Q1 : What is a terrace garden?
Ans. : Also called a roof garden,it is a garden in which vegetables, fruits or flowers are grown on terraces, balconies or roofs of buildings. The kitchen garden, a standard in every Indian household, has now shifted to the roof due to constraints of space, and is called a terrace garden. Increasing pressure on land and escalating costs have also added to its growing popularity.

Q2 : Where can one start a terrace garden?
Ans.: These gardens can be created on almost all kinds of buildings like residential flats, individual houses, commercial hubs, godowns and factories.

Q3 : What needs to be done, before using the roof as a terrace garden?
Ans.: A simple water proofing of the roof is enough. Various water proofing products are available in the market that will ensure that the roof is protected, water-resistant and leakage-free.

Q4 : Can roots of plants causes any harm to the building?
Plants with fibrous roots do not cause any harm to the roof but avoid plants with tap roots (like mango) as they may penetrate the roof and harm it by growing its roots in the structure. Sometimes the wind or birds may bring seeds that can germinate and take root on the roof itself. These should be checked for and removed.

Q5 : How do I begin to green my terrace and grow food on my roof?
You can begin greening your terrace with these simple steps, and then move on to bigger ideas:
Take any simple pot or ‘gamla’ or better still recycle any of your old containers.
Mix compost, soil, coir peat (or sand) and vermicompost in equal quantities.
Cover the drainage hole at the bottom of the container with a broken pot piece or a flat stone, and fill it up with the mixture. You will have to drill a hole in a recycled container first.
Pour water and check that no soil is discharged through the bottom hole.
Wet the soil and plant your seed or sapling.
Watch your greens grow!

Q6 : What type of containers can I use?
Containers of all sizes, shapes and material, (plastic, ceramic, metal or mud) can be used. If you are an environment buff, you just need to use your imagination! Your Coke bottles, take-away plastic boxes, old sacks, coconut shells, old broken buckets, dented kitchen pots and pans, just about everything can be recycled and used as containers.

Q7: What can I plant in my garden?
You can start with something from your kitchen shelf, that is available and used in everyday cooking like coriander (dhaniya), fenugreek (methi), gram (chana) and chilli (mirchi). Once you gain confidence you can move onto vegetables of your choice and even grow fruit trees like banana and pomegranate. Almost all vegetables can be grown (creepers, drumstick, lime, tomatoes).

Q8 : What quantity of vegetables/ fruits can I expect from my terrace garden?
You can grow at least 6 vegetables per season. Your 1 sqm of terrace area can give you anywhere between 25 to 50 kg of vegetables in a year.

Q9 : Do I need any agricultural background to start a terrace garden?
You don't need any farming background to start a roof garden. It only takes enthusiasm for green living and and willingness to get your hands dirty.

Q10 : What are the advantages of terrace gardens?
Some of the benefits to health, aesthetics and environment include:
Reduce indoor temperature by 6- 8 degree and can reduce air conditioning cost
Reduce overall heat absorption of buildings and insulate the building against heat and cold
Convenience of safe, pesticide-free, healthy green and fresh vegetables
Conducive to a routine of physical exercise, clean air and being close to nature
Increases amount of oxygen in the air
Reduce sound pollution
Act as a habitat for city-weary birds

Q11 : How much time will it take to begin a terrace garden?
It can take as little as a week to set up and you can begin harvesting your greens in a months time.

Q12 : What about the maintainacne of these gardens? Will they comsume a lot of time?
Once your garden is established, an hour a day is more than enough to maintain your green area. It is the perfect area to exercise in and improve your fresh air intake.

Q13 : What about the pesticides and manure for the roof garden?
You can make your own organic manure at home by using your kitchen waste, and even learn how to prepare Panchagavya and organic pest repellents for use in your garden.

Q14 : How much will a terrace garden cost?
If you plan to start a terrace garden at one go, it will cost about Rs 20,000, which will be the investment on seeds, saplings, containers and the soil bed/manure. The set-up cost will reduce if you begin small and stepwise, invest a little every month, and use recycled containers.
The joy of watching your plants grow and thrive will outweigh any nominal expenses in terms of seeds or saplings that you buy. Look at it as a 'green' investment, where after the initial burst of energy and time, you can expect healthy returns!

Q15 : Any contacts of organisations that can help me begin?
‘Grow what you eat and Eat what you grow’ - Garden City Farmers
Organic farming movement of Punjab - Kheti Virasat Mission
A seed conservation and sharing initiative in Auroville - Pebble Garden, Aurobrindavan
Mumbai's own - Urban Leaves
'Gather for all beings' - Thanal, Trivandrum
My edible garden