Dr. Khusboo Sahu, Department of Vegetable Science 
Dr. Manmohan Singh Bisen, Department of Agricultural Entomology,
 College of Agriculture Raipur (C.G)

During the recent years, there has been a rapid increase in urbanization and industrialization throughout the world, due to which the cultivable land for horticultural crops is also diminishing day-by-day. As a result, the concept of unban and peri-urban horticulture came in to existence. Although, it has become an integral part of several advanced countries, but in India, it has also started expanding because of great desire of urban population for safe food and pollution-free environment. Urban and peri-urban horticulture opportunities are emerging in urban areas as demand for fresh fruits, vegetables are increasing. Roof and terrace gardening is finding now place to get fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers, and also for environmental services.

What is Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture?
Growing of horticultural crops in towns and cities is called as urban horticulture whereas growing of horticultural crops on the periphery of towns and cities is called as peri-urban horticulture. In urban areas, horticultural activities are primarily restricted to kitchen gardening, landscape gardening, roof gardening, terrace gardening whereas in pre-urban localities, large scale cultivation of fruits, vegetables and flowers can be adopted.

Some important components of urban and peri-urban horticulture-

1. Roof gardening
In big towns and cities, availability of cultivable land is a big problem. Roof garden is one of popular alternatives in urban areas, because of the limited available space in the grounds of a house. In roof garden, potted plants like cacti and succulents, chrysanthemums, tomato, brinjal, chillies and leafy vegetables can also be grown. With main tubs and boxes, smaller pots and boxes can be arranged along with hanging basket, which will further aid in the beauty of roof garden.

2. Kitchen gardening
Kitchen gardening is growing of fruits, vegetables or ornamentals on a piece of land near to your kitchen. Basically kitchen gardening is done for the consumption of your own family and not for commercial purposes. A well maintained kitchen garden can provide fruits, vegetables and cut flowers throughout the year.Near the wall of house, some trailing type bean should be grown and to meet the demands of your family.

3. Terrace gardening
Terrace gardening refers to growing of horticultural crops in an area, which is in the immediate vicinity of a building or of your house. It involves land raising and construction of steps, ramps, walls and paved paths as well as planting of lawn grasses and other plants. Such gardens are mainly for relaxation; hence all arrangements should be made in a way to provide both sunny and shady areas in the terrace garden and must offer a fine year-round view of the entire garden.

4. Landscape gardening
In the recent years, landscape gardening as emerged as one of the finest components in beautification of towns and cities. It includes growing and utilization of garden flowers, turf grass, bedding plants, potted plants, hedges, edges, water garden, rock garden etc. Landscape gardening has made appreciable growth in the last two decades as commercial venture. Floriculture has now become as an integral part of modern lifestyle and floral products are being utilized in floral decorations, floral craft, and beautifying commercial premises.

5. Bonsai a challenge for Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture
Bonsai is a Japanese art of growing huge trees in containers under controlled nutrition. Bonsai of banyan tree an integral part of UPH in countries like India. In India, trees like banyan, peepal (Ficus religiosa), pilkhan (Ficus infectoria), maple, juniper are well suited to bonsai.

6. Window gardens
Window gardens need of the hour In window gardening, plants are grown in containers, which are attached to house or window. The best suited plants for window gardening are seasonal annuals, petunias, pansies and miniature roses.

7. Living walls
Living walls an important consideration in UH Living walls are nothing but walls covered with living plants. They are also referred to as vertical gardens. Usually climbers are used for creating living walls.

8. Hanging baskets
An integral part of UH Hanging baskets with training of cascading plants are suited for indoors as well as outdoors. Such baskets can be hanged at the entrance of the house or can be kept in the lawn or in a hall or can be suspended from trees, electric poles or fences. Plants like petunias, salvia, pansies and geranium are suitable for hanging baskets.

Water management in Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture
We have always witnessed hue and cry for drinking water especially during summer in big towns and cities in India. People strive hard for getting drinking water. Hence, growing of horticultural crops in UPH with meager amount of irrigation water poses a great problem to the grower. Hence, growers are forced to use untreated waste water for irrigation. Another reason for using such type of water is that farmers find it cheaper than pumping ground water to irrigate crops. However, re-use of wastewater for irrigation is likely to be most prevalent in areas where water from other sources is scarce for part or all of the year. High content of nutrients in wastewater, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, which can increase the productivity of farming provides another strong incentive for re-use of such water.

Benefits of urban and peri-urban horticulture (UPH)
  • UPH can contribute in increasing food and nutritional security.
  • No problem of marketing of the produce as it can easily be sold in a local market even at higher rates.
  • People having little or no land can adopt part-time farming of vegetables by use of hydroponics or substrate culture in beds, which provides food and income.
  • UPH enhances the freshness of perishable fruits and vegetables reaching urban consumers, because crops are produced in close proximity to the consumers, which does not travel long distance. In urban horticulture, women can combine food production activity with child care and other household responsibilities.
  • There is significant reduction in post harvest losses as the fresh produce is sold in the market immediately.

Challenges in Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture
  • Greater competition for natural resources like soil and water.
  • There is a greater risk to health and environment due to inappropriate or excessive use of pesticides, nitrogen, phosphorus, raw organic matter containing undesireable residues such as heavy metals.
  • Chances of air pollution are more in UPH due to production of carbon dioxide and methane from organic matter, ammonia, nitrous oxide and nitrogen oxide from nitrates.
  • For the viability of UPH, availability of sufficient and good land is must, which will become a limiting factor due to increased urbanization.