One thing that worries you the most when gardening on a terrace is the weight of the pot. This is the reason why many people avoid doing terrace gardening.
They feel that their roof should not be harmed by the weight of the pot, the soil and then the plants. Apart from this, due to watering the plants, sometimes the ceiling also starts getting damp. But the solution to these problems is not that you should not do gardening at all. It is not necessary that you have to use heavy pots, soil for gardening. Rather, in today’s high-tech era, you can plant trees and plants even without soil. As Sheikh Abdul Munaf of Andhra Pradesh is doing.
Abdul, who has been gardening vegetables and ornamental trees and plants on the terrace for the last several years, says that he does not use soil for planting saplings. Instead of planting plants in traditional ways, Abdul has adopted the technique of ‘soilless’ gardening ‘hydroponic’. In which you use other organic medium like cocopeat, manure or just water instead of soil to grow plants. Abdul has planted all his saplings in Kokopit and he is getting good yield.
Talking to The Better India, he spoke about his gardening journey.
old plastic bucket, used bottles
Abdul explains, “I also started gardening in the beginning with the soil on the terrace. But there were a lot of problems with it. One, I always had the fear of gaining weight on the roof. Other plants also used to get some disease and it was difficult to bring soil again and again. So I thought why not try something different and found out about hydroponic technology. I installed a system with PVC pipe on the roof of my house. But sometimes it happens that the already made things are not done according to your requirement.
He had installed a hydroponic system with only water. In which all the plants developed well in low temperature, but in summer when the temperature started increasing, the water became hot. Because of the hot water, their plants started dying. After this, Abdul thought that what should be done so that he does not have to use soil and gardening can also be done well. “People advised me to use cocoapit. Cocopeat is made from coconut fiber and is also considered very nutritious for plants. Also, it is good growing media,” he said.
Abdul designed a hydroponic system himself about three years ago. He told that for this he bought old plastic buckets, drums, small pipes etc. First of all, he made the system in five-six buckets only. He drilled a hole in the bottom of the bucket on one side, through which he could put a pipe for drip irrigation. After this, he filled the potting mix by mixing cocoapit and neem cake powder in the bucket. All the buckets are provided with drip irrigation system from both the bottom and top side.
“The water system is automatic. I have used old cooler motor for this. The big drum is filled with water and all the pipes are connected to the motor and poured into it. Due to which the plants automatically get water from time to time,” he said.
Planted vegetables like tomato, brinjal, chilli, drumstick
He has set up a hydroponic system with 100 buckets on his 20×76 ft roof. He also has a hydroponic system of PVC pipes in his garden. In some other small and big pots, he has planted ornamental plants like English Ivy, Ludwigia, some flowers and plants like insulin and neem. He tells that there are more than 100 trees and plants in his garden. If we talk about vegetables, then he told that he is growing drumsticks along with vegetables like tomato, green chili, brinjal, spinach, cucumber, fenugreek, kundru, okra.
“Around 70% of the vegetables for my house come from the garden. Sometimes some vegetables become so much that I distribute it to my relatives and neighbours. Everyone loves the organic vegetables in my garden. I do not use any kind of chemicals on my plants. Plus, the trouble with planting in soil is that you don’t know if the soil you’ve taken is correct. Therefore, vegetables grown in hydroponic systems have better quality than soil grown vegetables. Because they do not contain any kind of inaccuracy,” he says.
To protect his plants from pests, Abdul sprays plants with neem oil or sour buttermilk mixed with water. Due to this, any kind of insect does not come on the plants. Apart from this, he maintains its quality by adding new cocoa peat and neem cakes in buckets in between. They say that the moisture in the cocopet remains for a very long time, so that you do not need to water it again and again. But due to moisture, there is also a fear of fungus in the plants. That’s why we add neem cake as it is anti-fungal.
In the end Abdul just says that if you want to do gardening in hydroponic system then first learn this technique and then invest. Because this gardening is a bit expensive as compared to gardening in normal soil. So always start by taking basic training. Also, keep checking the pH and TDS level of the water from time to time.
Editing – G N Jha
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