Growing flowers around houses, verandas and other open spaces available in homesteads is normal for both urban and rural areas.
But Jeff Oburu, who opted to grow pumpkin and vine spinach, found it rewarding in including these vegetables among the ornamental plants surrounding his four-cornered house.
Risosa and enderema, as the traditional vegetables are called in Ekegusii, are grown in polythene bags. He has placed the bags outside his house at the eaves.
Although he grew them for beauty, his mother is picking between Sh200 and Sh400 in every two weeks from the sale of the vegetables, which have spread their multiple leaves forming a canopy at the lower edge of the roof.
Enderema is drought tolerant. This makes it survive and remain leafy even on small dry spells in the area. Because of its heavy canopy of leaves, Oburu’s mother found that the only way of trimming the leaves down is by regular picking.
She sells the vegetables at their Kenyenya Market, although some people have found it easy to come into the homestead straight.
“Health complications are sending more people to traditional foods. Endrema is one of them. It grows like a weed alongside the fence. But with much as mom is doing here, it is doing well. It I becoming a cash crop than that ordinary weed on the fence,” Oburu said.
Although they have not harvested any mature pumpkin yet from the vines that are snaking along the eaves of the house, he says the fruits are promising.
But the tender leaves of the pumpkin are their other source of domestic food and they hope to sell the fruits too.
What is surprising is that the vine spinach sprouts more with more harvesting.
Benefits of potting or bagging vegetables are massive.
Irrigating the individual crops requires less water. There is no waste because the water is limited in leaking out since the holes in the bags are limited.
The method also reduces chances of soil-borne diseases like nematodes, which attack tomatoes, passion fruits among other crops. If disease-free soil is used, chances of spreading nematodes attacking the crop are slim.
Not much labour is required in managing a few pots and bags. Weeding can be done by hand and the surrounding area can remain untilled. Individual fertilizer application to the plant also reduces waste.