Space constraints have affected our kitchen and gardening habits. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Space efficient terrace vegetable gardens are becoming increasingly popular in urban cities. These not only offer a satisfying gardening opportunity but also organic greens.
There are plenty of benefits to having a terrace vegetable garden.
- Vegetables from your garden are likely to be higher in nutrients than store-bought ones. Imagine the money you would be saving, all the while getting safe, pesticide-free, leafy, and healthy vegetables.
- Gardening might not seem like it, but it’s an exercise. It keeps you active, fit and in touch with nature. Gardening is also a healing activity and a great way to centre your mind and body.
- Organic waste in and around your house goes into the composting unit in your terrace garden. This food waste conservation puts less pressure on city waste disposal systems.
- Terrace gardening can also become a family bonding activity, with kids at the centre of it. It’s a great way to have your kids involved in the process, and they might even grow to love gardening.
- According to space, the garden can be small or large and can include walkways, resting spots and even small water features. This makes it a great place to relax in.
- The plants in your garden will create a microclimate and help lower the temperature of your home. This will keep your home cool, and you might even save on air conditioning bills.
- Better for the environment as your small contribution will increase the oxygen in the air, improving the quality of air.
Before we look at some of the ways you can grow your vegetables, it’s important to consider some things before you start building your terrace garden.
- Terrace capacity – You must consider the size and weight holding capacity of your terrace. Avoid building a garden on top of weak or damaged structures. Substantial buildings and houses constructed with load-bearing floors are recommended for terrace gardening.
- Waterproofing and drainage – It’s advisable to fully waterproof the roof to minimise that chances of any seepage arising. You should also have a proper drainage system for rain so that stagnant water and plant infections can be avoided. If using raised beds, you can consider drainage cells for this. For irrigation, you can try building your drip irrigation system as that will be easier in the long run compared to watering using conventional methods.
Now let’s look at some of the ways you can grow your vegetables.
Planting in pots
Using earthen pot containers is one of the most common planting methods for many vegetables. Avoid picking thin plastic pots as those don’t last long in the sun. Instead, opt for larger pots with great depth, as they offer more space to grow and better drainage. You will need to fill these pots with a high-quality potting mix. You can now start planting the seeds. Remember to water daily. And use natural pesticides to avoid pests.
Raised beds are not only cheap and practical but also maximise space. You can plant lots of vegetables in these raised beds. Raised beds also don’t require much care and maintenance, and plants will naturally start to flourish. Before embarking on gardening here, make sure your terrace surface is waterproof. If not, you can use waterproofing sheets in the areas where you’re using raised beds. The perfect soil for raised beds should include garden soil, ripe compost, and organic manure.
If you have a more spacious terrace, you can make use of that space by adding vegetable patches. Containers for these patches can be household items such as wooden trunks and broken buckets. These integrated vegetable beds should be filled with soil and good compost. You can plant low growing and smaller veggies and herbs in these. These can include ginger, garlic, lettuce, spinach, and radishes.
Your gardening doesn’t have to be limited to floor work. You can make use of any walls you might have running on one side of your roofs. You can attach plant holders on the wall or allow creepers to naturally grow on a trellis. You can grow vine vegetables such as squashes, beans and gourds near railings and walls. Bring out your inner green thumb and utilise this space creatively.
Following are some tips for what vegetables to consider for your terrace garden.
- Herbs are the easiest to grow. Basil, mint, chive, parsley, and cilantro (coriander) will require moderate sun and watering. While herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage don’t need much water and can grow well on a sunny terrace.
- For vegetables, it’s recommended to start with salad vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes.
- Next consider eggplant, okra (ladyfinger), peppers, and chillies.
- Fruits such as apple, guavas, figs, mangoes, pomegranates can be grown on dwarf fruit trees under full sun. You can also consider lemon and olive trees if your terrace size allows for it.
If you’re new to terrace gardening, just know that it’s not daunting and there’s so much room for experimenting when it comes to gardening. Some regular gardening chores such as watering, fertilizing and pruning every couple of weeks or months, and soon enough you might end up preparing meals with produce straight from your terrace garden.