Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Enjoy Fresh Vegetables by Planting Your Own

This is the third time I worked on this piece of vacant land in front of my house to prevent it from becoming an eyesore and a breeding place for all sort of pests.  By turning it into a vegetable plot it will provide me with fresh home grown vegetables as well as provide me with a good exercise to sweat it out and remove those toxins from my blood system.
The first time I started working on this idle patch of land in front of my house was in March 2009. I had to stop barely after 3 months later because the land owner brought a team of surveyors to demarcate the boundaries of his 3 house lots.
Seeing that nothing was being done by the landowner after a year I worked on the land again but had to stop during the monsoon of 2011 due to the area becoming water logged as the drain that used to drain the area was clogged up with sand and debris. Together with two other neighbours we cleaned up the drain and constructed a concrete sump to prevent further clogging, thus rendering the area to be usable again.

This was how the area looked like way back in 2009. The area was covered with rumput buluh or rumput bulu (lopatherum gracile) and semalu (mimosa sp).
 I had asked my neighbour Pak Mat to join me in working the area as he had done so the fist time with me. Being old he preferred to maintain his small plot of maize and watermelon planted in rubber tyres filled with soil to raise its level for fear that a heavy rain may submerge his plants.
Pak Mat's garden.
 Pak Mat's sole watermelon  fruit only managed to grow to palm size. I doubt it can grow any bigger than this as his soil in the tyre is very limited.

Clearing up the area was much easier this time around as a neighbour had used the area for his cattles to graze and thus the grasses were kept low. In March this year I started to plant up the area with the usual vegetables which is easy to plant and which I love to eat. Yes you guessed it right, kangkong and bayam again.
A few beds were made and planted.

The initial two beds of kangkong (ipomea aquatic) and bayam merah or red spinach (Amaranthus gangeticus). All the beds were four feet wide at the base and 9 inches high with varying lengths.

 A simple shallow well was dug to provide the water. Since the land is close to an irrigation canal, the seepage from it kept the water table high. Should the well dry up when the canal is not functioning during the rice harvesting season, I will have to water the plants using water from my tap.

Another bed was added to accomodate the exess seedlings that needed to be thinned once the seeds germinated. The cangkul was all the tool I need to cultivate the soil.

More beds were created and by now I have added the ubi setelo or keledek or sweet potatoes (ipomea batatas), ubi kayu (manihot sativus) and serai or lemongrass (cymbopogon) to the list of plants found in my vegetable plot.

The kangkong was easy to plant but somehow the red spinach failed me and I had it replaced with sawi or choy sam to the Chinese.
Young kangkong plants will taste great especially if it is fried with belacan. I prefer it in soup with rice noodles garnished with a rich dose of fresh prawns.

The sawi (Brassica sp.) or choy sam to the Chinese isn't our favorite vegetable and after the first crop, I stopped planting it.

My first bed of sweet potatoes and beside it the newly planted tapioca bed.

The maize plot is growing very well. Soon I will have them boiled.

The plot is enlarging.

Where I threw my previous crop of red spinach, a new crop emerges. What luck.

My gardening tools with my gardening shoes.

My sweet potato is nearing maturity after 3 months.

The exposed tubers after some digging.

The harvest from the first bed of keledek. Though not much, the nearest neighbors will get them too.

The proximity of the vegetable plot to my house made it possible for me to tend to the plants daily.

With enough exercise working on the plot, I am eating well and putting on weight. I am looking forward to Ramadhan and hopefully a month of fasting will help to shed off some fat. The produce from the plot will be shared with the neighbors some especially those that suppled me with seeds and manure. It will be payback time and thank you Allah for allowing me to gain some pahala sedekah.