By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Urban gardening has many benefits to those who engage in it. Such benefits include lowering stress levels, increasing productivity, purifying air, creating a sustainable source of fresh, healthy produce, and more.
Urban gardening also has different approaches to suit the gardener’s needs. Types of urban gardening include raised bed or square foot gardening, hydroponic gardening, and container gardening to name a few. Among the three, container gardening has become popular especially to those who have limited space.
What is container gardening?
For those who have yet to venture into the world of urban gardening, container gardening is the process of growing plants, including edible ones, exclusively in containers instead of on the ground.
This type of gardening is considered to be environment-friendly because it fosters the idea of recycling materials to use as containers. It also promotes creativity among gardeners since it gives them the freedom to design the containers and their gardens according to their taste.
Container gardening is usually done in areas with limited space since the plants can be grown in containers so they can be strategically placed in locations that can provide them with the ideal amount of sunlight, water, and air.
Judirea B. Jalmasco, a finance team manager, saw how suitable container gardening is given the limited space in her home. By using this gardening approach, she was able to grow a variety of vegetables on her rooftop in her Parañaque home.
Beginning her urban gardening journey
According to Jalmasco, she began urban gardening when the pandemic started and she was advised to work from home. The time that she usually spends traveling to and from work was used productively as she lent it to growing vegetables.
Through container gardening, she has managed to grow chilis, peppers, eggplants, ginger, okra, kangkong, radish, peanuts, sigarilyas, sweet pea, malunggay, and basil.
“Growing seeds is so mesmerizing. Seeing leaves sprouting one by one out of the seeds and seeing them grow bigger are some of the things that make me in awe of God’s creations,” she said.
Jalmasco added that she finds happiness from harvesting her crops and that the fresh and crisp naturally-grown vegetables provide her and her family with healthy and delicious food.
“Doing urban gardening is so fulfilling. It releases stress and you will get fresh vegetables at a lesser cost. The vegetables available in the market are so costly nowadays,” she said.
Caring for her vegetables
Jalmasco began her urban gardening journey because she wanted to eat fresh and naturally-grown vegetables. She tends to them as naturally as possible because of this.
She began by growing seeds into seedlings. When their true leaves began sprouting, she transplanted the seedlings to larger containers that are filled with packed loam soil (a mixture of vermicast, garden soil, rice hull, and carabao manure) to make sure that her plants get the nutrients they need.
And by growing her vegetables in containers, Jalmasco was able to place them on her rooftop where they can get direct sunlight.
Other ways that she cares for her vegetables include watering them in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon too when the weather is hot and dry, applying natural fertilizer such as vermicast and crushed eggshells soaked in vinegar for weeks, and applying neem oil to keep her plants safe from pests without exposing them to chemicals.
Some things she learned in container gardening
When Jalmasco began urban gardening, she wasn’t immediately successful in growing the seeds that she planted. But she pushed through and tried again. Through research and firsthand experience, she has learned some things to secure her success in container gardening.
One thing she learned is when planting seeds, they should not be buried deep since they will not germinate. Using a water spray is also advisable to avoid strong currents of water pushing the seeds even further down the container.
Another thing she learned is that when the weather is too hot, the plants should be watered twice a day. But during the rainy season, the containers should be covered at soil level to avoid overwatering.
There are many ways to engage in urban gardening with each having its advantage to both the plants and the gardener. For Judirea Jalmasco, it was container gardening that allowed her to fulfill her dream of being able to consume fresh, healthy, and chemical-free produce that she has the satisfaction of growing herself.
Photos courtesy of Judirea Jalmasco.
This article appeared in Agriculture Magazine’s October 2022 issue.