How to start an Organic Terrace Garden at your home apartment?

What is a Terrace Garden?

A Terrace Garden or Roof top Garden is a form of gardening where vegetables, fruits, and even flowers are grown on the terrace or balconies of apartments or buildings. Their presence not only provides quality sustenance but also maintains the environment at a pleasant temperature. Their lush greenery is also quite therapeutic.

 

An Ideal Terrace Garden
A Terrace Vegetable Garden set up on a building

What are the benefits of a Home Terrace Gardens?

Rooftop gardens have quite a lot of benefits:

  • Quality Sustenance: You grow all the plants yourself with the utmost care, and the plants return all this love to you in form of healthy produce.
  • Pleasant Ambience: As a fellow human, you know that humans LOVE to spend time in nature.
  • Cleaner Environment: Plants convert all that unhealthy CO2 to fresh oxygen.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: Plants are going to use most of that rainwater that usually goes down the drain.
  • Wildlife Habitat: Be prepared to find birds or perhaps even squirrels on your roof enjoying all the greenery.
  • Social Benefits: Rooftops are already a great place to hang out or party with friends, why not add some greenery to make it more desirable?

…and the list goes on!

Benefits of Terrace Gardens
Terrace Gardens have a lot of benefits

 

What are the Pre-requisites for Terrace Gardening?

Checklist

  • Your terrace receives sufficient sunlight: Although it is different for different plants, most plants need an average of 7-8hrs of daily sunlight.
  • Your terrace is waterproofed or has drainage: If you don’t, excessive water leaving the containers is going to compile on your rooftop.
  • Containers: You should use either plastic containers, sized 14,16 or 18in. or grow-bags of medium, large or XL size depending on what you plan to grow. Another good choice is using planter boxes for a neat, aesthetic look.
  • Potting Mix: If going for a ready-made potting mix, make sure it is porous so plant roots are well aerated.

Smaller but significant things to keep in mind

  • Research, like a lot! : This is probably the most important point of all: Make sure you know enough about the plant you are about to grow before you do it. Join a group of fellow gardeners, ask questions – gain more knowledge before you start.
  • Dedicate enough time to your plants: When starting from scratch, garden terrace apartments require quite some work and attention. Normally, an hour daily should suffice. Later on, you will spend less time and enjoy more benefits.
  • It’s going to be dirty: There’s going to be a lot of soil and water everywhere. Play around if you like, who’s stopping you?
  • Insects and pests: Unwanted visitors are often attracted by terrace gardens. Be prepared to find insects and rodents.
  • Set up a plan: People often are unable to contain their excitement and try to grow a lot of things at once. It’s great that you are excited, but it is best to calm down and make a detailed plan of action and stick to it.
  • Failures: It is life, failures happen. Learn from your mistakes and start anew.
Prerequisites of starting a Terrace Garden
Having sufficient sunlight is probably the most important prerequisite of all!

How to start an Organic Terrace Garden at your home apartment?

Preparing a Layout

  • Decide where to place which plant, go draw a map if you feel the need to.
  • Staying organized is very important for gardening, especially when in a compact space like a terrace or a balcony.

Selecting the Plants

  • Do some good research on which plant you should grow. Choose according to your ambient climate, the space you have.
  • Make sure all materials that the plant may require are readily available.

Selecting the containers

  • According to the plants that you plan to grow, select a suitable container.
  • You may want to go with deeper containers for plants that have long tapering roots, or rectangular containers if you plan to grow flowers.

Preparing the soil

  • Make sure the potting mix is porous, not too sandy nor too compact.
  • Use enough composted leaves.
  • Add fertilizers, spread some manure to make the soil nutritious.

Seeds and Saplings

  • You can either go for home cultivated seeds (seeds extracted from vegetables or fruits you get from your local market) or buy hybrid seeds.
  • It is usually recommended to use hybrid seeds as their plants will have a lot of good qualities like good germination, resistance from pests and diseases, short or long stature.
  • You can also go for pre-grown saplings to avoid germination duration.

Irrigation

  • You can water your plants during cool hours of the day, i.e, either early in the morning or late in the evening, to have a reduced evaporation rate.
  • The efficiency of water used by the plants will be more during this time.
  • You can also choose to set up a piped irrigation system, like drip irrigation or localized irrigation.
Steps to set up a terrace garden
From preparing a layout to selecting your plants… Simple and Easy steps to create your terrace garden

 

What can you grow in a Terrace Garden?

  • Veggies like Carrots, Cucumbers or Egg Plant, Lettuce, even Cabbage does great.
  • Fruits like Strawberries, Raspberries if you can get a big trough for them.
Fruits
Juicy Strawberries and Raspberries you can grow in your terrace garden

 

Tips and Tricks for a Terrace Garden?

  • Try to grow plants organically, avoid the use of chemical-based fertilizers or pesticides if possible.
  • Plastic containers are lighter and are better water retainers than terracotta.
  • In case you don’t have an adequate amount of soil, you can choose to grow drought-tolerating plants like Coneflower, Catmint etc.
  • Avoid watering plants during rains.
  • Plants love the sun, make sure you place them in places with adequate sunlight.
  • Plants potted too close will compete for nutrition and may not mature well.

Maintenance and investments in Terrace Gardening?

  • Choose your plants wisely: Make sure you can manage and care for whatever plants you are growing.
  • Add compost regularly: Compost makes for a great organic fertilizer.
  • Be consistent: Consistency is really important to enter this game.
  • Take Notes: You want to have notes on what works and what does not, it helps a lot!

Conclusion

As the world is heading towards modernization, natural resources get depleted and there is a loss of forest area. And with space getting eaten away by concrete jungles, the importance of terrace vegetable gardens is utmost.