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The Result September 17, 2013

So our experiment on going green went fairly well. I must say it turned out to need more work than I had anticipated. On thing I Pineapple and StrawberryRedytoeatberryhad not factored in was going back to work and the time needed to pay close attention to my bottled crop! To my surprise I had to weed the crop! But looking on the bright side I could hardly keep up with the baby spinach! They would seldom over grow because we were not able to eat them fast enough. Well now that is a good problem because I now know how to have fresh baby spinach for daily use.

The berries were the best! I must say I loved the harvest. For the next planting I will grow more berry plants to increase my yield. The fruit was oval shaped red in colour, sweet to the taste and very juicy. strawberriesStrawberries are great for snacking while walking round your back yard! Then my wife made an even better snack with strawberry, pineapple in a chocolate dip oooooh awesome! These little things are the very ones that motivate one to keep on going.

The kales were average on performance and possibly i’ll consider bigger cans next time. The tomatoes Kalesdid not do very well because they have an extensive root system and the containers used were not too big. One thing I am glad about is that the birds were very kind and did not harvest my berries! Perhaps now that the weather has changed and the temperatures are raising there will be less to forage for them and they my want to share my produce 🙂

For the potatoes we are still waiting for them to flower and then we can start thinking about harvest. I’m keen to find out how much we will get out of our two lines of seed!

 We also have a cho cho that is growing. Cho cho are very nutritious and make excellent chutney! Rich in amino acids and Vitamin C.

1Cho cho juice is an excellent herbal remedy for high blood pressure. It is effective in reducing hypertension and the result is that many people partake of it just for this reason. It is also a good medicinal herb for natural weight loss because it possesses 90% water, which makes it a chochopriority both for the obese people and for those who suffer diabetes.

They also make good vegetable salad or as a complimentary veggie in your meal. They can be stir fried and are quite tender. Cho chos are not very common but you’ll come across them in the grocery stores. They make excellent climbers and i’m currently attempting to train one but it suffers many setbacks when the gardener trims the hedges and does not pay attention to my little cho cho plants!!!

 In then near future I want to bring a local chicken for eggs. So that we can have fresh eggs daily! Not long ago we had a pair that produced eggs every other day that was great and a huge saving. As for our main practice quail farming we hope to resume commercial production before the end of the year. We took a break and now the demand is quite high. In last three months I have co-facilitated a Quail farmers workshop in Nairobi, which has been very well attended in the training sessions we try to demystify the nutritional facts of the value of quail eggs and meat. My hope is that we can form a quail farmers community so that we can improve production and enforce production standards.

 So in a nutshell going green is not just fun in my case it was also sweet!

 1 Online source: http://www.medicinalherbs-4u.com/chocho.html , accessed 16/9/2013

 More on cho cho:

  1. Cho cho as a Medicinal Herb
  2. Cho cho Health and Nutrition

Going green can be fun! July 10, 2013

7th FloorSo you live in an apartment and you shop for your fresh greens at the store, that is well and good but if you like really fresh greens and to save a few coins then you might consider doing a mini kitchen or balcony garden. The immediate thoughts would be but I’m on the 7th floor how am I supposed to do this? Well remember that coke bottle you enjoyed over the weekend, there is a new use for it. You can get your garden going, imagine coriander fresh as fresh can be!, sage, marjoram (Oregano), and not to mention several bottle farm spices to build your “virtual” herbal garden right in your own home. Well the requirements are not too stiff. First you must want to have fresh food, then be creative with your plastics, choose the crops you want to greens in supermarketgrow, pick a sport that receives sunshine and then get started!

Preparing the bottles is a key component is the bottle farm. You can pick from several designs that suite your application best. For me, cutting the belly and using the bottle horizontal was one way. You make small perforations on the bottom side to allow drainage so that your soil remains in a healthy environment. The other design is the inverted funnel. This is virtually self watering, it works like a drip system only now the drip is inverted. If you take a coke bottle and cut across the middle and you have a funnel and cup. Invert the funnel, put on the bottle cap, with a tiny hole on it, Strawberry Bottle 1fill in your soil with manure then transplant your seedling or plant your seed. Place the inverted funnel in the cup like half with water in it and that is about it. But before you transplant have the soil in the funnel, well watered over night so that the soil is still dump when you transplant . I have found out, to my pleasant surprise that inverted bottle needs a top up after about 10 or so days 🙂 what I need to worry about are the birds and snails when the fruiting starts. You can transform old, cooking ports, lampshade holders, kettles just about anything… you can have flowers in your newly found “pots”.StrawBerryCrowning

