Highly productive, easily managed
Micro-gardens are highly productive and can be easily managed by anyone – women, men, children, the elderly and the disabled. FAO studies show that a micro-garden of one square metre can produce any one of the following:
- around 200 tomatoes (30 kg) a year
- 36 heads of lettuce every 60 days
- 10 cabbages every 90 days
- 100 onions every 120 days
Where no land is available, vegetables can be planted in a container filled with garden soil or a “substrate” made from local materials, such as peanut shells, coconut fibre, rice husks, coarse sand or laterite. If substrates are unavailable, there is another option: growing the vegetables on water enriched with a soluble fertilizer.
A micro-garden can be grown on an area of just one square metre. Water requirements are modest, an important consideration in developing cities, where good quality water is often scarce and expensive. In a year, a one square metre micro-garden consumes about 1 000 litres of water, or less than 3 litres per day. To ensure a regular water supply, micro-gardeners can channel rainwater into storage via a system of gutters and pipes. Rainwater is virtually free (after the investment in harvesting equipment) and usually of good quality. From a roof of 20 sq m, growers can collect 2 000 litres of water for every 100 mm of rainfall, enough for the year-round cultivation of a micro-garden of two square metres. Keeping micro-gardens productive is also fairly simple. They can be fertilized regularly, at no cost, with compost produced from household organic waste. Pests are controlled by non-chemical means, including coloured sticky traps, insect proof nets and intercropping with aromatic herbs that naturally repel insects, such as basil, parsley and mint