A strong, flat open roof where horticulture crops, are grown in pots or grow bags forms the core of terrace farming.
- In urban areas where real cultivable land is limited, the roof of houses forms the cultivation area.
- At a considerable height, away from weeds and insects or pests, organic cultivation without using any artificial fertilizers or poison is possible.
- The small manageable terraced roof top and cultivation in grow bags removes the ground and soil maintenance.
- Interested family members including children can manage the cultivation.
- An open, strong, leak proof flat roof top getting good sunlight.
- Good quality grow bags of 1.5-2 feet diameter and 1.5-2 feet height.
- Soil and organic compost/ manure.
- Quality seeds.
The poly bags may be filled ¾ with mixed soil and compost in ratio 2:1 and placed on the roof top, at a distance of 1.5-2.0 feet. The saplings first germinated and grown in nursery pots may be planted in the grow bags. For brinjal, lady’s finger, chilly etc, put only one plant in a bag whereas in amaranthus and cow pea 2-3 plants could be grown in a bag. Proper watering is essential. The seeds may be procured from Kerala State Horticulture Mission/ Agriculture Department, Government of Kerala/ Kerala Agricultural University.
- Organic manure (Compost/dried cow dung) is to be repeated at intervals of 30-40 days.
- Each grow bag should be supported on 4 overturned coconut shell halves to enable excess water drainage and wetting of the roof top.
- In case of insect pest attack manual removal is the best method. But in severe cases organic insecticides such as tobacco decoction in mild soap water, Garlic decoction, neem cake application in soil and neem oil as foliar spray are found to help.
- In cow pea, aphids are the severe pests observed, but they can infest the plant only with the help of ants. Killing of ants by some ant traps ( mild insecticides dissolved in sugar solution kept in flat trays at one or two places on the roof top attracts the ants and kills them) is found effective.
Importance of terrace organic farming
- A step towards attaining self sufficiency in vegetable needs of the State
- Relief from the poisoned imported vegetables from other states which is a step towards health care
- A rewarding and stress relieving hobby for family members
Picture legend: Vegetable cultivation on roof top of JNTBGRI.
Authors: Dr N. Mohanan and Dr P G Latha, JNTBGRI.