Today, we are faced with the conundrum that the space for cultivation is shrinking, but concerns about food safety and availability are increasing. As an increasing number of people are starting edible gardens, however small, on terraces, balconies, in pots and planters, there are a few essential things to consider.
Here’s an easy guide to building your own green space.
1. Growing medium/potting mix
Healthy soil grows healthy plants. Any growing medium needs to be rich in nutrients, light and airy so that the roots can breathe and expand in small spaces, and needs to hold water for sufficient moisture. Today, potting mix can be made using a mix of traditional and non-traditional, but natural materials, to create a rich, pest-fighting growing medium in which beneficial microbes can thrive.
Compost: The material that remains after kitchen waste and leaves have broken down and decomposed is very rich in nutrients. This is called humus and makes an important part in the potting mix.
Red or black soil: This is high in micro-organisms, and gives the plants a stable growing medium.
Coco peat: A natural fibre made out of coconut husk, it has water retention capability and adds texture and airiness to the soil.
Vermicompost: This is the casting of worms. It is a highly efficient feed when added regularly to plants, especially during the flowering stage.
Pongamia cake, neem cake, manure and bone meal are all natural additives that enrich the NPK balance in your potting mix.
A good quality seed ensures a healthy plant and healthy harvest. Seeds can be heirloom or hybrid. Heirloom seeds are those that are open pollinated and passed down for generations. Hybrids imply that two plants have been cross-pollinated to combine the most desirable traits of each plant. Save heirloom seeds for your future harvests, but seeds saved from even prolific hybrids are often sterile.
The preferred planting containers are terracotta pots, which allow the soil to breathe. However, when people look for lightweight, easily movable items, there is a variety on offer: plastic pots, grow bags, metal containers, ceramic containers. Choose based on what you can handle in the space that you have. Big plants like brinjal, tomato and ladies finger need big pots. Shallow-rooted plants, like greens, need shallow pots.
You now have the elements to start growing. Enjoy your journey and stay involved with your garden. Happy gardening!
The writer is co-founder of The Magic Bean. They run workshops on gardening. Tel: 9600787622 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Rooted in water
Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soilKavitha Ramakrishnan