CHAPTER 3: HOW TO START TERRACE GARDEN? INTRODUCTIONStarting terrace gardening is fun and learning experience. It is same as starting to learn playing a guitar or to start learning swimming. The most basic step is to develop an interest in gardening. One can opt for gardening as a hobby, exercise regime or even as a business opportunity.The second step is finding a proper place for gardening. In gardening you grow plants and plants are organisms which need certain resources to thrive these are sun,water,soil,climate and moisture.SpaceIn terrace gardening,space is one of the most crucial aspect as it’s the space which decides how many containers you can fit in and therefore how many plants you can grow. Calculation of available space is thus very important if one has small area of terrace available then it eliminates the use of large pots or containers and thus eliminates the chances to grow plants which are tall and bulky. Also while selecting an apt space for the terrace garden one should ensure that it gets a good amount of sunlight and there is close source of water near by which can be in the form of a tank or a tap for fresh running water. SunlightDifferent plants have different sunlight requirements. Some do well in shade, some need 3-4 hours of sunlight, some require more and some require less. Seeds sown in a seed tray (or anything similar) don’t need direct sunlight for the first 1-2 weeks. If your plants don’t do too well under the scorching sun, then you can consider installing a shade net, which cuts off the amount of sunlight hitting the plants. And not only the sun, even the rain too. In terrace garden you can control the amount of sunlight each plant gets by simply placing them in the direction of the sun. also one can easily make a plant cage where plants can be kept and it can be covered with a shade net.WaterIn order to setup a terrace garden one should ensure a good supply of water for the plants. This can be achieved by taps installed at the terrace or by directly drawing the water from the water tanks. Terrace gardening gives an exclusive opportunity to a gardener to indulge in roof water harvesting this can be done by making a simple rain watering harvesting model at the terrace in under a 1000 rupees. This will ensure using the rainwater as source of water for the plant and will also lessen the load over your water bill.RAINWATER HARVESTING MODELUNDERSTANDING GARDEN SOILGarden soil is one of the key ingredients of your terrace garden. Having a well nourished and loose soil works with almost every plant.One of the basic constraints in terrace gardening is that all the gardening is done in containers with limited soil. The plants are not able to spread their roots as the do naturally. Healthy soil is the basis of healthy plants and a healthy environment. When garden soil is in good shape there is less need for fertilizers or pesticides.Organic soil is rich in humus, the end result of decaying materials such as leaves, grass clippings and compost. It holds moisture, but drains well. Good organic garden soil is loose and fluffy filled with air that plant roots need and it has plenty of minerals essential for vigorous plant growth. It is alive with living organisms from earthworms to fungi and bacteria that help maintain the quality of the soil.AirJust like humans, plants need air, both above ground for photosynthesis and in the soil as well.Good soil provides just the right space between its particles to hold air that plants will use. These dense soils have little air. Sandy soils have the opposite problem; their particles are too big and spaced out. The excessive amount of air in sandy soil leads to rapid decomposition of organic matter.Adding organic matter, especially compost, will help balance the air supply (the perfect soil is about 25% air). Also, try not to step in the beds or use heavy equipment that can compact the soil. Avoid working the soil if it is very wet. WaterAll forms of life, including plants and soil organisms, need water, but not too much or too little. Healthy soil should be about 25% water.In soils with too much pore space (sandy soils), water quickly drains through and cannot be used by plants. In dense, silt or clay soils, the soil gets waterlogged as all the pore space is filled with water. This will suffocate plant roots and soil organisms.The best soils have both small and large pore spaces. Adding organic matter is the best way to improve the structure of your soil through the formation of aggregates. Additionally, organic matter holds water so that plants can use it when they need it.Organic MatterAdding compost will improve almost any soil. The texture of silty and clay soils, not to mention their nutrient levels, are radically improved from initially having the compost mixed in. All soils get better with annual applications on top. Organic compost can be purchased by the bag or by the yard, or you can make it yourself at home. PREPARING POT SOILThe best pot soil which one can use in the pots on terrace is a mixture of 4 components. Coco coir, peat moss, brown mud and sand. Coco coir helps in retaining water and is very breathable,peat moss is an excellent source of nitrogen for plants, brown mud is an excellent source of potassium and strengthens the soil and sand in the loosens up the soil. All these component should be mixed in equal proportions and the should be added to the pots. Further manure or any other organic fertilizer should be added once a plant is planted.