Admittedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned a lot of Filipinos into plantitos and plantitas. Even now that we’re more than eight months into quarantine, more and more people are still growing to love indoor and outdoor gardening as it enables them to be productive and the plants also make for good home decor.
It is because of its hype that the Department of Agriculture (DA) decided to jump on the bandwagon and encourage more individuals to start gardening and grow their own food. To attain this, they recently launched the Urban Agricultural Program—an urban gardening program developed by their training arm, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). (Read: Proposed House Bills Require Tree Planting for Every Childbirth, Graduation)
“Let us help you make use of the available space while growing all the food that you want!,” the organization said. Through the program, residents of Metro Manila and nearby provinces will be able to avail of free urban gardening starter kits that include seedlings, seedling trays, garden soil, compost, poly plastic bags, and instructional material.
Gardening Starter Kit: Seedlings
Seedlings are seeds or young plants that just recently sprouted. These are what you would plant and wait to grow (they grow generally faster than seeds!) so you can eat them. And while the ATI hasn’t mentioned what kind of seedlings they would be providing, we’re sure that you’ll love these healthy plants nonetheless!
Gardening Starter Kit: Garden Soil
Garden soil is where you would plant your seeds or seedlings. Generally, it is topsoil enriched with the nutrients needed for gardening. This is what you will use to ‘feed’ your plants. Its nutrition provision may be enhanced through the addition of compost. (Read: 5 Flowering Plants That Are Easy to Propagate Indoors)
Gardening Starter Kit: Seedling trays
A seedling tray is where you put your seedlings until it’s ready to be transplanted. Usually made of plastic, these trays are filled with soil or compost for the seedlings to grow properly until they can be transferred to a different container or piece of land. Think of it as your plants’ crib—it’s temporary housing until it grows enough to be transplanted into a bigger pot or land.
Gardening Starter Kit: Compost
If there are vitamins for humans and animals, there’s compost for plants! Compost, as mentioned above, is added to the soil to provide additional nutrients so the plant can grow better and healthier. It is made of decomposed or decayed organic material—kitchen scraps, leaves, and the like—and can also be referred to as fertilizer.
Gardening Starter Kit: Polyplastic Bags
Polyplastic bags can be used as a container for growing plants. They are better than solid, structured containers such as pots as they are more ‘flexible’ and won’t restrict the growth of plants that much. The poly plastic bags are what you would often see at plant shops—they are the black “containers” where plants for sale are usually placed.
Want to get yourself a gardening starter kit? You may contact the Farmers’ Contact Center at 0920 946 2474, or the Partnerships and Accreditation Division at 0919 061 3115 or 0951 107 7828. Those in the provinces may contact their respective DA regional offices and training centers.