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SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

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SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  EddieA on 3/13/2015, 1:23 pm

2015-03-14

SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES


My name is Eddie Alegrado, Filipino, 75 years old, retired businessman. I own a 7-hectare farm in Compostela, a town near Cebu City, Philippines where I live.

Several months ago, I made 2 rows of 6 meters wide x 24 meters long "greenhouses"  or rain sheds if you will, using 100% round bamboo poles for greenhouse frames. Both have a uv-protected thick garden plastic roofing while the walls are of fine mesh plastic screen. Inside these greenhouses, I made 8 inches high boxes, made of 100% bamboo slats that serve as walls and held vertically in place with nails and bamboo stakes driven into the ground to make a long rectangular box. These boxes/plots run the entire length of the greenhouses, 3 rows per greenhouse, (When I measured the width of the box, it was just an inch shy of the 4 feet width of your Square Foot Gardening box. What a coincidence!)  I filled this up with compost which I have previously made out of locally available materials, principally cow dung, freshly cut grass, coco peat and biochar. Most importantly, I used beneficial microorganisms which I have learned to culture through another forum to aid in the composting process by adding these to water that I used to mist the materials as they were being mixed. To make the story short, after a month with an in-between turn over, I have produced compost that smelled earthy good and this I mixed with more cocopeat and biochar that had been smothered overnight in water that was treated with billions of beneficial microorganisms to produce my soil mix.


The result? The vegetables that I planted in this substrate are performing beyond my wildest dreams! They are growing so well and I have not even heard yet of Square Foot Gardening while I was doing this! It’s been only a week that I stumbled upon Mel Bartholomew's website and the stories I've read about square foot gardening. I quickly ordered his latest book from Amazon which arrived a few days ago. Quickly, I added grids on the yet unplanted plots/boxes in order to follow the intensive square foot gardening concept of Mel Bartholomew. Mel’s statement of no soil digging, no tilling, no fertilization and no weeding in Square Foot gardening is holding to be very true to form in my garden plots. This was an eureka moment for me.
In the Philippines, one has to use his own resources to make compost. Unlike in the U.S where most compost is given free or dirt-cheap if paid for, nothing comes cheap or for free here. Considering that my country is a hodgepodge of little islands, ( the island where I live is more into manufacturing and trading, unfortunately, due probably to its central location, its hilly terrain and barren soil but deep harbour) important compost raw materials have to be bought and shipped in from the other islands that have them. Only grass is the cheaper available component but you have to hire people to manually cut and gather them.  Compost-making is therefore an expensive process hereabout. However, this has not daunted me from pursuing my passion which is that of extending a helping hand to the poor and the very poor amongst us through Square Foot Gardening as a self-help program. I aim to teach them the proper and easy way of composting using nearby available countryside raw materials which they themselves can gather in enough volume for their use and using the resulting compost in Mel’s square foot gardening system to grow organic vegetables. Bamboo is readily available everywhere so plant boxes should not be a problem to make.
Hopefully, should I get their following, we shall be able to improve the health and well being of the very poor through better diet. They could also produce some crops to sell to earn some income from them.
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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/13/2015, 1:49 pm

Hi Eddie.  Welcome from Atlanta, GA (southern US).  We're glad you found us and thrilled that your garden is already doing so well!

We like to see pictures!  And please feel free to ask lots of questions.
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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  walshevak on 3/13/2015, 2:17 pm

glad you\'re here

Chopped up banana leave are a good addition to your compost pile and banana skins.  They were one of the main items I saw being used for composting.  If Cebu is anything like Palawan, you will have to pay for it, but chicken farms may offer another type of manure to mix and age with your greens.  Or if you have chickens and confine them to an area , you can collect their droppings.  Most chickens in PI seem to run free except the fighting cocks. Very Happy  Palawan State University runs an agriculture program and the students make a sell compost to help support the school.  Don't know what schools are on Cebu.  I visited Cebu City just before Christmas 2013.  I was a very nice town.


Have you tried to grow tomatoes?  All I can get to grow are cherry tomatoes. But I did have luck with curly kale and swiss chard.  Long beans did well, but cucumbers and squash didn't.  I got 1 squash from 3 plants and 8 cukes from 4 plants before they crinkled up and died.  Basil does well.  And peppers.  I have confined my growing to just some pots and plastic containers because of the compost problem.  Is your biochar from rice hulls?  I've seen that on Palawan.


Kay

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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  Kelejan on 3/13/2015, 5:41 pm

glad you\'re here EddieA.   happy hi 

So interesting hearing how you cope with so different conditions that most of us on the mainland that most of us never have to worry about.  As Mel says, use what you can.

I will never again complain that I cannot this or that, but learning myself to use what I have and saving every little piece of anything that can be composted.

Have you thought of newspaper, TP rolls, tea and coffee grounds, all the scraps from your veggies, urine etc.? I know it will be a drop in the ocean but over time every little bit helps.

