These Are Our
Design & Planting
Remember, rooftop gardening is not for maximum production or profits like regular farming. Earning livelihood is also not the aim. It is just a useful and wonderful hobby. But it enables us to grow and use poison free fresh vegetables and fruits. Terrace garden is a great opportunity for senior citizens to spend their time and helps to maintain good health. It gives sufficient physical exercise to homemakers of the cities. Children get exposure to the world of plants. It creates interest and curiosity in them about plants, insects, birds and the nature.
Selection of crops & varieties
One can grow most of the plants including ornamentals and flowering plants. But we have discussed only vegetables and fruit plants to make it a useful one. You need to employ your common sense for choosing plants. Give preference to vegetables commonly used in your kitchen. You can grow leafy vegetables, fruits, and medicinal plants.
Containers for terrace plants
Very small pots are not good for terrace gardening. It holds less soil and gets dried very fast. Select the container based on type of plant, root zone, speed of growth etc. Wide boxes with 6 to 12 inch depth are good for short duration leafy vegetables. But for other plants which remain for 3 to 4 months use containers with at least 12 inch depth. Vines such as bitter gourd, ridge gourd which continue for 5 to 6 months need bigger containers of 2×2 feet and at least 1 foot depth. Perennial plants like papaya and banana which grow tall need containers with 5 to 6 feet depth. Otherwise they fall on the ground by wind.
Poly house and shade house
Poly house or greenhouse are not necessary for the terrace garden and are not convenient also. People go for climate controlled greenhouses for improved varieties of capsicum, orchid or Anthurium. Temperature inside ordinary poly house exceeds the limit in summer affecting plant growth.
Sowing, Transplanting And Growing Media
It is recommended to sow seeds directly in some crops and transplanting of seedlings in few others. Plastic pro-tray or net pot is used for nursery rising. Put light growing media such as vermi-compost or coco peat. Sow one seed in each hole. Spread a thin layer of the same media again. Water it lightly and keep the tray under partial shade. We get healthy and stout seedling in this method. Transplant them at 15 days stage. Carefully takeout the seedling with the media ball around the root. Plant the same in the pot and water it regularly.
Crop planning and management
Divide the terrace garden and allot for different crops. To get continuous harvest keep on sowing and planting throughout the year. In other words, take up staggered sowing or planting. Plants planted at a time will finish crop at once. Since we have limited space on the terrace go for mixed or inter-cropping. Likewise plant the compatible crops as mixed crops. However, do not plant similar types or competing crops in a single container.
Do not water too much. Let little amount of water come out of the drainage hole. Overwatering blocks aeration to the roots. Even it may lead to damping off disease. Better method of watering is with bucket and mug. It enables individual care to each plant. Adapting sprinkler or drip irrigation system defeats the very purpose of terrace gardening. See that the potting mixture has sufficient organic matter. It holds moisture and releases it to the plant slowly. Normally watering twice a day in the summer, once a day in the winter and against requirement in the rainy season is advised.
Manuring terrace plants
We cannot use chemicals for the plants to be eaten by us itself. It is not essential also. Feed the plants with well decomposed compost, vermi-compost, cow dung manure etc. You may buy neem, castor or Pongamia cakes from shops. In addition, we may use vermi-compost extract, Panchagavya, cow urine and coconut water if the temple is in the vicinity. These can be drenched to the plant base or sprayed on the leaves. It gives excellent growth and minimizes flower and fruit drop. It brings down the incidence of pest and diseases.
Compost and vermi-compost making
It is advised to prepare compost as much as possible by the terrace gardener. Buying every time is costly and not necessary. Use a bigger box for compost making. A drainage hole at the bottom is necessary to drain excess water. Put saw dust, waste paper or any material which can absorb water as the bottom layer. Spread kitchen waste, dry leaves and herbage from the terrace garden in a layer of 6 inches. Chopping the plants enables easy decomposition.
Management Of Insect Pests
Sucking pests are the permanent guests of the terrace garden. They infest more on weak plants. These insects spread few viral diseases also. Major insect pests of the terrace garden are mealy bug, aphid, thrips, red mite, whitefly, scale etc. The minor pests are leaf eating caterpillar, leaf miner, stem and fruit borer, few types of beetles, leaf weber, weevil etc. Plant growth and yield is affected if the control measures are not taken effectively and timely.