Start a Refreshing Rooftop Kitchen Garden


Author – Neeraja Sundar

rooftop kitchen garden India
It would be an understatement if we say the state of the environment we live is appalling! With an increasing number of energy inefficient buildings, polluting industries and mountains of garbage, every day we are finding new ways to ruin our surroundings. We have wiped out the trees; we have successfully damaged the ozone layer and we have embarked on a mission to melt the ice caps and create global warming. I am quite confident in our abilities to succeed!

With destruction happening on a massive level on every front, the least we can do is exercise some damage control on a micro level. We can take care of few plants in our houses and nurture trees around our neighborhood. In addition to playing a small role in caring for the environment, these kitchen gardens are aesthetically pleasing as well.

rooftop-kitchen-garden-India2Gardening, however, is not an easy job. We need to put in time, money and effort, but the results would be wonderful. Besides this is our atonement for the atrocities we have committed. In a lazy world powered by technology, these little bouts of physical labor is invigorating!

Few years ago, inspired by a television show, my father planned to set up a rooftop garden. Today, we have pots of all sizes, colors, textures and material. My father is now an avid gardener. He thinks of the plants as his children. And naturally, I spend some quality time with my siblings! Right from changing the top soil, to sprinkling fertilizers to watering them, I have done it all as if one would care for a baby. We have two gardens – one surrounding the building at the floor level and another is at the terrace of our house. Right from flowering plants to climbers to plantain trees, we have it all on our roof.

The key elements of a rooftop kitchen garden are:

  • Selection of suitable plants – The plant should be suitable for the soil you get in your area, climatic conditions of your city, season and what would be beneficial for your home. Among vegetables, tomato and chili are the easiest to grow, while Spider Plant, Anthurium, Syngonium, Caladium are ideal ornamental plants that act like indoor air purifiers as well.
  • Ideal containers for plants – There are cement pots, clay pots, metal paint containers, huge drums and even large jute or plastic sacks. Shallow cement pots are ideal for herbs like coriander, mint, etc., while clay pots are useful for rapidly draining excess water. Plastic ones are becoming popular and they are eco-friendly, since we continue to use them for a long duration.
  • Location for kitchen garden – The place could be a corridor, backyard, balcony, fire escape way, windows, or along the walls. The primary deciding factor is sunlight. We need to select the location based on the amount of sunlight you get in there for the growth of the plant.
  • Additional input for growth – We need to regularly provide organic fertilizers and other nutrients to ensure growth. Sometimes we have to use chemical pesticides to ward off large number of pests, but mostly we go for the natural ones. Ground paste of chilies and garlic are an effective bio-pesticide. It is equally important to maintain a neat garden. Cool soil invites the ant family to settle indefinitely.

kitchen-garden-IndiaRegularly, I make monthly trips to the Agri Horticultural Society Gardens here in Chennai to purchase fertilizers and pesticides. Every Sunday, the whole family spends the morning de-weeding the garden and cleaning the terrace. We use Bhoo Thai, which is an odorless high quality compost made of natural compostable material and microorganisms. It enriches the soil and helps the plants remain healthy.

For creepers and climbers, we have raised supports in the form of iron rods as well as the huge dried stems of the coconut trees. Metallic ropes crisscross the supports. Often the strong-willed tendrils refuse to conform to our ways and clutch other plants and grow in their own fashion.

According to the Hindu tradition, a Tulsi or basil plant adorns every house. Apart from its use for divine purposes, the Tulsi plant wards off mosquitoes and pests and its leaves can cure snake bites, fevers and colds. Tulsi purifies the air as well. We have two varieties: Sri Tulasi has light green leaves, while Krishna Tulasi has dark green leaves. We also have thyme; another remedy for cold.

rooftop kitchen garden India - compostWe recently harvested two huge ash-gourds weighing five and seven kilos respectively. Our garden provide us a variety of organic food ingredients such as drumsticks, beans, snake gourds, bitter gourds, ridge gourds, pumpkins, spinach, guavas, pomegranates, hibiscus, jasmine, roses and many more. Within two years’ time, we hope to pluck delicious organic ripe mangoes as well!

The added benefit of a rooftop kitchen garden is that it cools the house considerably. During the scorching Indian summer, our plants on the roof bring down the temperature a notch. The breezy evenings will be enjoyed in the company of the freshly watered plants and the aroma of damp soil. So, start a rooftop garden today and get reacquainted with nature and fresh air.

Featured Image Courtesy –

As a lover of literature who is passionate about books, writing is my forte. I am a Chennai girl who loves sketching and music. Armed with the pen, I am ready to leap into the world of creativity.


  1. hi Neeraja,
    My self Rajesh Goel Residents in Rewari Hayana. i want to start a organic kitchen garden on roof but i don’t know how to start it and where from i purchased the seeds or plants as well as other things which uses in it. Please give me suggestions how can i start it.
    Thanks & Regards.

    • Thank you very much for your enquiry. We are happy to see your interest in organic kitchen garden. please check our green directory to buy seeds from retailers. Begin by visiting a nearby plant nursery in your town to understand soil and composting needs for your home. Choose a few plants like tomato, chilli, coriander, etc. to begin planting. if you need further info, we will put you across to our consultant.

  2. Hi Neeraja

    I am Srinibas, retired Senior Executive from BSNL and staying at Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
    I want to start a kitchen garden on my rooftop.
    Kindly guide me and if possible give a contact detail of a consultant.

    • Hi , I am Suvendu Panda from Bhubaneswar. We can discuss and understand the requirement.
      Hope we can convert your terrace into a vegetable garden with minimum hastle.
      Suvendu Panda

  3. Dear neerja, great you read your article on the subject. I am a professor of international relations in lucknow. I have enough space around 2000 sf on my roof. I have deep interest in gardening. How can I start my roof garden. Kindly help me in this regard. Prof. Ripu

    • Thank you for reading the article.
      The first step is to go to a nursery nearby and purchase flower pots and soil. You can try planting the seeds of tomato, balsam, chilly or Tulasi. They grow rather easily. Water them regularly – either early in the morning or in the evening. Once in two weeks gently dig up the top soil so that it does not become mossy. Deweeding the garden is necessary to nurture the plant which you want.
      You can keep aside a pot filled with soil but without any seeds to regularly add vegetable waste and generate humus and natural compost.

    • Dear Arun,
      Thank you very much for your appreciation. please go ahead using our photos but provide our web link to indicate the source

  4. Yes, This is a great idea to go with eco-friendly and can keep our home always cool during the summer. I am doing the same type of Garden in my ground with vegie waste and they are growing good & we regularly using them.

    I have planted Murunga,Mint,tulsi,Banana,Dahlia,Avocado,Manathakkali Keerai/ Solanum nigrum, Karpooravalli,Spinach and Onions (Small/Big)

    • Hi Mr. Manimaran,
      Thank you very much for your appreciation. I request you to send some pictures of your garden that we can display on our social media

  5. Thank you. keep helping us This was a great web site, made very well! my project here: visit my site

  6. I am from Bhubaneswar and at Delhi today up to 4 pm. My flight back to Bhubaneswar is at 5.30 PM. Can I see some developed roof top Kitchen Garden, at Delhi,now,developed under ur guidance ? I am ready to move now.

  7. Thanks for sharing the ideas about setting up a rooftop garden and I really start doing it under your guidance.


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