I, too, am going to use beneficial micro-organisms, also minerals and fungi this year. Are you allowed to use composting worms on your islands?

Looking forward to seeing you results.
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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  EddieA on 3/14/2015, 2:17 am

2015-03-1413:05:24

Hello everybody! Thanks for the welcome and kind words!

Hi Kelejan, yes we do have night crawlers but I'm not too enthusiastic about them because they are not as efficient as beneficial microorganism Lactobacillus, my favorite workhorse. I even use this microorganism to keep my tilapia pond water clean and smelling fresh all the time without constantly changing the water. It gobbles up fish waste like no other and keeps fish healthy.

As regards materials to use for composting, the things you have mentioned are useful but gathering them requires time and patience but I agree that every little bit helps. I have a container for used ground coffee at home for that purpose.

Again, thanks for the welcome and suggestions 

Eddie
                                                  -----------------------------------

Hi Kay, happy to know that you came to my city in 2013. Yes, I have heard banana leaves and trunks are good to use. I also use water lilies and azolla that grow in my fish pond. I am reluctant to use chicken dung from big chicken farms ( there are so many of them on my island as well as pig farms ) because they contain antibiotics and growth hormones. These can get passed on to the vegetables you're growing. But, my free range chicken area is almost ready and will not hesitate to have the chicken droppings collected and used in our composting when we do have them.

I'm a first time gardener and my first crops are tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, climbing spinach, pepper, honey dew melon, 2 kinds of leafy lettuce, kale, basil, dill and a host of other herbs. All are doing well except for the pepper which got attacked by pesky white mites. We uprooted and burned them to stop the infestation. Do you have an organic spray to ward these white pests off? We have tried Neem extract with ghost pepper and ginger/garlic extract but I guess the save effort came too late. We are still learning how to take care of our plants actually so any suggestions will be very highly appreciated.

Yes, our biochar is from rice hull. This is the coral garden in the world of soils where the beneficial microorganisms grow and flourish and consequently do a lot of good things to our plants.

Thanks for your inputs. They are very highly appreciated

Eddie
                                                   --------------------------------------------

Hello Marie, thanks for the friendly welcome!

I must admit that I'm new to using a forum. How do you send photos in this forum? My previous attempts failed.

My thanks and best regards.

Eddie
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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  sanderson on 3/14/2015, 3:33 am

Eddie, Welcome to the Forum from California, US! glad you\'re here I enjoyed reading your introduction and how you have managed to achieve a healthy garden. Yes, please post photos so we can enjoy your journey.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t129-how-to-post-a-picture-located-on-your-computer

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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  Windmere on 3/14/2015, 12:30 pm

Welcome Eddie!  It was so interesting to read about what you've done.  Like AtlantaMarie, I am also in the Atlanta area.  I know you will enjoy your time here.  I wish you much success in your gardening endeavors!
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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  Triciasgarden on 3/15/2015, 2:55 pm

Welcome from me also! Your descriptions of what you have done are so inspirational and you explain things so well! It sure sounds like you have a good grasp and ability on creating with what you have which is exactly what Mel recommends you do. It also sounds like it is working for you. Lactobacillus, who knew all it was good for. It was sure fun reading what you have done and we all love seeing pictures. What we can imagine isn't always the same as what a picture shows.

I am so impressed and excited that you will be sharing your learning and food with those less fortunate! That is so important for everyone to do!
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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  jamesmusslewhite on 6/29/2016, 7:35 pm

EddieA,

   I am glad you are doing well with your garden. I am a Texas boy who married a Filipino back in 1987 and decided to retire at age 50 and move here to the Philippines in 2008. I was a professional horticulturist/nurseryman by trade and worked in the industry for over 25 years. We have a small 5-1/2 hector (12+ acres) coconut farm here on Dinagat Island. I am presently living on a very small private island here in Day-asan, Surigao City which is owned by my business partner. My wife and I moved here in a small house my business partner built for us to live in while I construct a small mariculture project (lobster hatchery) on the island. I will also be establishing vegetable and herb gardens here on the property in the upcoming months.

I have been an avid compostor for many years and a few year ago I posted a 'roof top''compost pile project on Facebook. This was done on the roof of a residence we were renting in Surigao City while my son was attending Regional Science High School. The compost utilized easy to obtain item found here in the Philippines and produces a quality compost medium which is basically a mostly soil-less light weight compost suitable to use in hanging baskets, containers and as an excellent top dressing for garden beds or as a soil amendment to help establish new garden beds. I will post the URL to that Facebook album below. It is a step by step pictorial that describes each step in the process as well as a list of ingredients used to make the compost. Just click the first photo and it will open like a slide show and use the side arrows to navigate through the photos, the information is seen in the right of each photo and there is a total of 71 photos each with a written description following the whole process. You may find it useful.
Facebook Album - Rooftop Compost Pile
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Re: SQUARE FOOT GARDENING IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES

Post  sanderson on 6/30/2016, 12:53 am

James, thanks for sharing composting using your local ingredients.

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