In the comment thread of the obesity entry, Ben and I had a little discussion about how easy it is to subsist in a country where just about anything grows. The climate is kind to plants, no winters when almost nothing grows on the soil, and all it really takes is a small patch of land to start a kangkong-an or something. Of course, it is also true that land is scarce for many because of the inequity in the distribution of wealth. But for some of us who do have some space, growing vegetables at home is such a great thing to do. Auee has planted vegetables in her garden. Julie’s husband wants to do the same. I’ve been growing herbs in pots, and we’ve grown tomatoes and kalamansi on occasion, but most of our garden is still planted to ornamentals.
All that is about to change.
A friend, Lyn, invited me to a Tetada Kalimasada session the other day (oh, but that’s quite another story that I intend to write for Manila Standard Today) and one of its members is also a member of the Philippine Horticulture Society. They were talking about an exhibit that is scheduled to open today at the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation compound and I asked quite offhandedly if they were selling fruit and vegetable seeds. They were and, better yet, they sell seedlings. I used to buy my potted herbs at Market! Market! but the Manila Seedling Bank compound is twice as near and the prices are the same. We can’t make it this weekend — Alex’s 14th birthday and we’re having company Saturday and Sunday — but we’ll go soon.
I really want a vegetable garden. My grandmother had one, a wild and untamed hodgepodge of fruit trees and freely growing vegetables smack in the middle of the city. The kids don’t play volleyball and badminton anymore on the grass anyway (you won’t believe how many shuttlecocks ended up on the roof) so there’s enough open space for a good-sized vegetable garden. It should make Speedy happy too — he had been “threatening” to throw melon seeds all over the garden until I reminded him that melon is a creeping plant and we might end up not being able to cross the garden for fear of stepping on the melons.
The idea, of course, is NOT to plant the ENTIRE garden with vegetables (the link leads to an article about a woman with some very radical ideas that I find rather too extreme). That won’t do at all. We can’t replace all the grass with vegetables because we like to eat outdoors. But I have already decided that a lot of the ornamental plants will have to go to give way to vegetables.
The ecological purpose that ornamental plants serve — you know, the oxygen-carbon monoxide cycle? — the vegetable plants can accomplish just as well. Beauty is relative. Vegetable flowers many not be as huge nor as colorful but beauty with a practical purpose is worth more than beauty that is only good to look at. I can only hope that the cats don’t eat the vegetables before they reach the cooking pot. Cats don’t eat vegetables? You’ll be surprised at what they are willing to eat when they think we don’t feed them enough.