The extra space behind your house can be of great significance if it is well utilized. It can be turned into a kitchen garden, which can yield great returns, especially living in the city, where the prices of vegetables are high. In this article, you will learn all that you need to know about balcony farming.
What is Balcony farming?
Balcony farming is where people use the balcony space in their house to grow some foodstuffs such as kales, tomatoes, pepper, dhania, and many more. Most of the apartments in the urban areas are constructed with balconies.
More importantly, finding a piece of land in urban areas where one can farm is hard. Hence balcony farming is ideally utilizing the extra space on your balcony for something beneficial.
Why Balcony farming?
- Balcony farming utilizes a very small space and produces a large harvest. Sometimes even just a square meter would be enough to grow some crops, depending on the method used. Therefore, you do not need a large compound to be a farmer. The balcony in your rented home will do.
- It allows you to farm your crops without using chemicals. We live in times when many of the products we buy in the market are inorganic. However, when you farm in your balcony space, you are able to take care of your crops organically. For example, when weeds grow, you can simply uproot them without spraying any herbicides.
- It minimizes your monthly food budget. Having some Sukuma wiki or tomatoes growing on your balcony saves you the Ksh 30 or so that you would have spent to buy them elsewhere.
- For farming enthusiasts, finding a space to farm around urban areas is hard. Close to every space available in towns is often used for commercial purposes. However, balcony farming gives you a chance to practice your favorite activity regardless of where reside.
- Balcony farming utilizes minimal resources. With just a few elements such as bags, you can start off your farm in minutes. As compared to conventional land farming, balcony farming hence requires relatively lower capital.
How to do Balcony Farming
- Vertical bags: Here the farmer can get a bag and fill it with soil while planting the crops at the top and on the sides of the bag. It is ideal for vegetables such as kales. It is, however, not suitable for plants that grow tall.
- Crates: Here, the crates are filled with soil and the seeds planted. This kind of farming is ideal for seedlings and other vegetables such as cabbages. It is important to note that space utilization in this depends on the size of the containers used. When you opt to use large crates, you will require a relatively larger space.
- Water pipes: the pipes are cut vertically in half or holes cut along. They are then filled with soil ready for planting. This is a common paradigm used by farmers who need to maximize a small space while maximizing the output. It is also a suitable option for kales, carrots, tubers, and cabbages.
- Buckets and basins: In this you require water buckets, fill them up with soil and plant seeds in them. It is a great way of utilizing old and disposed buckets that are no longer in use. This kind of farming is ideal for such vegetables as tomatoes, carrots, cabbages as well as other indigenous vegetables.
Balcony farming can be used for subsistence purposes. However, it can also be an ideal source of income. A sustainable balcony farm is able to produce enough to even sell to the market.
For example, one can farm coriander (dhania) in their balconies and supply the same at the market. When you plant the plant in 10 buckets, it is possible to harvest much more than you can consume. This gives you a chance to get some income from the plant.
One of the quick and ideal way to benefit from such a plan is to supply the product to the mama mbogas (local vegetable retailers). This is because:
- Your marginal cost for producing the coriander is relatively lower because the input and materials used cost lower than other conventional farming practices.
- You can sell them at a lower price than mama mbogas get from their suppliers. Ideally, the cost factor determines the price at which you can offer them.
- Supplying the product to mama mboga could you a ready market next time you harvest a sizeable amount; thus assuring you of a regular income.
- Ensuring that you grow purely organic products, it gives you leverage by supplying organic produce to the market. It is not easy, especially in urban areas, to get pure organic farm produce.
Balcony farming is one of the many practices that can be adopted to enhance food production and food security. It is accessible, affordable and flexible. With a sizable balcony, one can grow crops regardless of the location. Additionally, it is a better alternative to unemployment. Young people can and should try it out so as to earn a living while at the same time contributing to food security. Also, with the recent push for healthy living, growing organic produce through balcony farming is a great paradigm that will vouch for healthy living. It is important to note that balcony farming should, however, be undertaken with precaution and permission from relevant authorities, including the landlord. In some instances, the rules and regulations within an apartment could hinder you from carrying out the practice.
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Also, it is important to confirm that your balcony can handle the farming elements and equipment. Some balconies are not strong enough to hold a couple of buckets filled with soil. In this case, this could risk the safety of the building and could get you in trouble with the authorities. Some apartments have suitable rooftops that are ideal for such farming; hence such is recommended as well. Nevertheless, balcony farming is not meant for large-scale farming practices. Therefore, keep the production to a sizable limit.