Discover the Best Terrace Gardening Tips

16 March, 2021
Get ready to start growing plants on your terrace! Here, you’ll find the best terrace gardening tips that’ll help you grow your own food.

More and more people are opting for terrace gardening.

However, a number of mistakes are usually made when we get started with these gardens. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid some of them if you’re a beginner.

In this article, we’ll share a few tips that will help you succeed and feel the joy of growing your own food.

People assume that they can succeed at gardening simply by watering the plants, fertilizing the soil, and placing the plants in sunny places. But these basic ideas don’t always work. There are some additional factors you need to take into account.

10 tips to help you succeed at terrace gardening

You might want to start buying pots, soil, and seeds and getting down to work! But have some patience. Firstly, think about what you want and can grow, evaluating the available space and its characteristics.

You should also read: How to Use Recycled Glass Bottles to Decorate your Garden

1. Sun

You should choose shade-loving or sun-loving plants depending on the orientation of your terrace. Vegetables, such as garlic, broccoli, zucchini, onion, artichoke, cucumber, tomato, parsley, and beans, need five to six hours of direct sunlight each day.

Meanwhile, chard, celery, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and radish don’t need a lot of light.

In fact, even sun-loving plants in the first growth stage should be covered with bigger plants to prevent the roots from drying out or the first leaves from burning.

If the plants grow upwards, aren’t as lush, or don’t have leaves at the bottom, they need sunlight.

2. Pots

Fast-growing species, such as lettuce, cabbage, and spinach, require six to nine-inch pots. You can place several pots inside a long or square one, four inches apart from each other.

Fruit vegetables, such as tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, or cucumbers, should be planted in 16-to-18 inch-deep pots.

Make sure the pots have draining holes to allow excess water to seep out. Measure the available space on your terrace. Decide how many pots you’re going to place and their size as well.

A vertical garden on a terrace.
Evaluate the space to determine the pots you’ll use on your terrace.

You should read this article: Four Ideas for Transforming an Ordinary Wall into a Vertical Garden

3. Potting soil for terrace gardening

At the bottom of the pots, put an inch of gravel or clay balls that allow proper drainage. On top, water the potting soil, which should be a combination of 40% coconut fiber or rice husk, 30% soil or universal potting soil, and 30% worm castings, compost, or fertilizer.

If possible, also spread a thin layer of mulch over the topping soil. This will give you more nutrients and prevent the water from evaporating quickly.

4. Seeds

The origin of the seeds will determine the quality, the size of the plant, and its disease resistance. Make sure they’re grown locally and organically.

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with seedlings that you can transplant to pots. When you feel more confident, start with seeds.

5. Be careful with the wind when terrace gardening

Very hot winds quickly dry out your plants or your soil’s moisture. In this case, you need to water them more often. If you live near the coast, the sea breeze carries salts that burn leaves, meaning you must protect your plants.

If your terrace is very windy, you can place supports on the pots to reinforce the stems of your plants. You can also place plastic windbreaks that deflect currents or move the pots closer to the walls so that they’re more protected.

6. Sowing

Direct sowing plant species (pea, broad bean, spinach, turnip, carrot, pumpkin, melon, watermelon, pepper, radish, and cucumber) need to be sown in the place where they’re going to grow. This is because they won’t recover if you change their roots.

You can transplant plants that grow very slowly, such as chili pepper, celery, eggplant, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onion, and tomato. This means that you can first sow them in seedbeds and then transplant the seedlings to their final pots.

7. Watering

Another important terrace gardening tip is related to watering. Before you water the plants, check that the soil is dry by inserting a toothpick or tapping the pot gently.

If the noise it makes is dry and clear, it’s time to water the plant again. Remember that you must water the plant frequently and lightly to avoid rotting the roots. You simply need to moisten the soil, not soak it.

The best time of day to do so is at sunrise or sunset. The frequency may vary depending on the sun or the wind. During very hot days or dry winds, you may need to water them once a day.

8. Fertilize the topsoil: one of the best terrace gardening tips

The appearance of yellowish or reddish spots on your plant’s leaves is a sign that it lacks nutrients. The place where they appear (edges, juvenile, or young leaves) indicates the nutrient that it may be lacking.

Add liquid fertilizers to the soil once a month and before each planting. Alternatively, you can add a layer of compost, in a proportion of 5% of the total volume of the pot, once a year.

9. Pests and diseases

Insects such as mites, aphids, caterpillars, and whiteflies are considered pests. Viruses, fungi, or bacteria are considered plant diseases.

Keep a close eye on your plants so you can detect any infection early. Isolate the affected plant so that it doesn’t infect others. If possible, treat it with natural infusions, depending on the pest or disease that’s affecting it.

A sick plant.
Isolate the diseased plant so that it doesn’t infect others. It must receive special care to recover.

10. Harvest

Read up about the ideal state you should harvest each fruit in. Some must be harvested when they’re ripe, while others, such as aubergine or cucumbers when they’re unripe.

In all cases, use scissors or a knife to cut the fruit or vegetable. Pulling it off can damage the stems.

Grow your own plants with these terrace gardening tips

If you have a terrace, take advantage of it to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Urban agriculture benefits the planet as it makes cities greener, helps reduce the carbon footprint, and encourages people to reuse waste.

It’ll change your perspective on the way you eat and add a new task to your daily routine that allows you to connect with nature.

  • Casanovas E. Manual de iniciación al huerto urbano. España: Bauhaus. 2013.
  • Gonzáles Rojas C. Huerto orgánicos urbanos en azoteas, terrazas y patios traseros. Primera edición. Lima: IPES-Promoción del desarrollo sostenible. 2008
  • Sánchez López L. F., Fresno Tejedo E. Pequeño manual de cultivo en azoteas. Gran Canaria: Ecologistas en acción. 2009.