Growing Pumpkin in Containers – A Complete Guide

Pumpkin is a great plant to grow in your garden. It grows easily without any hassles provided there is enough nutrition in the growing medium and there is enough light available for it. It is rich in calcium and phosphorous and tastes great in curries and as a soup it is excellent. But the best thing about growing pumpkin is that all parts of the plants including its leaves, stems and flowers are edible and there are simple and great tasting recipes which you can do in a few minutes to enjoy them. However many people feel that Growing Pumpkin in Containers is not a great idea because of the amount of space needed to grow them, and hence do not include this plant in their organic terrace garden. But in reality with a little amount of creativity Growing Pumpkins in Containers is viable even in small spaces.

A perfectly formed pumpkin from our terrace garden
A perfectly formed pumpkin from our terrace garden

By the way in case you are new to Organic Terrace Gardening I recommend you to read about the things you should consider before starting your Organic Terrace Garden and a Beginner’s Guide to growing vegetables in containers. These posts would help you to get started in the right direction in terrace gardening.

Quick Reference Table for Growing Pumpkin in Containers

 

Item Value
Growing Temperature 23-32 °C
Germination Temperature  30-32°C Ideal
Germination Time 7-12 days
Soil pH 6.0 to 6-8
Sunlight Need 6-10 hours per day
Preferred Planting Method Direct Sowing
Container size 30-60 liter depending on variety
Time to Harvest 60-130 days from germination
Harvest Period 30-40 days for the first crop
Pollination Bee Pollination or Hand Pollination
Typical Pests Leaf Minor, Aphids, Ants, Squash bugs
Best season to plant in India Summers and Monsoons

Before Sowing Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin trellis
Cleverly done trellis for pumpkin plant to grow lies outside our terrace space

Pumpkin plant is a creeper and spreads out to quiet large areas. Hence you need to have space for it to grow. But that place need not be usable area of your organic terrace garden. It can be let to grow in area where you wont or cant place another plant to grow. You can achieve this by building a trellis.  Our terrace is L-shaped. the right angle created by the L-shape is where we build our simple trellis by tying up a few pieces of bamboo in a crisscrossing manner. We were thus using space which was outside our terrace to let the pumpkin plant grow. Depending on how your terrace or balcony is you can design your trellis. In case it can not be done, don’t worry. You can always grow smaller varieties of pumpkins that take less space to grow.

So to cut a long story short for Growing Pumpkin in Containers, either make a trellis for your bigger variety of pumpkin or grow smaller varieties. Also make sure that your plant grows in a place that gets ample sunlight.

Choosing Container for Pumpkin

Pumpkin growing in a box type container
Pumpkin growing in a box type container

Pumpkin plant is a heavy feeder and its roots need lot of space to grow. For smaller varieties you can go for a 30 liter container, while for bigger varieties 50-60 liter of container is required. Try and go for a container that has bigger surface area, so that the roots get more horizontal space to grow. The container we have used is 2 x 1.5 x 1 ft. Volume wise its capacity is around 80 liters. As we have used a big container, we also planted long beans in the same container. Planting legumes with a fruiting plant helps the fruiting plant by fixing nitrogen in the growing medium.

Seed Sowing and Germination

Pumpkin seed germinated
Pumpkin seed germinated

While Growing Pumpkin in Containers, its seeds are sown directly into the container. They develop long roots when they germinate, hence they are not suitable for transplanting. In case you can not sow the seed directly in the intended container for some reason, you can sow the seed in a smaller container (use a 1-2 liter container). And then when the plant has developed 3-4 true leaves you can transplant it.

Pumpkin seeds have a hard cover and hence it can be a little daunting to get the seed to germinate. To speed up the germination process file the sides of the seed with a fine grain sand paper lightly without breaking the seed. It will help the hard cover to open up faster. However do not file the pointed end of the seed. The next thing to do is to soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing. If you can use Amrut Jal for soaking the seed, it works even better.

To sow pumpkin seeds make 1-1.5 inch deep holes in the soil using your finger or any blunt object. Make 4-5 holes par container in the center. You can keep about 1-2 inch distance between the holes. Place one seed in each hole on its side ; i.e the flat of the pumpkin seed should be perpendicular to the flat of the ground. Cover the hole with loose soil. Water your container well. Now all you have to do is keep the medium moist and wait patiently. In about 7-12 days you should see your first pumpkin seedling. When the seedlings have developed about 2-3 true leaves, identify the healthiest plant and pinch off rest of them.

