Organic terrace gardening is an eco-friendly route to staples for your dining table

If pesticides in produce have you worried, and ‘going organic' sounds like a tempting option, terrace gardening could be the solution for you. Don't have the space? Not a problem; B.N. Viswanath has revolutionised the concept of rooftop gardening to cater to those living in urban settings with limited space.

Dr. Viswanath is the vice-president of the Association for Promotion of Organic Farming (APOF), and a freelance consultant in organic farming, terrace gardening, landscaping and bio-fertilizers. “Horizontal gardening is the best option for those who have a terrace,” he says, “and vertical gardening can be practised by those with little space.”

While the most popular type of horizontal gardening is the placement of large wooden containers on a pedestal 2 cm off the ground, vertical gardening can be carried out even on a small balcony. The container is made out of thick plastic with holes cut into the sides, each of which grows a plant.

An organic terrace garden can take as little as a week to set up and your greens can be harvested within a month. He suggests starting with simple crops like spinach, chilli, coriander and mint, which are staples of most dishes, and will come to immediate use.

“In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about contaminated produce,” says Dr. Viswanath. “Multiple pesticides, which breach international recommendations, have been found in fruits and vegetables. When people garden their own produce, they are assured of its purity and quality. It also works out to be a cheaper and more convenient venture, as people don't have to go to the market for fresh vegetables, they need only go to their rooftop."

Organic terrace farming is also an ecologically friendly alternative, he believes. “Produce has to travel long distances to reach the city, especially as industries expand and farms get pushed further. The distance food has to travel before reaching your mouth is less when the produce grows on your roof, so you save the world of the energy consumption in the form of transport.”