Due to shrinkage of lands for cultivation, many innovative methods are tried by different people. One such successful activity which provides fresh vegetables (organic) for the urban & semi urban people is terrace gardening. Successful story revealed by Dr. Viswanath Kadur.
Five Secrets to Creating The Most Amazing Terrace Garden – From The
Father Of Terrace Gardening Himself!
Want to grow your own veggies but don’t know how to begin? Dr. Víswanath, the pioneer of terrace gardening in India, will tell you all you need to know. The right mix of the soil, what veggies to grow and how to take care of them – here is your guide to a lush green urban terrace garden. If there is one urban terrace gardener who knows the secrets behind a healthy organic terrace garden, it is Dr. Kadur. An Entomologist by profession, he went to the USA to pursue a course in film production and started making agriculture films and documentaries when he returned to India.
“For some reason we were not able to land on time and were flying over the
city. That’s when I saw the rooftops of houses and thought about the rising
temperature of Bangalore city. The idea came to me that if these open
rooftops could be covered, it could help to reduce the temperature, and that
is why I thought about bringing terrace gardening into the picture,” he says.
The family’s experience of kitchen gardening came in handy and he started growing veggies on his own terrace. “Earlier in Bangalore, every house had a kitchen garden in the backyard. That culture got lost somewhere. I wanted to bring it back by recreating the garden on the terrace,” he says. He thought of putting his experience and knowledge to use and started organizing workshops on terrace gardening in 1995. “Though we charged a fee, the response was great. We got over 100 people for the first workshop itself, which gave us the confidence that people are interested in this,” he recalls. Today Kadur and his team of urban gardeners, which include Laxminarayan Srinivasaiah and Dr. Rajendra, organize an urban terrace gardening workshop every month. In case you are a first timer and do not know how to grow your own veggies, here is your guide to get a healthy organic terrace garden It is very easy. We the human species can naturally relate to plants, we live among them. So there is nothing major to teach or learn. You just show lots of care and you will get the return,” says Dr. Kadur.
- Getting started -Get the right space
If a house is built as per the books and in the right way, anything can be grown on the terrace and it can take the weight of even bigger trees. You can also cover the,entire surface with oil to make a lawn and experiment with it. In case you are covering the surface of the terrace with soil, make sure you water proof the surface to avoid any leakage into the home. If you are going for a regular terrace garden with pots, there are no extra efforts required.
- How to get the right soil which is rich in nutrients
The right type of soil is very important as the nutrients decide the growth of the plant. The right mix of soil requires regular soil, compost coir peat (or sand) and vermicompost in equal quantities. “After the heavy rains make sure you add essential nutrients back to the soil as water tends to wash them away. You can add compost every week or so to make sure the soil has enough nutrition,” Dr.Kadur says.
- First time gardener? This should be your first step
If it is your first take at gardening, you can start with a small pot and single vegetable and than gradually expand to other veggies. Plants like tomatoes and chillies are easier to grow and do not require much care, so you can start with
those. “You have to be very patient. It will take a couple of months to start giving results so you should not give up and keep taking care of the plant,” Dr. Kadur Says.
- What all can you grow on a terrace garden?
“Everything” says Dr. Kadur. French beans, chillies, tomatoes, brinjal, okra and lime are easier to grow. You can also try cucumber, ridge gourd and bottle gourd. Root vegetables like potatoes, onion, radish, carrots, groundnuts can also be grown but they require a larger area. Apart from these veggies you can also grow fruit bearing trees like guava, banana, etc. “T had seen a coconut tree on a terrace garden. lf one can grow that, one can grow anything here,” Dr. Kadur says. He advises against growing a mango tree on the terrace as it requires a lot of effort. “Though mango can be grown, but it requires immense care and effor, which might be a bit difficult for urban gardeners,” he says.
- Other important things to keep in mind
Watering regularly is a must. In summers, your garden requires watering twice a day. In winters you can just press the soil with the back of your hand to check the moisture and water accordingly. “I would advise not to water the garden in rains and even one day after the rain as excess water drains all the nutrition away from the soil,” Dr. Kadur says. Another important thing is enough sunlight. The terrace garden should receive at least four to six hours of direct sunlight, and in areas where the sun is too harsh, people can use a shade to prevent the plants from getting scorched.
Dr. Kadur advises people not to use portable water and do their own Rain Water Harvesting. “Also, prepare your own compost by using waste veggies,” he says. Chillies are one of the easiest veggies to grow. .
With the efforts of people like Dr. Kadur, Bangalore has over 5,000 terrace
gardens now, with an increasing interest among youngsters.
One of his favorite gardens is located in Hyderabad and is probably the oldest terrace garden in India. This 35 year old garden hosts trees like banana, guava and sapota, and the entire terrace is covered with plants, trees and grass. Dr. Kadur believes that with the government’s support, the country should be able to meet its vegetable needs through urban gardeners. “There should be better facilities made available in villages so that people stop migrating. An old man cannot work in his farms as much as he did before. Once he stops, who will produce food for us as the younger
generation is migrating to the cities? We need more people to go back to farming,” he says. .
Dr. Kadur wants to take gardening to the slums and urban poor
*We will provide them with material and training. They will just have to take care of the garden. They can sell the produce and earn some money from it,” he says. Dr. Kadur has also started engaging school students in organic farming. He believes that schools are the best places to inculcate the habit of farming among young minds. He has implemented the model successfully in BM English school, Hennur where kids grow their own veggies, sell it to their teachers and also bring it to the OFYT events.
“Put your soul into it, throw seeds and take care of them,” he concludes. One of the biggest challenges for folks who wish to start off with an organic terrace garden is what to buy and where. Over the past year or so, I have a fairly
good knowledge on the same. You may refer to my other post, What do I need? And from where?, although this is pretty much a (South) Bangalore specific document.
Precautionary measures and feeding plants
As your garden grows, you will be a bit overwhelmed with maintaining them. Here are some tips on precautionary measures, feeding plants and maintaining them: Use matured vermicompost, compost tea, panchkavya, amirthakaraisal, neem spray etc. at the time of requirement.