‘Edible’ Terraces

By TheHindu on 03 Jun 2015 | read
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Image titlePeople looking for their own green spaces in our concrete jungles are opting for terrace gardening in a big way. And this is not confined merely to ornamental plants for visual pleasure and aesthetic appeal. Good many people are eyeing them for fresh, home-grown vegetables and additives such as cilantro, mint leaves, fenugreek leaves (methi) et al. Some people even find the gardening on terrace, balcony or the front yard an avenue to de-stress themselves. Some get initiated into home gardening merely for a pastime, but discover the joy of plucking self-grown vegetables irresistible very soon. Besides, they find in it a good learning experience for the tiny-tots at home who have little exposure to village life and farming and who remain unaware of the care and toil it involves.

The urban farming is inspired by the maxim “Eat what you grow, and grow what you eat.” People who are increasingly getting conscious of fertilizer and pesticidal residues in food grown in farms are taking up home farming. Conscious of the fact that while staples such as rice, wheat and pulses cannot be grown in-house, they are keen to see that at least their daily vegetables remain uncontaminated by chemically extracted fertilizers. It has thus spawned a movement for organic farming under the careful gaze of householders.

Order a terrace garden

With home gardening gaining momentum, a host of solution providers have sprung up in the field helping the urban farmers with a variety of tools and clues. Since gardening on terrace or in balconies is not what it is in open farms, wheelbarrows, pickaxes or sprinkling system are certainly not the choice among tools. Even mud pots that are heavy and breakable, though environment-friendly, are out. Plastic ‘growbags’ have replaced them. Made of thick plastic sheets, they are cheaper, can withstand sunlight, will last for four years and are said to be easily recyclable.

Jagdish Sen, of ‘My Dream Garden’, who has so far created over 100 terrace gardens in Bengaluru covering an area of nearly 20,000 sq. ft., says: “My clients are able to grow tomato, brinjal, pumpkin, palak, cucumber, chillies, lettuce, cauliflower and all other seasonal vegetables. The growbags filled with soil can stand erect and are easy to shift and retain moisture for long.” My Dream Garden has conducted nearly 150 workshops in various localities and schools to train housewives and children in vegetable growing.

Enthused by the farming activity in urban areas, Multiplex Group, an agricultural company which has been promoting several products to help farmers since 1972, floated a new wing called Multiplex Urban Green India 18 months ago. Urban Green has packaged its products under ‘Krushi kit’ which carries seeds for 10 different varieties of vegetables, soil sterilizer, root growth promoter, bio-organic manure, spray bottle, bio-pest controller etc. According to Ashwini Bhat, Assistant Manager for Projects, the company has 500 customers in Bengaluru and provides consultancy. The kit carries implements for terrace gardening such as dropper, gloves, and spray guns.

Hanging Garden Orchids

While homes have been opting for vegetable gardens, companies in the Garden City have been going for flowers for their terraces.

Hanging Garden Orchids, which specialises in orchid gardens alone, has installed vertical gardens in the headquarters of several companies in Bengaluru. M. Vinay, Partner of the company, says it has so far installed over 1,000 vertical gardens in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai. The largest project so far handled measured 30 ft. in width and 14 ft. in height. The standing gardens come with a fogging irrigation system which operates in sync with a timer. He says Bengaluru has the most suitable climate for such gardens as the sun is never harsh and the atmosphere has high moisture.

Vedic organics

Oncrop Agro Sciences is yet another company into urban farming which carries certification for vedic organics from the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to Ganesan, Managing Director, Oncrop has developed eco-friendly pots made out of cocopeat which help in transplanting the saplings and themselves gradually degrading in the soil. Cocopeat is said to be an excellent soil conditioner and it can carry eight times more moisture than its volume and is a highly eco-friendly medium for plants to grow. Oncrop has laid out vegetable and flower gardens in at least 250 homes in the City.

The trend towards terrace garden is undoubtedly propelled by eco-consciousness and the desire for non-toxic food. No wonder that high-heeled women flock to the Krishi Melas and throng the stalls offering products and services to impart a greener look to their terraces and balconies.

Curiously, several terrace garden enthusiasts have banded together in several forums in the City.

Last year, they even organised a ‘Oota from Thota’ (Food from Garden) festival in a park in Sadashivnagar.

(The author can be contacted at maqsiraj@gmail.com)

 

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