The sceptics’ amongst us would probably question how much one can grow on a vertical garden or a terrace garden?
What could be the co benefits of a home garden?
What would the inputs be in this sort of gardening and how is it better than getting vegetables from the market?
All these questions are relevant. Therefore, we would encourage you to read on to understand this better.
If we suggest that the food that you grow tastes better, you would probably think we are trying to be persuasive. If you have not had a vegetable garden before, we encourage you to start with the simple heirloom varieties of our own desi tomato. Try ‘madanpalli’ or ‘Kumkum kesari.’ They are easy to grow and delicious to eat in salads or curries. Please share your experience with us as you have your first harvest.
Homegrown foods make for great gifts for neighbours. Or, take delight in creating your own sun-dried batch of tomatoes if the harvest is overflowing and you have it all for yourself.
This food is as organic as it can get. You use your own home-made compost or purchase very little from the local community. Other inputs include seeds, which you purchase once and continue to get more from your harvest. The water that you use is recycled, and the only other input is sweet tendering with your hands and watching your plants grow. Talking to a plant or playing music always helps too!
The feel-good factor from growing your own vegetables and fruits is very high!
How will an Organic Garden Help Me?
There are many benefits from having an organic garden in your balcony or backyard, not just for you and your family, but for the environment in general.
Eat Absolutely Fresh
The advent of refrigerator has made so much difference to our lives as we can preserve foods for longer.
However, with that advantage came the convenience of accumulating foods, which almost most certainly assures that the food we cook from scratch is not fresh. Even if you buy from the local market, the food is at least one day old.
So, your own garden gives you the opportunity to taste something that is actually fresh.
People who learn to garden are not only far more likely to eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but also enjoy eating them more (University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences).
Improve your Mental Health
According to a study by the University of Exeter Medical School, having regular contact with nature and green spaces in urban areas can help to keep you mentally healthy and aid in your overall happiness.
Moreover, because of the improved air quality due to the reduction and filtering of polluted air particles and gases through the plants, demands for health care and stress could be reduced. It is important to note, however, that one green roof in a city may not have a significant effect on its own. But larger numbers of roofs in a city could have a noticeably positive impact.
Beat The Heat
Research by the Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge has found that “a layer of vegetation can reduce heat loss from buildings, cutting the wind chill factor by 75%, and heating demand by 25%”.
In India, this means that the direct heat gain by the buildings reduces significantly. Now imagine if it were mandatory for the entire city to have a vegetation cover! It could mitigate so much of the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI).
For one, it would cover the bare roof, which contributes to the heat island effect in the first place and then, through evaporative cycle, it can cool down the air above it, thus reducing the heat island effect.
Contribute to Top Soil
Organic gardeners are always building up their soil with organic matter. Hence, there is less erosion of top soil. Kitchen waste that is used is also diverted from an otherwise over-spilling mountain of landfill that we all detest even looking at.
Increase Food Security
Anyone who raises the issue of food security for our ever-increasing population should strongly support home gardening as every little helps; especially when farming land is being lost to increased urbanization.
Recycle your Wastewater
The watering needs of your plants are taken care of by your own recycled water as opposed to ground water from the farmlands. If that alone doesn’t make you feel good, read ahead.
Reduce Run Off
With some of the rainwater being absorbed by your garden, you are avoiding run off that creates havoc on the roads when the downpour happens incessantly. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have clear roads even when it rains?
Consume Carbon-Free Food
There is no embedded carbon in this food as far as the food miles are concerned. Earth Policy Institute states that two thirds of the energy used to grow the food from scratch is required to transport the food. So, while buying local helps, growing at home helps the planet even more.
What is the Relevance of Vertical Gardens in Today’s Society?
Just as multi-storeyed buildings make the best use of limited space to create a dwelling, vertical gardens offer the opportunity to use the same limited space to improve the quality of life.
The beauty it adds to your otherwise dull or boring bare wall is an under-statement. Lettuces, coriander, mint, strawberry, tomatoes arranged in intricate patterns can create an all new trend of celebrating food that is always associated with dirtying your hands. You would be surprised to see how even plants do well in a community. An occasional finch perching on the flowers adds life like no other treasured collection can.
This is mostly a garden for a minimalist who wants to maximize the limited space. The space looks very organized with a great vertical garden. If you have limited space, go for a small vertical garden and expose that to the south eastern side so that plants get maximum sunlight during the day.
What is a Roof-top/Terrace Garden?
As the name suggests Roof-top or terrace garden is a garden on the roof of a building. So, rather than questioning why grow a rooftop garden, it can be reversed to say why not? At the very least, it will add value and character to the otherwise empty space.
It is the source of the most decorative, low carbon fresh food that provides temperature control, architectural enhancement, corridors for wildlife, and recreational opportunities.
Gardening offers some less visible, but equally sustaining benefits—whether it is a vertical garden, a backyard vegetable garden, a plot in a community garden, or a roof-top garden.
How Much Time will I need to Spend Tending to my Garden?
This may best be treated as a relaxation activity. Initially you may need to buy seeds as a starter. Once you start the activity, you would be surprised to see how within six months you will get gifts of heirloom seeds from your neighbours and acquaintances.
Taking your eyes off the bright screen of your laptop and indulging in a 5-minute de-weeding will give you the essential freshness that most urbanites are missing in their daily lives. Watering is the only other essential need a plant has, and that too can be automated based on precision and requirement.
Time to water my basil and mint!