Strawberries have long been associated with the province of Benguet, where they grow in abundance and are sold fresh or as value-added products.
While strawberries are generally found in vast open fields of La Trinidad, Benguet, some local growers raise them in a unique way. One example is a family from Baguio City that grows this fruit in stackable planters.
Edison Labadchan, the family’s patriarch and manager of Tam-awan Berry Garden, says that their strawberry garden only took shape at the height of the pandemic.
Due to a lack of space at home, the family came up with a plan to maximize their 250-square-meter garden using vertical and container gardening techniques.
Tam-awan Berry Garden’s vertical strawberry tower is the first of its kind in the region, says Labadchan.
They grow different strawberry varieties in these towers, including Albion, San Andreas, Sweet Charlie, Tochiotome, Beni Hoppe, Honeoye, Summer Princess, and Snow White.
They find strawberry production challenging because it requires regular care to keep the plants alive.
Depending on the season, strawberry plants face a variety of issues. On rainy days, for example, fungal diseases are common, while spider mites and insects are a nuisance during the dry season. Fungicides and insecticides are used to combat such problems.
“Our strawberries are planted in stackable pots, punctuated with holes [drilled into] the sides [of] variable areas.” Labadchan stressed, “Since the fruit does not touch the soil, the reduction of bacterial and fungal disease is greatly reduced.”
Along the process, they’ve learned that strawberries demand at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day and prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 to 6.8.
While it is crucial to thoroughly cover the roots with soil, Labadchan also noted that the crown must be exposed to light and fresh air to avoid rotting.
He said that the plants will reward you with juicy, luscious fruits if you provide them with adequate water, moisture, and nutrients.
Any space, regardless of size, can be valuable when used properly. The Labadchan family exemplifies just that.
Maximizing their home’s limited space to grow (and sell) strawberries allows them to sustain the garden and spend time together in nature.
For the Labadchans, gardening is “one of the most rewarding, entertaining, and healthy hobbies that we can get into.” They continued, “It is good for the mind, physical health, and [in cultivating creativity] as it [enabled us to] create our own garden space the way we wanted it.”
Photos courtesy of Tam-awan Berry Garden
For more information, visit Tam-awan Berry Garden