A Guide: My Notes on Gardening

Sunday, June 21, 2020



Hello dear reader! I hope all is well with you. I'd like to share with you some of my notes which I've gathered since I started gardening during this quarantine season.

Finding Respite in The Garden

If you follow along with me on my Instagram, it's no secret that I've been enjoying gardening a whole lot. There's that joy of eating what you've produced in your own garden; it makes the experience all the more exciting and rewarding. Since I haven't really been going anywhere, this is where you'll find me everyday.

It all began when my dad started planting pechay (bok choy, as recognized in English, or a kind of Chinese cabbage, but I'll just call it pechay all throughout this entry), and we had it one time for lunch. I asked both my parents where it came from, and how come it tasted so good?

"It was planted with love," my dad explained. "It was then cooked with love," my mom chimed in.

I was convinced. Since then, I willingly volunteered to lend a hand in working in the garden.

I first asked my dad how I could help; I wanted to become an assistant of sorts. In an effort to understand and learn more about something, I figured that the best way is to be an assistant. So my dad asked me to be in charge of watering, pulling out the weeds, crushing egg shells, picking out the fruits and vegetables that have ripened, mixing soil, and transplanting seedlings.

All the while I do these things, I get to have good conversations with my dad. I ask him what he thinks about things, and what he's been learning from gardening channels on YouTube. As I'm working from home, I don't have as much luxury of watching YT videos (except on weekends, but I'm busy with other chores too), so I ask my dad mostly. This is how I've learned, and how I continue to learn.

I can say that spending more time in the garden has kept me sane. Like the plants, I get to be out and feel the sun on my skin. Starting the day by watering the plants has given me a sense of achievement even before I start my work from home shift. Being surrounded by lots of green relaxes me before I tackle my mountain of emails.


On times it doesn't work out, having a small space, and maintenance

Of course there are times when the seeds don't grow as they should, and there are times when they don't grow at all. That can be discouraging, but we just keep planting. Much like life, if one thing doesn't work out, we can always try again. If not today, then tomorrow.

You don't have to have a big space either to have a 'garden'. As long as there is space, then that is already good enough. Find a spot inside the house where the light can come through, or place all the pots on a spot outside where you know the sun gets to shine there at certain times. Believe that big things can come from small spaces.

I know most people opt to go for low maintenance plants, but for me personally, these low maintenance plants would still need love and care! I also wouldn't want to miss out on that personal experience of taking care of something, being actively involved in its growth, and watching it grow for yourself.

Essentials for gardening

I admit I'm not a master nor do I know everything about plants, gardening, and growing crops, but I wanted to share with you what I know and what I personally do, in an effort to get you interested in trying it out! For this entry, I'll be using pechay plants.

I personally prefer growing something that we'll be able to consume.. one thing I appreciate about fruit/vegetable-bearing plants is that we don't have to go out to the grocery as often to buy this, so it's really a great idea to start growing these by yourself!

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Soil

I want to start with soil, because this is the very foundation of the plant. It's important to make sure it's filled with nutrients and it must be well prepared before using. This can be bought through garden shops, though it might be on the pricier side, since often they are already well mixed with other nutrients.

A great alternative is using the soil from a vacant lot, then just buying the nutrients separately. You can then mix them all up once you've purchased them. We use mostly organic soil-amendments such as:

  • Cocopeat - Made from coconut husk, which has been refined through machine, and mixed with other nutrients coming from animal and plant residue. 
  • Rice Hull - These are the husks that are taken out from each grain of rice after harvest, which are then refined as well through machine.


You can also create your own compost by mixing grass clippings, dried leaves, and food scraps such as egg shells and fruit peelings! Compost helps feed the soil, plus it's good to be using food waste in a more productive and helpful way. You can fill up a bin with food scraps and just let it pile up and decay over time (perhaps a month's time).





There are afternoons where I just spend a couple of hours crushing egg shells we've collected over the months. I take my time in making sure they are thoroughly crushed!

Fertilizer

Fertilizer helps feed the plant itself. These have useful nutrients which can help the plant grow healthier and can help retain the soil moisture. The commonly used fertilizers would be either worm, chicken, horse, or cow manure. These can all be store-bought, and of course all these fertilizers must have decomposed properly first before using!


The ideal ratio for the soil would be:

3 parts garden soil
1 part cocopeat
1 part rice hull
1 part fertilizer (this can be any of the manures mentioned, or even compost. You don't have to have each and every manure present in the soil, you can just choose one)

Container

If you don't have pots, you can get creative and use soda bottles or water bottles. I find that this is a good way to recycle plastic, and good for small spaces! Since my parents and I are not big fans of drinking soda, most of the bottles we've collected were from our fellow neighbors.


You can simply cut through the middle of the bottle to make space to fill up with soil. 




For the soda bottles, you can use the extra bottom portion to cradle the first half. It can also help for the plant to hydrate itself, because often when this bottle is watered, some of the water pools up at the bottom. Just ensure to cut holes on the bottle cap so the soil and roots can reach through as needed.

Container gardening is commonly practiced and is more convenient, as you don't have to own a huge plot of land for planting.

