ALMOST everybody is into the planting and growing venture. Pre-lockdown, some of us might have been doing small gardens, either in front or at the back of our yards, even on small spaces around us.
We were wondering why so many people were into gardening and by chance, someone offered a twig, (they call that a plant cutting by instinct), we accepted and brought it home. The twig landed on a mug of water but was forgotten and stayed there until roots appeared. Somebody else said it had to be transferred on the ground.
During the first few months of the pandemic lockdowns, many of us literally dug our forefingers into the topsoil without even aiming to harvest and enjoy the fruits, again literally, of our labor. We were just whiling away our time.
“Ano ang pinagkakaabalahan?” (What is our preoccupation?) was quite an annoying phrase then. Why? We were not at all that busy with something worth our salt. Uhuh! That conceited feeling that gardening is not our cup of tea. Not worth our salt. While we had other things in mind, like “lilipas din Ito at di magtatagal ay babalik na sa trabaho,” (this will soon pass, and before we know it, we’re back to work), our attitude was “pansamantala lang ang pagtatanim,” (planting is temporary).
We were not very mindful of the soil on which our plant would be planted. We just put dirt on an empty milk can, plucked the rooting twig from its mug of water, and covered it with the soil we took outside. We might even be expecting it to say, “Thanks for feeding me,” but heard nothing.
Watering the plants became so mechanical, like the leaves were wilted one day and we sprayed water on the leaves and the next thing before we even looked again was that the dying plant was alive again. Much later we would affirm that indeed, our plant needed not only soil but water too.
While watering can be mechanical, even as scientific as to how much to give our plants or how often we should get the pots wet, we notice that some plants are more robust than others, even if these have been planted on a similar pot, sharing the same potting materials like compost, garden soil, vermicast, carbonized rice hull and whatever our neighbor has been using.
By accident, we saw our neighbor shoveling something from the dumping area and was mixing it with other materials in sacks. We noticed too that a similar twig that our neighbor stuck on a pot was much much more robust than ours. That’s how we learned about building the soil that would be hosting plants.
Going back to our own yard, we keep wondering why there are those that seem to be lazy or are even sleepy, paler than others, noticeably tall and thin, and not bearing any flowers. These appear to be seeking sunshine as these tend to lean on one side. Realizing that plants need sunshine, we rearrange our garden.
Our experience at growing plants tells us about the things that matter most to our garden.
Seeds, soil, water, and sun. These are the most basic needs that make up for a successful garden.
Before we knew it, we were plunging our whole being into the growing business of growing.
Growing we did and as our plants were growing, we were also growing with them.
Not very soon did we realize that it is in growing our own food that truly buoys us up at the height of the lockdowns that seemed to get us nowhere for some time.
So many are now into gardening. So many are into growing their own safe food. A lot more are now mindful of what to plant. If for some the hobby of planting is for the eyes to appreciate, a lot more have realized that it is more rewarding to plant for survival.
Prices of prime commodities have soared to an unexpected height that even the salaried government working class has felt the crisis.
The phrase, “Umuwi ka na lang at magtanim Ng kamote,” (better go home to plant camote), is no longer a mockery. Camote, or sweet potato, has been a staple for many people in the past and during the lockdowns, it has saved a lot of families from hunger. It is well adapted to any kind of weather and climate. It grows easily, rooting in three days’ time and in a week may give luscious tops that may be harvested every other day.
A cutting can reproduce several times more and in no time a patch yields sweet potatoes.
Food on the table is the ultimate goal. How fast our gardens can yield safe food to sustain us through the difficult times of this pandemic depends on how we manage our gardens. Again, we have to be mindful of what seeds to grow, what soil to use, how often and how much we water our plants, and how to access optimum sunshine.
Whew! It will never be as exciting as it is now! Go ahead, plant and grow!