Almost 40 per cent of the Kenyan population lives in cities and urban centres. One of the challenges that they face is space. So if you live on a balcony and still want to grow crops and plants, it is doable with these innovative ideas.
These are ideas that you can implement whether you have your own private balcony or it is a shared one. The owners can manage these methods individually as there is little attention is needed.
Vertical means to grow up and some plants naturally grow upwards. Although some like watermelon and pumpkin grow along the ground. These can still be enticed to grow up or climb a trellis (a frame of latticework used as a screen or as a support for climbing plants). With this method, one can save horizontal space to have more room to plant.
This is simply gardening in pots, barrels or anything that can hold dirt. These can fit well on the balcony.
“If you have any potted plants in your house then, then you are already familiar with this method,” says Emma Jebet, who does Kitchen garden techniques in Nairobi.
Container gardening can be helpful if you live in an apartment with limited space and you do not want to do all the work that comes with having a real garden. You can grow your herbs and small plants using this method.
Do you have any sacks or bags lying around? Put to some good use by turning them into a garden.
“You do not have to fill up your balcony with sacks, one or two is enough to grow some vegetables. Just fill it with fertile soil. Create holes on the sides of the sacks to maximise its use,” says Jebet.
Due to their vertical nature, sack gardens are also fairly efficient in terms of water use.
Square foot gardening
This is a method that involves a highly organised raised bed divided into perfect squares, each featuring their own variety of plant. It can be built using timber. One can grow variety of vegetables and herbs using this method.
Since there are no paths, there is no wasted space, and the soil in the bed stays loose because you never step on it, there is also less weeding.
A small hydroponic system could also be the answer to produce own veggies and house plants.
This is a skill of soil-less gardening which is gaining ground as modern farming technique. Instead of soil, enriched nutrient mediums like mineral rich water solution is used.
One can have hydroponics at home at any corner, be it in a balcony or even in a small mason jar, it does not have to be a huge system.
Most of the re-circulating hydroponics systems are closed, this means nutrients and water are re-circulated through a pipe and there is no loss to the ground and the balcony will not be messed up and slippery.