The past couple of years has seen an increasing number of city dwellers trying their hand at farming and that too, in the comfort of their own homes. Intrigued? Well, then this article is for you. Urban farming has taken off in a big way with people converting balconies and terraces into fertile plots where they can grow a variety of vegetables and fruits, which not only enrich your larder but also gives you the joy of nurturing something on your own. Here are 5 things to keep in mind if you too want to start an urban farm.
1) Containers are your best friends
Sometimes you may not have access to spacious terraces and will have no option but to grow veggies in your home. Don’t worry. From craters to used plastic bottles to box grills, almost anything can be used to create an urban farm. Ideally, for veggies you have to select a 10 to 12-inch container and for herbs, an 8 to12 inch container. The quantity of your produce will be proportionate to the size of your container. Having your veggies in a container means you can also easily move them if you plan to shift or redo your home.
2) Get your plants enough sunshine
One of the most essentials things for the healthy growth of your veggies is the amount of sunlight you expose them to. The more the sunlight, the healthier and faster your veggies will grow. Expose your veggies to at least 8-12 hours of sunlight by selecting a place which is well ventilated. You can even move your container around during the day to ensure that your plants are facing the sun.
3) Nurture your soil
Taking care of your soil is absolutely necessary for the good health of your veggies. For this, create a mixture of red soil, compost/manure and most crucially – Coco Peat which contains coconut husk. It’s important to add Coco Peat because it helps the soil retain moisture while controlling the temperature. Plants can stay without water for at least two days if the soil has Coco Peat in it.
4) Water right and water well
We all know that it is important to water plants, but is so very easy to overdo it, especially for first-time planters. The right amount of water will decide the health of your plants but over watering can actually kill them. Make sure you water your plants until the soil is moist but not muddy. Always water them either in the morning or in the evening but not in the afternoon.
5) Take the organic route
When you are taking the time to plant vegetables in your home, try going the organic route and raise them to be pesticide and chemical free. If you do have to use pesticides, go natural and use a mixture of water and Neem oil to keep harmful pests away. Not only will you be eating healthier, using natural pesticides will also protect pollinators like butterflies and earth-nourishing earthworms and encourage them to come up around your urban farm.
“Urban farming has been an informal activity so far but it brings better health, nutrition, employment, food security and reduces the carbon footprint. Good health and biodiversity will soon be part of our inherent lifestyle because of urban farming,” says Priyanka Amar, Mumbai-based Ecopreneur and founder of iKheti.
Edited by Nikhil Narayan Sivadas