LIKE a seed, this column was out on a deep slumber, hibernating for quite some time. It was an invaluable respite. It was invigorating to be out for a while, to see the world and be seen, too. I hope this one comes as promising as a seed waking up from a long rest. It may not be as robust as expected, but it will try hard to survive these trying times.
GTU started when a greenhorn was too excited to put down on paper gardening travails. It was a whirlwind of an experience to be writing for gardeners, including some pros in the field. It was like documenting a romantic relationship with the soil, seeds, plants and all. Also, it was like putting up a fight to produce and claim one’s healthy space on earth.
This time, GTU will attempt to go on discussing how ordinary gardening or farming people produce or claim healthy spaces trying to cope with whatever time and space this pandemic allows.
No other time in our history has there been a lot who engage in tending plants. So many have turned to an activity in and outside the home that not only killed locked down time but also coped with economic hardships. Besides some sort of an addiction to gadgets, some people allotted more time and money to plants.
My two neighbors who used to sell ukay for a living have now shifted to selling ornamental plants. “Isu ti biruken dagiti gumatang,” (it is what buyers ask for) one of them said.
A fresh graduate of Financial Management, somewhat made wise use of her cellphone selling plants online. Her mother gets small potted plants on bargain. Her father, a farmer, repots these with healthier potting mix and tends to the plants a few days until these reach flowering stage and command a higher price.
A struggling family of an overseas Filipino worker also turned to tending ornamentals, in addition to their vegetable garden. The enterprising teacher who does her work online, buys mother plants that her aging mother would cut and propagate into smaller versions. This way, the mother-daughter tandem sells the smaller pots at a more affordable price, thus selling to more people and enjoying more gains.
Plantita and plantito are terms coined out of gardening people’s sudden love to spend time and money for plants. Suddenly, there are corners in public markets, malls, even on social media that are dedicated to plants.
Just as a lot are addicted to collecting ornamentals, several are also interested in vegetables and fruits.
In a plant exhibit for instance, there was more space intended for vegetables, fruits, seeds, seedlings, cuttings, marcots and grafts.
In a plant market, even ornamental plant sellers have a space for vegetable seeds and seedlings.
The planting public seem to have included or even prioritized growing their own food, besides flowers.
Benefits of having both ornamentals and food crops cannot be left not underscored.
Never in the immediate past has there been awareness of the planting public to engage in growing good food alongside beautifully manicured flower gardens.
Everyone is into the plant craze. Even those who seem not to have enough space struggle to grow food in pots, soda bottles, sardine tin cans and many other extra containers.
Some utilize vacant lots, untended property and abandoned gardens.
While there are communities that establish communal gardens, a lot are doing it as individuals or families.
GTU then will attempt to dig into the lifestyle and travails of plantitos and plantitas. It will try to unearth some finer points into this “hobby” that a lot of people have turned to. In broad strokes, it will etch a picture of what a family’s desire to have fresh vegetables, fruits, root crops and spices on the table could do to lift up their life.
It will also try to present a holistic view of the garden, its fame and glory; failures and challenges; and its place in our well-being.
Most of all, GTU returns with the enthusiasm of a greenhorn, the perseverance of a seasoned farmer and the patience of a plantita or plantito waiting for the slow-growing seedling to prosper.