Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Multi-storey Vegetable Gardens for Food security in Kenya

Multi-storey gardening is an innovative and exciting technology for year round vegetable gardening in Kenya. Multi-storey gardens technology is suitable for urban gardening in Kenya where land for farming has greatly reduced due to urbanization. Gardening is an important human activity in Africa and many parts of the world. Multi-storey gardens refer to bag gardens reputable for utilizing minimal land and water. Multi-storey gardening requires little technical and financial support. These bag gardens are also suitable for dry, non fertile areas where soils are not suitable for conventional gardening, areas with water scarcity.

This micro-gardening concept being a low input activity is ideal for child headed households, elderly headed households and families of people living with HIV/AIDS, where labor and other resources are scarce. Multi-storey gardens technology has been used successfully in Kenya to grow green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, tubers and indigenous vegetables, in the refugee camps with the help of donor agencies. Multi-storey gardens lead to development of self reliance in vegetables for nutrition and food security in the vulnerable households. This gardening technology has also been used in schools all over the world for providing vegetables to school feeding programs and teaching science and nutrition.

Setting up Multi storey Gardens  
Materials required for multi-storey gardening include empty cereal bag or animal feed bag, one empty oil can or 6”PVC pipe with holes, 2buckets small stones, 6 buckets soil, 6 buckets manure, seeds, adequate water to irrigate the bag garden and gardening tools. Follow the procedure below to set up the garden.  
  1. Mix the soil and well decomposed manure thoroughly.
  2. Cut out the bottom of the oil can and make holes on the sides.
  3. Fold back the bag and fill the bottom 15cm with small stones.
  4. Place the can on top of the small stones in the centre of the bag.
  5. Fill the oil can with small stones
  6. Fill the area between the oil can and the bag with the soil-manure mixture up to the can level.
  7. Pull up the can to the level of the soil compost mixture with a tilting motion.
Repeat steps 5, 6 and 7 until the bag is full and a central core of stones is formed leaving the tin at the top of the bag garden. Pour water into the tin through the central core till the soil is soaked.

Watch a Video on the Preparation of Multi-storey Gardens
Sow the vegetable seeds in the nursery at the top of the bag, and water regularly for about 3-4 weeks. Partial shading should be done where the climate is harshly hot. When seedlings are ready for transplanting, make holes on the sides of the bag with a sharpened stick, at a spacing of 30cm from row to row and 23cm from plant to plant in a staggered fashion. Each bag is watered twice daily with 5 litres of water each time for the first 2weeks, then 2-3 times a week. The Water for irrigation is poured into the tin at the top centre of the bag, going down the central core, to the end of the bag irrigating all the plants. Green leafy vegetables grown in a multi storey garden mature within 30 days. 

Harvesting in multi-storey gardens is done 2-3 times a week. Five bag gardens will produce enough vegetables for family consumption and income generation.NB: Similar to the Multi-Storey Gardens, is the Vertical Grow Pipe innovative gardening technology which was introduced during 2010 World Food Day Celebrations at the University of the West Indies. Multi-storey gardening practice is a breakthrough to ensure year round supply of fresh vegetables for dietary diversity and income generation.For more information read http://realimpact.or.ke/pkg_kits.aspx