For the Love of Plants: DIY Tips for Beginner Gardeners Fashion trends
If you’ve created your own little green haven on your balcony, you know its therapeutic benefits. In the hustle and bustle of city life, a few hours spent in nature can be like a spa retreat for your mind and soul. However, growing plants, even on the balcony or indoors, comes with its fair share of challenges, especially for those new to gardening.
So, we spoke to balcony gardening enthusiasts about their teething problems when they first started practicing this hobby, and they assure us it’s not rocket science. But you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty (a little) and be prepared to do some research.
Know your garden space
1. Examine the space your balcony has and the duration and strength of sunlight it receives. Choose the plants to grow based on this. Consider the future space requirements of a factory. It might be a small sapling when you bought it, but will it get too big for your balcony later?
2. Small vegetables, flowers, and herbs work best for balcony spaces – spinach, tomatoes, chili, basil, rosemary, beans are good options for those looking to grow edibles.
3. Maximize your garden space by purchasing hanging planters, ramp planters and planters.
4. Choosing plants that are native to your area can make your life easier because they won’t have a hard time adapting.
FTW cheat sheet!
1. Place plants with similar needs together. For example, plants like pothos, monstera, syngonium, etc. have similar needs, as do the snake plant, aloe vera, peace lily, and the ZZ plant. This way, it will be easier to remember which section of your garden needs how much water.
2. If you are planting seeds, label the pots so that they are easier to remember.
READ | Bloom in blues: Stress-relieving balcony gardens thrive during pandemic
DIY vegetable food
1. Compost your kitchen scraps to get nutritious and inexpensive food for your plant babies. All you have to do is collect all of your food scraps in a compost bin, add soil, and let sit covered for about two months.
2. Soak a handful of onion skins (outer skin only) in a liter of water. Cover and leave in the shade or indoors for 24 hours in summer and 48 hours in winter. Filter the water the next day and use it directly on the soil or as a foliar spray.
3. Banana peels are great for promoting fruit and flower growth. Put the banana peels (whole or chopped) on a large plate and let them dry in the sun. Once they turn black and brittle, crush them or make a fine powder and add them to your soil.
4. Crush the cleaned and dried eggshells and mix them with the earth. It takes several months to decompose and be absorbed by a plant’s roots, so don’t add it very frequently. You can store unused powder in an airtight jar for more than a month.
Pest control DIY: Remember that not all insects are parasites. Good insects, like bees and ladybugs, are also natural predators that kill or drive away unwanted insects. Here are some simple, non-toxic solutions to combat parasites.
1. Mix two teaspoons of neem oil, one teaspoon of mild liquid soap with one quart of water. Shake well, then spray on plants affected by common garden pests.
2. Yellow sticky pads, inexpensive and readily available in stores and online, can be placed around plants to trap flies, aphids, etc. The bright color attracts insects which then adhere to the adhesive and are unable to penetrate your plants.
3. For infestations, make a paste with 500 g each of green peppers, ginger and garlic. Mix it in a liter of water. Keep it in a jar overnight. Spray this mixture on the foliage to kill or drive away the insects.
Plant care for monsoon:
1. Check the drainage of the pots and make sure that the bottom of the pot or planter has a suitable and unblocked hole. Remove the plate from the pot as they trap excess water during monsoon and can cause root rot.
2. Cover your plants most exposed to strong winds and rain, with transparent plastic sheets to protect them.
3. Rearrange your pots so that plants that don’t like water too much, such as succulents, are away from the edge of the balcony. You can even move them indoors to avoid humidity.
4. After a day of heavy showering, tilt the pots to drain excess water.
5. Change the watering schedule during the monsoon. If the plants have enough water, thanks to the rain, you can avoid watering it for a few days
Gardening is a never-ending learning process. Like driving, you have to practice it to learn the skill. What works for one plant may not work for another, so keep learning through observations, experiments and research.
(Contributions from plant geeks and gardening enthusiasts Ann Mathews, Dipti Mudaliar, Pranav Sukhija and Megha Chauhan)
Author’s tweets @LaMissCurious