Lessons from the tomato patch: Heirloom tomatoes flourish in containers in a Baler residence
Heirloom tomatoes flourish in containers in a Baler residence
%< 9,1$ 0('(1,//$
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp
MANY gardeners prefer container gardening because it allows them to adjust plants according to their sunlight needs and easily relocate them in the event of natural calamities. This, as well as its space-saving benefits, makes it easier for anyone to produce food. It’s no surprise that Cindy M. Celestino, a 36-year-old Baler resident, also prefers this method of cultivation. She turned to container gardening when she found her backyard’s conditions were unsuitable for food production. The crops that grow in her urban garden, however, aren’t the typical ones we usually see because it is mostly populated with heirloom tomatoes that come in different looks. A RESULT OF HER UPBRINGING AND EXPLORATION Her early experience of tending to ornamental plants in her mother’s garden sowed the seeds of her love for gardening. Owing to this, Celestino used to only cultivate ornamentals, but when she understood the benefits of edible crops, she tried growing kitchen scraps as well. With just a few successful attempts, she no longer needed to buy vegetables for their household because the garden produced more than enough. This convinced her to plant more fruits and vegetables in her 5x10 growing space. WHY HEIRLOOM TOMATOES? “I like heirloom tomatoes because the seeds can be saved,” said Celestino in Taglish, on why she chose them as her primary crop out of all commodities. She continued, “When replanted, the yields get the same characteristics (color, taste, size, and shape.) Among these, I am more fascinated by their taste. Each variety has its distinct flavor.” Heirloom tomatoes piqued her interest when she was exploring edible gardening because they aren’t so common in local markets and gardens. As her plants grew in number, her garden also evolved into a business after she built a strong social media presence that allowed her to sell tomato seeds. When the pandemic affected her husband’s business, selling seeds became her family’s beacon of hope. The garden also feeds her family with fresh and nutritious produce. When growing heirloom tomatoes in containers, the grower said to (1) invest in rich, good soil for a healthy and productive harvest, (2) find out the right planting time so that plants can live longer and bear fruits well, (3) use the recommended container sizes for healthy roots, and (4) avoid moistening the tomato leaves to prevent disease and pest infestation. Celestino proves that starting a garden or a farm does not have to break the bank. Using containers or pots, for example, can save you the time and costs associated with growing in the ground. But regardless of the area size, the most important thing is to be able to provide the tomato plants with the care they deserve.