Sometimes seeds do not germinate at all. And low soil temperature could be one of the causes. In such a case use bottle and tissue paper method to germinate your pumpkin seeds. Plant them in soil as soon as they have germinated and before they start developing roots.

Growing Pumpkin in Containers

Pumpkin growing on the plant
Pumpkin growing on the plant

Once pumpkin seeds have germinated growing the plant is a cakewalk. Just water the plant regularly so that the plant does not remain thirsty anytime. During its growth you’ll need to water the plant 1-2 times a day depending on the air temperature. When the plant bears fruit, it becomes very thirsty. You may have to water your plant 3 times in a day during fruiting. Check for drooping leaves during the day and water the plant if needed. Its a good idea to mulch your containers to reduce evaporation of moisture. You must understand the fact that Growing Pumpkin in Containers is not same as growing them on soil. Your container can hold only little amount of water and hence more frequenter watering is needed when pumpkin is grown in pots.

Add about 8-10 liters of compost to your container when you start getting flowers in your plant. Use Amrut Jal or any cow dung based liquid manure to irrigate your plant on a weekly basis. This helps in supplying ready made nutrition to your plant. It also helps increase microbial activity in your soil which breaks up the nutrients into a ready to be taken form for your plants.

Plants grown organically are quiet sturdy and Pumpkin is no different. However check for leaf minors every 2-3 days. In case you spot any leaf with leaf minor trail, remove the part of leaf, in which you see the trail and throw it away. The whole leaf need not be broken off. For aphids use water spray. Avoid using neem spray on pumpkins. Pumpkin leaves tend to burn when neem based spray is used on them. Dilute your neem based spray if you have to use it. Use a general organic spray like Panchagavya to keep pests away and to promote better growth of the plant.

Pollination of Pumpkins

Pumpkin plant produces both male and female flowers.  Female flower buds have a small pumpkin attached to the bottom of the bud. Male flowers have a erect stem in the center of the flower called stamen, which contains the pollen. The pollen comes off easily from the stamen of a mature male flower. Bees pollinate the female flowers with pollen from mature male flower and fruit sets on successful pollination. The first set of flowers to bloom on a pumpkin plant are male flowers. The plant uses male flowers to attract bees. Male flowers bloom for about 7-15 days before the first female bud starts to appear in the plant. For every female flower you would find 2-3 mature male flowers in your pumpkin plant. Bees while flying from one flower to the other pick up pollen from the stamen and pollinate the female flower.

Step by Step hand Pollination of Pumpkin Flower
Step by Step hand Pollination of Pumpkin Flower

The problem with Growing Pumpkin in Containers in urban areas is that you may not get bees to come and pollinate your flowers. In such a case you have to hand pollinate your pumpkin flowers. Follow the following steps to hand pollinate pumpkin flowers.

  1. Pick up a mature male flower. Tear off its petals carefully without disturbing the stamen.
  2. Lightly shake and rub the stamen on the stigma of the female flower.
  3. Leave the stamen inside the female flower. Wind would further help the pollen to fall off from the stamen into the stigma.

Harvesting Pumpkins

On successful pollination the fruit in the female flower starts to grow. If the pollination is not successful then the fruit dries out and falls off. When the fruit is growing give a support below it in case it is on a trellis. Make sure that support is good to bear 3-5 kgs of weight. You may also cover your fruit loosely with a piece of cloth to keep it out of sight of monkeys. When the fruit starts to turn yellow-orange it is time to harvest. You can let the fruit be on the plant for 15-20 days after it just starts to yellow. If the fruit turns completely orange-yellow harvest it immediately.

Just Harvested Pumpkin
Just Harvested

Everything that you need to know about Growing Pumpkin in Containers does not end here. Along with enjoying the fruit, you can also enjoy the flowers and leaves on a daily basis on your dining table. Male flowers can be harvested after 9 AM in the morning when there are no bees hovering on the flowers. You can remove the stamen and store them in fridge for over a day if you are not using them immediately. Except the stamen all parts of the flower are edible. Young stems and leaves can be harvested before fruit sets. After the fruit has set they tend to harden. But you can still get enough leaves at the tip of the vines. It is a good idea to harvest leaves and stem from the longer vines. It also helps the plant grow better.

