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Home Gardening – Try it

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In the soil beneath your feet, there is an invisible world, which is continuously transferring its life to the plants and trees that grow above it. Home gardening is an activity which nurtures this transfer, but unfortunately due to urbanization and the development of technology it is a dying habit, especially among the youth of today.  However if you’re a person interested in it, but lack the motivation or the know-how, read on to find out on why you should start your own home garden, and how you can get about doing it!

  1. Is home gardening possible now?

Yes, it is. Anywhere, anytime.

  1. I don’t know much about home gardening

There is absolutely very little you need to know about home gardening. Home gardening is not solely about ‘growing what you eat’, it is also an exercise. A healthy way of increasing happiness and contentment, relieving stress which ultimately helps your long-term mental health.

The most important thing about home gardening is ‘home gardening should be done your way’.

The garden will express your emotions and effort in terms of harvest.

  1. What can I grow? I have no space, and can’t decide on what to grow

I shall answer these three problems in one section as it falls under an important theory about home gardening.

It is the space-time-benefit theory. This theory helps to finally identify the optimum plant mix for any garden.

Space refers to the total area available for you to maintain a home garden. Time refers to the total time that is available for you to engage in the garden while benefit refers to the level of return you gain in terms of crop.

As you can understand, there is a clear connection between these three factors. Let me explain this to you in an example.

Imagine you, a working individual, have a balcony area to manage a home garden.

As you can understand the time and area available to you is very limited. Which means managing a garden with various kinds of fruits plants (mango, pomegranate etc) or some vegetable plants (cabbage, cauliflower etc.) is quite difficult as they require much space as well as caring.However, you could utilize the same resources and grow 5-6 varieties of green leaves in your garden. It requires less space as well as caring but would yield a good healthy crop for your daily use.

Here are a couple of pictures of my home garden for reference.

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  1. How do I start?

Firstly, understand the space available to grow.

Then match the space with the plants that you can grow. In a large area with a space to use the ground, planting trees would be a possibility. But with a small space you will have to focus on smaller plants that will have to be planted in pots/containers.

After understanding what can be grown, narrow the list down to a couple of plants that you are comfortable growing.

Finally, be positive and start your home garden.

Also remember not to limit yourself from TRYING various varieties of fruit plants, vegetable plants or herbs as they can always offer joy and excitement to your life.

  1. I would rather buy from the market

Imagine a meal you’re enjoying with your family. All or some of the varieties are picked from your garden. Its safe. Its lovely. You can feel the goodness all the way through.

Does that meal feel special?

Do you think you would feel the exact same way if everything was bought from the market?

If yes, this blog is not for you my friend.

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  1. Do I need to buy various kinds of fertilizers?

Nope, you don’t. The fun fact is that all the nutrients you need and more are at an arms-length to you. Here are some:

  • Banana peels – Banana peels are a rich a source potassium. These helps any vegetable plant and especially flower plants like roses. All you need to do is simply cut the peels into small pieces and throw them into the hole before planting.
  • Coffee grounds – These are rich in nitrogen which helps acid loving plants such as tomatoes to grow. All you need to do is dry it and sprinkle on top of the ground or pour a liquid version on top of it.
  • Egg shells – These are rich in calcium and feeds plants such as tomato and pepper well. All you need to do is first wash and then crush the egg shells and use it in the potting mix or simply throw a couple of crushed egg shells to the hole before planting.
  • Weeds – Believe it or not, weeds are a good-easy fertilizer you can find. It is rich in nitrogen which is an essential nutrient for any plant. First take out the weed and dry them, root and all. Now break it into smaller pieces and add to your potting mix.
  • Cow manure – For most people living in the town area cow manure is difficult to find. Although you can purchase this for a very cheap price at any agriculture outlet in town. This, as is known by many of us is one of the best fertilizers that has nitrogen and even phosphate. All you need to do is mix it with your potting mix.
  • Leaves and vegetable scrap – These include heads of vegetables such as brinjal, carrot and beetroot as well as remnants of apple, watermelon, papaw you had for your dessert. These are all-natural fertilizers you can find at an arms-length to you. All you need to do is dry them for about a day. Then cut them into very small pieces and mix them with your potting mix.
  • Animal matter (insects, worms etc), human urine are also high sources of nutrients that can be used although they are rarely used due to several reasons.

IMPORTANT = Make sure to not over use any of the above fertilizers as they are only supporters/replenishes. The base should always be the soil.

