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Rooftop gardening

Dawn Gibson
Monday, February 24, 2014

IT may seem a little difficult at first, but it replaces constant digging in your garden with simply climbing a ladder to put pot plants on your roof.

And I have been assured by Toorak's very own rooftop gardener Darshan Singh Ram Rai Pur that if he can do it at the age of 68, anyone can.

"The first thing you have to do is to paint the roof with anti-rust because your roof is bound to rust after a while," Mr Singh said.

"Then you have to invest in some pot plants and some good soil — don't settle for the hopeless soil — you'll know it's good if it's very black."

The lifetime gardener said places which generally had good soil are Wainibuku and Tamavua.

"And when looking for pot plants, try first using stuff around your house — old containers, old TV sets — just open them up and put your soil inside them, they're light and spacious.

"To begin, put your seeds in one container first before planting them individually and let them grow for about three weeks before pulling them out and placing them in individual containers to grow."

He said it was important to pay close attention to the weather when judging how much water to use or what type of foods to plant.

"If it's like it is now — very hot — put water in the plants first thing in the morning about 6.30am or 7am and do it again in the afternoon, but don't put too much because the plants are still young.

"In general, the plants that grow well throughout are long bean, okra, dhania (coriander), spring onion and lettuce. If you want to plant English cabbage, it's best to do so when the months are cooler, like in May or June."

Mr Singh said it was just as important to keep the rooftop clean.

"Try every two months or so to shift the pot plants around a bit because you don't want the rooftop to start rusting.

"And you have to constantly wash the roof because there'll be a lot of soil up there."

On average, he says it's good to spend about two or three hours daily tending to your rooftop garden — depending on its size of course, if you're just starting, it probably won't require quite as much time.

"Anyone can have a rooftop garden, you just have to make the time, don't wait and wait, just go out there and start one."

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