That is it on growing pumpkins in your organic terrace garden. Happy gardening.

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Organic Terrace Gardening

We get frequent visitors to our organic terrace garden. Most of them get inspired to start their own kitchen gardens. But as it turns out a very few actually start and even a fewer continue it. Generally the reason for not continuing is because of failures in the garden. And that could be because all things to be considered before starting an organic terrace garden has not been thought out or because they are not doing the basics of container gardening right. But the reason of not starting at all is because most people do not understand the Benefits of Organic Terrace Gardening well enough. Only when people are able to appreciate the advantages and usefulness of a kitchen garden for individual, family, society and the environment, they consider starting their own terrace garden very seriously. It’s the WHY behind organic terrace gardening and not HOW that becomes the real motivating factor. In this post I’ll talk about why you should start your kitchen garden by giving the Top 10 Benefits of Organic Terrace Gardening.

Gives you and your family true nutrition

true nutrition
True nutrition from vegetables can only be obtained if you grow them yourself.

Vegetables and Fruits continue to ‘breathe’ even after harvesting. This process is called respiration and a significant part of the vegetable’s nutrients get lost in this process because carbohydrates, proteins etc continue to be broken down. While a few vegetables take a little longer to lose their nutrients, some spinach varieties can lose about 90% of their nutrient value within a day. Yes within a day; Less than the minimum time it takes for vegetables to reach you from the farms after harvest. Moreover vegetables will have nutrients in them only if the soil on which they were grown had those essential nutrients. Most often than not the store bought vegetables are grown on a sub standard soil using inorganic fertilizers. Hence such produce lack in essential nutrients.

You get true nutrition from vegetables only when they are grown on healthy and wholesome soil and when you consume them as soon as they are picked. And this is possible if you are growing you vegetable as close to your kitchen using a rich potting mix; That is in your own organic terrace garden using organic soil enhancers like compost and oil cakes.

Ensures your food is free of poison

You can not just escape from pesticide drenched vegetables in urban life. As fertility of soil is on a land slide due to use of chemical fertilizers, plants are getting weaker every day. Hence pests and insects are able to easily attack such plants. To save the crop the farmer uses pesticides, which further deteriorates the soil, weakens the plant. And thus a vicious circle is created.

Traces of poisonous pesticides are found on almost all vegetables available in market today. Even when you buy organic vegetables they still could have traces of pesticides as they are not immune to the pesticides carried by air and water from neighbouring fields. State of Punjab in India has been at the forefront of wheat production. But they have been using chemical fertilizers and pesticides for a long time now, which has caused a increase in cancer rates in this state.

One of the top ten Benefits of Organic Terrace Gardening is that you’ll be able to avoid such poison laden vegetables and fruits for your daily consumption to a great extent.

You enjoy better tasting vegetables

It’s a very well known fact that vegetables grown organically taste much better. Because they are grown in a natural way they are bound to taste better. Not only they taste better, their texture and structure is also superior. They are fleshier, sweeter, more flavorful and take much less time to cook. Most of the vegetables can also be eaten raw to get maximum nutritional benefit.

Brings Family Together

One of the intangible yet important Benefits of Organic Terrace Gardening is family bonding. Gardening is a great way to spend quality time with your family. It’s a fun and healthy activity for children. Working with nature and family together is very rewarding and makes the family bonding stronger. Just make sure that children are given tasks in the garden that suits their age and physical capabilities.  Block some time everyday or 3-4 times a week to spend with your family doing gardening activities. Clearly divide the tasks so that children don’t end up hurting themselves by accident.

Provides important education in subtle manner

There is no better way to learn than from nature. Not only you yourself learn a lot about nature when growing food, your kids also learn a lot from the garden. They learn about nature and science. They also learn about virtues like patience, responsibility and conservation of resources. They get to understand where their food comes from. They learn about life and how to nurture it. They also learn about death and the cyclic nature of things. They develop respect for nature and become better at planning and organizing.  They also learn about the value of food and waste less of it. By eating their hand grown food, they develop healthy habits of eating nutritional food and home cooked food. And the best part is that it takes them away from TV and phones and closer to nature. And that according to me is one of the important Benefits of Organic Terrace Gardening.

Conserves Food

organic waste recycling
Organic waste in and around your home goes back to your plants.

