Ever growing urbanisation has led to constraints for open land for gardening. Even people with independent houses do not have much scope for gardens. In olden times all the houses had open spaces or yards for gardening and even the backyards were used for kitchen gardens for growing vegetables. People who have interest in gardening need not lose heart; can go in for ‘Rooftop Gardens.’
Building a garden on the rooftop and growing your own vegetables at home is the best way to connect with nature and also good in terms of health. A rooftop garden adds a touch of green to your ambiance and also gives you an opportunity to display your creative skills without much effort.
Open rooftops could be covered by developing ‘flower /vegetable or fruit gardening.’
People interested in rooftop gardening can attend Bangalore (OFYT) a mela called ‘Oota from your Thota’ (OFYT). OFYT is organised once in every three months and brings together all the necessary equipment and resources for terrace gardening under one roof. From seeds to pots and soil, the little market has everything to offer. The first ‘Oota from your Thota’ event to promote Organic Urban Farming/Terrace Gardening was held on February 1, 2015.
The twentieth OFYT mela was scheduled for December 26, 2016.
Benefits of rooftop gardens:
Plants have the ability to reduce the overall heat absorption of the building which then reduces energy consumption. The heat build-up in cities is due to insolation, the absorption of solar radiation by roads and buildings and the storage of this heat in the building material and its subsequent re-radiation. Rooftop gardens provide resistance to thermal radiation; are beneficial in reducing rain runoff. As cities grow, permeable substrates are replaced by impervious structures such as buildings and paved roads. Rooftop gardens can delay peak flow and retain the run-off for later use by the plants.
These also encourage environmentally responsible practices, eliminating tilling, reducing or eliminating pesticides, and weeding, and encouraging the recycling of wastes through composting.
Read the telephonic interaction with Dr. B N Viswanath Kadur, consultant in Organic Farming and Terrace gardening Bengaluru. Dr. Kadur, an Entomologist by profession went to the USA to pursue a course in film production and started making agriculture films and documentaries when he returned to India.
Q: What inspired you to get into rooftop gardening?
It so happened that while landing in India on my return from the USA, I noticed shining rooftops of the buildings and an idea crept into my mind. We have lost open lands to urbanisation. Why not make use of the rooftop space for gardening? That’s how it started.
Q: You have inspired school students into Organic farming and some schools in Bengaluru are really doing wonders with it. Do you think the younger generation is going to pursue this in longer run in future?
Yes, I do believe that the young generation is competitive and are
ready to face new challenges. They will find much more innovative ways to develop it further.
Q: You desire to take gardening to the slums and the urban poor. How is it going to benefit them?
This will enable them to develop a healthy, clean hygienic environment to live in, provide livelihood and source of income. It also has health and nutritional benefits.
Rooftop gardening can also be developed as leisure time hobby by nature lovers.
1. If a house is built as per the building rules, anything can be grown on the rooftop. Water proof the surface to avoid any leakage into the home. There are no extra efforts required if pots are used.
2. The right mix of soil requires regular soil, compost coir peat or sand and vermicompost in equal quantities. Can add compost every week to make sure the soil has enough nutrition.
3. You can start with a small pot and single vegetable and then gradually expand to other vegetables. Tomatoes, chillies, French beans, brinjal, okra and lime are easier to grow. You can also try cucumber, ridge gourd and bottle gourd. Root vegetables like potatoes, onion, radish, carrots, and groundnuts can also be grown. Fruit bearing trees like guava, banana, can also be grown.
4. Water regularly. Twice a day in summer. Check the moisture in the soil and water in winters. Don’t water the garden in rains. Excess water drains all the nutrition away from the soil. Garden should receive four to six hours of direct sunlight. In areas where the sun is too harsh; use a shade to prevent the plants from getting scorched.
Dr. Kadur has started engaging school students in organic farming. He believes that schools are the best places to inculcate the habit of farming among young minds. He has implemented the model successfully in BM English School, Hennur, Bengaluru where kids grow their own vegetables, sell it to their teachers and also bring it to the OFYT events.