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Starting an edible garden
Spaces like a terrace or a balcony are common additions to our homes. They are the spaces prone to getting good sun and so have a great chance for housing an edible garden. The definition of an edible garden is a space used for growing food producing plants in a residential scenario. So whether you want to grow your own herbs or even vegetables, there are ways to do it without going out and purchasing too much equipment to do so. There are ways to start out with just the right mixture of soil and seeds from the vegetables that you and your family consume regularly.
There are a few requirements when looking to start your own edible garden which includes -
To start off, you would be better advised to do so using the pots you have at home, but containers are also good for growing vegetables. You can also use plastic containers available, but be aware that there should be a small drainage source in the containers. They should have a decent depth of up to 10 to 12 inches.
A mixture of good soil is required for the plant growth. Planting soil can be purchased at your local nursery, along with manure or fertilizer and coco peat. Coco peat is processed coconut coir dust which has the capability of retaining good moisture for you garden plants. Coco peat is available in bricks, and so to start off, one should suffice. This brick should be dissolved in water, which will lead to its expansion that is ready for use.
The soil formula of success is 1/5th coco peat plus 1/5th manure plus 3/5th planting soil. You may want to rush the preparation process but stand by this ration of soil mixture and this will reward you in the future.
Along with this, your kitchen scraps of vegetables and the water you use to clean your rice and other grains would be an added beneficiary to your plants health. Composting your kitchen scraps like vegetable peels and other biodegradable waste with cow dung and soil will help you make your own home nutrient rich soil that can be added to your plants.
Always remember that the byproducts from your vegetables can be recycled through your composting. Keep your soil covered with dry leaves or sugarcane husk to prevent moisture from escaping. This moisture is essential for beneficial microorganisms to be insulated from heat and also to grow, helping process your compost into fine usable soil.
French beans, chilies, tomatoes, brinjal, okra, coriander/cilantro, mint, capsicum and lime are easier to grow. Other veggies can also be grown except they require deeper soil. Some vegetables are seasonal which tend to grow at certain times. So, when you start it would be well advised to begin with plants that grow mostly all season round.
Mint is difficult to grow from seed, and it is better to grow form mint sprigs. The sprig does not need to have many leaves, so buy from your local grocery and use a bit from that. Place the sprig in a glass of water, and remove any leaves that fall below the water, this should develop a root system with in a week’s time. You can directly place this into your prepared soil container; mint does well in minimal soil depth. Make sure it has good sunlight.
Mint grows well and fast, so it should be trimmed regularly so it doesn’t grow laterally and continues to grow vertically. Once the plant takes, it will grow all year round in India.
This plant is also grown easily, they tend to grow all year round and the best part is that you need one tomato which will suffice to grow your plants. Take a ripe tomato and cut it into slices and plant it directly into the soil preparation in about a depth of ½ to 1 inch. The seeds within the fruit should develop and start growing into seedlings. The sprouts can be later shifted into different pots and grown separately.
Tomatoes need a support system as they tend to have drooping stems and so once they reach a certain height, you can help by using a stem or stiff stick for support for the plant to grow around.
Capsicum and chilies
Source a capsicum or chilly and cut it open and remove the seeds. Dry them out and germinate the dry seeds in cotton wool, or even tissue paper and place in a cool area. After a week or two, the seeds should turn to sprouts that you can plant into your pots. Once they grow they can be put into bigger containers as needed.
Due to its taproot, Okra doesn’t transplant well. Which means it can’t grow directly from a plant or stem. So you will need to take seeds from okra and germinate them for a week or two until they are ready to be grown in soil. Sow 2-3 okra seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep in each container.
Okra requires slightly moist soil, so water regularly to keep the soil uniformly moist. Bend the tip of any fruit and if it breaks easily this means that they are still tender and crispy and good to harvest.
Indian bean is one of the most popular perennial vegetables in India. For beans to grow they need moist soil. Seeds should be germinated and sowed into soil at a depth of 3 to 4 inches deep in each container. Bean seeds germinate in around an average of seven to ten days. You should keep the soil moist during the germination process. Beans need full sun for at least 6 hours per day.
Depending on the water and soil, along with care these plants should flourish under your care. Slowly as you gain confidence in tending to these plants, you can expand into other vegetables and even fruits.
An indoor plant for many people can help enhance the mood and living space that is soothing and relaxing to live in. Starting with a simple plant indoor can greatly affect your quality of life.
Ar. Mrudula ReddyMaster of Landscape Architecture