Organic container gardening is based on the philosophy of conservation. A composting unit is an integral part of a sizable organic terrace garden. All waste generated from your kitchen goes to this composting unit, which in turn goes back to your plants. This completes the cycle. This process of conserving food waste also put less pressure on the municipality waste disposal system. Most time waste from cities is just dumped in the outskirts of the city, which pollutes the soil, air and water. When you recycle your waste back into your garden not only you have made waste useful, you have also done your bit towards the environment.

Moreover when we buy from the store we are sometimes forced to buy more than what we need. For example you may have to buy a whole bunch of cilantro, though your requirement may be just a few leaves and stalks. The other part goes waste. When you have your own kitchen garden you take only how much you need.  Conservation of food is one of the hidden Benefits of Organic Terrace Gardening.

Saves Money

To start with growing your own food may seem a costly affair. Yes, there will be costs incurred to get the containers, soil, compost, seeds etc. But most of these expenditures are done only once in the life cycle of your garden. The only real expenditure you’ll be incurring on a regular basis in your garden is for seeds and watering. If you grow only open pollinated varieties then you can do seed saving and will not have to spend any money on seeds too. Nature does not charge any money to do its job and when you show respect to nature it rewards you with its bounty. So in effect you actually get your food for free from nature. And when you don’t have to go to the store to buy vegetables, you automatically save on travel costs.  Eating healthy will result in much less visit to the doctor. Isn’t that a huge saving that you’ll be making?

Improves mental health

Nature plays a very big role in our mental well being. People who are closer to nature tend to have a much more resistance towards different mental disorders. Watching your vegetables germinate, grow and produce fruits is a healing experience and it calms the mind. In fact horticulture therapy is quite extensively used for healing dementia patients. In modern life, which is full of stress, organic terrace gardening is one of the ways to de-stress and center yourself.

Environmental factors

Benefits of organic terrace garden extend beyond you and your family.

Plants cut down the carbon dioxide levels in air. Your vegetable garden may be cutting down a very small amount of CO2, but the ocean is nothing but droplets of water put together. Hence your terrace garden also counts in improving the air quality.  Chemical based farming, not only deteriorates the soil quality, it also pollutes the air and water. Water pollution thus caused harms marine life and marine ecosystem. Imagine when everyone grows their own food in a natural manner, the demand for these chemical based produce will go down and that again will stop the destruction of our environment.

Keep your home cool

Plants keep your home cool
Plants on your terrace help you cut down on your air conditioning bills.

If you are living in a tropical climate then having plants on your roof is a natural way to cool your home. All the plants in your terrace garden will create a micro climate and help to lower the temperature of your home. So while you enjoy the nutrition of fresh home grown food, you also save on you air conditioning bills.

We have imagined a world where everyone grows some amount of food at their homes. I am sure many of the above Benefits of Organic Terrace Gardening will inspire you to take it up and thus contributing to your quality of life, the well being of your family, community and mother earth.

A beginners’ guide to growing vegetables in containers

My father has planted flowers in pots since as long as I can remember. Growing up it was always a pleasure to watch his flowers and other decorative plants add life to our home. In fact it was quiet inspirational at times. And I did pick up my brushes to create a few art works out of our garden. But generally he avoided planting vegetables as he had not been very successful in growing them. It was because of the low yields. In fact most times it gives no yield at all. The vegetable plants also did not grow well, needed more maintenance and were more prone to disease and pests.

Sounds familiar? Isn’t it?

Most of the people would tell you that growing vegetables in containers is next to impossible. In fact I’ll also say that it is impossible, if you don’t do the basics right. But if the basics are done right then container vegetable gardening becomes a child’s play and lots of fun. In this post I’ll explain how to go about planting a vegetable seed or sapling in a container. But before you go through the beginner’s guide to growing vegetables in containers, I would recommend you to consider these ten things before you get your hands dirty.

Choose the vegetable to grow in container

Most vegetables are seasonal. Growing an out of season vegetable in a container is not a good idea because, the climatic conditions are not suited for the plant to grow and produce. So always choose a vegetable which can be grown in the season that you are planting your seeds in. The other important consideration is the amount of sunlight available for the plants to grow in. If you get full sunlight then you can plant almost anything you like. But in case you get partial sunlight (4-5 hours a day) then you can consider growing vegetable like beets, broccoli, leaf lettuce, garlic and cauliflower etc. These plants do fine in partial sunlight condition also.