Planting in bottles gives going green an whole new meaning, you reduce the litter and reuse the containers. Minimal dig is required and management is not as difficult. My wife and I started our first bottle garden project. We just transplanted and hope things work out well. So far my strawberry looks promising as I now see the fruiting process starting. The next phase will be to string up the bottles to save up on space, (vertical garden- will share about this with pictures later) easy management and for aesthetic purposes. The other little challenge will be my two boys who may think mummy just put up some bottles for target practice! Well I hope they will take ownership of some plants and water them so that they too can get in-touch with nature and know that it is possible to harvest greens! The beauty of this bottle garden is that you know your greens are fresh, have no chemicals in them, and fairly organic 🙂

Strawberry Selfwatering 1Looking forward to seeing the garden grow in the weeks ahead and i’ll be very excited when I go to the market and see Collards or spinach is a small bunch and i’ll be telling my self I have some at home!oatmeal cookies

The other day a friend came to visit and we got chatting, then I have no idea how we got taking about butter. Well our butter had run out and we could not make oat meal cookies, (really yummy) with raisins or chocolate chips hmmm need I say more? Anyway she said you know what you can make your own butter? So I lean forward and raise my eye brow and listen in. She said its simple, get fresh cream from your milk, put it in a container and shake it till consistent and guess what you have your butter! Well we tried it and made our cookies with home made butter and they were superb! I kept on teasing her that she must be Amish but I was not too far off… so we named our butter “Lancaster Style” fresh butter… you must try it.


Workshop! June 11, 2013

Quail in their breeding cage.

Quail in their breeding cage.

image from bbc.co.uk/food

image from bbc.co.uk/food

On the 15th of June, we shall have a workshop on quail farming. I know many people have wanted to get in-depth farmer experience as well as other details like, structures markets etc. If you are in Nairobi you can plan to attend.

The workshop will be at MUSMARK Retreat house in Lavington on Hatheru Road off, Gitanga road. The workshop will be hosted by Quality Quails who we partner with in Quail farming.

The cost of the day long workshop will be Kes 2,500 /=

You can pay via MPESA and please do include the transaction fee. For directions, participation and payments please use this number.

Please remember to text or call with your information details. Please come, learn, share and enjoy quail meat!





Long Weekend! April 2, 2013

Filed under: Birds,Urban Farming — urbanshamba @ 8:29 am
Tags: , , , ,

Broad ringed white eye close upA long weekend is always a welcome break! This Easter weekend came at the right time!, but one thing about long weekends they go by so fast and you only realize it when you are behind your computer in the office and you just wish how you would have put in some more hours in doing this or that :)

That not withstanding I did get to do some bird watching and attempted to name them.  To see some of them follow this link.

Hope you had a meaningful time to rest and reflect over the Easter weekend…


Sudden death! | Coccidiosis February 11, 2013

Sudden death,

Three down in 24 hours! Sound like a game that has gone into overtime and whoever scores the game ends! Well it was similar in some respect for me. This pas weekend we lost three rabbits. The death was so sudden it was hard to tell. The symptoms were typical, loss of appetite, low activity and general droopiness. My usually playful lot was not looking to exited this weekend. The first casualty started off by not drinking water and not eating. We took the necessary precautions and separated the sick one and put them in a sick bay to observe, nurse and feed. This was not too successful as it died pretty much the same day. The other two died within hours of each other.

Nzwhite sideview

Mature, Healthy New Zealand White

I got a vet to come investigate and he did a postmortem examination and discovered the cause of all our problems was coccidiosis!

I’m sure you are thinking but that is a disease common in chicken well, chicken are one of the many animals that suffer from this nasty highly contagious sporozoal infection. Well even your cat could suffer from this disease. It’s fast acting hard to reverse and highly infectious. So if you suspect your animals are not looking their best get the vet, you are better off paying a little that replacing a whole flock or litter!

Below some further reading on the same :


Quail Getting started January 22, 2013

Well in the last few weeks I have received numerous requests on how to get started. Quail farming is very rewarding and quite an interesting enterprise. The first thing I would like to say is do your market research and then venture into the business.

Quail in their breeding cage.

Quail in their breeding cage.

There are a few pre-qualification requirements. The first thing you need to do is apply for a permit from Kenya Wildlife Service. If you can do it in person the better, you will find out more information from the wildlife wardens that you would otherwise miss on email. The process takes at most about two days and it will only set you back kes 5o0.

Once you have your permit you can obtain a list of Quail farmers or breeders from KWS or you can contact Quality Quail Suppliers, whom we partner with. We do not sell eggs for incubation but we do sell chicks.

