Since the Enhanced Community Quarantine took effect last March 15, it has been impossible to live our lives the way we were used to. Simple things we took for granted like the opportunity to go to school or work, attend Church services, and even go shopping have become difficult to do without exposing ourselves to great risk.
With most of the people relying on readily available food supplies or those that are donated by the authorities, it has been quite difficult to obtain fresh vegetables. Our social media newsfeeds have been bombarded by photos of canned goods and instant noodles, and the sad news of fresh produce going to waste because farmers have no way to bring them to the city due to checkpoints and other travel restrictions.
However, some Latter-day Saint families in the city are lucky to have existing rooftop or yard vegetable gardens. Brother Jovimar Gumiran of Quezon City grow fruits and vegetables that are more than enough for their own consumption, he is even able to send some to family and friends. More could be said about the Gellor family of Mandaluyong. The fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices they grow do not just end up on their dinner table, they also sell them as part of their thriving store of organic and healthy food items.
With the obvious advantages of having your own vegetable gardens at home, we have decided to seek the advice of an expert when it comes to farming.
Carlomagno Aguilar of Angeles, Pampanga followed his passion and turned his gardening hobby into a booming farming business. Aside from owning Fresherb, a company that grows all-natural herbs and supplies them to hotels and restaurant chefs, he is also the resident farmer of the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management in Pampanga and the farm consultant of The Farm at San Benito in Lipa, Batangas.
One of his advocacies is promoting home gardening and he conducts training seminars and produces vlogs on how to start and maintain a home garden. His mission is for every Filipino household to grow their own food, and he also wants to inspire the younger generation to become the country’s future farmers through the Little Farmers Day program.
According to Carlo, you don’t need a big land to start a vegetable garden. Some have vertical gardens using plastic bottles to make use of the available space they have. So here are some of his tips on how to start your own vegetable garden at home:
The materials that you will need:
- Clay pots or plastic bottles
- Soil or potting mix (if available)
- Seedling Tray or egg trays
- Fertilizer - fruit/vegetable peelings decomposed for 2 weeks, crushed eggshells, fish guts (hasang ng isda)
- Sticks for trellising tomatoes, beans or cucumbers
Here are the steps to follow in starting a garden:
1. SEEDLING. Fill the egg trays with soil. Make sure to punch holes at the bottom to allow water to drain. Bury one seed per hole 1 inch deep. Water twice a day until the seeds sprout. Make sure that they are also under the sun, at least 5 hours.
2. TRANSPLANTING. Once the seeds have already sprouted, allow them to grow big before transferring them to bigger pots. For tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, allow 3-4 weeks before transplanting. For cucumbers, bitter gourd, okra, pechay, and sitaw, allow 1-2 weeks before transplanting.
3. FERTILIZER. Once transplanted, apply fertilizer regularly. Use rice wash in watering the plants. It has beneficial microorganisms that is good for plants. Bury fish guts, vegetable or fruit peelings on your pots for two weeks before transplanting the seedlings. This process will promote good bacteria on the soil. Crush eggshells on top of the soil because these are a good source of calcium which is a necessary nutrient for plant growth.
4. SUNLIGHT. Make sure that plants get enough sunlight. It’s not enough that you put them on the window and get an hour of sunlight. Don’t be afraid to expose them under the sun even for a full day. Plants love sunlight and they’ll give you a lot of fruits if you give them a lot of sunlight. If a whole day’s worth of sunlight is not available, five hours will do. Some people plant on top of their roof just to get a lot of sunlight.
*For beginners, it is suggested that you start with kangkong, alugbati, pechay, and okra. These are some of the easiest vegetables to grow.
Here’s a guide you can follow on how to use plastic bottles as illustrated by the Agricultural Training Institute - Department of Agriculture.
To learn more about the basics of gardening, please visit Carlomagno Aguilar’s YouTube channel “Carlo the Farmer”.