Friday, April 13, 2012

I'm a city farmer and I grow crops!

Yep, I own a farm in the city! And you can have one too and even grow your own crops! It's so simple. All you need are used plastic bottles, pliers, nails, and wires.


One thing about using plastic bottles as planters is that you help solve the world's problem with garbage and pollution. And because most city dwellers don't have the luxury of having a garden, these plastic planters can be very convenient to use, as they can be hung on walls or fences. Smaller planters can be placed on window sills or along the corridor in front of your apartment. The above photo features my DIY plastic planters. The soil I got all the way from Bicol because I had my mom bring loads of it in sacks. You can also buy soil in your neighborhood gardening shop or if you want it for free, you can hunt and ask around construction sites because they give out free soil or what they call "panambak". I've actually been meaning to ask the construction manager of the Quezon Avenue - Araneta Avenue Underpass project for some soil but laziness and procrastination always gets the better of me. Heh. I planted eggplant in some of those planters. They are still too tiny to be seen in the photo.


My squash, however, has already started 'crawling'. I put a trellis made of sturdy plastic strings above the plant to support the vines when they begin to crawl and spread out. I water them everyday when I wake up. And on days when it gets too hot, I water them twice (in the morning and at night), just to be sure they don't wilt. 


My tomato seedlings. They will be ready for transplanting in two weeks. Tomato plants need lots of sunshine so I plan to hang these babies along the fence so they can get all the sun they need. 

By the way, I don't buy seeds from gardening stores. I get the seeds from vegetables and fruits I buy from the market. When I cook, I don't throw away the seeds from the vegetables (like the squash and tomatoes, I let them dry first). The eggplant seeds I got from rotting eggplants I forgot in the fridge. I let the flesh of the eggplant rot in the planter and after a few weeks, small plants started sprouting from the soil.

Aside from the vegetables I also planted fruit-bearing trees. I used big milk cans and water bottles because I think they need more nutrients (thus, more soil) to grow. In the picture below, you can see atis and sampaloc (in water bottle) seedlings. I will transplant the sampaloc when it gets bigger, in a week or two perhaps. Next to the atis and sampaloc is a rambutan. And not seen in the picture is the santol (in milk can), with leaves that turn orange when they mature, adding a contrast of color to a sea of green.


You may ask, how would I manage these plants which will eventually grow into big, tall trees, when they are planted in plastic bottles.

I actually thought of a couple of things: First (which I rejected right away because I love my babies too much to be given away) is to sell them. A lot of people who have extra garden space would really be interested buying the seedlings. I also thought of donating them to the local government so they can plant them in parks or highway islands, but I don't think it will be a good idea, what, with MMDA uprooting all the trees in the Metro to provide wider roads, it's ridiculous.

So what I did is to turn all my fruit seedlings into bonsai trees! The picture below is of my favorite bonsai, a jackfruit or langka. See how it gracefully curves? That's because of the wire I wound around it. Everyday, I bend the langka carefully, and because of the wire, it stays in place. Also, I cut the leaves in half regularly so when new leaves sprout they become smaller. A good bonsai will take at least ten years before it starts bearing fruits. My langka is just one year old and still has a long way to go.


Other than the atis, sampaloc, rambutan, and langka, I also have avocado, sili, kamote, and kalamansi. All are growing in plastic bottle planters. And yes, their seeds came from vegetables and fruits I bought from the market!

It's so easy being a city farmer, you not only help reduce garbage, you also help clean the air by planting more trees! Go, plant your own fruit tree today!