Vegetable gardening at the rooftop?
by Virginia A Duldulao April-June 2001 Volume 3 No. 2
You can raise vegetables on your rooftop. That is, if you do not have any space on the ground anymore like Leonila Griarte who used about 26 sq. m. of her rooftop for her garden. This rooftop garden is located at 781 Coronado St., Mandaluyong City, overlooking the Pasig River. She planted different crops at different periods of the year. These include pechay, mustard, okra, patola, pepper, ginger, malunggay, ampalaya, squash, and camote. For the whole year, her garden supplies her family’s vegetable needs. In addition, she raises orchids and bromeliads aside from ordinary ornamental plants that serve as giveaways to her friends and officemates. Leony owns a place whose façade looks small but the inside portion extends to two houses. It is in the front portion that a third floor is constructed and the back portion with a second floor. The third floor is divided into two: a bedroom with toilet and bath with a small balcony while the other part is the garden, an open space that is directly under sunlight the whole day. The balcony has an overhang where she places potted orchids of different kinds. The garden is divided into two parts. The front portion, about 4 m and 1 m wide, is the nursery for orchids and other ornamentals using recycled materials as containers. The remaining portion is the vegetable garden. Two plots, one at both sides, were made. Hollow blocks were used to enclose the plots measuring 2.75 by 1.5 m each leaving a footpath of .50 m between the plots. The plots were filled with soil brought in from Cavite and Batangas. The height of the hollow blocks when set horizontally is the depth of the plots. The blocks were cemented together to prevent soil from eroding through the gaps in between. One of the plots does not extend until the wall. Instead, a platform made of steel bars occupies the space. This holds small pots of ornamentals, bromeliads, Thai kalachuchi, and orchids. The plot at the left portion contains the cucurbits. According to Leony, her regular plants include eggplant, pepper, tomato, and okra. At the sides are oregano and luyang dilaw. Also at this part of the garden is a tall wrought-iron chicken cage that is really for raising four to five chickens at one time. They provide eggs for the family and manure for the plants. The cage also serves as trellis for the patola and ampalaya vines. The second floor which serves as kitchen and dining room has a balcony. In it are two very large containers made from vehicle tires, one planted to pandan and the other to malunggay tree. There are also driftwoods at both sides with orchids. The pandan leaves are used by her daughter in the making of a native delicacy that she sells commercially. To water her plants, a faucet is installed at the entrance of the garden. She uses organic fertilizer and no pesticide. Benefits of gardening Since 1983, Leony had been gardening as a pastime in between mothering and a job at Vonnel. She soon realized that she could produce food for her family’s consumption. When she was able to buy a larger area for her house, her pastime became a preoccupation to produce her family’s vegetable needs. She could also share her produce with her neighbors and officemates at the City Hall of Mandaluyong where she works. Moreover, she propagates plant materials and grow seedlings as well as produce seeds from her plants which she distributes to her neighbors to encourage them also to plant vegetables. She estimates that her family of five daily consumption of vegetables amounts to P80.00. Since she rarely buys vegetables, then this amount is already a saving on her family budget. Moreover, her grandchildren have even become vegetarian which is rare for children these days. Innovative ways of gardening Families can be innovative in their ways of food production especially when space is a constraint. In flood-prone Valenzuela and Malabon, some families plant camote and kangkong in discarded containers and when the flood comes they bring these to upper portions of their house to hang. This assures them of vegetables even at a time when these are in short supply. Others plant kalamansi, saluyot, pechay, pepper, eggplant, and others in their veranda.
How about you? Want to try?
(Source: Veggies Today, National Vegetable RDE Network, Institute of Plant Breeding, UPLB College, Laguna, Tel no. (049)536-2512 local 217; Ontario FactSheet, Ministry of Agriculture, Ontario, Canada)