Pauline Shyama, whose house is completely zero waste and Vijaya Kala, whose farm gives her a Rs 20,000/month profit, answer this query by a reader. Send your questions to email@example.com
We often receive emails from our readers, asking doubts about their experiments with sustainable living. So, here’s a section dedicated to you – TBI’s ‘agony aunt’ for all things green.
This week, Christina got in touch with us. Christina’s parents live in Kerala, and like her, they are interested in setting up an urban farm in their home. So could someone help her parents set up an organic farm?
While Pauline has gone all out and refurbished her home as a zero-waste space, Vijaya has grown a farm in polytunnels that give her a monthly profit of Rs 20,000!
Here’s what they share about setting up a farm on your terrace or balcony.
Prerequisites for organic farming:
Space is not always an issue for an organic farm. If you have a wide-stretching garden or terrace, it serves as a benefit. But residing in an apartment should not come in the way of your organic farming dreams.
Ask Vijaya, who invested in polytunnels to make up for the fact that she does not own any farming land. But even if you don’t have a large budget, farming is still viable.
First, divide the available space to understand how many pots you can place, leaving adequate space to move between the rows. You will have to water, add organic fertiliser and check the general health of the plants regularly.
Pauline’s urban farm is 1200 square feet, but she has optimised this space and arranged her plants in steps.
“I prefer grow-bags over pots because pots tend to become heavy on the floor tiles. They also leave ring marks so I have made slabs of bricks to prevent that. To ease my efforts, I use soft drink bottles for drip irrigation,” she tells The Better India.
Tips on how to prepare the soil for organic farming:
“Compared to regular farming, organic farming is a lot more difficult because you will have to prepare the soil, make natural fertilisers and pesticides.” shares Vijaya.
Here are the most crucial things to remember, according to her:
- Prepare the soil with cow dung and nutritious compost (to make your compost, order this kit)
- Look out for weeds, pests after planting. Once the infestation happens, it isn’t very easy to recover.
- Everyday care is a must. Watering with cow dung solution, natural fertilisers etc. shouldn’t be skipped.
- Hang yellow or blue boards with castor oil spread on them to prevent pests. (Cooler alternative to scarecrows, the pests get stuck on the boards.)
- Opt for plants that require more sunlight and need less water: tomatoes, beans, climbers are good examples.
- Prioritise those that are vulnerable to infestation in loose soil.
- The benefits of terrace farming are they attract less weed, and each plant gets more nutrients.
Practice makes one perfect:
Organic farming is no different. If you have never tried your hand at farming before, take practical guidance from an expert. Talk to friends and family who have an organic farm. Pauline had the upper hand because she comes from a farming family in Kerala.
“But if you are starting without any prior experience, workshops and short courses prove to be important guides. Attend workshops, so you understand the basics of sowing, watering, fertilising and harvesting,” she says.
For plants to grow organically and healthy, everything from the health of the soil to the season is crucial. A good workshop will teach you all of it. Click here to browse through workshops that best suit your needs and location.
Try innovation where convention doesn’t work.
Cramped for space but still want fresh, organic produce in your home? Amazing agro-innovations like hydroponics and aquaponics are just what you need. They eliminate the need for soil and also use considerably less water for the growth of plants- all without added chemicals!
Fascinating, right? We certainly think so. Check out this article for more details about the two methods.
We hope this helps everyone set up their own
Wondering why that plant is not growing or how to make an organic hand cream? Whatever your doubt, do reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)