Choose Container

Size of the pot plays a very big role in the growth and yield of a plant. The roots of a plant need space to grow. The larger the space for roots the better is the growth of the plant. As a rule of thumb the bigger the container the better it is for growing vegetables. But in terrace gardening we aim to optimize space and get the best out of whatever space we have. So it is a good idea to do a little research and find out the correct container size required to grow your favourite vegetable.

Containers can be classified according to their volume, shape and material. Unglazed earthen pots are best for planting as they have micro pores which help aerate the soil. It also helps in absorbing excess moisture and maintaining soil temperature. But they need to be handled carefully as they can break easily. Recycled plastic buckets, planters are fine as long as they are not painted black or with any other dark colour in case you are in a tropical climate. This will heat up the soil and heat it up fast. Thermocol and wooden boxes can also be used to plant your veggies.

Check the volume of you pot before planting. Most of the common vegetable like tomato, eggplant and okra etc do well when planted in a container having volume of 20-30 litres. Peppers and chillies however can be grown in 10 litre containers also. Radish can even be grown in a 2 litre water bottle. But something like a pumpkin or a snake gourd will need a container that is at least 40 litres in volume for a good produce.  The shape of the container also plays an important role in growing vegetables. Some vegetable plants have shallow roots while some have deep roots. Check the rooting system and choose cylindrical type of containers for deep rooted plants, while shallow rooted plants like spinach and herbs should be planted in a box type container with more surface area.

Preparing Potting Mix for the container

Potting Mix
Use a well drained, moisture retaining and fertile potting Mix

Plants grow in the soil in the open fields. But in a container they have to grow in a restricted space. Hence the soil has to be much more fertile and full of nutrients in your terrace garden. Soil also should be well drained so that water logging does not take place in your pot. At the same time it should hold moisture well, so that your pots don’t run dry too soon. Moreover using just soil can make the pot quiet heavy and it can be stressful for your terrace. One needs to consider all these when preparing the potting mix for container gardening. Generally a mix of well decomposed compost, sun sterilized red soil, coco peat and cow dung manure works well as a potting mix. Coco peat retains moisture and also makes the mix well drained. Red soil provides strength to the mix. Compost and cowdung manure provide all the nutrition for the plants.

Preparing the pot

The pot should be cleaned well with a mild soap and sun dried well to remove any trace of harmful microbes. Provide a drainage hole at the bottom to drain out excess water. This hole should be covered with broken pottery pieces to avoid blockage of the hole. Then add a few stones, sand or other draining material like sugarcane waste to create a separation layer between the bottom of the pot and the potting mix. Now you can fill the pot with the potting mix and press down a little to compact the soil into the pot. Do not fill the pot till the rim. Leave about one inch space from the rim. Now your favourite vegetable is ready to be planted.

Planting

In case you are sowing seeds then its good to treat the seed for some time with a cow dung based solution like Amrut Jal or Bijamrit beforehand. To sow bigger seeds make a hole with your finger in the soil and place the seed in it. Then cover the hole with potting mix. In case of very small seeds it can be mixed with a little sand or vermi-compost and then sprinkled everywhere in the container.

For transplanting make a hole big enough for the plug of the sapling to go in. Then carefully take the sapling out and place it in the hole and cover with soil. Compact the root area slightly you’re your fingers and palms. While transplanting make sure that the sapling gets least root shock. Otherwise it will affect the growth and quality of the plant.

After sowing the seed or transplanting water your pot with a watering can and you are done. By the way it’s a good idea to plant in the evening.

Germination

germination
Maintaining right soil temperature and moisture helps in high germination rate

Germination depends on a lot of factor like seed quality, soil structure, soil temperature and moisture level etc. Overwatering will cause the seed to rot while underwatering will dry the seed out. So make sure you water judiciously. It is good to have some cover for the pots. In case of heavy rains or sudden high temperatures pot can be covered. When temperature is lower pot can be covered with a transparent plastic sheet to produce greenhouse effect which helps in germination. Some seeds germinate quiet soon while other take a little more time. So be patient and keep the conditions ideal for seed to germinate. If seeds are of good quality they will germinate.

