Tuesday, December 11, 2012


           Have you ever planted your own vegetables?  Not yet a green thumb?  Let’s paint your thumb green, red and yellow and allow you to harvest tasty kitchen vegetables and fruits. Harbest is actively awakening families to grow fresh and clean vegetables and short-term fruits in their backyard – on the ground or in containers.  Vertical or horizontal, through its Gulayan sa Barangay.
This is our first issue dedicated to this family activity.  We shall introduce you to the possibilities of you growing your own food.  Simple technique of planting leafy vegetable in pots and plots will guide you.  The Edible Gardening 101 provides some basic pointers while the Edible Gardening tidbits give you more interesting information on basic gardening. Learn about urban farming from Greenhills and set up your own pick-n-pay vegetable garden.  
Why not start today?  HARBEST has introduced its varied HOME GARDEN vegetables seeds as well as herbs, flowers and ornamentals from KNOWN-YOU SEED CO., of Taiwan.  Popular and easy to grow. 
Let’s SOW AND GROW today.  

        Again, that green thumb question makes us doubt if we can really sow and grow our own tomatoes and melons. Here we present basics on edible gardening for you to start. 

1.  Learning by reading and looking.  There are so much reading materials available now at National Book Store and the internet that it is really a matter of going through them to start painting your thumb green.  You can also watch your friends grow their own vegetable patch or attend gardening seminars. Then make that first move to sow your own seeds.

2. Sunlight.  All vegetables and fruits like Red Lady papaya need sunlight.  At least 6 hours a day will give enough chlorophyll for your plants.  So check the location for your plots and containers. And give them enough room to breath

3.  Soil.  Prepare your garden plots well.  Till your soil with your trowel or hoe. Remove big stones and weeds, recondition your soil with humus and effective microorganism.  Make sure it is loose enough to have aeration but firm enough to hold the seeds and roots.  Make raised beds of 6” to 10” to drain rain water well.  You may apply mulch to protect your plants from too much rain.  Make sure you are working on a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

4.  Seeds.  Buy good quality seeds to make sure you get great tasting veggies and fruits. There are several reliable suppliers of gardening seeds.  Harbest can provide you with a whole range of Chinese vegetable seeds and herb seeds for your edible garden.  Visit us at www.harbest.com.ph for your selection. Or our nearest dealer to you.

5.  Water.  You should have readily available water for irrigation. Using recycled water (without soap!) or saved rain water can help you conserve Mother Nature’s health.  Although make sure you don’t over water your plants or drown them with improper drainage during heavy rain.

6.  Tender Loving Care.  Your daily watering, regular weeding, removing bugs and worms that eat your leaves ahead of you, feeding your growing veggies with the right food called NPK  and other micro nutrients.
It’s great exercise to be bending your knees daily and work under the morning sun.  Good for your health too aside from the nutrients your veggies will give you.
Eat Fresh.  Grow it!
SEEDS are alive!  Treat them with care.  When buying, make sure your seeds are fresh.  Not displayed for many years or exposed to heat and cold for too long.  You might leave the seed packs in your glove compartment in the open parking lot. They will choke to death! 

If you are not planting them immediately, specially if you bought them from a garden store in one of your travels,  keep them in a cool, dry place. A drawer or the ref veggie compartment will do.  NOT IN THE FREEZER ha!. When packing for home, protect your seed packs from too much pressure. Place them in a hard box or wrap them with foam sheet. Add charcoal to absorb excess moisture. But do not forget them when you get home.  Sow immediately to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Your seeds should be sown and covered with soil, 1 cm to 2 cm deep.  Amapalaya seeds are sown half covered vertically, with the pointed portion facing down.  Since it has a hard seed coat, break the upper pointed side a little just enough to let water wet the inner core.  Ask Harbest for details.

Soil is where your seeds grow into nutritious veggies and fruits. Understand it well.  The rule of green thumb is it should be loose to let your roots breath and grow.  But firm enough to cover your seeds and let it germinate as well as support your plants. Learn to do composting with EM-1. Read Sustainable Farming book of Keith Mikkelson, available at Harbest.

