Reader’s corner: Public school teacher grows lettuce for extra income

Checking our plants before going to school. (Teofilo S.Tabuan Jr.)

As told to Agriculture Magazine

I am Mr. Teofilo S.Tabuan Jr., a public secondary school teacher and basketball referee at Bamban National High School, San Clemente Tarlac. 

Checking our plants before going to school. (Teofilo S.Tabuan Jr.)

I started growing lettuce in November 2020 using empty 1.5 liter soft drink bottles to create self-watering hanging planters. This first iteration used vermicast and vermi tea as nutrients. However, I wasn’t satisfied with the results so I tried again, this time using vermicast and carbonized rice hulls covered with insulating foam as growing media. This yielded better results, so I kept growing and selling lettuce until I had the budget to buy materials to set up my 2 x18 ft mini greenhouse in front of our balcony.

The greenhouse contains at least eight to 10 styrofoam boxes fed with a commercial nutrient solution. I also gained ideas from different sources online and in real life. Following their advice has helped improve my farming techniques as well as the quality of my produce.

Our plants inside our new greenhouse. (Teofilo S.Tabuan Jr.)

Before I got into growing lettuce, I had already been different veggies in our front yard including talong, ampalaya, sitaw, kalabasa, kamoteng talbos, sili, kamatis, calamansi, and mulberry and others, but I got interested in growing lettuce just because I love eating vegetable salads and lettuce salad is one of my favorites. Also, lettuce is considered a high value crop and thus, a possible source of additional income.

Inside our new greenhouse, which measures 3.5x5m and has a 392 head capacity, before going to school. (Teofilo S.Tabuan Jr.)

What I love most about farming is aside from the assurance of the safety and quality of the vegetables served at your table because you are sure that it is naturally grown and free from inorganic substances, it also serves as a stress reliever, as well as a source of food security and additional income, especially for a single parent like me.

Photos courtesy of Teofilo S.Tabuan Jr.

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