By VINA MEDENILLA
Constancio E. Estuye Jr., 60, a chief marine engineer in a foreign vessel, also grows grapes and strawberries in the city.
His 162 sqm garden in Antipolo, Rizal is home to several varieties of grapes, strawberries, and other fruit-bearing trees and crops. He also has a separate 885 sqm agricultural lot in Morong, Rizal where he and his family grow pretty much the same crops.
Estuye grew up assisting his grandfather on a farm in his hometown of Barcelona, Sorsogon. In 2017, he developed a liking for growing crops again after his first few catawba grape seedlings successfully bore fruit in his backyard. The following year, he tried cultivating strawberry seedlings from Baguio that, as per Estuye, also became successful.
Urban residence with a fruitful backyard
He continued cultivating catawba grapes and expanded to more grape varieties such as Brazilian hybrid, Narc black, miracle grapes, white malaga, and his other newly acquired varieties, including King’s Ruby, red cardinal, flame, Shakhtar, merlot (wine grape), Delaware or fox grape, Himrod, Kyoho, red globe, Baikonur, and Autumn Royal grapes.
For the strawberries, he has Japanese Shoga, San Andreas, summer princess, and Sweet Charlie.
The garden is also home to dwarf Catimon mango, avocado, grafted calamansi, grafted Davao pomelo, Fuji apple (Malus domestica ‘Fuji’), and other crops like lettuce, carrots, and siling labuyo.
A time off from the seas
Estuye personally tends to his garden during his vacation that usually lasts for four months. When he’s on board, his father-in-law Miguel and his wife Marissa maintain the garden. Estuye also gets help from his brother and sister-in-law in the upkeep of his small farm in Morong, Rizal.
He said in Taglish, “I plant [the crops] on my vacation. Just in time before leaving for work again, most of the grapes, strawberries, mangoes, and other veggies that I planted usually start to fruit.”
Estuye only grows these crops for personal consumption. He recently started selling cuttings and rooted seedlings of strawberries and grapes in Antipolo and Morong, Rizal. He has already earned about P10,000 in his first month as an online seller. He still has sufficient stock of seedlings in his nursery that are up for grabs.
Despite not being present in his garden year-round, Estuye regularly monitors the condition of his growing spaces through his family. He devotes his vacation to the upkeep of his garden and farm. Estuye also learns a great deal from fellow growers he meets via online gardening communities.
Troubles he faced in growing crops
There are two major difficulties in Estuye’s garden: the rainy season and pests. Rainy days tend to damage the flowers of the grapes and it also causes the leaves to obtain fungi. When this occurs, Estuye immediately takes out the infected leaves to prevent its spread.
Fruit flies, aphids, and birds often cause problems, too, as they attack the strawberries, especially when they are nearly ripe. Estuye addresses this by using a fruit packaging net and fruit fly attractant. He also sprays neem oil with dishwashing liquid to the plants once a week until the pests are wiped out.
This backyard garden is not merely a source of food and extra profit. It is also a place that Estuye looks forward to when coming home after spending long months on a ship.
Read more about how Estuye grows grapes and strawberries here.
Photos from Constancio E. Estuye Jr.