Happy Earth Day!Â Â We honor Mother Nature for all the bounties that She so generously gives to those who know how to take care of her and to receive them well.
Farmer and writer Daisy Langenegger avers, â€śIf you want to eat nutritious and clean food, plant or raise them.â€ťÂ Â Nowadays, especially with the entry of genetically engineered products which are sold unlabeled and chemical-laden farm produce, the best alternative is, indeed, to plant our own veggies and raise our own chicken, pigs, and other farm animals.”
Do you also notice that the prices of vegetables are continuously going up? Sometimes they say, prices are up because they are not in season.Â Â But prices are only slightly low when veggies are in season.Â For example, from October to December, siling labuyo (birdâ€™s eye chili) would cost up to Php1,000/kilo.Â Â Now they are sold at Php600/kilo.Â Â Last year, they were sold at Php40/kilo.Â Â Mangoes, when in season would cost Php20/kilo but the lowest priced mangoes (small and sour) are sold at Php60/kilo nowadays.Â Â Â Mango is now always in season, what gives?
Ready to plant?
In my last column, we discussed how to make raised beds using rich soil for our urban farm.Â Â Whether you have land or cement flooring, raised beds with compost are beneficial because:
â€˘ Organic matters improves soil drainage and Raised beds set off soil, preventing people from stepping on them and compacting the soil.
â€˘ The entire bed could be filled with plants.
â€˘Â Weeds are within reach and are easy to pull.
â€˘ Compost and other soil amendments are not wasted on pathways.
But you donâ€™t really have enough land and you donâ€™t want to dirty your concrete floors. Thatâ€™s the magic of container farmingâ€”farming in the city using any available containers for personal consumption. When you are in the province do you notice that veggies there are tastier than the ones we eat here in Metro Manila?Â Â It is because they were freshly picked right from their yard before cooking.Â Â Albeit, these veggies also retain their nutrients because they did not have to travel, become wilted and stored in the refrigerator before they are cooked.
Container farming also enables you to plant a variety of veggies, fruit trees and flowers in a limited space.Â Â With creativity and practicality, you can use anything that will hold soil, water and plant.Â Container farming also helps minimize air pollution (some plants absorb air pollutants), cools the air around them and improves the aesthetics of your yard.
It is economical, too.Â Â I bought seeds of pechay from the Bureau of Plant Industry at Php2/packet of 50 seeds. Thirty of them germinated and are now maturing. It takes 3-5 days for pechay seeds to germinate and 25-45 days after transplanting the seedlings for it to mature. Then, I will have the best tasting and most nutritious pechay in the whole world. The organic soil and plastic bags I used cost about Php25.Â Â I watered (one vienna sausage size tin can) them every day. I just asked my favorite green grocer and she showed me her pechayÂ Â (wilted and costing Php5 per bunch of three).Â She says, she buys them from Divisoria (wholesale) at Php40/kilo so she makes about Php20/kilo if everything is sold immediately.Â Â I will give her some for her family when I harvest my pechay.
For me the best benefit I get from having my own urban farm is that I donâ€™t have to go to the gym anymore.Â Â Just going around, standing, sitting, bending, weeding, watering and admiring my plants gives me 30 minutes of exercise every day.
In this page are pictures of very well designed and crafted containers as planters.Â Â You name it, they use itâ€”fruit juice box; milk carton; plastic bottle for softdrinks, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, peanut butter, and others; damaged plastic container/Tupperware; drums, styrofoam, pots and pans; bamboo poles, and many many others.Â Â If you throw these plastic thingies in the dump, it will take years and years to decompose.Â Â So why not use them first for your garden?
Whether you live in a cramp apartment, a concrete house or a condominium, you can have your own urban farm.Â Â Now, look around your house and find those containers and you are off to a good start on your urban farming.Â Â Enjoy!