By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

There’s more to gardening than just a means to grow food and create a greener environment. It can also be a great way for people to learn new skills and bond with others in the presence of nature.

In Quezon City, a housewife sees gardening as an opportunity to spend time with her two kids and teach them how to eat healthy.  

Jacie Buenafe Libunao, fondly known as Jas, used her free time during the general community quarantine and their home’s balcony and decided to grow pechay, among other things, for personal consumption as well as practicality.

Jas posing with the harvested pechay that she grew.

“It’s an enlightening feeling to see your plants growing after all the care you’ve given [them]. Harvesting is fun and you get to enjoy its benefits,” Jas said. 

Using available resources for gardening 

Jas first planted pechay seeds that she purchased along with some garden soil in small pots. When they started sprouting, she turned to using makeshift planters made from used orange PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, pipes which were made by her husband, Ross Libunao.

Her husband, Ross, reconstructed an old PVC pipe to become a suitable planter.

First, he cut a rectangular hole in the middle of the pipe then smoothened its edges. Two stands were attached to each end of the pipe in order to keep the planter up. 

“Making the planters was a bit challenging because it was hard to create the base but we helped each other out to make it work,” Jas said. 

Lastly, holes were bored into the planter itself to serve as drainage for the soil to keep the plants from drowning.

When leaves began to sprout, Jas transfered the pechay seedlings to the makeshift planter.

With her husband helping her in creating her balcony garden, the next thing Jas had to do was to make the seeds grow. Luckily, she had two pairs of helping hands: her son and daughter’s. 

Involving family 

Jas’ son and daughter, aged 7 and 9 respectively, actively helped their mother in growing her balcony garden. They would water the plants daily to keep them from drying out under the sun. 

When the sun gets too harsh, Jas would move the planters from the balcony ledge to a shaded area. 

After four to five weeks, Jas managed to harvest the pechay from the planters with her children helping her, enjoying the process of taking the produce that they helped their mother grow. 

They used the harvested pechay in their meals, savoring its health benefits. 

Having been successful in her early attempts, Jas decided to keep on planting other varieties in her balcony garden. 

“This time, I planted chili, ampalaya, ginger, and pandan leaves so we can have more fresh produce to enjoy,” she said.

Aside from pechay, ampalaya, chili, and ginger are being grown in the balcony garden.

With her balcony garden growing, Jas is playing it by ear and learning what she can about growing plants while also relishing the time she spends with her family in doing so.