Quail bird cages.

Quail bird cages.

The other thing you may want to do  decide if you want to free range your birds or cage them. In my farm we have opted for the later. We have bird houses which we keep the birds in and this has several benefits. You can tell the age of the birds, you can monitor them for sickness or injury and collection of eggs is much easier.  See my earlier post on the subject here

Quail are usually reared in captivity because they do not do well naturally.  The reason for this is, quail usually move around a lot due to the fear of predators. But in captivity you can harvest the eggs and incubate them. Quail are very hardy and all do is just provide them with adequate food and water. I must say they command a fairly good appetite so be sure to keep them well feed. In captive breeding the first two weeks are very instrumental. If you do not feed them well, they become stunted in growth which is not good for the meat market.

A mature bird weighs about 300 grams and about 275 grams when slaughtered. The health benefits from quail products are numerous. I will share more on those at a later time. I surely hope this information proves useful. If you want to clarify any issue please do do get in touch.

Send and email or leave a comment below 🙂



New Year new things! January 9, 2013

A new year always brings with it a lot of promise and a deep-seated desire to be more successful than the last! But before we delve into the New Year it would be good to look back at 2012.

If you recall I was dreaming of a White Christmas! And a whitish one I had! When visiting friends over the holiday most would have some dark meat (red) to go with the main meal but anything I did at our house was not so dark 🙂

The first meat to make it to the platter was roast duck. Duck is an amazing bird. Served with potato wedges, ratatouille and plum sauce it simple dazzles. The preparation was as per the recipe I shared in my earlier post. Simple buy the duck clean it up, prick some holes on the breast, salt, put in the oven for 45 min turn it over put it in for another 45 and your are good to go! I made a few alterations, as my bird was not very fatty! After about an hour in the oven I basted it with some oil and then foiled it for the rest of the time. This ensured that the meat was not too crispy and it cooked well in a moist environment.

My son and His best friend waiting to serve duck and more!

My son and His best friend waiting to serve duck and more!

To my surprise the duck had a lot of meat on the flanks and the breast. And this was no big bird! About 2.5 kg at most 3kg. The meat appears dark in colour but the taste was simple lovely. Duck will definitely make it as a meal in the year and I’m surely going rear some. At the butcher store I bought one Kilo for kes 695 that is approximately $0.75 per kilo. I’m yet to try duck eggs and once I get to those you bet, you will be informed!


Image source |

The other white that made a surprise appearance was guinea fowl! This was least expected as it’s usually not common in the butchery and sometimes can be expensive. The bird is not tender so do not be fooled and just cook or roast! What I did was, pre cook in a pressure cooker for about 40 minutes with some veggies in the broth to add flavour then foiled it and then grilled for about another 40 minutes to an hour. The end result was amazing but still not as tender. The meat however was more white and bordering to the taste of turkey. The bird was well received by my family I assure you if you had not had enough on the first go you were definitely sure not to get anything on you second serving.

To compliment the tough bird we had three different types of quail (preparation that is). Smoked, grilled and made in the pressure cooker. All three were amazing but the best was smoked quail. It was well spiced and medium spicy.  Quail always goes well with chips or sweet potato wedges. The bird is so sweet and tender you simply never have enough. Believe it or not the bird is approximately 275 grams when served but most of that is just meat! So it makes a good portion and very filling I might add.


California Whites

Well the bunny burgers did not make the menu but they are still a very serious contender.  My butcher now sells rabbit meat so I have a source 🙂

The Christmas break was not all about fun and food! There was some adventure on the 27th of December I went for 31Km mountain bike ride. The adventure dubbed “turkey burner” was simply excellent. The trails were so muddy and the thickets in the forest were so overgrown so you can imagine my joy with thorns and brushes all over. I managed to fall 4 times and had one flat but the good news is I made it! Next time I’ll try get a GoPro camera to capture the action as I could not use my camera due to the rain. That was an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to going for another later on this year!


Terantula | Hairy bug

GoPro or not what is Christmas without a thrill?  We had some action no less. After wining and dining while taking a casual stroll to the car, my niece notice an odd looking frog. It was dark so it was hard to see what it really was but on looking closer this frog was not hopping as they usually do, it was quite hairy and it had 4 pairs of legs! You can imagine the dramas that ensued but luckily the camera was not too far away! This tarantula is apparently harmless and is also know as the baboon spider but if you have it crawling up your sleeve I highly doubt you’ll be debating if it’s harmful or just another hairy bug!

As for what is in store for 2013 definitely some good things are coming!