A hobby that fits very well into the 9-5 schedule, urban gardening has benefits that go beyond just having fresh fruits, veggies and greens. In fact, the best pets you can have are plants – they sit still all day, ask you for water twice a day and give you incomparable health benefits as a reward for your hard work. It doesn’t get better than that.
Kitchen Gardening – How To Get Started
More often than not, people steer away from kitchen gardens due to space constraints. But urban gardening simply means finding alleyways, corridors, balconies, terraces or any space with natural light, and greenifying it. Container gardening is very convenient as it is easy to move around, doesn’t create a mess and requires little to no maintenance in terms of weeding. So here’s how you can grow your own kitchen garden in pots:
Plants are sun-lovers. They live and thrive in sunshine. Choose spots in your home that have maximum direct sunlight. Terraces produce the best results for kitchen gardening. While growing tomatoes, it should be noted that usage of trellis entails that you be wary of winds. So it would be wise to compromise on sunlight and go with a space that is well-protected.
Try and find spaces that get a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight, which shouldn’t be a problem in Indian climate. But even otherwise, don’t be dismayed as there are other plants that can thrive in low sunlight.
Choosing containers or pots
When it comes to containers, bigger is always better. If you aren’t willing to make big investments, choose cement or terracotta pots, don’t buy plastic pots. Try and go the organic way and choose fabric grow bags. They are very handy and can handle quite a few plants. If you aren’t sure that you will be able to find time to water the plants regularly, you can buy self-watering containers that are specifically designed for balcony and patio gardening available online and at home furnishing stores.
Remember to place the pot in the selected location and then fill it with soil, as it is going to get very heavy to lug around. Keep the depth of the planter in mind as well. For deep-rooted plants, provide planters with enough depth. Another important point of consideration is drainage; every pot should have holes at the base or bottom to permit excess water to flow out. Maintaining dampness, not wetness, is key when it comes to soil health.
Good potting soil is critical to maintaining plant health. While this seems obvious, one should note that there are several types of soil available in the market. Commercial soil, although more expensive, tends to be weed-free. But it is not a cause for concern when it comes to container gardening. Your local nursery will most likely have garden soil, which is not the best fit for container gardening but you can make do with a little extra effort.
You can add a bit of coco coir or coco peat to regular garden soil to improve its moisture resistance so that your plants don’t dry out. However, the easiest and most sustainable route is to buy organic potting soil. Organic fertilisers along with organic soil are the best bets, as they are not just sustainable, but also beginner-friendly.
Now for the fun part
While you may be all excited looking at the bright red tomato pictures on the net, don’t jump in. Like with every hobby, kitchen gardening has a learning curve. Start small and then progress to the juicier fruits – quite literally.
Herbs are the easiest plants to grow, as many simply do well in just water. Tulsi, mint, coriander – have what you please. Just like babies, each plant is different. Before you zero in on the plants, look up the specific requirements and see if it fits your space.
If you were to take away one golden tip from this – just remember to choose native plants and there will be no room for failure!