Over the years, Bengaluru has been bestowed with several sobriquets. From the silicon valley of India to the garden city of the country, the metropolis has lent itself generously to ‘suffixes’, attesting its sprawling reputation.
However, the potholed roads, congested traffic and expansive high rises have brought a bad name to the city.
Blooming in this concrete jungle, away from the din of two-wheelers and four-wheelers, are the lush green terrace gardens benefitting the urban environment and its citizens.
The accelerated times we live in, coupled with shrinking land and water resources, has spurred the need to grow fruits and vegetables the organic way; terrace gardening being one of the more viable options.
Today, the concept of a terrace garden is in vogue, as is evident from the ‘premium apartments where green terraces are becoming a regular feature.’ As per a report published in The Hindu, the longevity of these roofs is between three to five decades and sometimes, even more.
For Ved Dhadphale, a terrace gardener, the fascination began when he ‘went to work on a farm called Harmony in Karjat, Maharashtra.’
Harmony is an organic bio-dynamic farm, distinct from the traditional agriculture practised in India, and Ved thinks, ‘once the body and soul have been elevated to the finer state of living harmoniously with nature, it is hard to go back to dingy air conditioned life.’
Although terrace garden is an efficient use of water resources, and provides safe food for consumers, the knowledge of how it’s done is sparse.
According to Ved, “rooftop farming is more art than science. There is no one formula or a rulebook to follow. The time and money you are willing to spend, sunlight, the season in which you plan to start etc are some of the factors.”
While a host of farmers and gardening enthusiasts use a slew of raw materials to facilitate the process of organic farming, some of the more widely used basic substances are ‘cow-dung manure, containers, coco-peat, dry leaves, good quality trowel, neem oil (to keep away pests) and as you go on, use epsom salts, wood ash and wood chips.’
Nevertheless, kitchen and terrace gardening can also curb wastage of water.
Dr. Asha Rani, retired Medical officer with the Indian Army and a plant-lover, says, “Terrace gardening does not need much water, since you are growing plants in small pots. Watering them every two to three days should be sufficient.” Her son, who maintains a terrace garden in Goa, grows “mangoes, papaya, lemons and leafy vegetables.”
Such homegrown gardens could be ideal for leisurely walks and a spell of refreshing air, especially when pollution is choking the vast expanse of greenery in the city. Dr. Rani concurs: “For retired people like me, such gardens provide a nice getaway. Every time, I cannot just go out, so I spend time at my garden and your house also looks better.”
While inputs for organic farming may be cheaper, the whole process could punch a large hole in the pocket. “All in all, a fully functional terrace farm can be set up for approximately Rs. 10,000 including tools, manure, containers , saplings and seeds”, says Ved.
Without an iota of doubt, Bangalore and the country need to go forward with this bio-safe terrace gardening practice. The benefits of it are perhaps unobjectionable but lack of awareness among farmers and citizens seems to be an impediment. But the striking economical and ecological advantages suggest that green roofs are the future.