Domoguen: Weekend urban home gardening

URBAN home gardening is probably an evolving hobby for me. I work in my limited space during weekends. I like it already.

Well, that just defines what urban gardening is for me – a weekend hobby and finding joy in the things you do or create in time over the limited space available to you.

In Baguio City, garbage is a real problem. It is collected once a week - early Monday morning for us at Quezon Hill. One way we can help reduce the volume of waste transported daily by the City Government to its dumpsite is to recycle our organic waste in a most beneficial manner. In my case, I compost our kitchen waste using African nightcrawlers or worms.

Worm or vermicomposting is being seen more and more as a way to help our environment and reduce waste. Compost fertilizer from worms is one of the most effective soil conditioner and fertilizer that farmers use to grow food.

I realize there are many ways to compost kitchen wastes. But you can only begin from what you know and keep on learning about the best way to solve problems associated to composting wastes in an urban setting.

For instance, I just learned that Black Soldier Flies (BSF) are effective and efficient converters of kitchen waste into fertilizers.

My sister-in-law, who is a lawyer and is a home gardening hobbyist discovered, on her own, how BSF maggots and African nightcrawlers could work in tandem to convert kitchen wastes into fertilizer fast inside the compost bin. The activity of the BSF maggots in processing wastes helps to remove the odor of the wastes too. Soon, I would employ these tiny winged soldiers for my purposes.

My physical condition does not allow me to spend time sauntering during weekends these days. I stay at home now reading my favorite novels, if not writing my columns. Aside from that, the mind and body will always yearn to exert the cohesion and oneness of their being. I must be doing something besides sitting on my chair.

So like Benjamin Franklin, I decided to do some indoor gardening. Unlike old Ben, who produced his vegetables and flowers inside an elaborate greenhouse, I have since made an available 3x1½ meters space beside the garage of our rented house that we share with three other tenants, as my home garden.

At my home garden, I already grow six potted Meyer lemons, 2 Washington Navel oranges, mountain tea, dragon fruit, Chinese malunggay, Calamansi, and green onions. Its limitation in space dictates its real potential of becoming a vertical garden in the future.

Ah yes, I have also located my potted vegetables and hanging strawberries on the available small balcony space beside our bedroom. It gives me some thrill identifying the progress the plants make growing up each day.

There are a number of ideas and ways nowadays about urban gardening.

Professionals, hobbyists, and enthusiasts churn out gardening terms and concepts that relate to the myriad of ways they contribute to food production and gardening pleasures with plants in an urban setting. If you have the time, visit the Orchidarium or your local agriculturists and check these out: Fertigation, Box Gardening, Container Gardening, Rooftop Gardening, and Vertical Gardening, among many.

There are many reasons why urbanites should find the time and engage in gardening. All are for the attainment of good health. And if you are like someone, I know, you can always make it a profitable livelihood.

I started out by growing a budded Meyer lemon in a container. After a year and a half, the plant started to fruit. The fruit tree is almost three years old now. An evergreen, I was excited watching the plant when it produced flowers and bore fruits. The scent of the yard every time it bloomed was wonderfully citrusy. Since then, I added more lemons to grow hoping that I would someday be harvesting enough fruits that the family needs daily, even with a very limited space.

Urban sprawl has eaten so much of the nation’s farms. The urbanization that took shape along EDSA and Marikina, in Metro Manila; and closer to home, La Trinidad, Benguet; Bontoc, Mountain Province; and Tabuk City, Kalinga that were once open field farms all happened during my lifetime.

These places have all become highly urbanized. Even in many parts of Central Luzon, the disappearance of agricultural lands in favor of housing and other industrial uses was rather too fast.

So there goes another reason why I do urban gardening while, at the same time, I try to lose my feverish and diabetic nerve and muscle pains too with the work. But more important, it is my hope to be able to contribute to the growing stock of knowledge and experiences on urban gardening that the future generations may use to produce their food.

Hey, I heard that some Japanese industrialists built some skyscrapers whose rooftops are now utilized for the production of rice. The first experiment indicated there are less if non-existent pest up there. -30-
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