BY VINA MEDENILLA
Actress, health enthusiast, event host, and vlogger are some of the titles that Alice Dixson uses to refer to herself.
Everyone knows Dixson as a popular television and film actress, What many don’t know is that she is an urban gardener as well.
“My journey to farming started when I was a little girl in our backyard in Staten Island. I would dig up worms, and I would bring them to the dock where we go fishing,” said the actress on a vlog she posted on her YouTube account with the title “Secrets to my lush veggie and herb garden.”
On her YouTube channel, she shows snippets of her career and personal life, including her hobbies and personal experiences.
Being born and raised on her parent’s farm in Quezon, Dixson holds a vast collection of farming memories that constantly reminds her to go back to her roots.
Surrounded by farmer friends and co-actresses like Isabel Rivas and Lorna Tolentino, her goal is to be self-sustaining like them.
In her travels to different parts of the Philippines, Dixson has visited local farms and gardens where she met farmers and growers who further inspired her into farming.
After going around the country and applying what she learned from those farm visits, Dixson now shares some of her takeaways on her vlog, particularly the basic (and vital!) requirements when growing plants.
Soil Analysis. The first important step that shouldn’t be disregarded is checking the soil where the plants will be grown. The soil test results will determine the best crops to sow in the area. Dixson narrated in Taglish, “In my province, we asked the municipal office of a soil analysis where they will get samples and analyze the texture, pH, and other important factors.” She continued, “Depending on the type of crop you want to plant, they’ll recommend types of fertilizer, amounts, and ways on how to put it.”
Fertilizer. There are two types of fertilizer: Inorganic and organic. Dixson said, inorganic fertilizer is composed of minerals and synthetic chemicals, while organic fertilizer is made from natural components like animal manure, decaying leaves, and food compost. She added that the cheapest among the three is a fertilizer made from decaying leaves. Making this fertilizer is also simple. Immerse the leaves in water for 24 hours then buries them in the ground, said Dixson.
Composting. Vermicomposting is one of the popular composting methods in the Philippines. The earthworm species used in this type of composting is the African nightcrawler (ANC). These worms consume livestock waste, organic food scraps, leaves, and more. Worms eat these materials and provide an organic material called vermicompost in return. Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer that promotes plant growth.
Seed germination. Seeds are sown and germinated in seedling trays. Once they grow bigger, they are now called seedlings. As Dixson mentioned in the vlog, the requirements of both seed and seedlings are water, oxygen, light, and suitable temperature.
Seedlings must be transferred into larger containers where they can grow freely. Prepare the soil mixed with compost before transplanting the young plants. Move them to a container or in a plot where they will be permanently raised. If planting in the ground, there is a certain distance required for the plants to have enough space as they grow.
Watering. Dixson recommends watering the plants from five to nine in the morning. Water according to each plant’s requirement.
Pesticides. Prune the plants as needed, especially if there is any unusual growth caused by fungus or diseases. The use of neem oil, a natural pest repellent that comes from the neem trees (Azadirachta indica), is one way to control pests and diseases.
Dixson, who is yet to be ready for large-scale farming, started growing crops in her condo garden where she gets some ingredients for her cooking. Crops on her balcony garden include ginger, chili pepper, and herbs like oregano, rosemary, parsley, basil.
In the vlog, she also showed her vegetable and herb vertical tower where she grows plants while also engaging in vermicomposting. Dixson puts a basin underneath the tower that collects the worm tea or vermitea from her vermicompost. She uses worm tea to hydrate the plants and to keep flies and bugs at bay.
Watch her vlog here.