Home gardening is never so well-engaged at this COVID-19 onslaught

Home gardening is never so well-engaged at this COVID-19 onslaught

What would you do with your produce ( harvest) if you have planted more than 50 tomatoes, 10 eggplants, 30 peppers, 15 kabocha squash, five chayote, 10 long string beans, eight bitter gourd (ampalaya) 4 cucumbers, one upo (long gourd), 5 herbs, onions, garlic, arugula, spinach, bokchoy and white radish? And what would you do with the annual and perennial blooms?

This year 2020, home gardening scene is unforgettable, an urge for so many garden enthusiasts to engage in producing their own vegetables, herbs and flowers.
And according to CBC report , there is a huge spike of young new gardeners even at the beginning of the pandemic. Even the seed producers and the community garden groups have seen interest, and one fertilizer retailer in Winnipeg has seen the surge of interest in raising vegetables and flowers, leading to the horticultural boom in the province.

Myself is one of these home gardeners who have been caught with so much interest to raise vegetables, flowers and fruit trees. And to enjoy the current sage of “from garden to table.”

My home garden has tripled in size in the backyard, occupying almost all the spaces available and of course, tripled my expenses for my seeds, ready-to-transplant seedlings, compost, soil and processed manure and supermarket bags instead of the usual plastic or earthen pots.

Home garden expenses are not that big because you have been saving money for gas for not driving your car; not going to any restaurant or hang-outs for a couple of beer and wine or for a steak or buffet offering; and for gifts and donations to some social and fundraisng events for more than five months!

I do love farming ever since, even in my growing years in my hometown, Lopez, Quezon. With two farms closer to the town proper, weekends were busy days in the farm. As my mother as our mentor (being a former teacher), during May 1st, Arbor Day in the Philippines, we had to plant variety of fruit trees, telling us that someday, you would have plenty of fruits: avocado, dalandan, kaimito (star apple), chico, mango, jackfruit and kahel. Added to this, the kakaw (cocoa) plants at the back of our farm house. We did plant also sweet potato, herbs (herbe buena, Dahong Maria, Tanglad, oregano) eggplant, tomato, siling labuyo, sitaw, papaya, balinghoy (cassava) saba, latundan, bungulan, tindok (plantain), morado and coconut.

Added to this was my exposure to horticulture, agronomy and poultry and swine in my elementary and high schools, leading to my mother’s idea that I would take vet medicine to pursue my agriculture career. We did learn marcotting, budding, layering and caponizing the rooster and tending to the birth of mother pig and caring for the boar for hire to seer some sows in our town.

Looking at my backyard home garden now is so much joy to watch the veggies which have grown so fast, so robust and loaded with fruits and my flowers to bloom. And instead of “sorry-notes” on being at “staying-at-home” rituals for more than five months and fear of catching COVID-19, I do feel the thousand blessings for making my backyard garden as an oasis of self-enjoyment, forgetting the worries of being kept at home. And more so, you feel a certain achievement in your life, worthy to be your own; and the fruits of your own labor.

COVID-19 has given the wake-up call to be self-sufficient, to have food “from garden to table” and to realize the great potential of home and community gardens,serving as a buffer for any necessities. Remember the 1st week of the pandemic in the early March, each was scampering to shop for their needs.

Food is essential to our lives. And from Galatians 6:9, it reminds us the value of our labor, of your engagement to enjoy our gardening ritual and its harvest: “Let us not weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” And from our old folks, especially from my mother: “Kapag may itinanim, may aanihin.” And my own: “Every sweat is a bead of labor to sow; and a musical note of a song of harvest.”

What would I do with my harvest? Your guess is better than mine!