Time for some green therapy

GARDENING

Time for some green therapy

Mala Ashok provides tips on how to turn your balcony into a gorgeous garden.

Perhaps one of the biggest losses that city dwellers feel on moving from large houses to flats or apartments is that of their garden. Not having something green around makes us feel claustrophobic.

If you don’t have a backyard, your balcony can still be home to a gorgeous garden. But before you start enthusiastically rushing to get pots and potting soil, there are some points to bear in mind.

The first thing you do is check your flat association rules to ensure you are allowed to have plants attached to the buildings or railings, or if there are any other limitations.
Plants may not appear to be very heavy, but just bear in mind that soil can be really heavy, particularly when wet. Make sure you determine how much weight your balcony can handle and stay well within that limit.

Obviously after you have your garden in place, the first thing you are going to do is water your plants. Make sure you have a clear path to the balcony from a water source.
Watering your plant is going to necessitate proper drainage. Make sure your water does not seep to the floor below; water from your plants is not going to be welcome on the neighbour’s verandah furniture. Plant saucers placed below pots are ideal but they should be emptied after watering so that your plants are not sitting in water.

Which variety?

The plants you choose will have to be based on the growing conditions in your balcony. Also, if you are on a higher floor, the balcony could be very windy which can dry out and knock over your pots very quickly. Remember that everything you did in your backyard garden you’ll need to do in your balcony except on a smaller scale. For example you’ll need fertilisers and pesticides periodically.

It is after you have thought of all these points that you are ready to design your balcony garden. What plants and pots you choose will depend on how you want to feel in your garden.

Some gardeners want lots of green leaves while others want colourful flowers; yet others want practical plants that yield fruits or vegetables.  Many devout gardeners want tulsi plants, while dhania and methi are perennial favourites.

One point that is often overlooked is the necessity to have a space to store gardening implements and tools.

Gardening is a lot of work and it helps if you have the proper implements. Having a spot in the balcony to store these is important to prevent unsightly tools lying around. Yes, gardening even in a small balcony is not easy; but the effort you put in is well worth it.

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