The Truth About Organic Gardening

You have heard about our organic terrace garden. You know all the exciting projects that came out of it and the fun we had building it. Don’t forget the good harvest we had over the past year. However, not everything is always smooth sailing as one might mistakenly assume. We do have our share of pesky problems and that is what this post is about. I write this post in the hope that it may help you understand the other side of terrace gardening in case you are planning to embark on the journey.


Shade net issues

It was been barely 3 months since we installed the new shade-net in 2020 when bad news struck in the form of monsoon winds. In mid April we had pretty huge winds and rain that blew up a bunch of my electronics. But it also ravaged the shade net setup. Some of the wooden pillars fell down. The nails and clamps that were supposed to keep them upright gave way. Such was the ferocity of the winds.


Nails came off, clamp fell out and the pillar dropped dead on the terrace

This did not happen once or twice. In the ensuing 3 months things fell apart a good 4 or 5 times. Each time we had to put pillars up. Clamp them back and hammer more nails. At some places we had to tie the pillars to the nearby terrace railing.


We tied some pillars to the terrace railing

In addition, as you might expect the shade-net tore is various places several times. Each time we would tie them back (leaving the torn holes). Putting up new shade-net after each monsoon wind will turn out to be quite expensive and time consuming.


In some places the top shade net tore apart

At other places the shade-net around the garden tore open

The rodent visit

We generally leave a bunch of tools and bags under some shade on the terrace. So it seems like some friendly rodents decided to call the cozy dark spaces their home. We came to know of their existence when they left their mark on one of the grow bags.


Rats ate up the grow bags, dug up the mud and made a nest inside

We immediately checked all bags and cleaned up things. Chased all the rats we could find. Some ran down through some holes. Some jumped off the terrace. Then we plugged all the holes that we suspected could be accessed by the rats. We have a wash basin on the terrace which has a pipe connecting to the drain. The rats chewed it completely and that is how we think they came up.


Wash basin pipe is closed and off limits for the rats

Just to be safe, we even closed the rain water drain pipe. It is unlikely that they are crawling in from there, but just in case. But this means that we have to unplug the hole every time it rains. Otherwise the terrace will get flooded and water will seep into the house from the door in the terrace. And it was raining quite frequently in Bangalore. So every time it started raining we have to run up to the terrace and unplug the holes.


Rain water drain pipes are plugged with some wood

This hide-and-seek with the rats went on for a few weeks. Every morning we would inspect the bags, unplug the drain holes and scare the rats from those bags. In all there were probably some 5 or 6 rats, but took us some time to flush them out completely. Thankfully now they are all gone. We removed the plugs from rain water drains, but left the wash basin drain pipe closed.


The bugs

Beyond this, we have the usual bug infestation. Every gardener has had to deal with them :). Most evenings we would spend an hour or so spraying neem oil on the plants to get rid of bugs. The biggest attackers were Aphids. They would multiply uncontrollably if not take care of. They stick very hard onto the leaves, stem and fruit. We use a very strong spray to get rid of them. They keep coming back and thanks to them ants get attracted and they cause some other damage.


Aphids attacking beans

Of course there are other kinds of bugs too like Mealybugs and such.


Mealybugs

Some bug

More bugs

Most of the bugs attach at the bottom of the leaves. So it takes a lot of time to check the underside of every leaf of every plant and spray there.


Conclusion

None of these issues were disastrous or hard to handle, but just be aware of what can go wrong. They are common issues faced by farmers everyday. For us it is something new. The harvest was still good though.


June 2020 harvest


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