Urban farming and Indoor gardening

Dr. Y S Bagal
Do you have any knowledge of urban farms? Have you ever considered cultivating food in your own backyard garden or in specialized freezers? One of the biggest issues with environmental (and financial) pollution in the world today is the transportation of food for consumption in cities. You do not generate something in the city that you consume there. Because they can’t see the cow, it was there that kids got the impression that milk comes from a little box. And because they can’t see the source, the water comes from the faucet or the bottle. Have you ever considered the possibility that the apple you’re eating may have travelled hundreds of miles or possibly crossed international borders? A huge petrol, packing, and shipping expense for a fruit. We also lose touch with food and the natural world. Children who are unaware that cashew seeds are the source of nuts and that potatoes grow underground are not uncommon. We don’t cherish what is on our plate when we don’t know where it comes from.
Urban agriculture initiatives use building rooftops to produce vegetables in an effort to increase the amount of green space in urban areas. Urban agriculture is certain to expand and draw public and political attention as urban residents become more conscious of the effects that food production and transportation have on the environment, as well as the source and security of the food they consume. Bringing food production closer is educational in addition to being environmental. However, the issues with growing food in cities often differ from conventional farming due to small size and other limitations.
Urban gardens may be found in a wide range of locations and on a variety of scales, including window ledges, balconies, slabs, vacant lots, school courtyards, public parks, and even unexpected locations like subway tunnels. In any case, it’s crucial to take into account a few factors. When designing a garden, leave space aside not only for planting, but also for storing tools and supplies, and possibly even for compost. For proper growth, vegetables require a lot of light. It is advised that you obtain at least 7 hours, and ideally 11, of sunlight each day. Search for plants that can thrive in the best spot that is currently available because some can tolerate less sunlight. For optimal growth, vegetables also require a lot of water. Make sure there is adequate access to good water in the area. Even cold-adapted plants cannot tolerate extremely brisk winds. If there aren’t any windbreaks on the property already, try to add some by planting shrubs.
Plant cultivation demands commitment. Some plants need more frequent watering and trimming for pest control and upkeep. Some animals, for example, can quickly adapt to any habitat. It’s also important to consider the size of the plant: if left unchecked, a potato plant’s branch might cover the entire balcony.
Roof farming makes use of areas that would not otherwise be used. Green ceilings absorb solar radiation to lower urban heat and absorb precipitation to lower rainwater pressure in sewage systems. More sunshine is good for plants. In raised beds or in pots, roofing can be done. There are many ideas for creating gardens in tiny places on the internet. On the window sill, certain vases can grow delectable spices. You could also generate a few pounds of food in a tiny outdoor space.
Like in the fields, direct planting is the most typical type of planting. It is necessary to prepare the soil, generally by removing the top layer and replacing it with a planting-friendly soil combination. This might not be as easy in urban areas, though. Urban soils are more susceptible to contamination from chemicals or physical detritus. To make sure there are no chemicals, heavy metals, or other contaminants present, it is vital to remove asphalt, concrete, and glass remnants, and to test the soil frequently.
Elevated beds are any beds that are higher than the surrounding ground, whether they are placed directly on the ground or higher. The crucial thing is that they extend as far down as the plant roots, whether they resemble boxes with bottoms and sides or are just sides. Bricks, stone, wood, and concrete blocks are some of the many materials employed. However, considering that bricks and wood might contain harmful compounds and pollute soils, it’s critical to evaluate the material’s origin and safety. Raised beds allow urban farmers to grow food despite contaminated soil and plant on asphalt or concrete without having to undertake costly excavation operations, while being more time-consuming and expensive to produce. They are also a more cost-effective alternative to growing in the ground for short-term gardening.
The containers may, however, be bought ready-made on the market and are frequently smaller and portable. Additionally, urban farmers may create a wide range of potting choices using urban refuse, including milk cartons, tubs, wooden pallets, and more. You must consider the volume, drainage, and material while selecting a type of vessel. The volume must be rooted in the plant, drainage must always be sufficient, and materials must not include hazardous components, especially when utilizing recycled or repurposed containers. Avoid using painted or treated wood, metals, and plastics that include solvents or high density polyethylene (HDPE).
Both the raised beds and the vases can enjoy a system of sub irrigation. It is an irrigation technique also known as infiltration irrigation where water is kept in a reservoir below the plant, which only draws through the roots the quantity it requires. This technique is perfect for regular travelers since it gives plants autonomy for several days or even several weeks. With this approach, pots are already available on the market, and there are several online instructions for building raised beds with irrigation using pipes and hoses. This informational collection may be helpful when you start to comprehend and build the food crop closer to your residence. In addition to bringing life to empty places, it may provide wholesome veggies. There are countless options!
Future of food is foreseen to be collaborative: communities would buy and cultivate food collectively in schemes much like urban farms, and then share this ready-to-eat food among themselves. Planting will be done by one group, while cooking for those who need to work or study will be done by another. Very much like what our predecessors were doing in the Neolithic era. I consider this to be future survival.
(The author is Assistant Professor, School of Agriculture, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara Punjab)