With most of the urban population living in apartments in cities, they sometimes feel that the house is too small for them to enjoy their life. Many of them even think of their houses as a matchbox in which they live and the only reason for that is the size of the apartments and the absence of a terrace or garden for recreational activities which traditional houses have. But there is an unavoidable truth of urban housing and that is, in future most of us will be forced to live in apartments because the population is increasing day-by-day but the space is constant. So, finding out new ways in the same matchbox apartment seems to be a good idea. Isn’t it?
Garden in your balcony:
Since all of us are under lockdown for the past one month and it may continue further, you can utilise this time for creating an edible plants garden in your balcony. In this garden, you can grow some edible plants like tomato, ginger, garlic, herbs like mint and coriander, and utilise the harvest in your kitchen. This will ensure you that the vegetables you are consuming are fertilizer-free and organic. Moreover, you won’t have to depend much on the vegetable market for regular supplies.
Prerequisites for a garden:
If your apartment has a balcony, then it is sufficient to do balcony gardening there. You can transform plastic containers into pots and use them to grow plants in it. Arrange some soil from the park near you and even if you are unable to find it, you can grow some of the herbs. You can utilise the green waste generated in your garden as manure.
Now if you have all these prerequisites in order, we can start setting up our balcony garden. Let’s start!
Step 1.Buy a sunshade
If you are living in an apartment whose balcony directly faces the sun, then it is a must-have for you. The direct sun rays might damage some of your micro plants. So, to reduce the intensity of sunlight, you can buy a sunshade of green colour according to the dimensions of your balcony. I have provided an Amazon link from where you can order your sunshade. The link is here
Step 2. Getting the pots ready
You can use pots, if you have at home otherwise you can cut-half a container in the form of a pot. If you are using a plastic container, don’t forget to pin a hole at the bottom and place a stone above it before filling it with soil. This is already present in readymade pots, but in plastic containers, you need to do it manually to allow extra water to pass through it.
After getting a pot, fill it with soil up to one-fifth of the total height.
Not able to find soil?
Don’t worry. Still, you can grow some micro plants like coriander, sesame and methi. Take thick cardboard and soak it in water for about 24 hours. After that, sandwich it between two similar cardboards, rinse them with water and place it on a plank. You can now put seeds like sesame, methi, coriander and mustard in it and you will see that they start to germinate in a couple of days. Water the cardboards daily to keep it moist and put your home-made manure on the cardboard to make it rich in nutrients. We will discuss the home-made manure, later in this section. You can also grow mint in it by putting some of the mints stem in between the cardboard and you will see new leaves coming out of it. The only disadvantage of this method is that you can not germinate hardcoat seeds using this, for that you need soil.
How to prepare home-made manure?
Collect the daily green waste generated in your kitchen like peels of fruits and vegetable, residual tea leaves of tea, etc. and grind it in a grinder to make a thick paste. Put some water in it and use it to feed your plants daily. It will enhance the nutrient content of the soil and increase the productivity
of the plants. You can do it daily in small amounts as keeping the waste at home for more days is not recommended. This will act as green manure for your plants and also help you in recycling the biodegradable waste generated in your kitchen.
Now, we have all the things required for a small garden and now we can start planting fruits and vegetable in our balcony garden.
Step 3. Start planting
You can plant vegetables like tomato, capsicum, chillies, coriander, mint, brinjal, ginger, garlic leaves, mustard, spinach, bitter-gourd, peas, ridge gourd and many more in your new balcony garden.
For growing vegetables and herbs like capsicum, tomato, chillies, coriander, mustard, garlic leaves, bitter gourd, etc. you can directly use the seeds present in the vegetable itself, but dry them before sowing as they are full of moisture. These vegetables can be easily grown in a 12-inch pot and you can get a fresh harvest at home.
For growing other vegetables and herbs like brinjal, ginger, ridge gourd, peas, spinach, etc. you need need to buy seeds from the market as most of them don’t have seeds in the vegetable itself. You can surely try growing these vegetables and herbs after the lockdown.
Step 4. Take care of plants and enjoy the harvest
Water your plants twice a day or as per the existing weather conditions. Use your home-made manure daily to keep the plants healthy and soil nutrient-rich. After some time you will see vegetables coming up in your plants and I am sure, this will delight you more than anything.
If you have a huge balcony then you can get some product daily or at least regularly in a couple of days. Now, you can utilise these vegetables to make delicious food or use the herbs to enhance the taste of your existing food.
Benefits of having a Balcony garden
There are many benefits of having a balcony garden in your apartment or flat. First, you can get 100% organic and fertilizer-free vegetables and herbs for your kitchen. This also enhances the look of your balcony and you will love spending your time near plants, reading a book or enjoying an evening tea or coffee. Environmentally also, it helps in recycling and reusing the waste generated at your home. Moreover, It will reduce your dependency on the vegetable market for daily needs like chillies, tomatoes, mint, coriander among others. Above all, if gardening is your passion then this is
the best thing you can ever do in your matchbox apartment. Hope you like it!