When James Humbe Chibita bought a plot of land on the highway of Kira- Bulindo road in 2007, he never thought his compound would one day work as a garden and save him when he hit dire straits.
Chibita lost his job at Kololo Senior Secondary School, where he was working as a gate-man.
He then used his courtyard to plant bananas. Though he had food to feed his family members, Chibita did not know where his next salary would come from.
In 2008, he visited a friend’s home in Nakifuma and his eyes beheld every kind of flower.
Curious, he inquired of his friend how he gained from it.
“I sell these flowers,” his friend responded.
Chibita took note and decided to try out something similar.
He quickly learnt the basics of backyard gardening so that he could be able to start a business.
At first, his wife thought they should leave the banana garden intact since they had been feeding from it and selling the surplus.
The couple struck a compromise and decided to uproot most of the banana suckers to free up the rest of the land for backyard farming.
Chibita borrowed sh2m and bought different species of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Within no time, his flower garden was up and running, giving him an income.
The prices of his flowers range between sh3,000 and sh15,000 for every plant. On a good day, Chibita earns sh200,000 from the garden while on a bad day, he gets sh30,000.
Apart from beautifying his home, the garden has helped sustain Chibita’s family.
He explains that the garden has provided school fees for his children. The eldest son is studying a bachelor of laws at Makerere University.
The second born is in Senior Three, the third born is in P7 while the youngest is in nursery school. The garden also enabled Chibita to buy a bicycle.
“I bought it at sh350,000,” he says.
“It has been very helpful, especially in this time where transport fares are high,” he says.
Using proceeds from his garden, Chibita also started making concrete buckets, and each cost sh50,000. These, too, have become another source of income for the family.
Chibita employs two workers whom he pays sh100,000 per month.
Steven Ssuna, one of the employees, says the most selling plant in their garden is the palm tree.
“A week never passes without us selling it,” he says.
Ssuna thinks people take it because they want to give their homes a beach-like look. Others include rubber plant, ugenia plant, cypress and roses. In addition to that, most people like to take some fruits like mangoes and oranges to their homes.
A vibrant garden needs water in the dry season, a challenge Chibita has been working to solve.
“Our bill sometimes shoots up to sh300,000 per month because we have to water the plants every morning and evening,” Chibita says, adding that he tried to drill a borehole, but failed because it is too expensive.
Chibita advises would-be gardeners to add fertilisers to their soils to get good plants.
“Manure helps the plants to be healthy and grow well,” he says.
The soil should be mixed with cow or chicken dung, add decomposed organic foods and sawdust to make good fertilisers.
Although Chibita buys some seedlings, he has the ability to multiply them.
He gets the branches or seeds of some plants and puts them in a nursery bed, whose soil is mixed with fertilisers.
“I then transplant each seedling from the nursery bed into polythene bags for customers,” he reveals.
Chibita says he changes the size of the polythene bags at each stage of the plant.
How to set up the garden
- Prepare the place where the flowers are going to be.
- Decide whether it is going to be in plain soil or in a vessel like a pot or a bucket.
- Get soil and mix it with the fertilisers.
- Get your plants and place them in the prepared place.
- Make sure you water them every day.
- Weed and prune them when they have started maturing so that they grow better.
Yudaya Nabweteme, Chibita’s wife advises those who do not have plants in their compounds to get interested.
This is because the flowers beautify the home and also one is able to easily access fruits like oranges and mangoes.
Chibita advises those who want to start small gardens in their home to start with one plant and see what changes they will have.
Later, they can add on others as they gradually learn to take care of them.