs. We need to understand that honey bees are excellent drivers of pollination deeply a very big role in pollination. The reason is that pollination is happening very well this year because of the honey bees. So, what makes the location appropriate: 1) First thing is sunlight and the aeration of the wind. We have to understand that plants grow well if there is a lot of wind if there is no proper ventilation the plants don’t do great in such an environment. So, we need to understand the flow of the wind is a must and it’s as important as sunlight 

2) When we water the plants and there is a plant on the ground there should be a slope for the water to flow as the water should not get collected at a place. The problem is when there is too much water at the roots, the roots of the plant will start to rot. The soil must retain the water as the flow is on a slope. So, we need to take these things into account when we are gardening vegetables and fruits. 


It is equally important. As I have come across many people who could plant but they don’t care. They do put the soil in the repot and then they leave it in a corner. We need to maintain it every three months. I maintain my plants every three months I open the soil and remove the roots of the plant. You have to be very careful in removing the roots of the plants without breaking them. We need to be careful about how we repot the plants without disturbing the roots. What I need to do is lose the soil of the plant turn it around and remove the plant like a cake without disturbing the roots of the plant and giving them a shock. So, these are the points that we need to keep in our mind when we are repotting from a smaller pot to a bigger pot or from a bigger pot to ground. 

So now I will tell you about my secrets as a lot of people ask me why the colors of your plants and leaves are so vibrant. Why is the garden looking so lush green even when it is not in the ground? The secret is that I have my liquid. What I do is all the vegetables that we use in our kitchen and since I have been a chef I do know what all we can collect from a kitchen so what you do is when the food is prepared I collect the skin of the vegetables and especially the rotten vegetables so I dump them in a container and even at shells as they play a very big role when it comes to new nutrients. So I dump all the rotten vegetables, vegetable peels, and eggshells and I also use the dry fish after washing them thoroughly as they apply a lot of salt on them which can be harmful to the plants. Once you soak dry fish in the water 2-3 times to remove the saltiness then dry them and leave them to rot with the other vegetables and then pour water in it, cover the container tight with the foil and the lid so that it doesn’t smell. And let them rot for a minimum of 15 to 20 days. You will be able to witness that everything is rotting and then you can strain out the thick water and the residual is not a waste, as I put this residual in a pot and then cover them with mud, and then it became the best manure that can be used again for another plant. When the liquid mixture is ready you don’t have to put the entire bottle because it’s quite strong. So you need to be very careful when you are boring this liquid in your plants. You can pole one-third of this liquid mixture in your plans and you have to do it after every 15 days and you will see your plant doing excellent. And even if your plant is not doing well you can add this liquid and then you will see the color of the plant start changing. Said, Sylvester. 

4. “So, there are a couple of questions that I wanted to ask, what is the shelf life of this liquid that you’ve prepared?” Asked Zehra. 

“This liquid remains for 6 months.” Said, Sylvester. 

5. “So, after collecting the liquid from the compost that you have prepared does it need to be diluted or it can be used as such?” Asked Zehra. 

“You need to add this liquid after 3 months after planting the plants in the potting mix because what happens is as the plant starts growing it nearly absorbs all the nutrients which are there in the soil so we need to replenish the soil once again. So this liquid does an excellent part it covers the area of replenishing the soil.” Said, Sylvester.

“So there is a very common question that I came across with people there are always white lines on tomato leaves. So that is a worm that takes away the nutrients from the plant’s leaves and dries out the leaves and gradually the plant dies slowly. Now to avoid that and sustain its life longer we need to spray this liquid on those leaves.” Said, Sylvester. 

6. “So, do we need to dilute this solution or can we use it immediately after straining?” Asked Zehra. 

“There is no need to dilute it as it’s been diluted and given its ready thing. The reason why I have done this dilution is to keep in mind that not all know the right proportion of dilution. So first I experimented on my plants and then I time-tested them and agreed to bring them to the market so that they do not harm anyone’s plant.” Said, Sylvester. 

7. “So, the plants on your balcony are very lovely so how old is this garden of yours?” Asked Zehra.

“This garden is two years old.” Said, Sylvester. 

8. “So, everything has been started from the seeds or you brought the plant from a nursery?” Asked Zehra. 

“No, they are not from the nursery. So for the next video, I am thinking of introducing grafting because grafting is very beneficial. So when you graft a plant you can have all those things on your balcony that you see growing outside in the tall trees. So, this guava plant is not grown from seeds because it is A drafted plant and this guava plant is also having 20 guavas altogether on it. The plant is not more than two feet tall. 

My concept of having a balcony Garden is that I have come across many people having big gardens and call them Bagicha. I used to get pulled or attracted towards that garden and I used to think what the matter is if I don’t have a last piece of land?  Why can’t I use some ideas where I can still benefit from having those beautiful plants on my balcony date people ask me, are they growing on your balcony? So now I want to reach out to many people with this information so that everyone can benefit and is successful in having a beautiful garden on a balcony.” Said, Sylvester. 

