Making this planet a little better with gardening

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With the extension of Enhanced Community Quarantine to mid-May, I have more time to focus on the ocean relief project that my hubby Dennis and I started as our 25th wedding anniversary charity project. We decided to support 25 different reefs all over our beautiful country. It is also so timely for us to work on it as we just celebrated Earth Day 2020 last April 22.   

The world marked Earth Day in the most unusual way ever in the past 50 years it has been observed. But thanks to the poetic and ironic justice of the coronavirus, Mother Nature is regenerating and in many places, flourishing. Confinement has led to a massive drop in emissions across the world, and can help scientists understand exactly how much of climate change is manmade.   

This unplanned grand experiment of a global lockdown is changing and healing the earth. Here in our country, we have seen less smog and people have posted pictures of how the Mt. Samat cross in Bataan is visible from Roxas Boulevard. Suddenly we can see the stars at night and the supermoon photos look superb. Even the wild fauna in our city is getting rejuvenated, with pictures of birds and other wildlife around the city flooding social media. We all hope that this global rebirth can continue as we heal from COVID-19. 

Super moon over clear Manila skyline

In a message for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged governments worldwide to use their economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic to tackle the “even deeper emergency” of climate change. Let’s hope that governments, including ours, can use some of these economic stimulus funds to also focus on sustaining our efforts at combating climate change. The future is so uncertain and could be so gloomy but we should use ECQ to buy us time to really focus on what matters most in our future lives, and make the necessary game plans to achieve these purposes. 

In the meantime, we can start little projects to make our world greener and wilder. Long time friend, Tina Ocampo shares some tips on keeping your garden lush and beautiful. According to her, real gardeners say that the best time to prune trees is when your ceiling lights attract lots of flying insects. This only means rainy season is about to come. Pruning will assure you of lush and healthy looking trees when the rains come.  

Secondly, neophyte gardeners need a lot of help from fertilizers. To be safe for both humans and pets, Tina prefers making it organically from the fallen, dried leaves. She wets the pen of dried leaves twice a week and lets the leaves rot. The she shreds the leaves and scatters them into potted plants and ground plants. 

Her third tip is to be a gardener with a wholistic sense of nature – a plant talker. Clearly possessing a green thumb, Tina gives her plants love and attention and shares her daily stories with them. 

Another good friend, Daphne Oseña Paez shared her tips on creating a vegetable garden. She told me,  “I have a Vegepod, a raised bed with a self-watering system enclosed in a canopy. It’s an Australian brand distributed locally by @vegepod.ph.” Daphne grows lettuce, arugula, mustasa, beets, peppers, cherry tomatoes, and herbs like basil, cilantro, sage, thyme, peppermint. She likes the vegepod.ph system because she is able to grow veggies directly from seeds, and her leafy veggies are protected from the elements. 

Daphne also has a Tower Garden from @downtoearthph. She attended their one-day, urban farming workshop and bought their tower and separate compost kit. The tower has a compost receptacle in the middle where she dumps all her green kitchen waste. There are worms inside the middle tube. The worms get to work with the organic waste and convert them into vermicast that end up back into the soil. The drum holds over 50 plants. You can grow up to two kilos of vegetables per week in this drum that just uses up three square feet of space. 

Another friend, designer and wellness advocate Hindy Tantoco harvests from her vegetable garden almost weekly. She moved away from the city in 2011 and focused on Holy Carabao Holistic Farms, a group of family farms that offer and deliver organic and biodynamic meat, dairy, and produce. 

Last year, Hindy designed a sustainably made capsule collection, Hindy Weber Every.Day that is made from natural, organic, raw, and even compostable or biodegradable materials. She said that you can even throw some of it in the soil and it will eventually decompose. The brand looked globally to find “certified organic textiles, reusable or natural trimmings, plant and water-safe dyes, and ethical manufacturing.”   

My dear cousin Karla Delgado started Kai Farms several years ago. She has been supporting many local farmers and teaching them sustainable farming. Kai Farms has been helping feed frontline doctors and nurses with organic produce. During this lockdown, Karla and her family were happily locked down in a permaculture Tao Farm in Palawan. They have been enjoying living in bamboo huts by the sea and embracing the life she only dreams of.   

An earth-healer indeed, Karla shared her Earth Day message that it is a time of great regenaration for the sea and for earth and wishing all to tread more lightly on this earth which is so needed. 

So, what future do we choose? Now that the sickness in our body has opened our eyes to the sickness in our planet, I hope this will create a lasting awareness that we are all responsible for the health of planet earth. We all need to contribute and bring back nature and nurture grasslands, forests, and oceans. We all need to act now and make this generation the one who saved the world from extinction! 

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