A guide to urban gardening, part 3: starting your garden

Featured image by Andrej Lišakov from Unsplash

by Vina Medenilla

In the previous article, we delved into different methods and requirements in urban gardening. Here, steps to begin your gardening journey from sowing to plant care and maintenance will be discussed. 

Three vital steps in urban gardening

  1. Soil preparation
  2. Seed germination and seedling propagation
  3. Care and maintenance

For beginners, direct seeding (planting seeds directly in the soil) is a good start as it is the most known method, especially for sowing vegetable seeds. However, some seeds grow better when sown in containers or seedbeds first and transferred when seedlings sprout. Here is the step-by-step process to begin your seed germination and seedling propagation:

Step 1: Choose and prepare your container

You may be creative in using any reusable containers available at home like seed pans, paper boxes, old plastic containers, egg trays, or seedling trays. The crucial part of using containers is to make sure to drill holes at the bottom for drainage. Clean the containers that you will be using to ensure that there are no fungal spores or pests that will hinder plants’ growth.

Step 3: Prepare soil medium

Soil must be sterilized for two hours in an oven toaster. An alternative to this is to cook the soil in a pan and stir it for 10-15 minutes. After sterilizing, place the soil into the container and water it.

Step 4: Prepare and sow the seeds

For sterilizing vegetable seeds, Joven lays them in a clean paper or a plate and exposes them to the sun for 15-30 minutes. Larger seeds can be slightly poked into the soil using a finger, the smaller seeds must be scattered only, while medium-sized ones are often sown in holes. In covering them with soil, this depends on size; the larger the seed, the higher amount of soil you can cover them.

Step 5: Seed germination

Seed germination is a process of cultivating seeds and is the first step in plant development. Giving the seeds proper care is important for them to be successful. They must be protected and cared for with enough water and sunlight until a few leaves sprout. If one to two leaves emerge, transplant them.

Step 6: Pricking/thinning

This next process refers to transferring the seedlings into a more spacious room where they can develop freely. The seedlings must also be slowly exposed to sun and air before they are transferred to the ground. Pricking the seedlings must be carefully done as they are still fragile. Pick them from the bottom not directly from the plants’ stem to loosen the compacted soil and not to disturb the roots.

Step 7: Transplanting

When you successfully prick the seedlings, transfer them where they’ll grow best. Regularly check the young plants and wait for it to grow.

Step 8: Plant care and maintenance

In tending plants, you’ll face challenges like pests and diseases. To solve this, be prepared and learn how to make natural pesticides so you would know what to do when you encounter them in your garden. You may plant natural repellants around your crops such as spring onion, lemongrass, and citronella. For sprouts, regularly monitor any worms to prevent them from eating the whole. Joven also recommends watering the plants late in the afternoon. Add trellis, nylons, sticks, or bamboo poles for vegetables or crops that will need support to develop further.

You may also opt to do a natural insect attractant. By this, you won’t need to apply pesticides directly to the plant as this will attract the pests surrounding them. You can make your own by placing a native coconut vinegar or also known as ‘tuba’ with molasses in a plastic container. This can be hanged around the garden while left open wide to attract more insects.

When you have set your garden, the next thing you’ll do is to make natural fertilizers for your plants, see the next article to know more about its types and steps on how to make it.

Insights shared by Ms. Rosalie Joven during a webinar called ‘Basics of Urban Gardening’ hosted by 9 and beyond in partnership with Manila Bulletin and Agriculture Online, held last July 11, 2020.

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Vina Medenilla
Vina Medenilla is a content producer for Agriculture Monthly magazine. She is a graduate from Miriam College with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Fashion, photography, and travel are some of the things she loves. For her, connection with nature is essential to one’s life.

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