With most people staying at home nowadays, many have been trying their hand in different kinds of indoor activities. Among the many things that can be done at home, many have chosen to explore their potential green thumbs. The first people that could come to mind are the “plantitos” and “plantitas” of Instagram, who eagerly their houseplant collection. Keeping these houseplants can surely add life to the spaces we inhabit, as they are easy to grow and maintain, which makes life indoors more enjoyable.
While houseplants are now grown by many, people can consider exercising their green thumbs further into growing other varieties, such as vegetable plants. Contrary to the belief that vegetables are ideally grown in farms, they can also grow and thrive right at home.
A classic, sustainable and cost-effective way is by growing them through PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, and people can surely get creative in using them in such a way that they can be decorated and even painted on. People can also plant as much as they can regardless of how much space they have, considering that PET bottles do not take up too much room.
Beyond the aesthetic appeal plants can bring to the home and the satisfaction that caring for a plant gives, people can benefit directly from the produce of vegetable plants. Imagine going on fewer trips to the supermarket and buying less vegetables, all because you know you are able to harvest them from your own urban garden.
ARC Refreshments Corporation, Inc (ARC) is one of the companies to envision an advocacy program that will provide a sustainable way to help and support its employees and the community. ARC launched a digital training to teach their employees how they can reuse and recycle plastic bottles for their urban gardening project. Since most employees are working from home during the lockdown, they have more time to pursue meaningful projects that will help them become self-sufficient. ARC employees across the country underwent trainings on the methods of composting kitchen waste, yard waste, wastewater treatment sludge and all other biodegradable waste.
What to plant in your urban garden
To help you jumpstart your very own urban garden, here are the easiest vegetable and herb plants you can consider growing, as they are easy to take care of and you can be sure to harvest produce within a span of 3-4 weeks.
Leafy vegetables grow from seeds, and they generally have similar needs for their growth. They would need 6-8 hours of sunlight, and they have to be watered at least once daily depending on the weather. For a healthy and strong foundation, ensure there is equal amount of soil, organic fertilizer, and compost to ensure the plant has enough nutrients to grow healthily. The most commonly grown leafy vegetables and herbs are the following:
- Pechay (Chinese cabbage) – Pechay plants love sunlight and it takes only 3-5 days for the seeds to grow and sprout leaves.
- Mustasa (Mustard) – Mustasa thrives in cool weather and you can begin picking its leaves in about 4 weeks.
• Kangkong (Water spinach) – Kangkong plants grow well through seeds or stem cuttings. To propagate them, you can consider placing their stem cuttings in water then transplanting new stems into the soil.
- Lettuce and Kale – Both of these leafy vegetables are known to thrive in cooler temperatures, though they can also grow here in Manila. This is possible by ensuring the soil is consistently moist by watering it regularly.
- Basil, oregano, cilantro, thyme, parsley – Herbs can make a great addition to any meal, and they can be easily grown through PET bottles. They can grow well either indoors or outdoors, just ensure they get to absorb enough sunlight daily.
Growing food at home in small spaces
While the global pandemic has changed how people live and now think about the future, especially with most having to stay home for extended periods of time, many have considered how they can live a more sustainable lifestyle. Planting vegetables and reusing PET bottles can already count as a step towards sustainable living, considering that you do not have to go far to buy vegetables and PET bottles can be reused multiple times. Growing your own food at home also gives you assurance of its quality, and you can grow as much as you need whenever you want.
One with the community through ARC’s Grow as One Campaign
It can be helpful to know that we are not alone in our attempt to grow vegetables and start our urban gardens. ARC has started their “Grow as One” campaign which aims to empower people amidst the new normal. It was through this program that they launched their “My Gulay Garden” project in which they engaged and trained their employees to start their own urban gardens through the use of PET bottles. Since then, their employees have gone beyond to share their knowledge with their families, and in the communities they belong to.
Reconnecting with nature through the plants that are easily grown at home, whether it be through houseplants or vegetables, can teach us to appreciate both the beauty and the nourishment nature provides. It is through watching our plants grow and produce crops that we can experience for ourselves the good and honest work of our hands.