Growing a Small Home Garden
Alexa Montecillo (The Freeman) - April 7, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — As summer approaches, people tend to spend more time outdoors. In cities, the air-conditioned malls are a refreshing relief, indeed; only that the artificial environment could not equal the quality that nature offers outside. Especially where there are plenty of plants to filter toxins, the air is fresher.

At the level of a residence, greening the house surroundings can be done by gardening. Most gardens are easy and quick to grow. If planted now, the garden would be fairly grown when summer strikes its fiercest.

For the average home, professional garden designers would not be necessary. While a garden to impress the neighbors is nice to have, a garden that fills up the kitchen table with fresh produce is just as good. And the whole family can tend it, allowing good bonding time for family members.

Gardens tend to soften the feel of the surroundings. Native plants are preferable since these have been proven to withstand well the local climate. Equally, plants that have more than mere decorative value are a good choice.

But, of course, a garden is more magical with some aesthetics. Hand-made bricks and textured paving blocks – with all their irregularities and imperfections – can add a certain artistic feel to the garden, bringing a natural element especially to small city gardens. It does not take an award-winning garden designer nor have to be expensive to have a garden that is practical and yet with a distinct character.

With a flourishing little garden, the family would want to stay more outside – more so if there are grown trees that give shade. Family meals are more satisfying when shared at the garden shed, with fresh air and a whiff of barbecue from the outdoor charcoal pit.

The family may even start a plant-based diet or at least teach the kids to love vegetables. Salad leaves, herbs and tomatoes grow well in boxes on balconies and patios and are a good cushion to the soaring supermarket prices too. Even homes that don’t have much of yard space can squeeze in pots of different vegetables to aid in the family’s food requirement.

Legumes, squashes, ampalaya and string beans may be resorted to if ground space is really a problem. These plants are a great option, since they make use of vertical space. Homegrown vegetables are guaranteed good food, and healing plants like Aloe Vera, mint, and the like provide inexpensive – if not free – home remedies for various ailments.

Another way to have plants around the house is with pocket gardens, these big, showy displays occurring in a small space that may otherwise remain bare. Pocket gardens provide a wow-factor, decorate private retreats, and break up the monotony of large fences and paver patios. Pocket gardens can be planted virtually anywhere from cracks in wooden tables to empty wall spaces.

True, pocket gardens are often opted for their decorative effect. But there’s no rule against filling up a pocket garden with more useful plants like vegetables and healing herbs. It is possible to have a pocket garden that give the home an artistic accent and, at the same time, gives the house residents something to munch on.

Those interested to grow their small home garden may start it in a few simple ways:

Find available space. It’s very possible to find space for a plant pot or two, at least. If ground space is really tight on the ground, a look upwards may reveal space for hanging plants. It is important, though, that the space chosen allows sunlight for the plants. Some plants need a lot of sunlight, while other need only little.

Prepare plant containers.Where there isn’t any plantable space in the ground, plant containers may be used. Even broken down things – like the kids’ wagon, galvanized tubs, unused bird baths and other weather resistant items – may be used. In the light of the current environmental consciousness, re-purposed things create a wow-factor to a small garden. Fill the containers with good soil.

Determine which plants to grow. Considering such things as location of the garden and the kind of soil in the containers, the next thing to do is decide which plants are best to grow. Different plants, for example, have different sunlight needs; and certain plants grow well in certain soils.

Growing a small home garden is no rocket science. But it takes a sense of responsibility. Regular tending is necessary.

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