Create your own vegetable garden

MANILA, Philippines - There is no question that arable lands are shrinking as more cities in the Philippines continue to expand.

Urban development has reduced the areas that were once reserved for agriculture and food production. This is a serious problem but it can be solved through the practice of urban gardening. Because of the new techniques and technologies available, urban gardening is now becoming more popular.

Any homeowner can plant his own vegetables in his own property. Vegetable gardening can be done in condos, apartments, and even on building rooftops. It is a fun activity and it can provide relief from stress.

According to data culled from the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation (MSBF), creating a vegetable garden requires detailed planning. Prerequisites include a garden design and layout. One must have to plot out the garden on paper before planting. This helps in visualizing the space. It also ultimately helps one use the space effectively and efficiently.

A vegetable garden must be designed to look attractive and it has to be easy to maintain, It must never be placed in areas that have little sunlight exposure. So avoid planting vegetables under the shade of big trees, shrubs and buildings. You may also need walkways, raised beds, trellises and some garden tools and equipment such as spades, forks or rakes.

It is also important to be familiar with the local climate. The climate dictates which vegetable you can grow. The soil also plays a crucial role in vegetable gardening. It should be ideally a mixture of compost, garden soil and fine sand. If it lacks nutrients, fertilizers or organic matter would be required.

Even the most carefully planned vegetable garden will not flourish without proper care and attention. It is therefore necessary to weed the garden regularly and create a good mulch. Regular watering is also required and watch out for those pests and diseases.

Weeds compete for water and nutrients so it is important to keep them at bay. The best way to remove weeds is to chop off the top of the weed at ground level. This process may have to be repeated several times. A better solution is to uproot the weeds.

Organic and inorganic mulches can improve the texture of the soil and help keep the weeds under control. However, one must be careful when applying mulches as this procedure could also damage the plant.

A successful and abundant harvest is the reward for all the work and time you have put into your garden. Most of all, growing your own vegetables organically ensures a healthful produce and saves you from having to buy such expensive organic products at the grocery stores.

Furthermore, consuming the fresh vegetables grown in in one's own garden is the most rewarding experience a homeowner can ever have.

MSBF specializes not only in the production of planting materials likes seeds, seedlings and saplings of forest and fruit trees. The place also sells vegetable seeds and seedlings. It maintains a seed center that is open seven days a week from 7 am to 6 pm.

This seed center has benefitted a number of farmers and gardeners from the rural and urban areas. The seeds, according to the MSBF, are of good quality seeds and they're available at affordable prices.

For every packet of seed purchased, a Guidebook on how to grow vegetables is provided. The Guidebook features instructions on proper seed sowing, potting, care and maintenance and controlling pests and diseases.

A number of common and indigenous vegetable seeds and seedlings are available at the MSBF seed center. These include ampalaya, eggplant, pepper, okra, sitao, tomato, patola and squash. A combination shoukd make a delicious pinakbet.

Also available are seeds and seedlings of upland kangkong, radish and pechay, which is perfect for a sinigang mix. Seeds of sweet pepper, lettuce, cabbage, carrot and cucumber can be grown. These vegetables are ideal for making a salad mix.

In addition to the native vegetable species, hybrids and new varieties are also available. For example, the new hybrid of tomatoes, eggplant and ampalaya are more resistant to pest and diseases and can be planted anytime of the year in any tropical environment condition.

For further information, contact MSBF at Tel Nos. 929-9312, 9240166 and 924-7001/02 or visit www.msbfi.com.

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