Many people want to eat healthy food. They cook healthy & tasty dishes at home. They eat a lot of vegetables. But sometimes, still, those are not healthy because a lot of chemical & synthetic fertilizers & pesticides are used to produce those vegetables. Though if those chemical inputs are applied within a limit then those are not so harmful. Secondly, without synthetic inputs, crop production will be less. So farmers will apply those chemicals to produce more. You can not avoid chemical inputs unless you pay more to buy organic vegetables. That is why, homegrown natural vegetables are always the best option. So many people want to grow vegetables on their terrace. In fact, nowadays many people turns their flower garden into kitchen garden on their terrace. But many people restrain themselves because they believe that growing vegetables in terrace garden is almost impossible. That is not true, rather it is very easy and will give your a lot of happiness. So here is a A to Z terrace gardening guide for you that too in natural way.
Now if you expect that I will give you some expert knowledge and magic will happen. It is not true. I do not follow modern scientific method to grow vegetables in my terrace garden. I do not apply any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Though a few months ago, I used to apply various types of chemicals. But since last 2-3 seasons, I started reducing the usage of chemicals. Now I am growing my vegetables naturally.
It is not just organic gardening rather it is natural gardening where I use homemade natural pesticides. Though I buy some amount of compost fertilizer, neem cakes & mustard cakes. Apart from that I do not need to buy anything else. So my gardening cost is very less. Surprised?
Now, you are thinking that what all vegetables I grow? What I grow in the summer or winter?
What to grow & when to grow?
Many people will advise many things. Even I can say many things based on my experience. I am growing some vegetables in this summer season what I mentioned in my earlier posts. But will you grow those? Can I tell you that too?
I mean to say that it is absolutely your choice. What all vegetable you love to eat?
Which vegetables can be easily grown in your location? But I think the most important thing is that what all seeds are easily available in your area. Most local nursery owners/seed & plant shopkeepers sell only those seeds. They know which plants can be easily grown in your area. They can guide you. But you should visit multiple shops to get correct information.
You can buy desi seeds (non hybrid), so that you can collect seeds and store those for next season.
Normally, in India, natural farmers apply ghan jeevamrit in soil before sowing and then apply jeevamrit after ever 3 weeks to provide beneficial microbes into soil. But gardeners are mostly urban living people. So fresh cow dung & cow urine are not easily available. In fact, in most of the cases, those are not available. But cow dung & cow urine are main ingredients to make jeevamrit and jeevamrit. That is why, I do not use those. So I use use homemade compost as well as vermicompost that I buy from the local shop.
Soil mix/Potting mix
Whatever you want to grow in your terrace garden, you will need good soil mix or potting mix. There are various items to mix with soil. Many experts will say many things. Many people make different types of potting mix for different types of plant. That might be helpful or that may help your get maximum output. But it makes gardening very difficult. Many people lost happiness in gardening just because of that. They often feel that gardening is not for them.
That is why make the same potting mix for every kind of plant. I use 25% compost fertilizer. Then add a handful mustard cake powder & a handful of neem cakes for 10 inch size pot. Nothing else. Yes, sometimes if groundnut cake is available in my local market, then I add a handful of it to my potting mix. Mostly I avoid that because most of the times, that is not available in the shop.
If you do not have perfect size of pot/container for your plant and you think it is smaller then you should use more percentage of compost fertilizer. Optionally, you can add one or two handfuls of grain husk or cocopeat. After 7-10 days of preparing your potting mix, you can sow seeds or plant a seedling.
After preparing soil mix and when plant becomes 1 month old, I start applying mustard cake based liuid fertilizer after every 7-10 days. Except that I do not add any fertilizer to the soil because I know my soil is adequately fertilized. I also apply vermicompost tea in soil to provide microbes & other nutrients. You can also do the same.
Nowadays organic micronutrients are easily available from the local shop. Anybody can easily buy those from online shop too. Those are not expensive. But still, I make natural micronutrients at home because those are effective. Homemade natural micronutrients needs a few oil seeds cake & lentils. I use vermi compost as a source of microbes and jaggery to make fermentation process faster. That’s it.
