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GARDENING DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

As Corona virus continue to spread in the country,ones garden remains the safest place.Meet Beatrice Wangui, amother and a farmer who hails from Gathigiriri village, Langalanga, Gilgil sub-county, Nakuru County.Beatrice does gardening on a ½ an acre piece of land that hold her house and animal sheds too.Her family depends  on farming for food.

Beatrice at her farm

The time I visited her farm to document how she is planning to do gardening more productively and sensitize her on Corona Virus  got her hands and mind busy making raised bed a technique  she learnt during one of our training sessions late last year.

On receiving me she jokingly added, ‘Right now the thing we can do is to stay at home but that doesn’t mean my garden activities will be isolated from me too. Gardening is also great for my mental health and physical well-being now that the COVID-19 Pandemic fears is all over.’

She shared that from experience raised bed has been a great reward in production of her vegetables. This she attribute  to their role in improving soil structure in her farm as the area is very rocky. They enhance soil drainage, deeper rooting and once established require very little maintenance. ‘Raised beds keep my garden organized and its ideal for people with limited space like me. I have noted fewer weed emerging from the beds because I do mulching that later decay thus adding organic matter to the soil, ‘She added.

Raised gardening bed is simply raising ground and you can add your creativity as you like, she said.
Steps on How to make raised bed :
• Step 1. Loosen the soil by deep digging(6-9inches)using a fork or Jembe.
• Step 2. Mix the soil with the compost well.
• Step 3. Measure 4 feet wide and your desire length. Don’t exceed the width to avoid stepping on the bed to prevent soil compaction .leave 1 feet path between the paths.

Trying to be self sufficient as much as possible is very important in contributing  to food security for farming communities especially during this period of Corona outbreak. Kenyan Government continue to give its combating measures that are aimed at minimizing movements to ensure social distancing. This makes it vital for farmers to treat their farms as a closed system where they are able to meet manure, tools/equipment and seed requirements for producing their food.

This is possible when farmers adopt  a seed saving and ecological farming culture.’After my crops selection and maturity, I save my own seeds as I’m well trained on seed cleaning and extraction for almost all the crops that I grow ranging from vegetables,cereals , legumes etc. .My next planting season seed requirement is always catered for.I dedicated one of my stores in my compound to act as my seed bank which my grown up kids call ‘moms peace room,” she proudly commented .’My neighbors, friends , church members and my entire village knows my passion in seed saving too and they come for seeds too,” She added.

Beatrice has been receiving training and on farm visit from seed savers network extension staff, two years down the line she has been actively producing different varieties of local and exotic vegetables in  her small farm. she has adopted kitchen gardening technologies and Bio-intensive agriculture for vegetable gardening for her family .The surplus produce earns her a coin. She is optimistic that her efforts will her family sail through COVID-19 Pandemic by ensuring steady supply of food to her family

Beatrice preparing her family and customers vegetables