Questions to ask as you set-up a kitchen garden in your apartment balcony!
Setting-up a kitchen garden can be a rewarding and satisfying exercise, especially if you are living in an apartment. Bigger the balcony, easier it gets to set-up the kitchen garden. This becomes easier if you are living in an ‘independent-floor’ residence, since the ‘corridor’ also is exclusively yours because you ‘own the entire floor’. Otherwise, 3 BHK apartment units normally have large spaces with a width of more than 5 feet in the balcony to optimize on having your own kitchen-balcony or roof-top.
Down South in India, we have many edible-herbs that can be very useful to add the flavours to our daily cooking.
With complete access to a balcony, rooftop, terrace, or patio, you can grow a wide range of veggies, herbs, perennials, and flowers in small pots or containers.
10 Questions you need to ask before you begin the exercise are-
1. Am I allowed to set-up a kitchen balcony as per building or society norms?
- Check the qualifier rules for your building is most important
- Most buildings and societies do not have a problem if you put-up anything in your garden unless they do not intrude with the façade or put fellow-residents to inconvenience
2. Can my balcony or rooftop bear the weight of these pots full of soil?
- Clay pots or even plastic ones can be heavy once filled with soil so you need to factor-in the loadbearing capacity of your balcony before you venture into the exercise
- You must not jeopardize the safety of your family and fellow-residents trying to achieve something that is not feasible
3. Will I be able to water and care for my plants?
- In a ‘one apartment per floor’ standalone building, the roof-rights are usually with the top-floor owner. So whether it’s a roof-top or just your balcony, you must ensure there is adequate watering facility
- Also, the extra burden of water-availability, and cost must not fall on the other residents
- Drip irrigation or self-watering pots are a good option where possible
- You must also make sure that excess water-flow out of the vents of your containers or pots do not drain down into the balconies or homes of your neighbours
- Proper garden equipment like watering equipment should be bought to avoid wastage of water, and to use water efficiently and minimally
- One should put saucers or trays under your pots or containers to avoid spilling of water, and to collect the overflow
4. Which plants are suitable?
- Choose plants that will survive based on the seasons and weather-conditions
- Check for adequate sunlight- whether it’s adequate and stays all-day long, for at least 6 hours a day
- Match the amount of sunlight with the type of plant for healthy growth
- If sunlight is less, go for low-light plants
- Grow edible plants like coriander, curry leaves, green-chillies, wheat-grass, lettuce and so on depending on your culinary preferences
5. How are the weather conditions in my balcony?
- Extreme conditions hinder the growth of plants, be it hot-drying winds or very cold-winds, or even excessive light or rainwater
- Take precautions of measures to match the conditions with protection- e.g. self-watering pots when it’s a very hot place, or providing shade using a green cloth-mesh
- Look for ways to protect the plants from sun-burn or wind-burn
6. How hot or cold does my balcony or rooftop get?
- If heat is excessive, go for tropical plants that can take excessive of it
- Treat your balcony as a tiny outdoor room, and add chairs and table to enjoy sitting in the greenery
- Use sun-blocking shrubs, a fountain or even wind-chimes to counter the outside pollution or even background noise
7. Do I really have enough space?
- Start small if your space is small, and not go overboard
- You could even explore vertical gardening along the walls of your balcony to save & optimize on space
- Check on how much time you can invest in gardening
- Use wall space to hang baskets and wall pockets
8. Do I really wish to grow edibles?
- Be prudent only to plant that much which your space can hold. You cannot use kitchen garden to support you 100% for your edible needs
- If spaces are a challenge, just put enough edibles that you can use sparingly, and not make it a regular source of supply
9. Do I have enough time for them?
- Maintenance of a small garden also can be a big task, since plants need more watering when in containers or pots
- This is where self-watering pots or drip irrigation works as a boon
- Also, one needs to pick the vegetables when they ripe to keep the plants productive
10. Do I have the budget?
- It is better NOT to be ready-grown plants as they cost more
- Pick small plants or even seeds
- You can turn used containers also into gardening pots to save on cost
- Existing home items also serve as containers, provide you punch a few holes for water to drain. This too saves cost
- Another option is to pick containers, pots, manure etc. during sale
- It is prudent to spend good money on quality potting soil
- Start small and see these plants fit into your busy schedule. Not be in a hurry to take too much work at the initial stages
These small tips can go a long way to help you remain happy and content in nurturing your balcony garden without having to fret as you move along!
To know more about “5 simple joys of living in a spacious ‘independent floor’ 3BHK luxury residence!”