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Modern Urban Gardening in Kenya


Date Posted: 9/15/2020 11:29:49 PM

Posted By: Collegiate  Membership Level: Gold  Total Points: 2488

With the possibility of ever finding ourselves with too much extra time in our hands, it's good for one to learn several skills and improve on others. Finding a passion for urban gardening is one of the many skills one could learn. Over the months when the world ground to a mythical halt, I have been improving my urban gardening skills.

The cost of living has risen and incomes have reduced or at worst disappeared. Much pressure has been brought to various families. Some even to the brink of collapse and others having to send their loved ones to their rural homes to cut their living expenses. With small scale gardening (micro gardening as the Ministry of Agriculture calls it) one can ease the burden albeit not on a massive level. It also has some therapeutic way of telling the mind all is going to be well (though not guaranteed, sorry) as you watch the veggies and other plants grow.

Many of us live in urban areas that have limited spaces. Nairobi as with other rapidly growing towns and cities are becoming a concrete jungle. The land is been most valued for real estate which unfortunately has been riddled with corruption hence poor urban planning. If one is lucky enough to have a private balcony or a spot where the neighbors and unpleasant factors won't mess with your garden, that will do. Finding a suitable, place is as important as the project. You don't want neighbors or strangers to harvest the fruits of your mini labor or passion. Next, you are going to need soil and pots. Soil is abundant and mostly free. You can opt to buy red soil which is viewed as more fertile, beautiful and is commonly sold on the outskirts of the cities.

For pots uses plastics (PET and

HDPE) as I do. If you have exhausted your 3- or 5-liters cooking oil bottles don't throw them away. Cut them properly in a manner that will enable you to plant something in them after putting the soil. But before putting the soil wash them, you don't want some remaining cooking oil to mix with your soil. Drill a few holes with a nail with clear spacing to let excess water drain while watering. Disposable water bottles mostly the 5-liters ones also do the trick. I have upcycled over 30 of them into my urban garden. I am lucky to have a sizeable space for them. As one way of fixing the pollution problem, upcycling helps to control plastic bottle pollution. Here in Kenya recycling isn't advanced and most of the waste produced in thousands of tonnes end up in rivers, landfills, or the open field generally. They cause flooding when they block the storm drainage pipeline. If you have the soil in the upcycled plastics you are ready to go.

After setting up the basics you have to decide what is easy and cheap to grow. I find spring onions the easiest of them all. You don't need seeds. Just the spring onions. Go to your nearest grocer or open-air market buy them and try them in one or two plastic pots. They sprout within 2 weeks at most. and in my case, I pluck the leaves when I Need them leaving the plant to reproduce once again. Having several spring onion plants will enable you to harvest them all month long. The 5-liters water bottle when cut in half can hold up to four spring onion plants (talking of my case). When cut horizontally, they can hold up to six plants. Other plants to consider are bell pepper, spinach, kale, Managu, Terere, ginger, and coriander. Of them all, I only bought spinach and kale seedlings from a nursery and coriander seeds from an agro vet. The rest I regrew them.

The good this about urban gardening you don’t have to spend money buying fertilizer. Make simple compost manure for the plants by using kitchen waste such as kale or cabbage stalks, peels of bananas, potatoes, and avocados. Just place them in the plastic pots with the plants and let them rot. You can also use the peels of bananas to make liquid compost manure. Put them in a plastic bottle, add water, and let it stay for 24 hours. Use it the following day. It will enrich the soil to some extent as is it rich is several nutrients useful to the plants. Pests and diseases might be a problem, especially with the leafy greens. In my case, I use urine from rabbits. Yes, you heard it. I buy the urine collected from rabbits and spray them on my leafy greens and it does the trick. It repels most pests and also assists in fertilizing the plants. Use it in moderation. Probably twice every week. It is cheap if you know where to find it as it is normally poured away. So far, I can proudly say I am an organic urban subsistence farmer.

It is therapeutic to water the plants and watch them grow at their own pace. Such patience is needed in our daily hectic life in our towns or cities and more so with the uncertainty brought about by this pandemic. Eating what you have grown is fulfilling too. Doing this type of gardening also helps in saving on a few coins that would have been used to buy the supplies for the groceries. It is a cost-cutting measure for the young urban family. Go ahead and give it a shot.

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