Not that raising an edible garden was new to us. We had been growing herbs, spices and fruits for years. But we were not dedicated gardeners. Plants grew, we harvested, we often neglected them afterwards, they died, and we just replanted again.
But the thought of jostling with crowds in the market and grocery, and risk contracting COVID, made us view gardening in a different light. We got serious. Our efforts have paid off, are still paying off, but that didn’t happen overnight.
When the first lockdown happened in March 2020, it was a mere few months after we had the house renovated. The renovation took a huge part of 2019 and, during that time, no one was paying attention to the garden. In fact, except for the mature fruit trees, most plants were destroyed with the comings and goings of workers, and the delivery of construction materials.
When the first lockdown was imposed, we had trouble having groceries delivered to our doorstep. This is suburbia, after all, and most establishments catered only to the residents of the metro area. It took a few months to stock the pantry with cooking essentials and canned goods. But fresh vegetables had to be bought every two to three days. If kept longer than that, they either spoiled or withered.
Not wanting to risk our health by going out to buy vegetables that often, we turned to the garden.
Many of my friends started accumulating ornamental plants and decorative pots to plant them in. We like flowers too but spending thousands for some “rare” plants was not my idea of surviving the lockdown.
My daughter, Sam, has a high school friend who started selling herb seedlings. Although he lived not ten minutes away from us, I contacted him and asked if, instead of driving to his house, he could have the seedlings delivered to us instead. He could send the driver, he replied accommodatingly. I proceeded to list the herbs I wanted and thanked him.
The troughs, filthy from neglect, were cleaned, filled with garden soil, and the seedlings were replanted. My husband, Speedy, made it his mission to make sure that the garden thrived. In no time, there was no need to buy three kinds of basil, mint, tarragon and oregano.
Our thrice-a-week cleaning lady, a very able and knowledgable vegetable gardener, supplied us with pandan, okra, chilies, Chinese cabbage, a couple of malunggay (moringa) cuttings, some root crops and bananas.
A neighbor gave us dill and, my goodness, how they’ve grown!
My daughter Alex’s vanilla vines were transferred to another corner of the garden where they could get more light. And they’re looking healthy too.
Even our coffee tree is growing beautifully.
With patience and care, our edible garden produced more and more food for our family. But our effort to produce food did not stop with the garden.
Alex who, at one time a few years ago, tried her hand at growing herbs and vegetables from seeds renewed her love affair with gardening.
She filled the grooves of empty egg cartons with soilless potting mix, dropped in seeds — cilantro, thyme and parsley, among others — and set the cartons on a folding table which she placed beside the window in the secondary kitchen. The photo above was taken about three weeks ago. The seedlings had since been replanted in pots with soil and brought outdoors where they can catch more sunlight.
Alex has also successfully sprouted mung beans. And because of the ease of the process, and the fast results, we have ordered proper sprouting kits so she can experiment with microgreens.