Garden Philippines: Part 1: Making Space

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Five types of garden vegetables grown in the Philippines.

In an earlier post, I told you how we took down the chicken coop and will now turn the space it occupied into several garden plots.

Garden Basics

Concrete blocks laid out to form a garden plot.We’re using 4-inch concrete hollow block to contain our garden soil. We have to use soil brought from outside because our existing soil is a rocky builder’s layer over a heavy clay type.

We got the soil from a couple of sources. Several bags came from a plant farm stand in the plant section of the parking lot at SM City (Ecoland). Several more bags came from a plant farm in Mintal.

From the stand in Mintal we also bought some coconut coir to mix in the soil to add loft. Menchu also got a bag of soil mixed with chicken manure.

A garden plot filled with soil and with a trellis for beans installed.

We’re growing a green bean type known here as a Baguio Bean which I think is also called Kentucky Wonder. A search online didn’t yield much more info than that. I think they’re just a common green bean. They sure are tasty, though!

Menchu has made trellises for the bean to climb on from some leftover 8mm Rebar and fencing from the chicken coop. It’s not terribly pretty but nothing should go to waste if you can help it, right?

The layout of all of the beds looks like this:

Three plots laid out in our yard, ready for soil and planting.

That empty center area is where we’ve decided to put up a hydroponic table, later on.

Hydro-whositz?

Hydroponics is growing plants in just nutrient-rich water. It’s something we’ll try doing it on small scale. Menchu ordered some supplies from a source here in the Philippines. We also have some Rockwool starter blocks (for starting seeds) coming from the U.S. 

I’m not sure about the hydroponics. The soil we are getting seems to be good and once the compost breaks down, we should be fine. I guess that since we have two 1,000-liter rainwater tanks, we should use the water for something.

Garden Menu

Eggplant seedlings.We’re going to grow the green beans, eggplant (talong), Chinese cabbage and hot peppers (sili). One of the things I miss from the US is big, juicy tomatoes. We’re going to try to grow a soil and a hydroponic type that are each supposed to do well in hot, humid weather. Some heat-tolerant Roma tomatoes to make a red sauce with are also on the garden agenda.

We’ll also be trying a couple of loose-leaf lettuce types. The ones with tight heads (like Iceburg) tend to just rot in the humidity here.One of the things I miss from the US is big, juicy tomatoes. We’re going to try to grow a soil and a hydroponic type that are each supposed to do well in hot, humid weather. Some heat-tolerant Roma tomatoes to make a red sauce with are also on the garden agenda.

One of the things I miss from the US is big, juicy tomatoes. We’re going to try to grow a soil and a hydroponic type that are each supposed to do well in hot, humid weather. Some heat-tolerant Roma tomatoes to make a red sauce with are also on the garden agenda.

Compost Pile

A simple wire fence compost bin.Compost is a must for good gardening. We had one of our regular helpers, Molong, make a compost “bin” using leftover Rebar and fencing. We have plenty of leaves in the yard, especially from the jackfruit (langka, in Tagalog) tree.

We also add grass clippings from the front bush garden area when we have it clipped. All organic kitchen refuse like peelings, fruit cores and so on, go into the compost. So do the pomelo (suha ) and occasional mango (mangga) that fall from our trees.

It’s pretty hot here so the breaking down process should be fairly quick. I have to turn it pretty soon and check to make sure it’s not getting too wet from the frequent rains.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing more about our garden and sharing photos of how it’s growing.

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4 Responses to Garden Philippines: Part 1: Making Space

  1. Queenie O. July 31, 2017 at 9:54 PM #

    Hi JD,

    Nice plan and garden layout! At our place in Cebu province, when we first settled here, we sectioned off a portion of our yard with hollow blocks like you folks did. We encouraged neighborhood kids to find earthworms to sell to us, because we couldn’t seem to find any in the soil! We had some good luck with long eggplant, okra, malibar spinach, local roma type tomatoes and some local herbs. Over time plants, got kind of leggy and we felt that it wasn’t really worth it for us yield wise over buying them in the town market. We ended up just making a total tropical jungle instead. We still have a compost pile like you though, and yes fruit peels and vegetable scraps do break down fast!

    Best wishes on your garden adventures! Lookin’ good!

  2. JD August 1, 2017 at 1:14 PM #

    Thanks for the comment, Queenie O.!

    We have the same problem with the lack of earthworms in our soil. As bad luck would have it, snakes and worms are the only two things Menchu is afraid of! If I sent the neighbor kids off to find some worms, I’m afraid I’d be next for the compost pile.

    I will look up the malibar spinach. Chances are it might do well down here and I love spinach.

    Thanks again for your great comment!

    JD

  3. Queenie O. August 1, 2017 at 1:31 PM #

    Yes JD–Malibar spinach is called alugbati here. Not the regular tender spinach that we’re familiar with, but has a nice flavor in stir fry and is very good for you.

    I’m not sure why earthworms are not so plentiful here it seems either. The kids knew where to look though! I think that you folks might have better soil for vegetables there in Davao. You are the “Fruit Basket of the Philippines” after all! Here by the sea in Cebu province, we have uneven rocky ground with a mostly limestone bed. We find that we have to keep adding/layering dried carabao manure and nursery soil with rice hulls, to try to build up the soil bed over time. We have good luck with trees and bamboos etc., so I’ve decided to just work on a jungle type landscape. Being a native Rhode Islander, this garden style is all new to me, but I love it! Just a new learning curve to work on I guess!

  4. JD August 2, 2017 at 1:08 PM #

    Ah, Alugbati. I think we have that already. Darn. I was hoping for the other spinach.

    You’d think the soil would be naturally good here. I did. But it’s heavy and clay-like where we are. The fruit trees we were able to leave in place when we cleared our lot seems to like the soil, though. We had to get our starter garden soil from the plant farms.

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