Intro: Economic Terrace Gardening
Terrace/ roof-top gardening is a very enjoyable hobby and when mastered on a bigger scale can be used to produce sustainable healthy food solution to small families.
Lets explore the steps to be followed to set up your own Roof-Top garden.
Step 1: Step 1: Prerequisite - Location of the Garden
The first and foremost thing to consider before starting with your terrace garden is the location of the garden.
The bestlocation for the garden isaspot on the terrace where there is sufficientsunlight.
It's best determined by periodically observing the sun moving over your house between hourly intervals from 3 hours before noon and 3 hours after (It means observe the sunlight exposure on your terrace every hour from post-morning to pre-evening). Most exposed area to sunlight is the ideal choice.
Note: A wrong choice of location includes spots on the terrace which are roof-covered or fully shady, which will affect growth of the plants and nurture the growth of unwanted weeds, algae and insects.
Step 2: Step 2: Things Required
The most important things required are the fundamental ones for any kind of gardening/agriculture.
The following things will be required :
1. Potting containers -
Try using the most economical pots like used paint buckets, food containers, used plastic bottles, used coconut, small used plastic/clay/ceramic tea cups(for saplings) etc...
2. Planting tools -
As such there is no specific list for tools which you may require as one can do most of the job by hand, nevertheless having gardening tools helps maintain less efforts and clean hands. Tools which could be of use are buckets, jugs, water sprayer, trowel, gloves, Watering fork and other tools of gardening as per requirement. One can buy these from various local stores and online gardening accessories stores.
3. Seeds and Saplings -
Some of the best seeds and saplings can be obtained from your local gardening stores which will have a collection of the plants suitable for your climate. Nevertheless there are some all-climate plants which can be bought from reliable stores available in your country.
I did the same thing, I bought a few saplings of Banana, Indian Spinach, Medicinal Herbs, Strawberry, Dwarf Lemon, Pomegranate, grafted fruit plants like Mango, Guava, Sapota/ Chikku, And grew some plants from seeds like Tomato, Coriander, Papaya and Logan Fruit.
4. Potting Mix -
Ideally mix 60% or 75% Soil and the rest of it organic manure/compost (Vermicompost - Earthworm manure with coco peat ) or any suitable natural nutrient source with the soil making sure it has decent moisture retention.
I mixed Red soil with Vermicompost in the ratio 3:1.
Step 3: Step 3: Planting the Seed/Sapling for the First Time!!!
**If you are using a newly bought sapling, its just required to carefully transfer it in the pot pre-filled partially with potting mix; without disturbing the roots.Its much easier to start with the seeds.
Steps to start from seeds -
1. Fill the potting mix in small plastic cups (till the brim).
2. Make a hole by inserting your finger in the centre of the filling.
3. Sow the seed in the hole. (Note - The depth varies for various seeds and its best to study your choice plant before potting it).
4. Cover the seed with potting mix till the top surface and sprinkle water initially.
5. Place the cup in a warm or cool or shady or partially sunny place based on your plant type.
Step 4: Step 4: Observations, Maintenance and Transfer to Bigger Pot
Observe your planted seeds and saplings carefully till they reach sufficient size suitable for repotting/transfer in a bigger pot.
(This again varies form plant to plant, like for a banana sapling it should be at least 10-12 cm in height while for a tomato sapling its sufficient if it just reaches 3-5 cm)
****Don't forget to water/ sprinkle them at regular intervals or at least once daily.
Step 5: Step 5: After a Few Days...
Successfully transferred saplings show good results in the growth with healthy leaves. Sometimes a few saplings may die due to various reasons like insufficient sunlight, improper watering...
Based on your plant variety, take care as required till the plant reaches maturity(ready to fruit and flower).
Step 6: Step 6: Hooray!! the Garden Is All Set for Yeild
Plants are also living beings. If you take care of them with love and sincerity they will give a good yield.
Some of the plants currently in my garden are shown in the pics above.
Now you try and enjoy setting up your Terrace/ Roof-top garden and give your feedback on mine.