There are three aspects of life that can turn a human’s life into hell if they are not dealt with properly.
These are shelter (home), food and health services.
Other needs, for example education and leisure, can be handled more easily. In urban areas, once a person has a house to live in, then the next must-have is food to feed the family.
On average, a family of five people in Kampala spends about sh20,000 on food each day. This amounts to about sh4,000 for each of them. Overall, vegetables account for about 40%-50% of the food budget of an urbanite. It is possible to cut on this cost by growing vegetables at home.
Use small spaces
Many urban dwellers find it hard to grow their own food, with the most common excuse being lack of space.
The little available space is usually used to grow flowers. One can turn that ornamental space into one of beauty with vegetables. Whether your yard is large or small, you can enjoy fresh vegetables straight from your garden.
Vegetables are a key component to one’s diet. Among other benefits, vegetables provide potassium, dietary fibre, folic acid and vitamins.
Examples of vegetables one can grow at home include nakati, doodo (amaranthus), sukuma wiki, onions, garlic, cabbage, garden eggs, carrots, lettuce, green pepper and tomatoes.
One can also grow herbs which include mint, rosemary, aloe vera, basil (mujaaja) and lemon grass.
These not only add flavour to one’s meals, but also boost one’s immunity.
Turn flower beds into gardens
“I used to grow flowers in my compound until I realised that you cannot eat flowers. My compound is now covered with vegetables and other crops. The front of the house, measuring just around 20ftx20ft, has tomatoes, sukuma wiki, strawberries, cabbages, spring onions, cauliflower, spinach, basil (mujaaja) and kisubi,” Prof. Diana Nambatya, a gardener says.
The backyard, she says, has a chicken house, three clumps of bananas and mango trees. The production from these innovations is so high that they cannot all be consumed at home. So, they sell them and earn an extra income.
Nakabaale says if you have limited space, consider growing vegetables in plastic bags and flower pots.
These can be readily available from farm inputs dealers.
“Forty bags that can each accommodate one cabbage or tomato cost sh10,000. This means that with just sh10,000, you will have created space for 40 plants,” she says.
Harriet Nakabaale another gardener says if you do not want to buy single planting bags, you can buy larger sack gardens.
“A single sack garden can accommodate as many as 100 plants and it sits on just 3ftx3ft,” she says.
One can also grow vegetables in plastic pipes that can easily be affixed to one’s perimeter wall. These are fairly large water pipes, measuring about four inches wide.
They are sold in most hardware stores at around sh40,000 for every 40ft.
To adopt them for vegetable farming, holes are made into them before they are filled with soil. The seedlings are then planted through the holes. A 40-feet pipe can accommodate as many as 30 plants of strawberry or spinach.
Use old car tyres
An urban home with a car will normally have many used tyres lying around the compound. To use the tyres, cut off the sides, fill them with soil mixed with organic fertiliser and plant whatever you desire.
A tyre for a small car can accommodate about three cabbages or four tomato plants.
How about the roof?
If your house occupies the entirety of your land, then turn the roof into a farm.
“I have done this at my home and suddenly, I have realised how big the space for agriculture I have,” Nambatya, who grows vegetables on the roof of her house, says.
All you need to do is get strong metal bars or pieces of timber, create a base on the roof and then use pieces of flat timber to set up the boxes. Fill the boxes with soil and then plant your vegetables.
It is also fun
Home gardening with vegetables can be colourful, fun and provide delicious and nutritious fresh food to the family.
Urbanites can use home gardening to train their young ones who may not have access to rural areas about agriculture.