With the recent exponential increase in the price of sundry food items, it has become imperative for more Nigerians to get involved in growing some of the food items they consume. For those in the city who have the challenge of inadequate space, the knowledge and application of home gardening should come in handy at this point in time.
According to the popular Nigerian-born environmentalist, Jonathan Olakunle Olanlokun, home gardening is the practice of planting crops in an area of land/space, individually owned, surrounding a house, and usually planted with vegetables, fruits, leaves, herbs, and medicinal plants.
All you need to start a home garden is selecting a good location for the garden, decent soil, seeds, and nursed plants.
Growing your own food is a healthy way to save money and enjoy fresh garden produce at home. When a garden is done correctly, even the smallest backyard space can produce copious amounts of vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and the farmer spends less on shopping.
It has been reported that some vegetables and fruits that we sometimes buy from the marketplace are prone to have remnant pesticides which can be harmful to health. So a garden can always be a source of fresh produce that is safe to consume.
Gardening activities like soil preparation, planting, removal of weeds, and watering engage most of the body muscles and are very good for exercise. Gardening can also help protect memory as you get older.
Furthermore, it is a mood booster. Studies have found that gardening improves your mood and increases your self-esteem. When people spend time in a garden, their anxiety levels drop and they feel less depressed.
Working in a garden can help you recuperate if you’ve experienced something stressful.
Gardens can help children begin to work independently as they plant seeds or harvest garden produce. It also inculcates in them the practice and power of patience as they wait for seeds to sprout and experience the benefit of delayed gratification as they wait for produce to mature.
In addition to providing nutritious veggies and fruits for your dinner table and beautiful flowers to decorate it, gardening offers a variety of health benefits. These include exposure to vitamin D, decreased dementia risk, mood-boosting, enjoyable aerobic exercise as well as helping to combat loneliness. That is according to www.aarp.org.
Going by the views of SF Gate, “home gardens take on many forms, from a few plants in containers to large garden plots in the backyard. Beyond the reward of homegrown produce, the benefits of gardening as a hobby include health, environmental and enjoyment advantages for the gardener. The benefits of a home garden make the physical exertion and costs of gardening worth the effort”.
Easy Access to Produce
A home garden gives you instant access to fresh produce so that you’re not forced to visit the grocery store or farmers market to find it. You save time and money on gasoline rather than driving somewhere else to buy your produce. Depending on the type of vegetables you plant, you’ll also save money on the food itself.
Growing vegetables at home do cost money on seeds and supplies, such as fertilizer, but a single plant often produces lots of produce, so you often save money by growing your own. A backyard garden opens up new flavoring options or recipes. For example, if you feel like serving salsa but don’t have a jar on hand, you can use tomatoes, peppers, and onions from your garden to make your own.
Among the benefits of gardening for students and kids, the University of Vermont notes that those who grow their own food tend to eat more fresh produce. Having a hand in the production of fruits and vegetables increases the likelihood that kids would grow up getting more interest in farming.
Let us take a look at the creative ways to grow food in small spaces. According to Shelley Frost, container gardens inside and outside allow you to grow food in a small space.
“A small property with little green space doesn’t mean you’re stuck buying your food at the supermarket. With creative and efficient use of the available space, you can grow a large amount of food in a small area. Your small-space garden also requires you to customise the growing area based on your specific landscape to maximise the space.”
Read also: Wrong alarms about Nigeria’s food insecurity
This is one creative way you can go out with your garden up for additional growing space. Vegetables that grow on vines work well for vertical gardening. Plants like peas, squash, pole beans, and cucumbers will grow up a trellis instead of growing out along the ground if trained to climb. Place the trellises and vine vegetables along a wall or fence in the backyard. For smaller vegetable plants, old gutters attached to a wall or fence provide a growing location that doesn’t take up yard space.
Instead of only taking space from your yard, ask neighbors if they want to create a shared garden space along the property lines using some space from both properties. This option works best if at least two neighbors with a shared property line want to participate. Other options include a nearby location for a community garden, a rented garden spot in another location, or a portion of a friend’s garden that you can use for your own food.
Integrated planting beds
Existing planting beds that you use for flowers or shrubs can also provide a spot for growing food. Work in the food plants with the existing plants to maximize the space. The food plants add texture and variety to the planting bed. For example, a blueberry bush features flowers, colorful berries, and colorful leaves at different times of the year, adding to the curb appeal while providing fresh berries. Lettuce leaves add greenery to a planting bed that you can harvest for meals.
Container gardens are often used to grow vegetables in small spaces. Even those living in an apartment can grow a container garden with pots of food plants on the patio. Simple flower pots placed on the ground offer a basic container garden. For a more creative container garden, plant your vegetables in a window box or attach shelves to an exterior wall or fence to hold the flower pots. Herbs grow well indoors if you don’t have room for your container garden outdoors. Place the pots near a window so the plants get enough sunlight to grow properly.
Square foot gardening
If you have a small area of dirt you can convert to a garden, square foot gardening is an efficient way to use the limited space. This gardening method typically uses raised beds divided into a grid to define small growing areas for each type of food you plant. The sections in the grid are typically 1 square foot in size with slats, twine or a similar marker forming the smaller squares. The number of plants to grow in each section depends on the specific plant. For example, a tomato plant is larger and would take an entire section itself, but leaf lettuce can be planted much closer so you can plant several seeds in one section.
Additional information by SF Gate