As we continue to meet housing demand in Kenya, we tend to sacrifice fertile land that could be used for agriculture. Devolution has tried to mitigate urban-rural migration by bringing development resources to the doorstep of rural dwellers. This is evident as you cannot miss a developing apartment as you walk around. The government has restricted development of real estates in coffee growing areas but even with this measure in place, land generally is becoming a scarce resource especially land fertile to sustain agriculture.
In order to keep the land green, urban dwellers are faced with the challenge to do so. Planting flowers in pots, strawberries in troughs and vegetables in sacks has been a way to curb this problem. But how can one go full commercial scale with this kind of solution?
Vertical bags has really hit the market well although it has been there before, what has taken people a storm is the materials used for the bags. It started sometime back with thick, black, polyethylene bags being filled with fertile soil that is mixed with manure and fertilizer. Holes were poked on the side of the bags where seedlings could be planted, watered and they would germinate. Depending on the size of the bag, one would have a good harvest from one bag.
RealIpm consultant Kamotho Ndegwa introduced the net vertical bags to an interested customer who has an eighth of an acre land. The land has 4 houses so there is very little space which got my attention of how he would deploy this method.
Upon further inquiring he said it only takes 10 bags that are filled with fertile soil to represent quarter an acre. Doing the math this could mean it can take 50 of them to have a half an acre. The filling of these bags with soil is no laughing matter. It will entail lots of effort and time but when filled to capacity, it is rewarding.
Plants that do well are spinach, kale, cucumber, and other vegetables. It only takes 3 weeks to see results and it is not labor intensive as compared to planting the same quantity on a quarter acre land for example. This means you use less manpower for the weeding, watering, planting and even harvesting. These bags do consume some considerable amount of water which should sip all the way down to the bag or at least 90% of the bag should have water. Poking the side holes is to confirm how dry the bag is. This should tell you how much water is needed.
Weeding the bags is simple. The one thing I liked about the bags is the simplicity of usage. Digging has never been my cup of tea. I find the bending quite exhausting but now I find it convenient and very practical.