What do you need to start
Balcony? Ground space? Terrace ? Basically any location which gets at least 2-3 hours or more of direct sunlight. The more the better! A place where you can keep a few containers. The number 1 question asked by newbies – “Will my terrace/balcony be able to hold the weight of pots/plants/containers?” Yes, it will! The average RCC/concrete slab can take huge amounts of weight. Just make sure adequate waterproofing has been done. If your terrace can bear the brunt of a heavy downpour, then you are good to go with an OTG too. For balconies, make sure, you have a water drainage outlet.
Think beyond the pot! For a first time gardener, a container is any object like a pot in any shape/size. And yes, it can be a pot too! Most importantly, it should be able to hold water and soil and other ingredients in the container. There will be a time when you will be scouting for any decent sized object. For example, an oil can, an unused helmet, a vegetable/milk crate, specific types of wood, a good thick UV treated plastic grow bag, 2/5/10 litre or more water bottle/can, used paint buckets (but make absolutely sure all the paint inside is scraped off), PVC drainage pipes. Rice/cement bags can be used, but not more than once. After about 3 months, it starts to disintegrate. And once that happens, the disintegrated pieces mix up in the soil, which makes it very difficult to remove. So try to avoid them.
There was a major discussion about usage of plastic. And the outcome is that, yes, you can use plastic. If you are really scared and have your own inhibitions, stay away from plastic pots. Plastic pots of size 10 or 12 or more should be good enough for a single plant like tomato, chilly, brinjal, capsicum etc. You get pots made out of clay, mud, cement, terracotta etc. These are some of my containers.
Different plants have different sunlight requirements. Some do well in semi shade, some need 3-4 hours of sunlight, some require more and some require less. Seeds sown in a seed tray (or anything similar) don’t need direct sunlight for the first 1-2 weeks. If your plants don’t do too well under the scorching sun, then you can consider installing a shade net, which cuts off the amount of sunlight hitting the plants. And not only the sun, even the rain too.
Do not over water and do not under water. On an average, watering every alternate day is good enough. Monitor your plants and you will notice when they look dried up or not. If you over water, the water that drains out, will take away the nutrients. And of course you are wasting water too!