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Tips for a kitchen-garden in your apartment balcony

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.

kitchen garden example

Source- https://www.almanac.com/10-tips-starting-balcony-garden

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!

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To know more about “5 simple joys of living in a spacious ‘independent floor’ 3BHK luxury residence!

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