Going crazy reading all about growing one’s own food? Hundreds of home farming groups across social media with great tips but none caters to people living in apartments like me. .Urban living gives you one or two 2×6’ balconies for growing at home in cities. Sometimes it’s even lesser. More people might become urban farmers if they had space. Some take up mini farm on rent on outskirts of city as a weekend activity. Numbers of such farms are very little and cater to only few. What’s an apartment-dweller with nothing but a narrow balcony in the sky should do. (Our second post on eco-utilization of an balcony . Read first one here)
A balcony has two very useful parts for having a mini farm- A plain wall and a railing or grill. One of them or both can be used for farming depending upon optimal combination of space, sunlight, shade, pots and balcony grills.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce don’t need strong sunlight. Tomatoes grow very well in pots. Herbs grow very well in shallow pots on window sills. Papaya and lemon trees grow in pots with proper care. Creepers like bitter gourd does very well on balcony grills. Some friendly plants which have synergistic relations (like garlic and lettuce)grow together very well in balcony farm. Phased planting will ensure regular supply of the produced throughout the season.
A typical balcony mini-farm
A tiny balcony setup can use combination of wall, grill and railing like this miniscule garden
There are few who have utilised their tiny balcony to grow some of their needs. I have collected some innovative ideas from across the world on farming in a small balcony hoping some of them will help our urban population to grow some of their requirements. Sources are mentioned below the photographs
Most of the leafy greens and medium sized vegetables can be grown on the railings .Housing societies and apartment builders should add these kind of railings or make the walls wide enough to keep pots. This feature should be made mandatory for a green building.
This is one idea I like very much. Usually houses in government colonies used to have this kind of low wall but wide enough to keep pots and enough space for plants to grow to the required height.
This is very good for vegetables like brinjal , tomatoes, peas, mustard, carrot onion and many more.
Farming in Bags is suitable both for walls or railings. These are good for herbs and leafy greens and it can be shifted according to seasonal sunlight.
Farming on the walls
If one has a sunny wall in an open balcony or on the sides of windows one can always fix some metal
baskets or iron hooks to hang pots for growing small size vegetables like leafy greens and root vegetables. Creepers can also be planted in lower racks . Though this needs little investment in the form of iron hooks and stands but worth all the penny . It is same as vertical farming but the farm is attached to the wall.
Compact movable farms
Here one needs some kind of tiered racks to place the pots. This can be shifted according to the seasonal change in sunlight hence it should not be very heavy but at the same time strong enough to hold the weights of multiple pots. Square foot gardens also come under this category. A set of durable wheels make the shifting easy. These can be done in big boxes too where a combination of medium sized plant and its synergistic herb can be planted in the same pot.
And back to our urban lifestyle…..We are also learning small balcony farming slowly.(Photo from 10th floor of housing society in Bangalore)
Finally this person has taken the balcony farming to another level……having used all the above mentioned types of farms as well as some of his own innovations