Sharing all things about pet-friendly travels and full-time work from home setup

Indoor Gardening Guide in Manila, Philippines


There are so many reasons why we Filipinos living in Metro Manila should start growing our own edible plants inside our house. It is no longer an excuse if you only have a small space wherever you live because there are certain types of herbs that can be grown even without sunlight and soil at all. Climate change is real and it is slowly affecting us. If you're not giving a damn about it or not even doing the slightest way to help Mother Earth live a little bit longer, you must be living under the rocks. Actually, setting aside my manners I will tell you these words "f*ck you" with a slight smile out of decency.

Growing indoor plants in Manila - personal reason
I started eating more veggies and fruits since May for health reasons. It is as if the stars aligned perfectly because all the events and persons I keep on meeting are pescetarians, vegans, and vegetarians. I also met a few who eat very minimal meat and have completely ditched eating processed food. To tell you the truth, my expenses ballooned in no time. This doesn't even count the time I waste and not being able to make money for going to the market plus getting stuck in traffic. Don't get me wrong, I love going to groceries and specially outdoor markets because I find joy seeing a bunch of vegetables, fruits, and plants for some reasons. If you ask me what trip do I prefer now - a beach escapade or farm immersion, I will choose the latter!

Learning urban farming in Manila - the truth

Most of the farm produce we buy from Baclaran, shopping malls, and nearby market are brought all the way from Benguet. It takes minimum of 6 hours to reach these in Divisoria via a ten-wheeler pick up truck. We all know as well that cars burning gas also lead to more carbon footprint. The more carbon footprint in the air, the warmer our planet is!

1. Save money

You don't pay for the fruits and vegetables you grow from your house. It's yours, right? You also don't have to set aside transportation allowance for going to the market and back.
2. Do more than getting stuck in traffic
Getting stuck in traffic doesn't just rob us the time we should be spending it in other important matters. It also means increasing you stress level. Many of the sickness nowadays are blamed to stress.
3. Freaking safe
No one can guarantee that every fruits and vegetables we buy from the markets are free from pesticides or at least free from harmful dirt. The ones we have at home we are a hundred percent sure that these are cleaned the way we take care of ourselves.
4. Family bonding experience
Why not? It is one of the cheapest ways to bond with your loved ones. We are slaves to our gadgets almost every day. Let's give ourselves a chance to enjoy the real world without wifi.
5. Longer life span
There are studies that I always read online saying that farming promotes less stress. I am not surprised because the process of planting from digging soil to watering the plants to finally be able to reap its benefits like using the produce to your cooking essentials is joy every step of the way.
How to clean your produce
6. Extra income
This is the least of my priority, all I ever care is to be able to eat plant-based food. However, if your producing more than your family can consume this means additional income for you.

Introduction to urban farming in Manila
Sadly, farming is synonymous to the word "poor" here in the Philippines. That's why children of farmers pursue other types of career rather than follow the footsteps of their fathers. Here in Manila, there are very few backyards/sideyards/frontyards that people can grow plants from where they live. Knowledge about urban farming is rare for a typical Filipino who earns an income of around Php 10k-15k per month. Let's admit it, most of the people who live here in Manila receives this range of income. The best way we can help them is "teach them how to catch a fish" than "give a fish"!
Where to learn urban farming in Manila?
Top answer is getting a degree specially BS Agriculture. Good for you if you just finished high school and you want it to be a profession but how about those that aren't?
You can join trainings, watch Youtube, read articles online, and meet real-life farmers.

What to consider in starting your own Urban farm in Manila?
1. Area and location
Is it under rooftop or near the windowpane? Actually, you can plant anywhere in your house as long as there's enough space.
2. Availability of resources: seeds, water, soil media etc.
You should now how it is easy for you to get all these that won't cause you too much efforts and would make you spend more money than you can afford
3. Who will do it?
There should be one person who will do it like it is already part of his/her daily routine if not these plants will die.

Is there something as Green thumb?
None. farming can be learned and experienced.

Guide to indoor gardening in  Manila
1. Planting Requirement
  • Sunlight requirements Leafy veggies need 4 hours of sunlight daily while fruit-bearing veggies nead 6-8 hours
  • Water as needed Soil in container dries up faster compared to the soil on the ground thus you should always monitor soil moisture. Do not however pour too much water. Plants need an inch of water per week during growing season. Temporary wilting is a visual sign that plants need water.
  • Space Sure, plants do not move but please do not overcrowd them in a pot. Plants are like people they need space as well for disease prevention and for efficiently using of resources.
  • Soil media The soil (or planting) media will contain the nutrients and water needed by the plants.
Other tips about urban gardening in Manila
  • Grow plants that you need not just like
    Only grow the plants you want to eat. If you won't eat it, don't grow it.
  •  Start small then scale up
A small well-tended garden is better than a large poorly-tended farm. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up when you’re overworked.
  • Garden up instead of up To save space, it is highly suggested to grow plants vertically. You can squeeze more crops in less space.
  • Use proper pest management
You can do any of these: manually pick insect pest, use mechanical methods (e.g. traps) or apply homemade pesticides.
  • Invest in good tools
This is going to save you time and efforts before you know it. keep them clean and sharp
  • Shun Perfectionism
Once you have done the groundwork, you just jump in and plant. Do not hesitate to give it a try and you can learn the rest as you go. If things don’t work the first time, there’s always the next time.You won’t know what works best until you try. (Parang hugot lang no? pero true it also applies to plants)

Note: This guide I wrote was based on the presentation of Mr. Earwin A. Belen, Registered Professional Agriculturist who gave us a lecture organized by Old Manila Eco Market. I am no expert in this field and just taking baby steps to grow my own healthy food source here in Manla. A graduate of UP Los Banos in Laguna, Mr. Earwin is the brain behind the successful Urban Farm Project in East Rembo which is a community supported agriculture that provide accessible food to everyone. 

Urban Farm Project in East Rembo, Makati
This urban farm is home to the typical Pinoy vegetables, fruits, and herbs found in a Filipino family's kitchen. It supports composting and other farm activities, produces sales and trading as well. To sum it all up, this urban farm in East Rembo, Makati wants to produce cheaper food that should be easily accessible for consumption. No one is left hungry. Health and well-being of the people should be prioritized. In every process and steps they do to grow any kind of plant, they should be follow eco-friendly practices. Most of all, they make sure that enough efforts is made for the reduction of waste produced in the landfills.

Future activities in Urban Farm of East Rembo, Makati
-Trainings for the Barangay Urban Farm Personnel on Vegetable Production
-Awareness on proper waste segregation and disposal in the community
-Setting up of the Urban farm for Vegetable Production and Materials Recovery and Training Hub

If you plant goodness, you will harvest faithful love. Plow your ground and you will harvest with the lord. He will make goodness fall on you like rain. I hope you guys stick around as I share my journey to grow my plants here in Manila and share your tips as well.

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