Nothing beats homegrown food, nothing comes close to a hot plate of sukuma wiki plucked from your backyard just minutes before being dipped in a hot sufuria of frying onions, or the aroma of your favourite dish spiced with dhania uprooted from a pot just outside your kitchen window; let’s not even get into the rich flavour of the colourful strawberries growing on your balcony, an arm’s length from where you are entertaining your guests. These are the possibilities of urban farming; here are four things you can grow in your backyard.
Sukuma wiki and spinach feature in most Kenyan dinner tables and both have the same growth requirements since they are from the same family. Both of their seeds need to be grown in a nursery first before being transplanted, they all require heavy nitrogen intake, frequent watering and mature at the same time.
Common varieties of sukuma wiki include the collared variety which has soft leaves and is most favoured by commercial farmers; so it will most likely resemble the sukuma wiki you buy in markets. Alternatively, there is a thousand-headed variety which has a longer production period, bigger leaves, however, the leaves can get hard especially as it gets older. For spinach, try a variety like the Food Hook Giant that is easy to find in agro vets across the country, it produces large leaves if taken care of well. Lifestyle: The Benefits Of Spinach
Dhania is another useful crop that requires very little space to grow and hence a great candidate for backyard or balcony farming. It requires no chemical sprays leaving you free from the worry of having chemical residue around the house, especially for people with young kids or pets.
You can grow dhania in containers or seed trays by sowing the seeds directly into them. The plant takes up to six weeks to mature and thereafter starts flowering. However, throughout the growing season, you can pick out the bigger plants and use them for cooking while the rest grow. Additionally, the plant also acts as a pest repellent due to its strong aroma and thus protects other plants in your garden.
Strawberries are one of the best snacks you can have, and if you are a fan of making health drinks, you’d be pleased to know that they are full of vitamins (antioxidants in particular), manganese, and potassium; they are sodium-free, fat-free cholesterol-free and have low-calorie. You can grow them in plastic bags or containers through cuttings or runners cut from a mature strawberry plant. Once mature, you can harvest from the same plant for up to three years depending on how well you take care of them. A popular variety of strawberries is the Chandler strawberry that takes three months to produce the first fruit.
Garbage is a painful problem that is starting to get increased attention as seems to get out of hand in major cities like Mombasa and Nairobi. A 2017 report by the National Environmental Complaints Committee found that 45 % of waste in six major Kenyan towns remains uncollected. However, did you know that you can use worms to turn your organic kitchen waste into fertiliser rather than adding to an already overflowing garbage heap?
The worms used for this process are a special species called Eisenia Fetida or redworms, they have a ferocious appetite and ridiculous reproductive rates (both male and female worms lay eggs, doubling their population every two months). You can culture redworms in a simple worm box or bin in a corner in your house (just ensure there are no ants around). The ability to maintain the worms sorely from your kitchen’s organic refuse makes vermicomposting one of the easiest ventures to get into.
The worms eat the waste and turn it into a rich fertiliser with beneficial nutrients and bacteria that benefit plants, a by-product that you can use on your sukuma wiki, strawberries or dhania. Alternatively, you can breed and sell the worms to other farmers, currently, Jomo Kenyatta University sells them at Ksh. 2,500 per kilo and there is a waitlist. To learn exactly how you can farm redworms with little space, here is your guide to Vermiculture: The Agribusiness Venture That Doubles Up As A Waste Management System
Is there something you would like to plant in your backyard and you would like more information on? Let us know.
Gabriel is an entrepreneurship enthusiast, with a fondness for questioning the workings of everyday things. He is an entrepreneur, a lover of stories and a member of Rotaract.
He is a freelance writer ( engage me at www.writegarage.com), skilled in crafting engaging content; from fintech to marketing techniques, startup culture, business development, analysis...the list goes on ..the only thing that keeps him up is the fact that anyone can change the world.