these are hard times for most families, especially as the country’s economic condition continues to nosedive, a situation that has forced many homes to cut down on their expenses, while others struggle daily to meet up with financial obligations.
However, Nigeria is not an exception to the global economic meltdown, as even the biggest economies in the world have been at the receiving end of economic recession. However, hard as things might seem, one of the most effective means for families to survive the onslaught that is threatening their existence and togetherness is to invest in backyard farming. It has been said that nothing tastes better than vegetables and fruits from your own backyard.
There’s nothing wrong with buying food from a grocery store. However, if one really craves the freshest, nothing beats locally grown. The farmer’s market is a great choice, but there are also benefits to growing your own.
Growing one’s food to feed the family does not cost much. It comes with the plus of improved health conditions. Apart from the health benefits, one is assured of the source of what is being consumed.
A former governor in Oyo State buttressed this when he said in a recent interview that he had not been buying vegetables from the market, but had been cultivating it from his backyard farm.
Experts have also said that instead of opting for packaged alternatives, consuming foods fresh as they are harvested can help kids — and adults — stay healthy.
Starting backyard farming
Doing a little research on the size of the garden and when to start growing is the first step. It is essential to get rid of the sod covering the area one plans to use for farming. For quick results, it is better to dig it out, but it’s easier to smother it with newspaper. A layer of five sheets is usually thick enough but it could be doubled if the lawn is Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass. Growing food can often save one money.
There are, of course, initial startup costs. Depending on the space, one may need to buy pots, compost, soil, seeds, and materials. However, when one starts to reap the rewards of the work, it can significantly cut down on grocery store costs.
Benefits of backyard gardening
According to Dr (Mrs) Bukola Fato, an agriculture extensionist, at the Federal College of Agriculture, Ibadan, Oyo State, the big difference between a backyard garden tomato and that got from the grocery store through back or market is the taste. Tomatoes gain most of their flavour as they ripen on the vine. “When you consider the distance these tomatoes have travelled and how they have managed to preserve them to make them look fresh, you would know that growing your own food, especially vegetables, are very important to one’s health.”
Farmers that provide tomatoes for grocery stores usually pick tomatoes while they are still green, which means the tomatoes ripen off the vine. It’s true for most produce that the closer to the source, the better it’s going to taste.
There are also physical benefits when it comes to gardening. For example, appropriate exposure to sunlight has health benefits. Shoveling, weeding, digging, planting, harvesting are also a good workout for whoever wants to start. With a big enough garden, it may even be able to replace the entire workout routine — at least in the spring.
According to Dr Fato “This idea started many years ago and it has never stopped, except for some people who feel they are too busy to have a little backyard garden that can provide them what they could have gone out of their ways to get. In those days, when we were growing up, our fathers in the villages fed us with fresh tomatoes and vegetables and even fowls that they got from their farms. But now, things have changed. People are losing a lot of benefits that come with these things. They feel it would cost them a lot of money to have a backyard garden, but I can tell you that you don’t need more than a N100 vegetable seeds to start. If you are the type that likes fresh tomatoes, you can buy the seed, weed the ground and start planting. In less than no time, you will begin to enjoy the benefit.
“For me, I am very careful about what I eat. Having a vegetable garden at the back of the house comes with a very low cost. With a seed of N100, the family can begin to plant and harvest anytime of the year. “If you want tomatoes or vegetable garden. You don’t have to go the market to waste money on what you can harvest at the back of your house. It also saves you money and stress. Even when you keep livestock at home, it is very cheap to keep these things at home, but many people don’t know. But let me also shock you with this fact: many people are beginning to think about farming. It may not necessarily be mechanised farming. You could choose organic farming that would not cost you much and you would get health benefits as well.
“In my own case as an agriculture expert, I can wake up at 8:00 p.m. and go to my garden to harvest fresh vegetables. I love to eat fresh vegetables and I don’t have to have to visit the market before eating what I feel like eating.
“Nobody will tell you that they now have backyard gardens in their houses. In fact, in my church, our pastor has said that he would visit different homes to monitor those who have backyard gardens. The truth is that with the way things are going in this country, nobody will teach us what to do. Everybody is wiser now. If you see anything that will reduce your cost, you will quickly grab it. You don’t need to preach it. If you are the type that looks after your health, you won’t joke with having a backyard garden in your house,” she said.