Increasing environmental concerns has brought Ketut Punia to become an environmentalist, even though he has no educational background in the particular field. He has learned from experience, workshops and through observation of actual events. Today he actively educates and encourages the community as a volunteering facilitator in spreading awareness on the importance of life balance. He meets and talks to community leaders from village to village to convince them in taking care of their own environment and directs communities on how to properly carry out the efforts. His projects includes waste management through a program called “Bank Sampah”, which literally translates as rubbish bank, organic farming as well as the development of sustainable community-based eco tourism.
The front and backyard of his house in the Banjar Pagut Kelod community of Batubulan-Sukawati, Gianyar regency, is filled with various types of plantations, comprising mostly of vegetables, spices, flowers and herbal medicines, in what is referred to as a hanging garden concept. “This is actually not a new concept though, as it’s been around for quite some time,” he explains. Hanging garden is basically a farming style that utilizes on a very limited field and media, such as your own backyard with common day-to-day household materials. Every wall and empty space can work fine for such a garden using your own designed fences with hanging ropes and benches. At the same time you can reuse the plastic bottles and containers, instead of polluting the environment.
It is important to treat our gardens correctly in order to get them growing properly with such limited space and media. The use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers is a big no-no. Besides keeping our gardens fresh and producing healthy goods, most important is that we help keep our environment safe and healthy. Using composts and organic fertilizers is the best solution and there are many types of ready used composts and fertilizers out there that you can get from stores. But Ketut Punia produces his own style using his home organic waste such as dry leaves, stems, papers and others, instead of throwing them away. Animal feces and cooking residue also works great for compost, but they are processed differently and produce different types of composts. (We’ll talk about it in a separate edition).
Understanding the characteristics of each plantation is important as well, to get a better result along the process. Most plantations need open air, sunshine and a lot of water. Vegetables, flowers, herbs and spices are among those listed in this category. Meanwhile, vascular plants or tracheophytes, orchids and various types of aglaonemas do not favor direct sunshine well and need cooler conditions. It becomes very critical when you try to have highland plants at home because they are very sensitive to surrounding temperatures. It is not impossible though, as some farmers have proven and made it possible here after following special measures. But again, you have to dedicate your time and energy.
Organic fertilizers can be made of crushed eggshells mixed with sawdust and stuffed with organic activators such as M4. This mixture has to be dried under the sun until 3 weeks ripened before becoming ready for use.