A home vegetable garden is a beautiful sight that comes with benefits. Apart from the beauty and freshness it adds to the abmiance of scenery, the Gardner eats healthier and saves cost. What more can one ask for?
In Nigeria, one woman who has had a fulfilling career in the media decided to join the league of those who grow the food of the nation- she ventured into home gardening and farming. Her social media footprints tells it all.
Her name is Alero Eghagha.
She caught Ibiene’s attention and so a conversation ensued. Here’s how it went;
Ibiene: You transited from managing music at one of Nigeria’s finest radio stations to gardening? Pease tell us what happened in between.
Alero: I have worked in the private radio broadcast industry for 20 years with one of Nigeria’s finest group of companies. I was in charge of the quantity and quality control of music for 13 radio stations Cool FM, Nigeria info FM, Wazobia FM, and Arewa FM nationwide. I grew in rank from a youth corps member to the deputy head of stations Nigeria. It was time to move on with the wealth of experience and friendships I had made along the way. Gardening and farming have always being one of the many things I would love to do.
A few months ago I embraced a new challenge, I started my home gardening and lifestyle business online.
Ibiene: Some people say gardening does to the soul what music does- it relaxes is this true?
Alero: Yes! it is true. An amazing calming effect comes with gardening, being one with nature; nurturing life and seeing it bear fruit. It’s an awesome creative force. I actually play music while gardening. I speak to the plants too. Music is with us wherever we go. Life is a symphony of organised sounds. There is a rhythm in every being, if we only stop to listen closely.
Ibiene: How would you rate home gardening in this part of the world?
Alero: We can always do more. When we think of gardening the image is probably upper class, earl grey tea, scones, exotic treats, sun hats… we think roses, lilies, tulips, anthuriums, lotus, gardenias, orchids etc. These are astonishing images however that is probably a smaller percentage of the population of people who garden or farm on a large scale, if we compare with Europe, South Africa, The Americas and Asia e.t.c.
There are a lot of home gardeners in Lagos. I am a member of two garden clubs and you won’t believe what people are doing with recycled things, little and large spaces in their homes. When we speak of gardens or farming in Nigeria we think vegetables, crops, livestock. We conjure up images of villages, illiterates, old men and women, sun burnt and bent over. This is so sad, these people have passed down knowledge, which we have modernised. We should be thankful. Today hunger is an issue we are dealing with globally. We must think beyond a 9-5 job and stereotypes.
I will say this; we make out time for what is important. Gardening, cultivating, taking care of the environment are all important, the future is dependent on these. Generations are relying on us to put things in place now. Start small, plant one seed. It will multiply, become a garden, then a farm, acres, hectares and plantations. We can all key into the world health organisations drive “zero hunger” “zero poverty” Gardening should be a way of life. I like to think Planet, People, Profit.
Ibiene: What are your three favourite plants in your garden and why?
Alero: At the moment in my garden I have mostly vegetables I look forward to planting more fruits and exotic flowers. My three favourites in no particular order are ugwu (pumpkin leaf), tomato and pok choi. Ugwu is easy to nurture, affordable and nutritious. It’s a Nigerian staple. I juice it as well. Tomato is a beautiful fruit, that bright red just makes me feel so happy, great in my salads, omellets and sandwiches. Pok choi a type of Chinese cabbage, softer than the regular cabbage. I totally love to chop it into my chicken soup or noodles or stir fry.
Ibiene: What are the top 5 things to consider if one wants to start with a home garden?
- Get your tools, hand trowel and garden fork pruning shears and gloves. I don’t use gloves when I’m handing seeds and seedlings as they are delicate.
- Read a lot about the plants you are growing and what is happening in the gardening world.
- You need a support group, it could be a gardening club, app or a professional consultation.
- Recycle and reuse things around your home. For example, start a compost bin, use old containers, bags, pots, water bottles etc.
Ibiene: Where there are plants there are pests. How do you manage to keep your plants protected and healthy to consume?
Alero: Plants generally have specific bugs peculiar to them. I like to use organic methods for pest control. I am not an advocate for chemical pesticides. There are plants, which have natural repellent properties. So, we find out which plants work best for each, take for instance tomato. Marigold, garlic, chives, basil, mint, onions are excellent choices in your garden to ward off tomato pests. I keep the environs clean and tidy. That is also very important. I use a home-made fermented mix of crushed chili pepper, mint and garlic spray to tackle pests.
Ibiene: Can anyone grow a home garden?
Alero: I say this with a confident smile and a sure yes; everybody should start and grow a garden.
Ibiene: Tell us why you love smoothies so much and which different ones with their benefits would you recommend?
Alero: Smoothies are a fun and exciting way to enjoy your fruits and vegetables. I always like to have a mix of a fruit, and/or a vegetable then add nuts or seeds or spices or herbs or organic protein powders or healthier milks (like coconut, almond, rice, oat, hazel) This gives me a full and rounded drink with flavours, textures and varied degrees of coolness or heat.
Smoothies hmmm… all depends on what nutrients you specifically want to get. Some help with digestion, some help soothe period pains, some just for wellness and enjoyment. Some better in the cold seasons. Citrus fruits are good immune boosters. As always smoothies are not meal replacements, a healthy meal can never be over emphasised. Speak with your doctor or trained health care provider or nutritionist.
Ibiene: Can you share 2 different recipes?
Alero: I will share two of my favourite recipes with you. I call this one wake up call.
- Black pepper
I call this other one listen to my Beet.
- Almond milk
- Greek yoghurt
What a story! Pretty inspiring right? You don’t have an excuse anymore not to start your own beautiful home garden. Moreover, you’re making the world a more habitable place when you do some planting.
Do you have any question or additional tips on gardening? Please share with us in the comment section.