  1. What would be the cost?

Home gardening is not a cost, its rather an investment! The investment can be as follows.

  • The investment on buying plants/seeds – This is a minor investment of a couple of rupees. You can even germinate plants using the seeds you find in the vegetable and fruits you buy from the market.
  • Investment to provide nutrients to soil (fertilizer, dirt) – as mentioned in question no 06, it is clear that you can your fertilizer at your home itself.
  • Investment to water plants – This can of course be over weighed by the return achieved in terms of crop. Methods to save, recycle the water can also be considered to gain an additional benefit.
  • Investment of tools and accessories – We are not looking at growing at an industrial level, hence the investment can be simply on pots/containers (if it is only possible to grow in pots/containers), tools as you prefer and a pair of gloves (optional)
  • It is very important to understand that home gardening does not have to be started with 50-60 varieties. You can simply start with about 2-3 varieties and gradually build up as you make progress.
  1. How much effort is required?

The plant grows on its own of course. Therefore, it is only a matter of taking care of the plants by clearing weeds, managing diseases and watering the plants as needed. Basically, giving the love and care the plant requires.

  1. How to manage diseases, rodents and harmful insects?

Various diseases, attacks from rodents and harmful insects are common in any garden. Hence managing it is important to maintain a healthy garden. Here are some methods you could use.

  • Acquiring disease free plants and seeds – This is the first solution to have avoid diseases. Buying well sealed and treated seeds will ensure that this risk is minimized.
  • Crop rotation and proper nutrition – This is one of the oldest and economical methods used in order to control diseases and improve crops. In the case of planting in pots/containers it would be a wise option to remove the soil from the pot/container, replenish it with your fertilizers after the crop yield is over. This will prevent the plants from facing various diseases due to malnutrition.
  • Resistant varieties – Plants such as mint, salvia flowers etc. resist harmful insects and rodents.
  • Solarization – For further preparation of the soil, some modern growers use solarization. Here you cover the soil with a sheet of plastic and leave it for about 2-3 weeks under the hot sun. This increases the temperature of the soli killing many soil-home pests, insects and weeds.
  • Time of planting – Planting vegetables and fruits at the right time helps reduce losses from several pests. For example, planting varieties of cabbage, cauliflower during heavily rainy seasons and help the development of cabbage worms. Hence, they should be grown during a controlled rainy season. Plants such as potatoes and garden soil can be planted in cool soil although plants such as beans or cucumber do well in the warm soil.
  • Chemical control – it is important to have control over using chemicals as they not only resist the harmful insects but also the needy insects as well. It also is certainly clear that the use of chemicals reduces the quality of the fruit or vegetable you grow.

Hence, we should try our best to stay away from these as much as possible.

  1. I don’t have time for this

If you have taken your time reading this blog, you surely have enough time to take care of at least one lovely plant.

I hope this answered most of the questions you would have had. Below, I have attached pictures of my home garden, hoping that you could see that a home garden can be grown anytime, anywhere. Till next time!

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Rtr. Rahul Samarakone

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GeneralGrowth Hacks

How private is your privacy?

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Did you know that until recently Uber could track you for 5 minutes after you end your ride?

We all live in a digital world which is highly advance and rapidly changing. Digitization has indeed made our lives simple by assisting in our day to day activities. Talking with someone on the other side of the world is now only a few clicks away. Living without using these technology is almost inevitable, as most day to day functions are integrated with IT. It is fair to say that we are connected and exposed to the digital world one way or the other and the rise of social networking has changed the way we interact with our friends, family members, etc. The impact of Facebook can be easily understood by the following figures;

  • 01 Billion active users.
  • 136,000 Photos are uploaded per second.
  • The most interesting fact, 83 million fake profiles.

Cyber Identity

A few years ago, other than basic information such as our name and age, people were reluctant to share any contact details such as email and phone number. However, as the world became more “Online”, personal privacy got more transparent than it used to be. In the beginning it didn’t feel like a threat, but the gradual rise of hacking and data breaching made clear that there is a possible danger to our Cyber Identity. For Identity Thieves it is pretty easy to steal someone’s personal data and imitate that person online. This can be clearly seen from the above statistic regarding the number of fake profiles in Facebook, and this is prevalent in other social networking sites as well. This is extremely dangerous as sensitive data such as emails, passwords, credit card numbers, pins and bank details can easily be compromised this way. These stolen details can then be used to do many illegal things from messaging your friends to stealing money from your bank account.

