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Gardening

Here’s How To Grow A Vegetable Garden In Your Own Backyard

This homeowner and Style Spotter shares her easy, beginner's tips on starting an edible garden. You just need cuttings!

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Photography: Jilson Tiu (portrait), @donnacpita on Instagram

I was never really into gardening—which makes my foray into backyard farming quite a surprise. I grew up with an amazing plant-whisperer-mother who could name every plant in sight, and constantly tended to our garden growing up. I always just watched and listened.

Forty two years later, I am now trying my hand at growing my own edible garden. Looking to becoming more self-sufficient and environmentally-friendly, we have made measures to make our home green through our solar panels, rain water catchment system,  and our small edible garden. Here, some gardening tips I’ve learned through trial and error.

Decide on what vegetables you really want to eat


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Don’t grow eggplants if your family doesn’t enjoy eating it. Don’t invest in lavender plants if you don’t like the smell. Think of what items you regularly buy at the grocery and see which ones you can grow at home. We use calamansi, kangkong, talbos ng kamote, and malunggay a lot so I decided on planting a lot of these on our front and back yards. I also enjoy tarragon tea so I’ve propagated it from cuttings.

You can re-grow a garden from grocery produce


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Pineapple tops, lettuce, cilantro, kangkong, and avocados are just some of the plants you can re-grow from what you would throw away after eating these items. Slice off the top of the pineapple and re-plant the leafy part. Plant some ginger root to make them grow bigger for future use. Chop off the top part of lettuce and put the bottom part in a shallow container with water to encourage it to develop roots.


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You can even grow sayote by simply leaving it by a window with sunlight and watch it sprout roots! Seeds from fruits you eat like avocado, tomatoes, and mangoes can be be sprouted, and then planted. I was surprised by how simply sticking stalks of kangkong into the ground made them grow! We used cut-up branches of malunggay to make a trellis and they sprouted leaves!

Start with low-maintenance plants


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Some plants need more care and attention than others, and I decided to stay clear of those simply because I cannot devote hours every day watching over them. Some low-maintenance plants I have are kangkong, kamote, calamansi, eggplant, dragonfruit, bananas, and malunggay.  If you have plants dying on you, learn from the experience and decide whether you want to try again with the same plant, or grow another kind.

Connect with other gardeners


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The guidance and generosity of veteran gardeners have been instrumental in my gardening journey. Join gardening groups online, surf the Internet for tips. I stumbled upon dragonfruits because a generous neighbor gave me cuttings and told me to simply “stick them into the ground”. That’s what we did and we’re expecting our first dragonfruit harvest in a few weeks! My kasambahays were also farmers back in the province and they’ve taught me how to take care of our small patch of fruits and vegetables.


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READ: 5 Online Gardening Groups You Must Follow Now

Watch and learn


Look at how different conditions affect your plants. Our kangkong and talbos ng kamote patch in the backyard was infested by insects after last year’s rainy season. Their leaves had holes and so we had to uproot everything and start all over again. A simple spray of dish soap and water helped manage the infestation. My rosemary shrub was also attacked by aphids. I’m using the same soap spray now to help my plant recuperate. See which locations potted plants like more. Does it like more morning sun or more shade? Keep an eye out to any changes your plants might be going through and take note.

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READ: Kitchen Herbs You Didn’t Know Could Repel Insects

You can start your own edible garden from a single pot of calamansi or tarragon. You don’t need a big plot of land and special equipment. Knowing where your food comes from and getting them fresh and for free are just some of the benefits of backyard farming. Have fun and enjoy the journey!

Donna Cuna-Pita is one of Real Living’s Style Spotters for home care and DIY projects. To see her beautiful home, click here. Follow Donna on Instagram @donnacpita

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