Most Filipinos do not realize that the Philippines is actually a haven for gardeners. We are fortunate to have a nice warm climate where gardening can be done practically all year round. In every Filipino household, there is at least one gardener, be it the grandparent, parent, or the household help. In recent years, an increasing number of Filipinos in urban areas have taken an interest in gardening, and this is evident in their online searches. If we check out the term “Urban Gardening”, the Philippines ranks among the top 3 countries with the most number of searches on Google for this topic, the other two being Austria and Switzerland. So why is this so?
Every urban gardener’s dream is to grow deliciously plump tomatoes. Two years ago, I embarked on my tomato quest. As I realized later on, it’s not as easy as it looked on that You Tube tutorial. My first few attempts were a miserable failure. Over the next several months, I honed my gardening skills until finally, I was able to harvest the first batch of tomatoes from my potted plants.
One of my favorite aromatic herbs is the lemon balm. It has a mild lemon and minty scent, ideal for flavoring salad, seasoning for fish dishes, for brewing tea or other medicinal purposes. Because of its scent, it is widely known to repel some bugs, like mosquitoes. With proper care, this herb thrives remarkably well in our humid tropical climate here in the Philippines.
Unless you are into hydroponics, maintaining healthy soil is crucial in gardening because the soil is where your plants get most of their nutrients. Many of us tend to forget the importance of good soil quality, whether your plants are grown in pots or on the ground. A healthy soil must have good texture, lots of organic matter and the right pH level (preferably neutral for most plants). There is a common misconception that simply adding fertilizer to the soil on a regular basis improves soil quality. On the contrary, too much fertilizer can be damaging to plants and it affects the quality of our garden’s soil. As soil quality deteriorates, plant growth and productivity also decline over time, and plants become more susceptible to a lot of diseases in the long term.
Your gardening doesn’t have to ruin those beautiful hands. Dry and cracked skin, callouses and dirty nails are but some of the complaints of avid gardeners. Gardening may also expose your skin to harmful germs and insects that can bring diseases or cause you allergies. It’s important that you protect yourself while gardening, by following a few simple tips on how to care for those working hands.
One of my earlier mistakes in gardening was regarding the use of fertilizer– either from too much of it or too little. I had been too eager to see immediate results for my seedlings, that I practically bought every single product that had the words “organic fertilizer” on the label. Later on, I realized that I only needed a few basic ones, and the rest were simply redundant. In fact, I also discovered that I didn’t have to buy since I could produce them from my own kitchen scraps ( See my blog post “DIY Organic Fertilizer from Kitchen Scraps“). Read More
One of the issues our world faces today is the problem of potential water shortage. In many places, potable water has become a limited resource that can not be wasted. Most households use water directly from the tap, for cleaning, washing and bathing. If there is a home garden, watering the plants also consumes a major portion of the water bill. Thus, using water wisely should be every gardener’s objective.
I recently found out that I can actually grow tea in my own garden. “Camellia Sinensis” or the green tea plant is a variety that is used to produce green tea, oolong tea and black tea in China, India and some parts of Southeast Asia. The plant is a native of China, but grows well in tropical and sub-tropical zones. I stumbled upon this plant when I was scouring through some medicinal plants for sale at a local garden store. Gladly, I decided to buy one healthy plant for inclusion in my container garden collection.