‘ Go and bring some Nkontonmire, Daddy will be coming home soon and he wants to have some Abom for supper.’ Mom said as she peered into the almost empty refrigerator.
Sarah rose up from the kpataa sen (kitchen stool) excitedly and flung open the wooden back door which led into the backyard. She stood and stared at the rewarding sight of a mini-farm a few steps from the doorway. She strode past the plantain trees which strained under the weight of almost ripe plantain bunches. She then stopped to peer at the oranges which were almost yellow and grinned in delight with expectancy. Stooping down not to far from the orange tree, she found the large fan-like leaves of the cocoyam leaves looking almost impatient for picking. It was almost like a river of greenery sprouting everywhere. With expert fingers she quickly picked the leaves and hurried back to help prepare the evening meal.
A fictional story but one which reflects how most urban homes in Accra used to have backyard farms, a key source of providing basic ingredients for cooking. Backyard gardens helps any family to save money whilst also bringing fresh and healthy ingredients to the dinner table.
Read More: How To Start A Vegetable Garden on Yardday.com
I just got fed up one day after visiting the market. Things are getting expensive. I am talking about basic ingredients for making a great meal. Tomatoes which are being imported from Burkina Faso always seem to be getting more expensive. Onions which always gives my gravies extra flavor keeps skyrocketing. As for Kpakposhito, I was almost insulted in Makola for asking the market woman to ‘wo mli’ ( top up). 1 cedi wouldn’t even last two stews.
My solution? To go back to creating my own backyard farm, yes! It wouldn’t be the first time. When I was in Ridge Church School, we were taught how to make vegetable beds and plant vegetables. I was so enthused that I took this idea back home and told my Dad I wanted to plant carrots and lettuce. And I did! It was such a rewarding experience which I now want to bring back.
So I have started my backyard farm. I decided to use an upcycling idea from Pinterest to do this. I definitely didn’t have the muscle or time to dig through the ground which was rocky although having black soil on the surface. The idea was to use old tyres to be the vegetable beds. Brilliant isnt it? I would be recycling old tyres hence saving the environment and of courseeating more cheap and healthier.
The back of my house has quite some empty and fallow space. I could see endless opportunities rising out of this emptiness.
These are the steps I have taken so far to start my backyard garden:
1. I collected one tyre which was lying around in my area. Score 1 for the environment. My friend Ishmael was getting new tyres for his car and generously donated his old ones. (I promised to mention him in my post or else I would get sued ) I laid the ground with black plastic to prevent any weeds from interfering with the plants and then laid a wire mesh on top of that.
2. I then bought paint from Acrilexand painted the tyres.
I had two spray paint cans which was easier to use but finished up in no time. The blue painted tyres took a longer time but I was able to do a more thorough job. I don’t know why the paint stunk like something awful! Maybe because it was a water-based paint. I couldn’t wait to finish painting. Yucky! The red tyres are for tomatoes and yellow for onions. the blue will be for the herbs.
3. The black soil for some weird reason is very expensive. I bought a sack of it for GHC10 and this filled one tyre. 4 more to go.
4. I also got compost to mix with the black soil for soil enrichment. Try the gardener opposite Le Must in Labone. It was 7 cedis for a sack. I will start making some home made compost soon.
5. Thanks to the Ghana Garden & Flower Show I got some cherry tomatoes seedlings and some vegetable seeds from Farmer Torks ( radish, green pepper, white onions, lettuce, parsley and basil) who assured me these weren’t GMO seeds. I made him swear I think.
The cherry tomatoes are doing nicely. I water them early evening and mid-morning whilst giving them some motivation to grow with vim!
At the flower show I also got a Neem concentrate from Skin Gourmet to do preventive insecticide treatment. Neem leaves are highly effective on protecting plants from insects and arepopularly used by Ghanaian farmers.
I wish Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) could be brought back. It was an initiative by the late Colonel Acheampong a former Head of State of Ghana to get Ghanaians to grow local to feed the industries and also for us to consume what we grew. Why can’t this be brought back? Not only will we eat more healthier but also as a nation our reliance on consuming imported processed foods would be drastically reduced. If H.E Mahama is reading this please do something. Save the country millions of dollars and bring back OFY. It saddens me when I visit some friends and the whole compound has been tiled in a dull and stark fashion. I was horrified one day to see my neighbor cut down their ‘Sarlo’ mango tree which over the years has borne huge gorgeous mangoes. I spied them tiling the compound and place an ugly canopy in its place for shade. Ironic.
Here’s to my backyard garden to looking like this in the nearby future as found on Pinterest. Hehehehehe!
What do you think of the idea of bringing back OFY? Do you have a backyard farm/garden? What have you planted in it and how are you maintaining it? Lets share how we can eat more healthy as Ghanaians and the idea of backyard farming.