Online Shopping

Online Shopping is becoming increasingly popular, and it is shown through the competitiveness of the service providers such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. Furthermore, the number of small businesses going online is only increasing. Even though buying goods in just a few clicks sounds simple, the amount of data gathered through the process is significant. Most of us enter Credit/Debit card details into such websites. Once they are entered, there is not much we can do to protect them from hackers.

Advertising through consumer behavior

Google and Facebook are the leading suppliers of consumer behavior to advertisers and corporations. This information is then used to direct their marketing campaign, which from the user’s point of view is a headache. Everyone hates to see advertisements, especially advertisements which can reveal our preferences. This shows how much the advertisers know about our online behavior and can be seen as a threat to our privacy.

Protecting data

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So how can we protect our data from these cyber threats? The key is to understand the risks that come with being “Online”. Understanding why a particular website asks for our details and what we should enter will help to limit the number of sensitive details we enter into such websites. Furthermore, knowing about the security methods that can be used to protect the data in our PCs and also our social network accounts will help to reduce the threat of data piracy and theft. Governments around the world are also becoming aware of this matter.

Recently, the Indian Government made the Right to Privacy a fundamental right, enabling citizens to sue the related parties if their privacy has been violated, be it a private organization or even the Government! Future Consumer and Digital Laws in every country should be made to address such issues, thus blocking the loopholes in the Cyber security.

The E-World is becoming interesting and innovative day by day and facilities such as Artificial Intelligence(AI), Digital Payment Schemes, Cloud Technology, Smart Houses and other Smart technologies would definitely make the future lifestyle hassle-free, but such Technological power comes with great responsibility. Proper procedures should also be introduced to reduce the chance of online privacy issues.

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind the next time you open your browser!

  1. Do an assessment of your online activities.
  2. Install the latest antivirus software on all your devices.
  3. Use a personal Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  4. Be careful what you share on social networking sites.
  5. Follow these email security rules;
  • Exercise caution when opening emails, clicking on links, or downloading attachments
  • Do not download any attachments if the email seems suspicious, even if the email is from the person that you know
  • Lastly, use a secure email service.
  1. Make sure shopping sites are secure.
  2. Use strong passwords.
  3. Delete or clear the tracking cookies.
  4. Make sure the top of your browser reads HTTPS instead of HTTP in the URL bar whenever you are sending or receiving data (this ensures that the path to the destination server is secure).

Computer Emergency Readiness Team or CERT (http://www.slcert.gov.lk) is available for all the issues regarding the Cyber security and Privacy issues.

Rtr. Ashen Hirantha

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GeneralGrowth Hacks

The Importance of Being on Time.

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George Washington was the 1st President of the United States of America. Among many of his traits that make him one of the most venerated leaders ever, was his regard to being on time. Punctuality is one of the most important qualities of a great leader, gentleman or lady.

Once George Washington wanted to buy a horse and asked a man to bring about a few horses by his stable by five. This man got 15 minutes late (naturally like any of us) and asked the stable caretaker for Washington. Caretaker replied, “Mr. Washington was here for you at five and since you weren’t here he left for another business matter”.

George was never ever late for his Congress Meetings either. Not only that, he also had a fixed time for his meals. When he invites his Congress Members for a meal, they make sure that they arrive on time, since George doesn’t wait for his guests, but will start eating his meal on the specified time. His cooks “wait for no one”. Once his Secretary got late for a meeting and blamed it on the tardiness of her watch. George replied, “either you get a new watch or I’ll get a new Secretary”.

For Washington, being on time was a way of showing respect to others, and he expected to be treated with the same level of respect in return. We may no longer live in an age of knickers and powdered wigs, but being punctual is just as important as it ever was. It has been called “a homely, but solid virtue,” and it certainly doesn’t cause one’s breast to swell in the way that pondering courage or resolution does. But related as punctuality is to discipline and self-mastery, to integrity and respect, it is – if not particularly sexy – still an essential component of the character of an upstanding man.

The habit of being prompt once formed extends to everything — meeting friends, paying debts, going to church, reaching and leaving place of business, keeping promises, retiring at night and rising in the morning, going to the lecture and town-meeting, and, indeed, to every relation and act, however trivial it may seem to observers.

–William Makepeace Thayer, Tact and Grit, 1882

Why is it important to be punctual?

