Terrace Gardening For Beginners:
The following content is all about Terrace Gardening.
Introduction to Terrace Gardening
Terrace gardens are those sterile and unused spaces in sprawling cities used to cultivate vegetables, fruits or flowers on a small scale or for kitchen needs. It is also called as roof garden or kitchen garden as due to a constraint of space they are grown in containers or pots on the terrace, balconies, patios or roof of buildings. They transform buildings and homes into lush, productive and purifying livable spaces with natural greenery. These gardens can be created on almost all kinds of buildings like residential flats, independent houses, apartments. Terrace gardens let you have fresh, organic fruits and vegetables along with fresh air at homes. Landscaping the concrete spaces with greenery may sound like a complicated, expensive, time-consuming along with lots of physical work. But the fact is anyone can set up green space at homes by using discarded or waste materials that can hold soil or pot mix for plants to grow that needs small space like window sill or balcony or on house steps to keep plant pots.
Anyone who loves gardening and having an independent house can grow own vegetables where vegetable prices are constantly at high in urban cities. A terrace or roof of about 1000 square feet can supply 50% vegetables to a family’s kitchen of four persons. All it needs is utilizing the available free area and resources efficiently and effectively with a careful plan and imagination. Hydroponic terrace gardening is also possible with vertical farming methods without soil.
Advantages of Terrace Gardening
- Give’s your family true nutrition. Vegetables and fruits continue to breathe even after harvesting because of this nutrients, carbohydrates and proteins break down about 90% within a day.
- Vegetables are poison free. Farmers use pesticides for high yield leaving traces of poisonous pesticides on all vegetables procured in the market. Vegetables grown organically on terrace garden are safe.
- Vegetables are fresh and better tasting grown organically. Texture, size, and taste are superior and the fruits are fleshier and more flavorful giving maximum nutritional benefit.
- Terrace garden reduces interior room temperature by 6° to 8° saving your air conditioning cost.
- Terrace garden reduces building heat absorption and acts as building insulator against heat and cold.
- Cuts down CO2 levels though it can be a small amount.
- Watching plants germinating, growing and producing fruits gives a healing experience and plays a very big role in mental well-being.
- Growing vegetables in 1000 sq feet can save 50% of the vegetable cost for a family of four.
- Composting in terrace garden conserves food through recycling. Terrace garden and kitchen waste are composted and in turn, goes back to plants completing a cycle.
- Terrace gardening is a convenient place for family bonding, physical exercise and kids learn about nature and science.
How to Start Terrace Gardening
Bringing up a roof or terrace garden is not a luxury. Most of the items that are used in terrace garden can be cheap and sometimes discarded pots and boxes can also be used. Some of the things can be taken from local nurseries if not can avail them from online stores. To start a terrace garden some basic things must be acquired before starting and following are some of the basic points to remember and procure.
Terrace Gardening and Gardener’s Mindset:A beginner gardener must be prepared to certain things before investing and venturing into the home garden. If you want to reap the benefits of terrace gardening, one should be prepared for some key factors and here are some to remember before you start:
- Prepare to give time in your day to tend to your terrace garden. Once the garden is setup and working then you will spend less time working and will enjoy more garden quality time.
- The fun part of gardening is getting your hands dirty. Be prepared to play around with mud, manure, and water and it’s a therapeutic benefit as well.
- Nature means a habitat to all, so be prepared to meet and greet insects, bugs, pests and sometimes birds or a monkey.
- Make an action plan of the type of herbs, vegetables, and flowers you want to grow and execute it by arranging them properly by utilizing maximum terrace space.
- Some beginners might lack gardening knowledge that might lead to a garden loss. Do not be discouraged as failure goes hand in hand with success. Overwatering, manuring or overcrowding plants or sometimes providing inadequate water or manure are some of the failure conditions.
- One can gain experience and knowledge by doing some research on garden tips and new ideas on the internet.
- There are times when pests and insects might test your nerves. One must be mentally prepared to discard their favorite plant that may have dreaded infection to save the other plants.
Get the Right Space and Plan for Terrace Gardening: Determine how much space is available and what to be grown. If the house can take weight then bigger trees and even a lawn can be planted. If you planning to cover the terrace with soil then make the terrace surface a waterproof to avoid leakage, if you planning to raise plants in pots then calculate how many pots can be accommodated. Some may want a lawn along with plants in pots, prepare a garden landscape or plan and accordingly can get the required equipment’s and materials.
Garden Needs and Tools in Terrace Gardening:
- Sunlight: Terrace must have sunlight along with partial shade for different plants to grow properly.
- Water: Terrace must have easy access to water for watering and cleaning. Having a water tap is essential than carrying water, arrange a source for accessing water.
- Shade Net: Summer days in tropical and sub-tropical regions can be very hot. Too much sunshine can wilt the plants and affect the growth. Protect the garden with a covering such as old mosquito net or shade net from excessive heat and heavy rains. Shade nets can be bought at local nursery store or online store.
- Trellis or Poles: Some vegetables in your garden may need support to grow, especially creepers and climbers. When planting vegetables that are climbers they may need trellis, PVC pipes, or poles for plant support.
- Garden Tools: Some essential tools will be required while maintain garden. You may need tools to mix soil, to trim or pruning, cut leaves and branches, to harvest fruits. Get some of these gardening gloves, spades, wedges, shovels, hedge shears, etc.
- Containers: Majority of plants that are grown in terrace garden are in containers or pots. There is lot variety of container available in market in size, shapes, material and colors. Depending on what plants you are about to grow, one must pick the right container. For big plants, climbers require larger containers, tomatoes and carrots require medium sized containers and herbs and other leafy vegetables require small sized containers. Get containers that are porous and light in color as they absorb less heat and for soil aeration.
