The New Essentials

How to Farm at Home

Not only is urban farming good for the environment, it’s also easy to do. Biodynamic farming expert Nicolo Aberasturi shows us how.

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Given enough time, you can save yourself trips to the grocery store and learn how to grow some much needed fruits and vegetables from home. According to Nicolo Aberasturi from DownToEarth, urban farming can be as simple as potting the right cuttings and waiting for the fruits (no pun intended) of your labor to grow.

DownToEarth specializes in biodynamic farming, raising local grass-fed cattle, heritage free-range pork, lamb, and poultry. They also sell vegetables and herbs grown through sustainably.

For first-time farmers, he recommends growing a variety of spinach tower, also known as talinom, that doesn’t require a lot of sunlight or care.

Having a garden is not a prerequisite to growing your own vegetables. As long as you have a container with a good drainage system, healthy soil, and seeds to grow, you can easily get started.

“Even among the bahay kubo vegetables, only alugbati does well in low light,” Nicolo said. “In general, most vegetables like it when it has sunlight over twelve hours a day.”

“One of the problems in many homes in urban areas is that we don't have a lot of sunlight that most vegetables would like. The nice thing about this spinach tower is that it's a perennial vegetable,” he adds, which means that it can live through multiple seasons and varying conditions.

“We should teach people how to grow the vegetables endemic here. Talinom is so easy to grow; it can grow under a tree. You can grow several in a pot and use it as a substitute for pechay, mustard, kangkong… all kinds!”

Beginner-friendly home herbs to plant, illustration by Regine Salumbre

Let's get that spinach

Talinum is good for blood circulation and mental health. “If you have a balcony and three of these, that's half of your vegetable requirement for the week!” Nicolo says. And it only takes a few simple steps:

Find your cuttings

This kind of vegetable is grown using young plants. They’re sold in sets of 12 or 30 on the DownToEarth website, and it can be planted in a big pot (around 20-liters) and grow up to a big shrub around three feet tall.

Water, water, water

This plant is fairly easy to care for, but the best way to water plants is to use dechlorinated water. So, if you live in an urban area, you just need to let the water sit overnight for roughly 24 to 48 hours before watering any plants.

Bonus: Make your own compost

Not only is composting good for your plants, it’s also good for the environment. And it only takes a few additional steps! DownToEarth sells a bucket with a compost activator that can be blended in with food waste and paper—but only brown ones, as white paper is bleached with chlorine. When mixed with ordinary garden soil, it helps the plant grow while contributing to a cleaner world.

(“Imagine if everyone did this. The impact would be so big,” Nicolo said.)

compost soil illustration by Regine Salumbre
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What else can I plant?

Having a garden is not a prerequisite to growing your own vegetables. As long as you have a container with a good drainage system, healthy soil, and seeds to grow, you can easily get started.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few examples of vegetables you can easily grow at home.

Ceylon Spinach

Beginner

Locally known as talinum, this native spinach grows all year round and thrives in humid environments.

Squash

Medium

A popular household vegetable, squash requires a relatively warm climate to grow. Best planted in lowland areas from October to December.

Tomatoes

Medium to Difficult

One of the most profitable crops for off-season production, tomatoes require a relatively cool and dry climate to grow. Just take it easy with the watering, as they can be prone to flooding.

Bell pepper

Medium to Difficult

Bell peppers are a type of sweet pepper, rich in vitamins A and C. They grows best in cool weather, from October to December in lowland areas.

Growing your own food can be intimidating especially when you don't know where (or how) to begin. We prepared this planting guide to help you figure out which vegetables you can start with. Click here to download.

How to Farm at Home - Downloadable GuideDownload the free Guide
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