different varieties of herbs in a 450 square feet terrace garden.

N. Madhubalan
August 29, 2020
Blog - Agriculture / Organic Terrace Garden

Neela Renavikar Panchpor is a Pune-based cost accountant, a professional marathon runner, and a home gardener who grows several varieties of flowering plants, vegetables, fruits, and different varieties of herbs in a 450 square feet terrace garden.

What’s interesting is that she does not use soil or any kind of potting mix to grow her plants. Instead, she uses the compost that she prepares at home, which is a mix of dry leaves, kitchen waste and cow dung.

“A soilless potting mix with dry leaves has higher water retention and better air circulation. Adding kitchen waste and cow dung manure provides nutrition to the growing plant and promotes the growth of earthworms,” says Neela, adding that there are no special techniques involved with soilless farming. All one needs is patience and dedication.

Growing Plants Using Kitchen Waste

Neela’s journey to soilless gardening began 10 years ago.

“I’d always thought of myself as an environmentally conscious person, but there was one problem area — my kitchen. There was so much waste generated there, and I didn’t know what to do about it. So, I approached friends in my apartment society who were practising composting. From them, I learnt how to segregate household waste and I started to prepare compost,” says Neela.

She adds that her friends are the reason why she decided to explore soilless gardening. “They are experienced home-gardeners who have been growing organic fruits and vegetables for many years using this method.”

According to Neela, soilless gardening has three major benefits.It helps eliminate the chances of plants getting affected by soil-borne diseases such as ‘plant fungi’ and ‘root rot’, and prevents the growth of weeds which is widely prevalent in soil. This in turn reduces the need for pesticides and fertilisers. In traditional soil-based farming, a plant spends most of its energy expanding the root system in search of water and nutrition. But, in soilless farming all these are directly available at the roots.

“Each time I successfully grew one plant, it motivated me to experiment more.”

Neela learnt the basics of soilless gardening from the internet. She watched several videos to understand how to create a plant bed, how to water soilless plants, and what sort of fertilizers to use.

Then, she moved on to preparing the compost. For this, she collected dry leaves and put them in a compost bin. She procured fresh cow dung from a local farm in Pune, and it became the starter that she added to the dry leaves.

“For the next few weeks, my family dumped food waste into the compost bin, and the compost was ready in a month. I put it into a discarded bucket and planted cucumber seeds as my first attempt. I watered it in regular intervals, and within 40 days, two cucumbers were ready for harvest. This victory gave me the confidence to grow more vegetables like tomatoes, chillies, and potatoes,” says Neela.

The discarded bucket was a conscious choice to recycle old items, and that has continued till date. Neela grows her plants in old bottles, containers, bags, and baskets, and if she runs out, she approaches her neighbours and scrap dealers

Today her garden has more than 100 containers where she grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. While vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplants and capsicum are grown in bags and buckets. Carrots and spring onions are grown in bottles hanging around the terrace. Cabbage, cauliflower, and other leafy vegetables are in thermocol boxes or scrapped crates. Neela is also growing flowering plants such as periwinkle, and portulaca in hanging bottles.

“Each time I successfully grew one plant, It motivated me to experiment more, and expand the varieties I had. After one year of successfully harvesting from containers, I decided to expand my garden all over the terrace,” says Neela.

At the centre of the terrace, she created a 250 sq ft by 100 sq ft plant bed. This was done by raising a 3 ft four-sided wall using bricks cemented together. This was filled with compost and finally mulched with leaves.On the plant bed, Neela cultivates different varieties of root vegetables and exotic fruits such as dragon fruit, passion fruit, and cherries. Recently, she also harvested sugarcanes.

“I planted a few pieces of the cane fruit into my plant bed, and within seven months, more than six to seven full-grown shoots were ready for harvest. Sugarcane needed more water compared to other plants but no special techniques or nutrients were required. To give myself a challenge, I also grew them in bags,” says Neela.

Earthworms are an integral part of Neela’s garden. They not only promote healthy growth for plants, but they also loosen the soil and make it more porous. To ensure the worms are healthy she ensures to feed them kitchen waste that is not too spicy or oily. Instead, they are fed with bits of fruits and vegetables.

For all her plants, Neela uses only one kind of organic fertiliser — ‘Jeevamrut’.

“This is a traditional Indian recipe that not only promotes the growth of plants but also earthworms. It is prepared by mixing different proportions of cow dung, urine, jaggery, and gram flour,” says Neela.

During her weekly harvest, Neela picks at least one kilo of each fruit and vegetable. Most weeks, she is left with more than what she requires and distributes the extra among neighbours, friends, and family members.

Share your Comments :


Drip water Irrigation poster

poster for our episode 5 is released by roadside romeos...Get Ready for our next Video about * Drip water Irrigation * in terrace garden.

வெங்காயம் பூச்சி கொல்லி...

இது சிறந்த பூச்சி கொல்லி.


Only “small original producer or producer organisation” who market their produce through direct sales as determined by FSSAI will be exempted from the conditions in the notification.

எனது ஆலோசனையின் முடிவு

madhubalan sir நீங்கள் கூறியது போல் செய்ததில் ...........விவசாயியிடமிருந்து இதுபோன்ற செய்தியைக் கேட்டபின்......

சாமாந்தி பூ சாகுபடி

இந்நிலையில் பணம் பற்றாக்குறையால் கடந்த ஒரு மாதமாக பூக்கள் விற்பனை மந்தமாக உள்ளது.

இயற்கை வேளாண்மை

இயற்கை-கரிம வேளாண்மை, சுற்றுச்சூழல் பாதுகாப்பு, பயிா்களின் சுகாதாரம், செயற்கை உரங்களின் பயன்பாட்டைக் குறைத்தல், களை, பூச்சி-நோய் கொல்லிகளைத் தவிா்த்தல்

Simple Technique to make your desi-rose plant to bloom more

Similarly if you want to add nutrients to rose plant it is important that you stir the soil well before adding

சிறு குறு சான்றிதழ் வாங்குவதற்கு எவ்வளவு நிலத்திற்குள் இருக்க வேண்டும்

சிறு விவசாயி சான்று பெற ஒரு ஹெக்டேர் அதாவது 2ஏக்கர் 47 சென்ட் இருக்க வேண்டும். குறு விவசாயி சான்று பெற 0.80.00ஹெக்டர் அதாவது 2.00ஏக்கருக்குள் இருக்க வேண்டும்.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Subscribe Us to get more chance to interact in