Sunlight

You can expose the plant to the sun for at least 8 hours, much like a regular day job. Ideal time is in the morning for when the sun's rays aren't too strong, yet do take note that during noon time or early afternoons, you can consider placing a net over the plant or placing it somewhere it can be shaded. This is so you can prevent the plant from drying up!


If you are staying in an apartment, you can consider placing them beside the window, and make sure to open it to let both the light and air in.

Seeds

Seeds can be bought in the supermarket. These can also be distributed by the local government, or by fellow neighbors. I'm thankful and blessed to belong in a community that encourages people to grow plants and crops in their own spaces. We collected a bunch of pechay seeds in store, enough for the rest of the year.


One of our packets! The seeds are super tiny


Seedling trays are good too, these can be bought in the supermarket as well, or you can improvise and use an egg tray. This is just so you can place the seed somewhere it can sprout for a while, before transferring it to a bigger pot or soda bottle.

Water 

It's recommended to water pechay plants twice daily especially on a hot day. If it rains, you can opt not to water them anymore to avoid drowning them. Make sure as well that your pot or container has holes, so excess water can drain easily.


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To end (and I'm glad you've reached this far!), I'd like to share my insights and musings so far into this journey---

  • I'm grateful that in small ways I'm able to practice sustainable living even just through planting vegetables, recycling soda bottles and preparing compost
  • Growing our own vegetables mean less trips to the grocery, and more certainty about the quality of food we eat
  • Planting and cultivating taught me a lot about humility and patience, as each seed grows in its own time, and sometimes not at all, but it reminds me to keep trying
  • I've grown comfortable in touching soil, getting my hands dirty, and sometimes even coming across worms.. such is life

I still have a lot to learn and experience, and we can do that together. Thank you for your time with me, I know I wrote a handful of information.. I hope somehow you can give gardening a chance!

If you're curious about anything else, please feel free to leave a comment, or message me directly on IG! Would loooove to discuss about gardens and plants, and we can be plant buddies. ; - )

Speak soon. ♡♡♡♡♡

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12 comments

  1. These are great tips! I have a couple of indoor plants and I noticed their leaves were starting to yellow. I think it might be due to lack of nutrition, so I added some coffee grounds but I like the idea of adding egg shells! It's great that you're gardening - it's inspiring me to pick up a few plants to grow :3

    http://bloomingsuitcase.com

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    1. It's definitely good to observe and check in on our plants regularly, even if they're named to be low maintenance. It's great as well that you've added the coffee grounds, that is a great idea. I'm fascinated with how we're able to reuse regular household waste into something beneficial for plants. :") and thank you, it means a lot to me to know that this blog entry has inspired you to keep growing more plants!! Hope you're having a wonderful weekend <3

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  2. My mom loves gardening! I'll redirect her to your post because she loves plants too :D Also your ig feed has been so soothing and calming x Thank you for putting together this post x

    Mari | www.dazedmari.com

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    1. Aww that's lovely to know, that your mom loves gardening as well! And thank you, I appreciate that you'll be showing this blog entry to her :") thank you thank you as well for letting me know that my snaps on ig have been calming for you.. I will continue to document my gardening journey. Thank you for taking the time with me on here <3

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  3. Kudos, Anna! You've learned a lot in just a short span of time. I've always been wanting to try it for myself and I might just actually give in after reading this. Thank you! <3

    Hugs,
    Cae | http://caealen.com

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    1. Hello Cae! So nice to see you on here. Yes, I do encourage you to try it out :") it's a great hobby, and it feeds you up as well. It's made me appreciate healthy living a lot more, definitely. Thank you for your time with me, and hope your weekend is great so far :)

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  4. It brings me so much joy to be able to see the products that you are sowing with your dad and mom! Your insta posts give so much inspiration and joy. Thank you for sharing your gardening notes, Anna. It's really great to develop a new hobby and turn it into something productive and inspiring. Let me know if you guys will sell ;) Hehehe I hope you are doing well!

    Love always,
    Ate Hanna / Heydays With Hanna

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    1. Thanks ate Hannah! I'm just glad we're able to bond together through this activity, and we're able to explore a more sustainable lifestyle. Haha at the moment, it's for our consumption for now, but we'll see :) hope you're doing great tooo~

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  5. I see you are naturally skilled in gardening, dear Anna Jo! I have to admit I don't have a green thumb but I'm always impressed if one is doing gardening as perfect as you are doing it. Thanks for sharing and enjoy further this wonderful hobby.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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    1. It's taken some time, and I'm happy I was able to devote a lot of time for gardening this year. I'm always looking into more ways to improve, and would love to learn even more as I go along! Thank you for your time with me here, and I hope your weekend is great. :)

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  6. Oh you are really skilled in gardening Anna. Lovely and some of those tipps are really good.
    Sadly I do not have a garden or a place to let something grow :/

    take a look at my BLOG and my INSTAGRAM

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    1. Thank you Amely! I hope these tips are indeed helpful for everyone who comes across this entry. You can try growing plants indoors too; you can always start small through container gardening. :) hope you get to try it out some time ~ thank you for being here, and I hope you have a good weekend!

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