By Vina Medenilla
The education system is one of the sectors that had to make huge adjustments since the pandemic has put the world to a halt. For some people in the same field, this means losing opportunities and breaking routines built during the pre-pandemic times.
This is a familiar situation for Marcelo Alivia, a teacher at the Lucena City National High School, who lost his summer side jobs as a swimming instructor and a basketball referee due to the changes caused by the pandemic. To keep him occupied last March 2020, Alivia started a garden in a vacant lot next to their home.
Nearly a year later, he has been successfully producing crops that his family benefits from and that he can share with friends, too. Some crops he produces on a 300sqm land are okra, sweet potato, tomato, eggplant, papaya, kangkong, upo, patola, mustasa, cucumber, squash, chili, bell pepper, saluyot, cabbages, and some medicinal plants like lemongrass. Besides all these, the most recent addition to his garden is a Thai purple ribbed eggplant.
Growing Thai purple ribbed eggplant
Thai purple ribbed eggplant (Solanum Melongena) is a variety native to Thailand that produces ribbed fruits in colors white and purple. In Alivia’s case, he grows the Thai purple ribbed eggplant variety that he got from his relative in America. He shared the process of growing this eggplant in two months and two weeks. Here’s how:
Sow seeds in seedling trays. Fill the tray with compost, coco peat, and vermicast then, sow the Thai purple ribbed eggplant seeds in. After two weeks from sowing, transfer them in another temporary plastic bag or container. The plants can be moved to raised beds around ten days after.
Alivia also shares some seedlings with friends. For the medium, he mixes animal manure, coco peat, compost, and carbonized rice hull.
This variety of eggplant is more sensitive to rain and water, making them more prone to pests. It also has thinner leaves than the common eggplant that can be found in the local market. To address this, Alivia regularly trims the plants’ leaves on the bottom part to deter insects.
According to Alivia, the Thai variety has thicker flesh and is less sweet than the common eggplant in the Philippines. So far, over 40 Thai purple ribbed eggplants were collected from his garden, and he’s still waiting for other fruits to ripen. One can harvest the eggplants after two months or so, Alivia added.
At present, Alivia focuses on producing more of the eggplant variety, but he’s also preparing to offer Thai purple ribbed eggplant seeds to other gardeners soon.
It is Alivia’s first time to grow this eggplant variety. But just as when he spontaneously started his garden last March 2020, he successfully grew the unfamiliar eggplant on his first try.
Photos from Marcelo Alivia.