Kitchen Garden Cues for Flat Residents

Grow your own vegetables

Let space not be a constraint for your passion for gardening

A positive downside of the lockdown was that practically every third family had an amateur gardener experimenting with growing his/her own veggie produce – a boon during times when vegetable vendors were termed super-spreaders

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money” Ron Finley couldn’t have better captured the thrill and the sense of accomplishment which growing a vegetable garden brings.

Those green-fingered souls who are restricted in the close confines of a flat need not worry they too can give wings to their gardening aspirations as it requires neither excess land, space or money … all you need is a small space in your backyard or balcony; and of course a little time and effort dolloped with oodles of patience for a bounty of fresh vegetables.

The Foodism Team shows you how…

Benefits of Kitchen Garden

Improves your health 

Consumption of fresh vegetables is a sure shot way to stay healthy and build our immunity. Plucking veggies from your balcony garden ensures – preserving their vitamin content; nullifying the risk of eating vegetables that contain harmful chemicals; and also the comfort of knowing what exactly is going into your stomach! Moreover for families with kids getting the latter involved in the gardening process ups the chances of them consuming veggies which till date were ‘ugh’ for them!

Money saver

A major benefit of vegetable gardens is a radically reduced monthly food bill. You can grow organic vegetables for a fraction of the cost in the stores.

Calorie burner

Gardening is a physical activity and pulling weeds, planting, and digging can burn up to 400 calories per hour.

Sharper brain

Experts claim that gardening is a good mental exercise and plays a pivotal role in keeping your mind sharp.

Stress buster

With stress levels at an all-time-high gardening is a natural stress reliever. How? Elementary dear Watson! Inhaling the fresh air and sunshine is a mood elevator as it rejuvenates you; add to this the sense of pride which growing your own produce rings in and bingo you can bid a permanent farewell to stress!

Safe food

With COVID-19 here to stay safety is a priority. And pray what can be safer than consuming home-grown produce … the collateral benefit being saving a trip to the local grocery and upping the risk of picking up the virus!

Conserving food miles

The green warriors have a strong reason to opt for growing vegetable gardens as it saves on a lot of fuel involved in transporting the produce from the rural farm to the urban grocery (and also the gas spent by you in driving down to the local grocers and back home). And cutting down on food miles creates an extremely positive impact on reducing our carbon footprint.

Points to Remember

Before you start a vegetable garden a few pointers to keep in mind include –

  • Site: Do a recce and vet an ideal location to have the vegetable garden say – a patio or a balcony, walls or backyard etc.
  • Sunlight: Ensure adequate amount of sunlight at the selected location
  • Zero in on your products: Remember that flats facilitate growing of only certain veggies
  • Seeds: Plant seeds carefully ensuring no damage to the roots
  • Soil: Ascertain that the soil is light and disease-free
  • Watering: All plants need moisture and there are some plants which require daily watering. And needless to say even excessive watering is not good
  • Fertilizers: Both chemical fertilizers available in the market and organic kitchen waste are good for plants
  • Insects and diseases: Regularly check your plants to keep the insects away

List of Veggies Which Can Be Grown

Almost any vegetable plant you can think of growing in a backyard garden will also flourish in your balcony vegetable garden under the right conditions. The following vegetables are great to start your vegetable garden –

  • Carrot
  • Potato
  • Beans
  • Cucumber
  • Mint
  • Coriander
  • Eggplant
  • Pepper
  • Green Onions
  • Radish
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce

You can keep adding to the above list once you get the knack of the process

And the best part is all of these veggies can thrive in containers too! Awesome space saver tip isn’t it!

Cues for Amateur Vegetable Gardeners

  • Each plant has its own best season – look up the internet and ensure that you plant the vegetable during its niche season to ensure that you get a quality rich produce
  • The bottom-line here is irrigation – The more water you pour, the healthier the plant will be. But hang on don’t go overboard and empty your entire water tank as excess of anything is harmful!
  • Opt for a planting pot which is quite deep
  • Ensure adequate sunlight for the plants
  • Remember some vegetables are easy to grow while some are a challenge – so the key driver here is patience
  • Keep checking that all the stems are immersed in the soil
  • There are some veggies like our humble potato which will grow throughout the year. Foodism invites your thoughts on which other vegetables are perennial i.e. which can be grown through the year
  • Continue monitoring the growth of the plants
  • Just like children, different plants have varied requirements – while some plants demand plenty of sunlight, warm temperature, and regular watering for their growth; the mild ones may require less. So, a good gardener differentiates the needs of the plants and maintains them basis the same

The Process

Now let’s take a look at the actual hands-on process –

  • Choose clay pots, plastic ones, or just containers that add a decorative hue to your balcony garden – Ensure that the container you choose offers good drainage
  • Make drain holes at the sides of the pot – place them about one-quarter to one-half inch away from the bottom
  • Fill it with soil – It’s recommended to use synthetic soils as these are best suited for container plants. These soils could be prepared from – peat moss, sawdust, wood chips, pelite, vermiculite or any type of synthetic planting media. Tip – Fill the bottom of the container with coarse gravel before placing the soil to improve drainage for your plants
  • Plant the seed
  • Cover it with soil
  • Pour water – Watering one time a day would suffice; and in case your balcony is roofless then avoid doing so on a rainy day
  • Ensure that the plant gets sufficient sunlight exposure and moisture
  • Harvest your vegetables when they are at their ripeness peak

Remember growing vegetables is easy but it’s not as simple as just dumping seeds into a pot and walking away and returning after a week to harvest your vegetables! A quality and healthy vegetable harvest, mandates regular watering and some time and effort.

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