Urban farmers can reduce the cost of buying vegetables by half by establishing a multistory vegetable garden to plant crops such as kales and spinach in their backyards all year round.
According to a report released by global market research and consulting firm Ipsos Synovate in March last year the high cost of living (35 per cent) and hunger (14 per cent) are some of the most critical issues facing Kenyans besides the rate of unemployment (39.1 per cent).
A survey by Nation Newsplex in 2016 revealed that for every Sh100 spent by a Kenyan, Sh45 goes towards purchasing food and drinks.
A majority of Kenyans in urban areas (56 per cent) buy food from supermarkets compared to 35 per cent who but from kiosks and groceries according to a survey releases by mobile phone pollster Geopoll in 2015.
The materials required to establish a multistory vegetable garden include a one 90kg gunny bag (open both ends), one standard wheelbarrow well decomposed manure, two four liter tin ballast, one meter waste pipe (four inch), one foot piece wastepipe, watering can, 40-60 liters of water, 50-60 seedlings (kales + spinach @1:1 ratio, four to six splits of spring onion) and two kilos of DAP fertilizer (i.e. 40g per plant for 50 plants).
Procedure in establishing multistory vegetable garden
Identify a site; select an area with plenty of morning sunlight and some afternoon shade. This is because most vegetables do well in six to eight hours of full sun exposure.
Assemble all the materials and prepare the site by excavating at most one foot depending on the gradient of the soil. Mix the soil, manure and fertilizer the roll the sack and place the one meter wastepipe upright at the center. Feed the ballast into the wastepipe then spread the soil/manure mixture around the waste pipe and water adequately at every one foot; continue adding the mixture and watering until the bag is filled up.
Remove the wastepipe after ensuring that the soil/manure mixture is well watered. Place the one foot wastepipe piece at the center of the bag so as to guard the ballast at the central core from soil seepage during watering.
Leave the multistory garden overnight to set then water the following day.
Measure 15cm from the top of the multistory garden and make planting holes using stick or knife at spacing of 15cm until the first row is complete. Space subsequent rows at 15cm while alternating the placement of the planting holes so as to obtain a diamond design
Introduce one seedling into each hole while firming the soil around it until the entire multistory garden is planted. In case of multi-cropping, plant half of one side of the MSG with one crop and the other with the second crop type e.g. one side kales and the other side spinach.
Plant more seedlings at the top of the MSG; preferably intercrop with spring onions to aid in repelling pests.
If planting more than one MSG, space the bags at 45 to 60 cm by one meter, depending on available space.
Harvesting commences two months after transplanting and continues for about three to four months. The lower leaves are harvested twice weekly.
One bag can yield up to 30kg of kales/spinach.