The recipe for natural micronutrients is very simple. I shared that in my previous posts. I often change amount & types of oil cakes, lentils based on availability of those ingredients in my inventory. Last time, I used 100 gm neem cakes, 100 gm groundnut cake, 100 gm mustard cake, 100 gm whole raw soya bean paste, 100 gm besan (chickpea flour). Add 50 gm vermicompost and 50 gm jaggery. Then pour 5 ltr water and allow it to ferement for next 3 weeks. I stirred that solution everyday in the morning for 10 days. After, 3 weeks, I strain the solution and got 4 ltr homemade natural micronutrients. I am using 5% solution for foliar spray. That means I am adding 50 ml solution and 950 ml water for spraying on my plants. Every time I need 250-300 ml solution because I have a terrace garden as well as yard garden. I spray twice a month.
Pest includes anything that harm plants. It would be insects, fungus, bacteria, virus etc. There are many organic pesticides available in the market. But I do not even want to buy those because my homemade natural pesticides are effective and my plants are healthy. But that not means I am against those organic products. If I will face difficulties then I would use those. In earlier days, I used various market bought organic products like Kaka (Vedic Agro), Trap (Liebigs), Aza Power + (IFFCO), Thunders (Liebigs), Tricho Power + (IFFCO) etc. Those are good products.
Insect repellent / Insecticides
How many of you ever prepare a homemade insecticide? Anybody? I think most people used detergent powder, shampoo, baking soda as insecticide. Right? But those are not homemade and not even natural. Haha! Yes, some gardeners use neem leaves extracts by boiling those in water. Right? Okay, that is natural insecticide and effective too. But there are many other natural insecticides too. Anybody can make those at home.
These are dashparni ark, Brahmastra, neemastra, Agniastra etc. Many people heard about those traditional insecticides. Actually those are not a perfect insecticide rather insect repellent. Nature friendly too!
How many of you ever used any? Anybody? Each one is very effective because I tried and noticed it. Expect dashparni ark, other three can be prepared within 2 days. So if you are in hurry then you should make Neemastra, Agniastra, Brahmastra. Each o these insecticide needs different ingredients. So whatever ingredients you have in your garden, kitchen inventory or neighborhood, based on that you can make suitable insecticide.
Now many of you are thinking that I am saying so much thing but not sharing recipes for the same. Are you? But it is not true because I have already discussed about those recipes in my previous post. So you should check thoat post.
I normally prefer to make dashparni ark. As the name says. It is nothing but extracts (ark) of 10 (dash) leaves (parni). All those leaves are either slightly poisonous or bitter in taste. I make this dashaprni ark for the whole season at a time.
After that, my next favorite is agniastra. It is prepared by boiling neem leaves, garlic, chillies and Tabaco leaves. I do not store any other natural insecticide except dashparni ark. Though you can store all those natural insecticides for 3-6 months.
Many people buy various fungicides from the market. There are many products. Some are costly and some of those are available at reasonable price. But still, I love months old sour buttermilk because it is not just a fungicide but also works great against various sucking pest.
I have already shared a whole post on this buttermilk and its usage. I prepare buttermilk at a time and store for the whole season.
Plant Growth Promoter
There are two types of growth promoter are available in the market. One is hormone based and another one is non hormone based chemical or organic growth promoter. I used various non hormone based growth promoter like Miraculan, BioVita X
Fruit extracts tonic
This is the most popular & effective plant tonic that helps in overall plant growth. It helps in flowering & fruiting also. Many people also know this. It is not a secret. It is used traditionally by many natural farmers. But as many organic as well as chemical products are available in the market. So most people started using those. But without buying those growth promoters, we can still get good result by using this natural tonic. It is prepared with two or three fruit extracts. Not every kind of fruit can be used to make this. But banana is most important fruit for this. You should definitely use it. Fruit that contains watery juice like watermelon are not suitable for this purpose. You should use fruits like papaya, chickoo, mango etc. Take 500 gm fruits and 500 gm jaggery and mix. Store it in a plastic bottle and cover the mouth with a clean cloth. Now rest it for 15 days to ferment. Shake every day to help in faster fermentation process. Once it is perfectly fermented then strain it and store it for 6 months.
Many natural farmers use this hundreds of years old solution in farming. Here cow based 5 items are used to make this. These are milk, ghee, curd, cow dung and cow urine. One fruit is also used. Many people also use fresh coconut water. I never used panchagavya because fresh cow dung & cow urine are not easily available in urban area.