You may mix GROWELL planting medium 50:50 with your garden soil to loosen it.  Fine garden soil can get compacted when watered and may choke the tender roots.  You can also mix your home-made compost .

Don’t throw away those excess pebbles and gravel from your house construction.  They can be used as foundation for your vegetable plots.  A layer of gravel with pebbles can provide a good drainage under your garden soil or for your pots.   But do not forget the canals to drain off excessive rain water.  Or else you will have a water-logged garden.

Vegetables are shallow-rooted plants.  Pokchoi (?) can grow well in a two inches deep gardening soil medium but make sure that the container is a little bit wide.  Eggplants can bear fruits in a 12 inch deep pot with fertile soil.  With a 2m2 garden, with full sun, you can grow a variety of veggies for your kitchen.  No space? grow them vertically with pots or vertical lettuce post.  Make Edible Gardening a family activity.  Involve your kids and lola.  As you gain confidence with your first harvest of Chinese Kangkong after 30 days from sowing, you can grow more types of oriental leafy vegetables.  Such as mustard, radish, pokchoi, yu-tsai-sum, kalian, and many more. 

Try the HARBEST LEAFY VEGETABLE GARDENING KIT for beginners.  Just P300 per set complete with your choice of seeds (one type), Growell medium, deep tray, fertilizer and instruction printed on the bag.  Available at the HARBEST EDIBLE GARDEN CENTER, ground floor, building A, SM Megamall. Across National Book Store.  So easy to grow your own veggies.  Harvest in about 30 days.

Protect your seedling from ants, pets and birds.  You can easily make your own seedling nursery.  Essentials are it should be about one foot above the ground. Use plastic crates to raise your seedling trays and make a canopy with PE film and enclose with fine nets. 
Dishwashing soap can be an effective pesticide.  Mixing it with a little ground hot pepper will add strength to your solution of organic pesticide.  Although the most effective pest control in home garden is still “piscillicide”.  Pisilin mo ang uod. Kadiri? use gloves. To kill snails instantly, sprinkle a few grains of salt on their flesh, and soon you will see a foaming mad snail cursing you.

 Using the GROW YOUR OWN LEAFY VEGETABLES gardening starter kit will start you off asap in vegetable gardening.  The pictures show you the easy steps in sowing and growing your own Chinese Kang Kong.  From preparing the GROWELL planting medium made from organic materials – washed cocopeat, charcoal rice hull and organic fertilizer – to sowing and watering daily.  In 3 days the seeds will start to sprout.  Just apply  a solution of vermicast – 1 cup teaspoon mixed with one gallon of water on the 3rd week or if you prefer, use organic foliar fertilizer. You may also sidedress 2 handful of vermicast or vermicompost.   Make sure your plants are exposed to sunlight daily.  They loved the sun.   In 30 days, it is ready for harvesting. You may cut one inch above the ground and new leaves will grow again for another harvest in 25 days.  Just remember to water daily and apply once your fertilizer.  Kang kong is a rich source of natural fiber.  And the cheapest source at that.  Delicious too cooked in wok.

Leafy GRAND RAPID lettuce by your green thumb?
Why not?  Lettuce seeds are so tiny. And yet it can grow into a delicious salad ingredient in 35-45 days.  Just follow the simple steps in the picture.  First, sow your seeds in seedling trays if you are planting a whole 10 meter plot.  If not, just sow the seeds directly, 2 to 3 in a hole.  Seedlings are ready for transplant in 3 weeks. 12 can fill the deep tray that go with your gardening kit. 
Do light watering, meaning don’t pour water to break the tender leaves of the young seedlings.  The Growell medium may dry up easily during hot days.  It may be necessary to water twice when it gets too dry.  Just apply  a solution of vermicast – 1 cup teaspoon mixed with one gallon of water on the 3rd week or if you prefer, use organic foliar fertilizer. You may also sidedress 2 handful of vermicast or vermicompost.  and another time on the 4th and 5th week.
Grand Rapid loves the full sun after transplanting. Though you may keep the young sprouts under shade until the 10th day.
Don’t delay the harvesting to avoid bitter taste.
Great for salads and sandwiches.  Eat fresh. Grow it!