Terrace gardening is as old as the days of Babylon, but today it has a new meaning in India and other parts of the world. Due to various developments taking place, we started losing agricultural lands. With the pressure building on land and its cost in the urban areas, there is hardly any space to have a garden. So if one wants to grow vegetables domestically the only alternative is the terrace which provides the ideal space.

Dr. Vishwanath, has pioneered organic terrace gardening in Bangalore, India  by providing training to residents in their own locality and supplying the needed inputs like seeds, manure, plant protection materials, implements, containers etc. People in Bangalore are now growing vegetables in containers and benefiting from organic produce treated with natural pesticides and insecticides. The following are some tips from Dr.Viswanath

Benefits of organic terrace gardening.

When you grow your own vegetables on a terrace it not only gives some space back to agriculture, but it also helps the grower to get chemical-free fresh vegetables. This will not only save money, but also time and energy spent on several trips to the vegetable market on polluted roads. Then it cools the house, it is also good exercise while tending and watering plants. Micro-climates will change as there is an increased production of oxygen and a reduction of carbon dioxide etc. Above all, the biggest gain would be eating healthy, chemical-free vegetables.

What would be the set-up costs for such a system for a family of 4 to be sustainable in vegetables all year around?

The set-up costs of terrace gardening depend on whether you want to start step-by-step or all at once. If you want to start all at once it will plus or minus Rs.20,000/- (just over USD 410.00) which is an investment on pots, growing medium and seeds (one time investment. Where one can harvest at least 4-6 different types of vegetables throughout the year. (But we must consider the other benefits which I have mentioned previously). Once you plan the arrangement of pots, the rest is easy to grow and harvest.

What exactly would you need to start your terrace garden?

It’s the interest of the individual if he believes in the concept of healthy living, then rest is easy. If you believe in a concept you will do anything to achieve it. That’s the philosophy. However, the basic need is a good roof which is waterproofed, pots/boxes, growing medium, minimum water, seed material, and little interest.

How do the majority of people water their terrace gardens?

The majority of the people use potable water supplied by the department. However, we highlight the importance of potable water and ask them not to waste potable water and also explain to them the simple methods of rain water harvesting. And the concept is sinking in. The government is also insisting on rain water harvesting to be implemented in all new buildings.

How much space do you need to feed a family of 4 from a terrace garden?

A terrace of 25-35 feet will provide enough and more for a family of 4 people

Can we grow melons on a terrace.

Regarding melons, yes it takes more space in fields, but on terraces we have to train and confine them to one area. If planned properly, one can even grow fruit crops. This is what I call “Macro Bonsai”. There is a lady by name of Sowbagya who has grown mangoes, pomegranates, sapotas and guavas on her terrace

What are the limitations to growing vegetables on terraces and balconies?

Coming to limitations, it’s really difficult to even think about limitations. That is, if your roof is weak or leaking, one can’t use your terrace for terrace gardening or anything. The other major limitation I can think of is if the roof is surrounded by tall buildings and not allowing sun rays to fall on the roof, one can’t grow vegetables. But still, one can grow commercial crops like anthuriums, orchids, vanilla as cash crops if its fully shaded or under a shade net.

How can we get rid of insects using organic sprays?

Pest management starts from the planning stage itself as it is advised to grow chrysanthemums and marigold to protect them from pests. Organic cultivation itself gives some resistance to pest attack. However there are organic sprays which individuals can formulate and sprayed on to plants to protect them from pest attacks, that is, by using a Neem/tobacco/onion–garlic-chilli concoction.

( B. Narayan Vishwanath, a former lecturer with the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, says anyone with even a tiny patch can do it. With a Ph.D in Agriculture, Dr. Vishwanath has authored Organic Terrace Gardening, a slim book in which he has penned his experiences and successes while growing his own patch of greenery. Through his book, he urges everyone to grow plants in their homes, no matter how small the available space is.Dr. Vishwanath can be contacted on 9845627217 or vishy_kadur@yahoo.co.in )

( Courtesy:  http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com )

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