Watering

When the seed germinates it is time to rejoice because life has been created by nature. And now it is your turn to take care of it. Watering is the most important activity in a garden after plants have emerged from seeds. Water when you plants need it. Over watering may cause some plants to show adverse effects. It is also a waste of water resource. So be just in watering. Avoid watering during day time. It is best to water in the morning and late afternoons. Watering in the evenings may cause the water on the plants causing fungus attack as it will not dry out. In summers your plants will require more frequent watering than in winters. During rains water only when there is no rains for 1-2 days and your soil dries out.

Feeding the plant in container

Your plants will need nutrition to grow and produce fruits. Most of the nutrition is actually taken up from the air and sunlight. Hence ensure that your plant is getting the sunlight required for it. Move your container to a different place if your current place is not getting enough sunlight. Your potting mix should take care of most of the nutrition required for the plant in the early stages. When your plant begins to flower more compost can be added to the base of the plants in the container. You should also feed the plants on a regular basis with organic manures like Compost tea, Amrut jal or Jiwamrit. These solutions will not only provide nutrients, they will keep the soil ‘alive’ by adding millions of useful microbes to your soil.

Plant Care and Pest Control

mulching and pruning
Mulching helps in moisture retention, controlling weed and in maintaining nutrition of the soil

A very simple yet necessary thing to do is mulching. Mulching is referred to the act of covering the soil to prevent evaporation and growth of weeds. When your plants are about 4-6 inches tall mulch your soil with some organic material like straw or crushed dry leaves. These organic materials will ultimately decompose and become part of your soil.

Some plants like creepers and climbers need to be trained onto a trellis or string. Its better to arrange for such structures beforehand itself. Timely pruning of plants helps them to develop a better canopy and give better harvests.

Spraying regularly with a foliar spray like Panchagavya helps plants to do better photo synthesis and develop pest resistance. Such preventive sprays take care of most pest issues. It is a good habit to check below the leaves of your plants for the sign of any pests every morning. If you find pests or eggs then it can be sprayed away with water. You can also remove such leaves and place them in kerosene to kill the pests. For most common pests like aphids, mites etc homemade sprays like neem spray, garlic spray also work very well. You must never spray these during day time. Because it can cause leaf burns. Use these sprays during early mornings or late afternoons.

Harvesting your container grown vegetables

And finally when the time comes to enjoy the fruits of your hard work don’t rush through it. In case you are using open pollinated or heirloom variety of seeds then its good to leave the first fruit to ripen and dry out on the plant. That will give you the seeds for the next season. While harvesting check whether the vegetable has reached maturity or not. If you harvest too early then you’ll get immature produce whose taste would not have fully developed. If you make it too late then the vegetable may over ripen. Some vegetables have short harvest period while some like tomato are easy to harvest due to their longer harvest periods. Do harvesting with a pair of garden shears or scissors. Harvesting with hand may cause the plant to be pulled and damaged.

With all these basics done right my father started getting great results with vegetables. Additionally doing container vegetable gardening has also helped him to gain a lot of valuable experience which has further improved the quantity and quality of his produce. Many people would tell you that you can only grow vegetables successfully if you have a green thumb. These are just ways to de-motivate people from taking up organic terrace gardening. I believe the term green thumb is just what it is; a term. You don’t need to have a green thumb to grow your own food. When you start growing your own vegetable in your terrace with basics done right you would have developed your own green thumb by default.

5 reasons why you should NOT become a terrace gardener

In the last post I gave an introduction to Organic Terrace Gardening. This post is about the most important question that you should be asking by now. And that question is WHY.

“Why should one take up to growing food in unused spaces of one’s home like terrace and balconies?”

I’ll start by answering the exact opposite question. “Why should one not start a kitchen garden!”

Lets face it. Terrace gardening is not a walk in the park. It requires effort and the outcome is not always 100% controllable. There are way too many reasons why one should not take up terrace gardening. The top five are as follows.

1. Nominal cost of growing your own vegetable may be higher in the short term

The cost of growing veggies in your terrace in the short term is going to be same at best or little higher when compared to price of veggies in the store. Though the real cost of consuming store bought vegetables regularly can be much higher than consuming from one’s own garden what you’ll end up paying in the store would definitely be less. In the long run the costs will significantly come down, but if you don’t have the patience then Organic terrace gardening is not for you.

2. Terrace Garden needs your time

Starting and maintaining a terrace garden would take away about 30 minutes of your time everyday on an average. Shows on TV may have to be missed to maintain a kitchen garden.