  1. Being punctual strengthens and reveals your integrity 
    Telling someone that you’ll be there at 8:00 means you have made a promise. If you arrive at 8:10 then you have broken that promise.
  2. Being punctual shows, you are dependable
    A man can always be found at his post, carrying out the duties needful for that time. People know they can rely on such a man – if he says he will be there, he’ll be there. But if a man is not punctual, others cannot depend on him — they do not know where he will be when they need him.
  3. Being punctual builds your self-confidence
    Showing up on time not only tells other people you are dependable, it teaches you that you can depend on yourself. The more you keep the promises you make, the more your self-confidence will grow.
  4. Being punctual builds and reveals your discipline
    The punctual man shows that he can organize his time, that he pays attention to details, and that he can put aside this to do that – he can set aside a pleasure to take care of business.
  5. Being punctual shows your respect for others
    Being late is a selfish act, for it puts your needs above another’s. You want an extra minute to do what you’d like, but in gaining that minute for yourself, you take a minute from another, which is why….
  6. Being late hurts your professional career
    Whether you’re an employee or in business for yourself, being late can hinder your professional success. Many companies have strict policies about punctuality — get a few write-ups and you’re gone. Of course, if you arrive late to the job interview, you probably won’t land the position in the first place. And if you’re trying to win over a new client, arriving ten minutes late isn’t going to get things off on the right foot, in the same way that promising to get something to him by a certain date and then failing to do so, may have him looking elsewhere for your services.
  7. Being late takes a toll on your life
    Always running behind simply hurts you in all areas of your life. It results in lost opportunities: missing a plane, missing a meeting, missing an important part of a lecture, missing a wedding. It creates stress and can lead to car accidents and traffic tickets. It results in embarrassment and forces you to come up with excuses for why you’re late, putting a strain on your honesty. Basically, it makes your life more complicated.

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 It has been said that time is money. That proverb understates the case. Time is a great deal more than money. If you have time you can obtain money—usually. But though you have the wealth of a cloak-room attendant at the Carlton Hotel, you cannot buy yourself a minute more time than I have, or the cat by the fire has.

Arnold Bennett, How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day, 1910

As Sri Lankan’s, we are known to be “very much on time”. We can blame it on many factors. Obviously, the transportation system of the country is a mess and the huge traffic forms are another form of a disaster, but it is important that we become conscious of time and try to at least be there 10 minutes early so that all of the said delay factors are accounted for. Lack of discipline regarding punctuality is a major reason why we are stagnated in our development process. How annoyed do we get when a train is late? But who are we to judge if individually we are no different when it comes to being on time? It is said that the average delay time of a train in Japan is 7 seconds per year. In our country, of course it easily could be 1 hour per journey. There is a reason why those countries are so advanced and we are not. We have heard of foreign ministers who resigned just because a train got late. That is the amount of respect they have for being on time. Of course, punctuality is not something any of us can adapt overnight. But individually as Rotaractors, we can always try to make that change. We can start coming to meetings on time, and even get back home on time. We can avoid delays on project reports, just as we could do the same when it comes to other submissions. If it is honestly difficult to be on time the least you could do is excuse. But how can you be called a gentleman or a lady if you are known to be late? How can you be called a young leader?

 

 Art of Manliness, L. (2017). The Importance of Punctuality | The Art of Manliness. [online] The Art of Manliness. Available at: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/07/16/a-man-is-punctual-the-importance-of-being-on-time/ [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

 

Rtr. Shalutha Jayakody

 

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GeneralGrowth Hacks

A Guide To Approaching Sponsors

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Rotaractor or not, we have all organized projects at some points in our life, and most projects require us to find some sort of finance to fund it. All of us dread the specific moment in a meeting when the President or Chairperson looks right into your eyes  and asks

How much money have you found so far?

As much as some of us hate it, finding finance and sponsors is part and parcel of organizing any event and it is our duty to contribute to this as much as possible. It is for this specific reason that we, at the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School have compiled a few points on how to approach sponsors.

The secret to approaching sponsors, is following a process. What is the process you ask? Well let’s get right down to it!

STEP 01 – GO THROUGH THE PROJECT PROPOSAL (and print it!)

Read through the project proposal and get an idea aboutPicture1

  • The Club/organizers.
  • The gist of the project.
  • What the project needs.
  • What the project can offer.

Ensure that you have enough information to convince your target to sponsor your event.

STEP 02 – LIST OUT COMPANIES

Having a list of companies is always useful, as this can also be recycled from project to project. Do not bias your list on an industry (i.e “how could Company A sponsor our event when they have nothing in common?”), as there can be innovative solutions which can be thought of.

