Walking the Talk ... Weekend Organic Vegetable Gardening

Organic sigarliyas plant on its early stage of flowering and growing on veranda grills.

Waking up to the scents of  different flowers in bloom, the buzz of the bees and butterflies frolicking from one bloom to another, the bounty that our ‘guapple’ tree gives and the cool October breeze makes you wish that the season never ends. 
 
This brings to mind childhood memories of weekends spent climbing our siniguelas tree hunting for ripe and plump fruits my brothers missed and the delight of finding one or two hiding behind dark green leaves, and of playing assistant to my mother while she tended her garden plants.  
 
I remember the vacant lot beside our house, that too did not escape the nurturing hands of my mother. She planted different vegetables now we call the ‘Bahay Kubo’ and ‘pinakbet’ vegetables and the good old sweet potato. We raised several pigs and chickens and used the manure and urine as fertilizer as was the practice then in our province. 
 
And yes ... I remember too the porky pig our neighbour raised which one day went astray and ate the vegetables and sweet potatoes we planted.  Mom went ballistic and tried to catch the pig, ready to make a pork chop out of it. It was so hilarious because we all tried to catch it but the pig was an escape artist! The pig knew how to go home fast and it got away scot free! 
 
These were my first lessons in Organic Gardening 101. To me then, it was magical, for how in the world can tiny plants grow and sprout beautiful blooms and fruits! But growing up made me forget these beautiful memories.
 
Recently, the blogs and success stories featured on the web and the media mileage given to organic agriculture awakened the farmer in me and inspired me to give it a try at home.
 
I had experimented with amplaya, kangkong and sweet potato cuttings I saved from kitchen refuse. It was an off and on thing then. 
 
But last August, a friend gave me sigarilyas seeds and I sowed five seeds for starters on small garden pots.  I was elated when four seeds germinated on the 5th day. The tiny plant grew and started to produce tendrils as days went by. Oh, the plant was a creeper! So I cut some branches from our guapple tree to provide trellises for the plants and painstakingly trained the tendrils to crawl on our veranda grills. 
 
It has been almost three months but the plants just produced leaves profusely but no beans! I patiently watered the plant, even talked and coerced the plants to flower. I used organic fertilizers and crushed egg shells. And my goodness! Even the pests that ate the leaves of our plants were healthy! 
 
I thought the variety was not acclimatized in our locality, so I gave up. Disappointed, I convinced myself that the plants still has a purpose ...maybe of providing us some shade from the afternoon sun even if it will not produce the beans!
 
One weekend, while watering the plants a pleasant surprise greeted me! At first glance I thought the plants dried out because the color of the young shoots turned dark brown. And when I looked closer, the first sprays of purple buds are forming at the tip of the young shoots! 
 
So this was how farmers felt at the first sight of green leaves from tiny seeds they sowed...the first sight of flowering plants and the promise it fore tell. Indeed, nature’s gift to toiling hands and a patient heart. The plants provide us shade from the afternoon sun and  just two weeks ago, I harvested and cooked seven pieces of fresh, sweet purple sigarliyas! Today, I am looking forward to harvesting  the second batch of beans. Soon yummy and nutritious vegetable salad on our table!
 
And so it is with pride to say that I am a ‘weekend OA farmer'! Gardening became a way of life to me . Getting back to my plants after a hectic week at the office is something I always look forward to during weekends. Imagine, even with a very small space in one’s yard and several pots, one can get a variety of fresh and nutritious vegetables! 
 
I just can’t wait to plant the cherry tomato and bunching onion leek seeds I bought at the World Trade Center during the Department of Agriculture’s AgriLink Trade Fare early last month! And yes, the eggplant and bell pepper seedlings a good friend gave me today. Oh my, my list is growing and growing! Hurray weekends!