3. You may fail

Unlike a store where vegetables are always available when you go to pick them, vegetables may not be always ready to be picked in your garden. In fact sometimes your plants may not produce anything at all. Especially after all that hard work one puts into the garden it can be really frustrating.

4. Organic veggies are not plastic pretty

Your produce may not look as great as the veggies in stores. They will not be consistent in shape and size and will not have that store bought veggie shine on them. So what if Mother Nature does not intend to make everything similar, we still want to have assembly line vegetables and fruits with artificial shine.

5. Only seasonal veggies grow in organic garden

Terrace garden needs to be a seasonal garden. Hence you’ll not be able to plant all the vegetables all round the year. Living with nature and its seasons is passé. We are in a age where we defy the natural ways. Cold storage and inorganic production of food makes sure that we get everything all the time. So idea of seasonal vegetables does not seem so appealing.

Hopefully I have not been able to discourage you enough to give up the idea of kitchen gardening. In spite of all the drawbacks that I mentioned the benefits of having a kitchen garden are tremendous. Terrace gardening is one of the best ways to spend some quality time with your family. It is a great source of joy and happiness and learning. It’s a good way to get your daily exercise and get connected to nature. Of course you get to consume food grown by yourself which are free of chemicals and poisonous pesticides. And I bet you it will be the tastiest veggies you would have ever had.
All the benefits of terrace gardening aside, by growing your own food and reusing all waste in your home in an organic way you would also have done your bit toward the well being of the earth.

So…. What is Terrace Gardening ?

Terrace gardening, Container gardening and a few more such terms are in vogue today. Sometimes one comes across related terms like city farming or urban farming which makes things even more confusing.  In essence these are nothing but your good old kitchen garden.  Yes it is that simple. Though there are subtle differences (which I’ll touch upon later in this post), in spirit these terms are used only to refer to the activity of growing fruits and vegetables in the confines of your homes. We generally use the terms terrace gardening and container gardening because that is exactly what this site is about.

Terrace Garden

Simply put terrace gardening is the set of activities that one does to grow food in unused spaces of one’s home that is conducive to grow food. Technically one can grow everything from cereals, pulses to herbs. But growing cereals and pulses in terraces and balconies for consumption is a little far-fetched as of today. Hence terrace gardening really refers to growing vegetables and a few fruits in unused spaces of one’s home. And since these are grown mostly in containers it is also known as container gardening.

As urban open areas are shrinking in size every day the only real viable place that one can grow one’s own vegetables then becomes the balcony. If you are lucky to live in an independent house with a terrace then there is nothing like it. A 30 square feet balcony can yield sufficient green leaves and a few vegetables while a terrace of 1000 sq feet can fulfill 50% vegetable requirements of a family of four. All it takes is some planning and imagination to utilize the available area and resources efficiently and effectively.

Recycling is Organic

A Kitchen garden is not only a place where food is grown; it is also a place where all the food waste from home is recycled. According to a survey about six meals are wasted per week per household in the US. In India itself about 40% of the food is wasted according to United Nations Development Program. That’s a huge deal of food to be wasted. And having a kitchen garden at home ensures that one’s home becomes a zero food waste home as all food waste is typically recycled back to feed the plants.

Urban Farming

That was terrace gardening in a nut shell. So what about urban farming and city farming!

Urban Farming or City Farming is defined as growing fruits, vegetable and herbs and raising animals in cities. Terrace gardening also comes under the bigger umbrella of urban farming. But while city farming is a more organized and community based activity, terrace farming is a personal or family based activity. However in some cases community gardening is also done in terraces of public buildings which have huge amount of space.

Organic Terrace Garden

You can grow food in your home using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. But then the whole point of growing your own food is lost. When one is growing one’s own food certainly she wants that food to be free of chemicals and poisons read fertilizers and pesticides. Moreover use of such chemicals is not only extremely bad for our health but also for the health of mother earth. Hence for us by default terrace gardening is only about growing food in an organic and sustainable manner using only organic resources and waste available.

Way of Life

For us terrace gardening not just a term. It’s a spiritual way of life. It makes one more aware of the environment and hence empathetic towards the earth and life. More on that in the next post. For now I’ll leave you with a quote from the legendary Masanobu Fukuoka of the one straw revolution fame.

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”