When I was still in primary school we have a subject called Agriculture. In that subject we were taught how to plant vegetables and other plants. During the start of school year the school garden is full of weeds and dried plants so our teacher would then divide the lot among the number of students taking the subject and assign us specific areas where we can cultivate the soil and plant our seeds. The area we are working will be a rectangular shape and we would then use some pegs and straws as divisions. Everyday, using bolo knives we would cultivate the soil ensuring that it is soft enough for the plants to grow and we would water our plants using homemade sprinkling cans, usually made out of milk cans or recycled plastic bottles.Armed with this knowledge, my cousin and I had some sort of contest planting vegetables in our backyard. Her teammate was her younger brother while mine is my younger brother as well. She was very precise on the size of her garden, she used pegs and straws. As for me and my brother, we opted on choosing an area in the backyard where the soil is soft enough and easy to cultivate. She used carrot seeds which she bought at our school. While on my case, since I was not able to buy any seeds, I opted on using the malunggay or moringa seeds that my father was taking as supplement for his hypertension.
I really thought that my garden was a disaster but as it turned out my seeds grew whilst my cousin's didn't because the soil in her garden is a bit hard and needs a lot of time to cultivate and maintain the softness of the soil.
That was like ten years ago. Now, the malunggay trees served a lot of purpose. The tree itself served as a shade since my garden was located near a pathway and just across my bedroom window. The leaves, we use when cooking "utan" or "tinola" both are Filipino vegetable soup delicacies. We also sell the Malunggay leaves to our neighbors as well as in vegetable stands, an additional income good for after siesta snacks. My father saw the benefits of the garden my brother and I started and planted more vegetables in our backyard. We have sponge gourd, bitter gourd, white squash, lemon grass, we even had Chinese white cabbage one time.
The Malunggay trees was the best vegetable planted though because once they grow too much you can just cut their branches and plant them then leave them to grow and they will. Right now there are about 4 to 5 Malunggay trees near my bedroom window and we still have more at the vacant lot at the back of our house. The bitter gourd and sponge gourd needs to be tamed because if you are growing them naturally, there is a big chance that they will be infested with pests, so you would have to wrap them individually for them to grow properly. Although malunggay can still be infested with pest, because there are so many leaves growing, you can just choose the leaves where there are no pest festering on them, unlike with the bitter gourd or the sponge gourd, once they are infested they can no longer be eaten.
Planting vegetables in your garden is beneficial not only as a pastime or stress reliever but also helps you eat healthier foods. Because you know for yourself that there are no harmful chemicals used in the vegetables that you eat and you are also assured that they are fresh.