Soil Preparation and Requirement for Terrace Gardening
Plants to grow healthily in containers must retain moisture, well aerated, well drained, and easy root access to grow. Usuallyin ground,excess water goes down deep beyond the root zones because of the soil. However, in container, water tends to accumulate at the bottom despite having drainage holes. Garden soil when used in container no matter how good it might look will obstruct aeration and drainage resulting poor growth in plants. To overcome you can create your own or homemade potting soil for your terrace garden. Soil in the container gardening or terrace garden are modified for proper drainage, aeration, and root growth by mixing various things such as peat, coconut fiber, perlite, vermiculite or compost. Since theres no soil at all, container soils are often called as soilless or artificial grow media.
The most commonly used ingredients in potting soil mix are peat moss, shredded bark, sawdust, calcined clay, sand and volcanic rocks such as perlite and vermiculite. Vermiculite prevents some nutrients leaching away and contains potassium and magnesium while perlite has more aerating ability even when compressed and doesn’t decompose. To maintain the soil acidity balance, lime is added and fertilizer to boost nutrients. Rather going for commercial mix or packaged soil it is recommended to create your own custom potting soil. Various types of plants you are growing need different choice of media, hence it is advisable to prepare own soil mix.
When growing plants such as succulent, herbs, and perennials in containers, mix peat moss and compost in 2:1 ratio. They prefer soils that are well drained and not retaining moisture over a long period of time. The preferred media must be courser in texture having more sand, perlite, or peat. Plants such as chillies, lettuce, tomatoes need more fertile, moisture retentive soil, prepare by mixing 1:1 ratio of garden soil and compost, it should have more peat and less course material.
Fill up the containers with potting mix and leave about an inch space between soil top and rim of the pot. The top space between pot rim and soil will ensure proper watering. For very large containers, consumption of potting mix might be more which will turn out to be expensive especially when going for commercially prepared media. Before you start filling potting mix in large containers, add filler at the bottom up to one third of the container to consume space. Filler can be anything that is not bio degradable or that doesn’t break down over the course of the growing season and should be inert. Fillers can be broken pot pieces or pebbles or stones that can consume space while allowing water to drain and still have ample space for roots to grow. Before planting or sowing seeds always water the soil and make it moist.
Watering Container Plants in Terrace Gardening
Watering plants might look simple for a novice gardener. Watering the terrace garden is the most intensive part. You must understand water needs of each variety plant, too much watering or too less or even inconsistent watering can lead to poor growth and fungal diseases leading to plant problems.
By mixing water holding gels or granules such as polymers in potting mix, it will reduce the need of frequent or regular watering. Water absorbent gels absorb water and release water into soil as the soil dries up.
Points to Remember while Watering in Terrace Gardening:
- Watering must be done in the mornings avoid watering in late evenings.
- Avoid spraying on foliage as this will attract pests and insects, if you must do it then spray that it will dry off by evening.
- In summer or on a hot day, watering can be done twice in a day and it has to be cool water.
- In winters, watering must be done only when needed depending on soil moisture content.
- Do not water the garden when it rains or even a day after it rains.
What Crops Can Be Grown in Terrace Gardening
Never think terrace gardening is only for tender and small plants. Anything can be grown in terrace garden that includes herbs, vegetables, leafy greens, flowering plants, ornamental plants, and even trees. Depending on the available space and resources a gardener must preplan what to grow, as some can be seasonal, annual, and perennials plants. Most gardeners prefer to have vegetables that can be used daily in the kitchen such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes, radish, carrots, greens, beets, capsicum, cabbage, beans, gourds and almost all vegetables can be grown.
As most vegetables can be grown in the garden, a few suggestions can help you decide what to grow. Grow a vegetable that is most loved or favorite in your family. Prefer growing vegetables or flowers that suit your local climate. Plant vegetables on a rotational basis keeping in view of seasons will yield more variety of vegetables in a year.
Low Maintenance Plants in Terrace Gardening: Spider Lilies, Crotons, Money Plant, Peace Lily, Aloe Vera, Snake Plant, Cactus, Anturium etc.
High Maintenance Plants in Terrace Gardening: Aster (some), Roses (some), Astrantia, Canna, Dahlia, Erysimum, Lilies, Tulips, Lavender, etc.
Plant Care in Terrace Gardening
Manage Pests in Terrace Gardening: When plants grow they attract unwelcomed visitors like ants, mealy bugs and plant flies, etc. These can be dealt organically and if you don’t have patience then you can go for pesticides which is not what we intended our garden to be. There are many pest management solutions organically which are available on internet or by following suggestions from the local nursery technician.
Birds and Animals in Terrace Gardening: Protect your plants from birds and animals. When plants start bearing fruits they will attract fruit eating birds, squirrels and others. Protect your garden by placing wire mesh or garden shades over the terrace.
Tips in Terrace Gardening
- Check the direction of sun on your terrace before planting. Depending on shade and sunlight regions place plant containers at respective areas.
- Plants having shallow roots are most recommended for terrace as they have low maintenance.
- Deeper root plants must be planted in large containers for proper growth.
- The best time to start a terrace garden or sowing in terrace garden must be before arrival of rains and avoid hot summer season.
- Once in every two to three months spray your garden with herbal neem oil to protect from insects.
- Use hybrid seeds and plants for good yield and for disease resistance.
- Some plants need to be pruned for more flowering and fruiting.
- Apply fertilizers on a regular basis depending on plant requirement.
- Check plants regularly for pests.
- Replace potting mix every year for a healthy garden.