Remember, there is no harm in trying!

STEP 03 – RESEARCH

Do some extensive research on those companies. It is especially good to mark down companies which have a new product or service, as they would be more open to advertising. You would come across such companies when scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed, and it is a good habit to make a mental note at that moment.

STEP 04 – LINK THE COMPANY TO THE PROJECTPicture3

Come up with methods and means of marketing your event to each company.

Be innovative!

STEP 05 – THE ELEVATOR PITCH – FIRST CALL

An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your organization does, a project, idea, product – or in yourself. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than 20 to 30 seconds.

In simple terms, imagine you got into an elevator with somebody and the doors just close. You only have time till the doors open to convince that person that your project is worth a shot. This is essentially what you would have to do when you make your first call to the company.

Remember your aim at this point is to get a meeting! Do not expect a sponsorship to be given on your first call.

A common mistake that is made when making the call is saying   “we are looking for sponsors”. It is extremely generic and does not incite interest in your proposition. Instead, the words “we have an innovative investment opportunity for your company”would have a more appealing effect.

Another important point to remember is that upon getting the meeting, people  tend to keep the phone, only to remember that they have not got any information on where to meet, when to meet, etc.

Therefore ensure you get

  • The persons name.
  • The persons designation.
  • A meeting date.
  • A meeting location.

Sending a meeting invite might be useful too.

STEP 06 – FURTHER RESEARCH

As weird as it sounds, stalking the person you are going to meet is always useful. Getting to know his likes, dislikes and any other useful information that would ensure a more productive meeting can sometimes be the difference between making or breaking a deal. That being said, do not overdo it!

STEP 07 – MEETING DAY

Its meeting day!

  • Make sure your are in proper attire. Office wear is always a safe option. Remember, first impressions matter.
  • Ensure that your necessary documents and items are ready. This usually includes a printed proposal, a laptop or tablet to show any intended videos and visiting cards.

Punctuality is key!

STEP 08 – DO YOUR THING!Picture7

  • Break the ice first, a random comment about the traffic or the weather is a safe option.
  • Question and understand what they are trying to sell.
  • Negotiate- remember, they are smart, we are smarter!

Make good use of all your preparation, and try your best to leave a good impression.

STEP 09 – THANK YOU EMAIL

Your job is not done once you leave the meeting. Regardless of whether your meeting was successful or not send an email thanking him/her for taking time off to meet you. Also remember to send them anything you promised to send, as soon as possible.

STEP 10 – LETTER OF ENGAGEMENT (LOE)

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A LOE is a document that states all the conditions agreed upon by both parties, and it is legally binding.

If the meeting is successful, it is a good practice for both parties to sign an LOE to ensure that the promises and conditions that have been agreed upon are clear.

STEP 11 – MAKE SURE THEY’RE HAPPY!

Make sure they are happy before, during, and after the event, and ensure that all conditions in the LOE on your side are met, so as to avoid any unwanted issues.

Follow up accordingly and keep in touch.

If all goes well, you’ll have a very satisfied sponsor who will be itching to join up for your next project too!

 

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Growth Hacks

06 Ways to Get LinkedIn Better

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Following ‘Power LinkedIn’, a project of the Professional Development avenue of our initial quarter that involved having our Club’s charter Vice President Rtr.Dinusha Samithasiri enlighten us on key tips to own a professional LinkedIn profile, we thought of listing down these tips for the benefit of the reader.

LinkedIn as known, helps develop our professional identity while building networks that boosts career opportunities. Here are some ways how you could optimize the benefits gained off a platform of this nature:

#1. Have a Prof(essional) Image – You decide how you want to be seen and so make sure to upload a smart picture of yourself. Avoid uploading selfies and images taken at trips to not look unprofessional.

#2. Customize Your URL – This can be edited from the generic URL you are given and would help in searching for you easier.

#3. How About the Summary? – Your summary is what you want your interviewer to know about you. Be concise, but don’t use complicated vocabulary excessively and avoid including popular words such as “Driven” and “Motivated”.

#4. Sell Yourself – By this we mean list as many of the talents you possess, your qualifications, work/volunteer experiences and keep updating your profile.

 

#5.  Endorse. Get Endorsed. – What goes around comes around here, cause as the more skills you claim you and your associates know you know and the more you endorse them for their skills, the more they are  inclined to endorse you for your skills too! Same works for Recommendations as well.

#6. Stay Connected  – Regularly update your profile and have as many connections.

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