Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Roof gardening a rewarding experience

Published:Thursday | June 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Carefully pulling back the leaves, Smith shows off a melon growing on his roof garden.
Chris Smith tends to his roof garden. - Photos by Christopher Serju
This head of cabbage doing well is a fine example of container gardening.

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

THE WATER bill is noticeably higher since he started taking backyard gardening seriously in 2010, but for Chris Smith, that's a small price to pay. After all, he is able to provide all the vegetables his family needs, with more than enough surplus for neighbours and relatives.

After using up all the space at the rear of his Greater Portmore, St Catherine, residence, as well as the front, planting it out in banana, callaloo, tomato, corn, spinach and pepper, Smith took his agricultural pursuits higher - upon the roof. What he has done, in concert with wife and three children, is spectacular. There he practises container gardening and cultivates melon, cantaloupe, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, scallion, cucumber and sweet pepper. The containers range from five-gallon cooking oil containers to old bath tubs and anything in between that can hold some soil.

On the day AgroGleaner visits, five-year-old Chrisantha easily scrambles up the ladder to join her dad in watering the vegetables and he explains that she has her own plants.

Smith, who admits to not having any training in agriculture, explained that he got interested some three years ago after seeing a friend cultivating some callaloo. Since then, he has gone on to exceed his own expectations, with the space limitation the only constraint.

The Greater Portmore resident was quick to pay tribute to workers at the Ace Supercentre at White Marl in the parish for their sterling support in providing technical and other advice.

He explained: "Any problems I have with pests, or something I might not understand, they tell me what to do and it always works. Anything at all, they are always willing to help."

While admitting that it does take a lot of time, Smith thoroughly enjoys what he does as much for the therapeutic effect, the satisfaction of being able to provide all the vegetables for his dinner table, and the learning experience it affords his children, as they watch the progress of the plants from sowing to full maturation.

To date, he has not put a figure on the cost saving, but is satisfied that it would be significant. And so, he has no intention of cutting back on his backyard and container gardening any time soon.