5 vegetables to grow in small space during COVID-19 quarantine period
Due to price increase on basic commodities particularly food, many of us worry where to get fresh and healthy food. Prior to quarantine period, World Vision has been teaching its supported families on backyard gardening to lessen their burden on buying vegetables at the market. Our thrust is on organic farming that does not use harmful chemicals and pesticides that may affect the family’s health. Our intervention on organic farming is not only for health but also to instill food security at times like now.
Growing plants, like vegetables, can be done in small or big space, whether you live in a condominium or have a backyard enough to plant for some vegetables or herbs. Self-isolation gives us more or spare time on gardening either indoor or outdoor. Sometimes I asked people why, despite the planting space they have, still don’t plant. And one of their common responses is lack of knowledge in gardening. Knowledge may be a factor but if we are really willing, we can help overcome this problem ourselves. We can start with a few plants. Watch on Youtube and learn from experts. If you are reading this, then you are at a good start.
Reasons why you should have a garden
Before we get into the details, here are reasons why gardening in small space is important.
- Gardening helps you produce fresh, clean and safe vegetables: If you have garden, you will have your own easy access to sources of food that is free from chemicals because it is just within your home.
- Gardening allows you a year-round of harvest: Having your own source of food will provide you a steady source of clean, safe and fresh food.
- Gardening curb your expenses: You don’t need to buy at the supermarket thereby help you save more money that you could divert for other use such as investment or education needs of the children.
- Gardening promotes physical fitness: Eating fresh, healthy and safe food will surely make you healthy since it is free from chemical.
What can you plant?
The five vegetables I am listing here will grow in limited space, will not take away most of your time, no need to learn hard skills and knowledge in gardening. What it only needs from you is love, appropriate time and appropriate care. That’s it!
Kangkong (water spinach). I recommend the upland variety. Non-highland variety can easily be contaminated with chemicals from the soil since it absorbs anything it grows on. Kangkong is known for being a great provider of vitamins and minerals. Kangkong is a great source of vitamin A which is essential for healthy skin, hair, and vision.
Alugbati (Malabar Spinach). Alugbati is a leafy green vegetable usually grown as a garden plant. Filipinos love alugbati. This vegetable has a bright red stem with heart-shaped leaves growing along. Its fruit can range from red to dark green color. Alugbati leaves are rich in iron.
How to grow these vegetables
If growing talbos ng kamote, kangkong, alugbati and talinum, you will need the following:
- Container (appropriate for limited space)
- Soil (garden soil or soil mix)
All these four vegetables are fast grower and can give you plenty of harvest.
These vegetables may be planted using ordinary soil. Of course, it would be best if you have compost soil and other organic materials to mix for soil. But if you do not have access to this, ordinary soil will do.
If you have a limited space, say a condominium balcony, use a small container. You can be creative by using empty plastic bottle or other plastic ware that can be filled with soil and appropriate for planting.
Filled the container with soil and plant the cuttings from this vegetables on it. Water it right away. Once planted, you can place it near the window where it can get at least 4 hours of direct sunlight. Watering can be done everyday or every two days. These vegetables may be grow and harvested between 4-5 weeks only.
What about pechay?
Growing pechay needs the following:
- Pechay Seeds
- Empty container like plastic bottle)
- Soil (garden soil)
Compared with the first four vegetables that you can directly plant, pechay can be direct seeded or can be grown first in a separate seedling tray. If you have a very small space, like a condominium, I suggest to direct seeding.
Prepare a container or plastic bottle and filled it with garden soil. Make at least 1 cm deep hole and drop 2 seeds. Cover it gently with soil and water it right away.
Pechay takes between 3-5 days before it begins to sprout.
You may transfer the sprout to a separate container after two weeks. Plant one seed per container so it will grow wider and bigger. We plant two seeds to make sure that both will sprout and when one died, you still have one left.
Other care tips your plants
Monitor and water your vegetables regularly in the morning and afternoon. Inspect the plants for pest and other diseases. You may spray it with water mixed with soap and chilli powder (1 liter of water, 1 teaspoon of dishwashing and 3 pieces of chilli and leave the mixture overnight) to keep insects and pest from attacking.
For fertilizer, you may get cuttings from the same vegetables and soak it in water overnight. If you need to use fertilizer for sweet potato then use also extract from sweet tomato as fertilizer. You may spray the soaked cuttings on the vegetables.
Written by Michael Macabasag /Program Officer in Batangas
Photos by Anet Credo, Dhey Bertos, Wilma Alvarez