I have tried to address some questions which you might have:
What vegetables can be grown?
I think there is no constraint given Bangalore’s weather. We have tried out tomatos, brinjal, chillies, doddipatre, groundnuts, greengram, potatoes, ridge-gourd (hirekai), cucumber, mara thogari (toor dal), ladies-finger, bitter-gourd, capsicum, alasande, avarekayi, dantu (greens) so far. Only our experiment with creepers has not been successful.
How about watering?
I am following the bucket and mug method. Needed about 2 buckets for the 22 pots on a daily basis. Apart from the physical exercise this also ensured that I pay attention to what is happening in the garden.
How about pests?
The major pest has been the white mealy bug which sticks to the underside of leaves. Have tried out the “ginger paste” concoction with some success though not 100%. With the onset of rains I have seen the bugs to reduce significantly. Another thought here is who defines the pests – perhaps we are also the greatest pests from the plants viewpoint!
Don’t you buy vegetables at all?
While we have tried out various varieties, I would’nt say that we are self sufficient. Unless we do this in a sufficient scale and in a kind of factory mode of operations we cannot expect a sustained yield. But then that would defeat the whole purpose of going for organic terrace gardening!
It is interesting to recall what Woody Tasch says in Slow Money
Each head of broccoli that I grow costs me at least ten times what I could purchase an equivalent head for at the supermarket (or a lower multiple of an equivalent head at the health food store). In terms of economic rationality, my time working in the garden is wasted: I am investing thousands of dollars’ worth of time to produce vegetables with a market value of hundreds of dollars.
To a “ground zero” way of thinking, there is no such thing as an “equivalent” head of broccoli available from any purveyor, and what is incalculably valuable is the satisfaction that comes with the good work that is connected to the land. If it is not rooted in respite from good work, leisure becomes as cheap as the cheap food that makes it possible. If it is fresh, organic, and the product of my own nurturing over a few-month period, then broccoli is something more than just a product to be valued in terms of its market price and the market value of my labour.
I attended a workshop on Organic Terrace Gardening early this year at AME foundation by Dr. Viswanath where I got some more ideas on the “box”. So that triggered my experiments with terrace gardening phase 2 which is the subject of another post!