When Karnataka’s Dr Chandrashekhar Biradar moved to the US in the mid-2000s, he was appalled to see the high price of green vegetables, that too with limited choices.

“The only option was to grow my food,” says the space scientist. Today, his 50 sq ft rooftop garden thrives with 50 types of fruits, flowers, and vegetables.

His garden has pots of 3.5 feet, in which he sows up to five plants of different sizes and properties like tomatoes, bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, radish, and apples.

Giving an example, he says, “The topmost layer has tall trees like moringa, followed by creepers like cucumber, ridge and bottle gourds.”

He shares tips for urban dwellers with a space crunch to replicate his methods.

All you need is a 2×6 sq ft balcony to grow 50 types of veggies. Make a natural mix using soil, cocopeat, and compost. Plant easy-to-grow plants like tomatoes, spinach, and chilies.

Next, he talks about the symbiotic relationship between plants that are grown in a single pot. For example, put tomatoes next to basil, which is an insect-repellent plant.

He has dug a simple clay pot in the soil to store water. “Depending on the requirements of the plants, the clay pot wall releases the water,” he says.

“The clay pot uses just one litre of water a week as against the conventional requirement of ten, thus saving 90 percent water,” he adds.