FIT&FAB: My kitchen garden saved me from buying expensive veggies - Daily Nation

My kitchen garden saved me from buying expensive veggies

Thursday February 22 2018

I grew up on a farm. Although my parents were subsistent farmers, the harvest at times would be so bountiful that they supplied the local market traders with produce. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

I grew up on a farm. Although my parents were subsistent farmers, the harvest at times would be so bountiful that they supplied the local market traders with produce. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MARION MAINA
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When I embarked on my journey to fitness two years ago, I resolved to make it as interesting as possible. I have a tendency to get bored easily and

absolutely loathe routines. I knew for sure that if I was to stick to my new lifestyle of dieting and exercise then I had to make it exciting. It had to be

adventurous, random, creative and spontaneous. It was in this pursuit that I stumbled upon kitchen-garden farming.

I grew up on a farm. Although my parents were subsistent farmers, the harvest at times would be so bountiful that they supplied the local market traders with produce.

I still carry fond memories of my family gathered around the fireplace on a chilly July evening as we roasted green maize straight from our farm. It was delicious and plenty enough for one to eat to their fill. Whenever I saw my mother coming from the farm with a basket of potatoes, I knew that dinner would be huge plates of home-made fries and the thought would cause my saliva glands to

create a small ocean. Well, I have those wonderful dinners of home-made fries to thank for my thick thighs that won’t budge even despite all the hours of legwork and muscle toning.  

NOT A NEW CONCEPT

Farming was therefore not a new concept for me. I could differentiate a potato leaf from a bean leaf with my eyes closed. Did you know that potato and bean leaves are extremely delicious greens

especially when mixed with kienyeji greens such as kunde, managu and terere? I knew all this. However, I thought that one had to have vast acres of land and a few laborers for one to farm. That’s how my parents did it and all the neighbours back in my village on the gentle slopes of Ngong Hills.

One day, barely a week into my fitness journey, I went to the market to buy some ingredients for my one week meal-plans. I had about sh1, 000 which I thought would suffice and leave me some change to buy something fancy at the supermarket such as butter or cream cheese.

The joke was on me. Not only did I have no money left, but also had to choose between buying carrots or beetroot with my last coins.

BRAVE FACE

I put on a brave face for the vendor but my insides were in turmoil and reeling with shock. I peered into my shopping back trying to figure out what exactly drained my cash, but it was a difficult puzzle to solve. In my bag, I had a few bunches of withered coriander, the cucumbers were not pretty either with their rough and dull skin, the tomatoes stared back at me sadly probably still tired from their journey from the farmer to the market; in short, my crispy Sh1000 note had managed to get me a bag of the most miserable lot of groceries ever.

It felt as though I was being punished by fate for turning down my mother’s tantalising home fries and ditching the local takeout joint altogether.

When I got home, I begun ranting about how I had been robbed in broad daylight. My mother let me go on and on as she watched me chop the pitiful vegetables to make a salad. When I turned to look at her, I could see the amusement on her face. I mentioned that this could be a sign for me to go back to my fries and sugary treats and she erupted in laughter.

OUTBURST FROM MUM

“Look, the space next to the cowshed is untilled. Why don’t you start a kitchen garden there? There’s manure from the cowshed and you can grow all the veggies you need. It will cost you way less and the fresh ingredients will taste much better especially since you are eating them raw,” she said reassuringly her eyes still glistening from her outburst.

The more I thought about her idea as I chewed on my salad which tasted like rubber, the more appealing I found it to be. I thought of it as a new hobby, a break from the monotony of working out and shopping in the market. When I went to check out the space, I came back fuming thinking that my mother was making fun of my predicament.

“Mum, that space is so small, nothing can grow there,” I exclaimed.

“Get creative. Better still, do that thing all of you are doing nowadays whenever you are faced with uncertainties. Google it,” she said.

I typed in the Google search bar; ‘how to create a kitchen garden.’

I learnt how to grow herbs and vegetables from sacks filled with soil and manure as well as how to prop vines on trees and sticks. My kitchen garden produced cucumbers, courgettes, beetroots, carrots, kales, spinach, celery, spring onions, coriander, pepper and rosemary.

I bought the seeds at such minimal cost for me to enjoy unlimited access to fresh, high quality and quantity vegetables. My love for greens intensified with the satisfaction of knowing that I was growing my own food. I ate the last of the beets last month.

The weather of late has been quite unforgiving but I intend to plant afresh my kitchen garden. I would encourage you to start your own supply today of delicious vegetables by growing a kitchen garden.

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