Gardening is an excellent way to get physical activity and achieve mental relaxation. Being close to nature brings feeling of happiness and satisfaction. Even just looking at a garden can give you a positive boost. It is equally beneficial to adults and children. It's a great way to spend quality time with young children. Working in a garden, a child can experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life firsthand. Gardening gives children a chance to learn an important life skill, one that is overlooked in standard school curriculums. Gardening is also a great way to teach environmental awareness by exploring the workings of nature. Plus growing greens provides you with delicious ingredients to enjoy your fresh homemade salad!  

Growing fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers in containers:

There is a new emerging trend on creating portable balcony gardens in urban areas. If you have a balcony then with some creative ideas, you can create a small outdoor oasis that is full of natural beauty!. Container gardening is becoming more and more popular as people appreciate the flexibility and extra growing space it provides.

The following fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers will grow well in containers:

Strawberries, Peach Tree, Pear Tree, Orange Tree, Fig Tree, Cherry Tree.

Tomatoes, Baby Cucumbers, Dwarf French beans, Runner beans, Broad beans, Peas, Bell Peppers, Chillies, Spinach, Spring onions, Salad leaves, Herbs, Potatoes, Carrots, Radishes, Beetroot, Ginger.

Roses, Peonies, Petunias, Geranium, Zinnias, Pansies, Tulips, Dianthus, Marigolds, Lavender, Daisies, Dahlia, Orchids, Daffodils. Indoor decorative plants.

For Planting/Potting on you will need:
Good quality Seeds or Seedling
Seed Tray with individual cells and drainage holes
Container with drainage holes ( size 30 to 40cm)
Good quality multipurpose compost
Potting Grit
Liquid fertiliser
Egg Shells (washed and dried)
Epsom Salt
Watering can
Hand Trowel
Bypass Pruner
Support canes
Jute String/Twine
Pair of Gloves
Plastic Mat
Waste bin

You might also need drill machine in case your container doesn't have drilled holes. 
You can buy all these things in gardening section of Homebase or Wilkinson. 

Planting Seeds: (UK)

Period - Early Spring (Start April) (Read seed packet instructions)
  1. Put on a pair of gloves and rework compost between your hands to break any clumps.
  2. Fill seed tray evenly with compost to just below the rim.
  3. In a seed tray make 1cm deep hole with a stick, sow seed and cover the hole gently, water in with a fine rose.
  4. You can cover seed tray with glass or polythene to retain moisture and heat.
  5. Place in a warm spot away from direct sunlight until seeds have germinated (green house or window sill)
  6. Once seeds are germinated remove glass/polythene and keep moist until seedlings are ready for pricking out.

Pricking out and Repotting young plants:

Period - Mid Spring (End April)

Prick out and re-pot seedlings/ young plants only when they are large enough to handle.
Re-pot the plants or tree only during growing season; every Spring. While repotting use fresh compost, reusing soil from year to year can spread infections and insect infestations.  

  1. Put on a pair of gloves and rework compost between your hands to break any clumps.
  2. Place thin layer of grit in the container.
  3. Partly fill the container with compost allowing room for the root ball.
  4. Water the tray and gently take out the seedling by pushing the bottom of the tray. If you are repotting a big plant or dwarf tree, water the soil and gently tap on the sides of the container to loosen it, then very gently tilt it down and carefully remove the tree.
  5. Carefully loosen the roots with your hands to allow the roots to set into the new compost.
  6. If roots look dry then water the roots before re-potting.
  7. Place the plant in the new pot and surround the root ball with fresh compost and gently firm in around the edges.
  8. Water plant well and leave it in sunny position.

Caring for your plants:
  • Place your plant in a position where they get plenty of sunlight and good air circulation. Support canes are great way to provide support to the growing wines/branches and to keep good air circulation. To make a bamboo teepee, push the bamboo sticks in a container in triangle shape distance and tie them on top with jute wine, wind some extra string around the triangle. Gently arrange the vines/branches on the support strings as they grow. 
  • In Summer water every morning using watering can with fine rose. (Proper watering is very crucial, too much water will drown your tree causing root rot and yellowing of lower leaves, too little water will malnourish and dry out your plant, both these conditions will make it hard for your plant to survive.)
  • Feed your plant with liquid fruit and veg fertiliser every two weeks. Crushed egg shells and epsom salt mixed in compost are great fertilisers for veg.
  • Pruning (cutting away damaged or over grown leaves and branches) is a good way to keep your plant free of disease and healthy. If your plant took to cluttered prune it gently to make it tidy and to stop it from becoming overburdened. (less foliage will produce tasteless fruit whereas lot of foliage will produce less fruit)


    Support Teepee


Plants are sensitive to too much or too less sun, wind, water, fertilizer and insecticide - changing position, adjusting quantity of feed and water etc might make a huge difference so experimenting is the key!
Plant when you are in a good mood :)

Precautions and Fixing Problems:

Strawberry Plant - Leaf spots due to fungus.

Tomato Plant -Yellow leaves due to nutritional deficiency

Bean Plant - Dry leaves due to bad weather

Rose Plant -Pests (Greenfly)

Nutritional Deficiency-
If you see droopy or dry leaves, feed and water the plant regularly.

Bugs and Disease-
Just like people, plants are known to feel under the weather now and then. There are many conditions that affect plant health and growth. Plants are susceptible to temperature variations, sensitive to chemicals, sensitive to under or over watering and fertilising, have varying soil/compost and lighting needs, are prey to certain pests and diseases.

Pests Prevention
The best way to maintain a healthy garden is to inspect your garden regularly to detect problems early. The sooner you spot the problem the easier it will be to manage using earth-friendly methods. If you see any pests or any signs of damage due to insects or fungus make and use the natural spray as below:

Natural insecticide - In a spray bottle add lukewarm water, any light cooking oil 3 tbsp, neem oil 1 tbsp, mild dishwashing liquid 1 tsp. Shake and spray on the whole plant. 
Or use this one..

Natural Insecticide

Fungus Prevention
Leaf curl and spots are mostly due to fungus. Fungus need two things to flourish: moisture and poor air circulation, so to prevent fungus water the soil and not the foliage. Water in the early morning so the moisture will evaporate before evening. Leave enough space between your pots for good air circulation. Closely packed foliage should be thinned for the same reason. If you see any signs of fungus, isolate the pot immediately to prevent the fungus from spreading. Remove and discard any leaves that has been affected. At the end of season discard any dead plants and used compost. It is very important to keep the space clean and pressure washer is your best friend! 


Natural Fungicide - In a spray bottle add water, oregano oil 1 tbsp. Shake and spray on the whole plant.

Use mild solution of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), using ½ teaspoon per gallon of water.


Harvest season ranges from midsummer to autumn. This is the prime time of reaping the benefits of your enjoyable hard work! Fruits and vegetables grow and ripen at different times, its a good idea to take your basket everyday and check if any fruits/veg are ready to harvest. Picking vegetables as soon as they are ripe often encourages the plant to produce more. Fruit and vegetables need to be harvested when they are ready to eat, ie when they get bigger, change colour, look shiny and ripe. To pick the fruit/veg, hold the vine/branch, grasp a ripened fruit/veg and gently twist and tug until it comes off.

Children love watching their plants grow, they’ll love to see flowers bloom, bees and butterflies visit, and fruit develop and turn colour. After developing a sense of ownership of their plants, they will especially love harvesting and eating the fruits they grew themselves!  

Have a good growing season and enjoy your garden! 

My Terrace Garden.

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