Walk up to the roof for vegetables
A vegetable garden can be organised on any flat roof.
When we visit our relatives in a village, the way they walk into the backyard, pluck vegetables and cook a delicious meal is enviable to every one of us. We all know that the vegetables we buy from a shop in a city are not fresh, however good the air conditioning in the truck or the shop be. It is not that urban living does not permit time for gardening, but the logistics such as land, manure, pest control and water management act as a deterrent.
But with increased awareness about the organic movement, many house owners have now started growing their own vegetables, though in small quantities.
A typical terrace vegetable garden can be organised on any flat roof with pots. While cement pots are easily available, they tend to absorb heat and make even the mud fill inside slightly hot.
As such, earthen pots are better suited. Between a wider and deeper pot, the deeper one should be chosen with drain hole at the bottom.
Any horticulturist or nursery expert can advice on vegetables that grow well in pots and the kind of preferred sunlight. Fixing light weight shade nets on part of terrace extends the life of plants and increases the yield.
Vegetables of shorter time cycle normally have shallow roots and better enjoyed because of early yields.
The main advantage of growing vegetables on pots is the ease of maintaining them all. Shifting for more sunlight, changing mud mix, doing replanting, changing pots and such other tasks can be handled by any one.
The pots can also be placed on balconies that receive direct sunlight. There are vegetables that grow on creepers, which may find the terrace floor too hot during summers. In such cases, place some dry palm leaves where the creeper is expected to grow into.
The overall weight on roof slab needs to be considered, hence it is safer to line up pots with walking space in between which does not lead to critical point loads on roof.
More green options
There are many other options to have more green within the building — growing wall climbers such as Ivy, hanging plants and drooping creepers, grassy lawn on sun-lit terrace, creepers on pavilion or pergola roofs turning them into leafy roofs, herbal gardens and such others.
While all these ideas appear good and commonplace, it is always safer to take expert advice at least in the beginning. Dampness in walls and roof could be a predictable problem if the building is not safeguarded against water seepage.
Potted plants require periodic mixing of mud within the pot and total replacement occasionally. Most people living in cities need advice on plant material, sowing period, crop months and plucking time since tghey are totally disconnected from nature.
Terrace gardening is a way to connect to nature again.