9. “So, when you keep a plant on your balcony do you think of all the points that you have mentioned like where which place it has to be placed?” Asked Zehra. 

“Yes, and I will tell you one more thing that I do. As the Seasons are changing, now what happens is when the winter season starts we have cold nights and the sun is not that hot it’s mild. I do get an ample amount of sunlight due to which the balcony garden becomes lust green. But in summer during March-April when the sun will reach above the head and my balcony is left without sunlight so what I do is, shift all these plans to my other balcony where we receive sunlight during summer.   Because if I don’t do that then most of the plants will die till the next winter season arrives. Garden locations matter a lot.” Said, Sylvester. 

10. “So I just wanted to ask if there are plants in your balcony that do not require much sunlight do you place them on the interior of the balcony and the ones that require more sunlight, on the exterior of the balcony, do you position them like that.” Asked Zehra. 

“Yes, of course, it’s true. So Frankie speaking I don’t keep many of the plants indoors, I don’t have many indoor plants because I work more on fruits and vegetables and flowering plants, and all these three kinds of plants need sun.” Said, Sylvester. 

11. “So, you have mentioned a few fruits that you are growing in your garden, can you tell us a little about the vegetables that you are growing?” Asked Zehra. 

“Yes, now as summer has picked up, I will start going vegetables like cucumber pumpkins and I will also grow watermelons because they grow very well in summer in months like April-May before the rain arrives. So, I need to be careful because we need to make use of the Seasons. After all, we have a season-wise harvest.” Said, Sylvester. 

“I have also purchased a piece of land where I will be doing vegetable gardening and I have been planning on opening a gardening school for students and children for practical classes, who are interested in gardening. So I live in the outskirts of Mumbai it’s like a small village I live in the outskirts of Mumbai it’s like a small village but I am close to Mumbai. 

So, I consider these plans to be real stress busters because when people stay at home, especially the elders who are retired and getting bored at home why not join me and enjoy gardening and be happy? It’s not about money making, it’s about happiness. So, my concept of gardening school is to bring smiles to people’s faces.” Said, Sylvester. 

12. “So, these plants that you have talked about that you would be growing for the summer season coming up so you will be starting them from seeds?” Asked Zehra. 

“Yes, of course, they all will come through the seeds. For example, this time I am planning to put the red pumpkin, then squash the bottled gourd pumpkin, then cucumber, radish, okra (ladyfinger), and also some vegetables like green beans and watermelons.” Said, Sylvester.

13. “So, when you have so many plants of course plans attract a lot of pests as well so how do you protect your plants from pests?” Asked Zehra. 

“Very good question I had forgotten but good that you have reminded me of that. You can charcoal, you need to burn the charcoal and you need to add the bay leaves, and let them release the smoke on the balcony. There are two benefits of this smoke: 

1) It drives away the mosquitoes from the plants.

2) It is very effective and very beneficial for plants that produce a bunch of flowers. It plays a big role in its thriving. 

I have been doing this for years and I have always seen a good/positive impact. It makes a big difference in the flowering plants, especially the Mogra plant which is benefited from the smoke of charcoal and bay leaf.” Said, Sylvester.

14. “So, how often do we have to give the smoke to the plant?” Asked Zehra. 

“You need to do it every 10 days.” Said, Sylvester. 

15. “So, what if there are mealy bugs or other kinds of pests that attack your plant, then what kind of pesticides do you use?” Asked Zehra. 

“I use the same liquid mix that we make from kitchen waste, eggshells, and dry fish. I don’t use anything other than that. So every five days, I spray this liquid with the help of a spray bottle on every plant. This liquid works as an all-in-one multipurpose for the plant. I have time-tested, I have worked on the solution for 8 months and then I have planned to introduce it because I do not want to introduce something which will not make an impact. After all, it should be effective.” Said, Sylvester. 

16. “So, we talked about vegetables, fruits, and flowering plants so what about herbs?” Asked Zehra. 

“Herbs are something that I have not grown much till now the reason behind this is that as you can see that my balcony is over packed and herbs like coriander or any herbs like basil or rosemary or Indian or Continental Herbs the reason that they need a lot of sunlight. And Arbi knows that they are not plans that grow tall enough they are very small light shrubs so they won’t be able to receive sunlight as my garden is being covered or packed with all tall fruit trees. So what will happen is that they will not survive and eventually they will die. So I don’t take that risk of growing them for the movement but definitely on my ground where my school practicals will be going on I will be introducing all of these because there it will receive direct sunlight.” Said, Sylvester. 

“Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my views and tips on gardening. I am hopefully assuming that all who are watching have heard me and I think my tips will surely benefit you. I hope that you all have enjoyed this session.” Said, Sylvester

Thank you so much, Sylvester.

“It was a very informative session and we learned a lot of new things today. I am sure all of us must have enjoyed it. Thank you, everybody, for joining us today and for making this a successful workshop.”