The terrace garden not only provides greenery but also fresh vegetables.

On the terrace of Radhika Anand's house birds come calling and squirrels have fun. Radhika entertains guests on the terrace which has constant visitors from the neighbourhood. What's so special about it? The terrace wears a green cap.

Radhika Anand, president, T. Nagar Exnora Women's Club (TEXWOC), nurtures a garden on the roof top by growing greens, vegetables, flowers and medicinal plants in colourful pots. “A garden of this kind not only provides greenery, but also satisfies the home's vegetable needs,” says Radhika.

As part of the club activities, TEXWOC conducted an awareness programme on Roof Top Gardening among the residents of T. Nagar, recently. She and her husband Anand Laxman, Chartered Accountants duo, decided to create a model, so that other residents will follow suit.

They researched and hunted for personnel who can help with guidance, expertise and manpower to set up one. “Some had the knowledge of gardening, but not roof gardening. So we got the help from different people for different activities,” says Mr. Anand Laxman.

The garden has greens in trays of red, green and yellow; vegetables and flowers placed in a unique arrangement of vases; ropes set up for climbers and pots for vegetables such as tomatoes.

Radhika's family grows greens, lady's finger, bitter gourd, snake gourd, tomatoes, a new variety of drumstick (that grows up to six feet) and medicinal plants.

“The arrangement cost us Rs. 25,000. But one can set-up the garden on any budget,” Radhika says, adding, “you don't need colourful pots, any container is good enough. We are next going to experiment with a shoe!”

“The idea is not just gardening but gardening according to the available space,” she adds. Seeing the model, a friend of Radhika, set-up a garden in her flat. She grows spices in a row of pots on either side of the balcony as she cannot use the terrace.

“Most of our houses do not have a space to grow garden, at least, we can make use of the available space in such a way,” says Laxman.

She uses manure from the compost she prepares out of kitchen waste. Hence, the products are organic too. “The benefit is that you grow vegetables for your home, which are hygienic and free of pollution. Most of the greens that come to our markets are grown in an unhygienic condition along the dirty river beds,” Mr. Laxman adds. “One can see the difference. The home grown are fresh,” he says.

Radhika points out how this hobby has grown to be a passion for her and her family, especially, her children. Now, the terrace has become their study area.

As the president of TEXWOC, she is all set to launch a campaign among the residents after Pongal. She has printed a pamphlet with contact details of people who maintain terrace gardens. The contact details of personnel, who can guide in terrace gardening, provide seeds, manure and set-up a garden are also given. The pamphlet also carries information about the importance of terrace gardening, their benefits to the family and surroundings and kinds of plants that can be grown in the terrace.

Radhika Anand's house is located at New No. 35, Padmanabha Street, T. Nagar. For details, contact 98400 65514. S.S. Kannan, co-ordinator, Home Garden – Terrace Garden Exnora can be reached at 98404 05557.