Be a farmer for a day (or more): 11 basic things in growing crops

Are you done with all your TikTok vids and looking for other things to do? Why not try to be a farmer during this quarantine period or even after? Some of you are planning to grow plants and others have already started their mini farm. If you are a newbie farmer, here are some points to remember:

1. Have a get-to-know phase

Choosing a crop you want to plant is easy. Seeds are available in the supermarket and also from the veggies you bought yesterday. However, you need to do a little research on the crop you want to cultivate – from seed to harvest.

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2. Do not directly plant every seed

Small-seeded crops like lettuce, pechay and bokchoy may require you to pregerminate their seeds and here’s an easy and effective way on How to pregerminate small seeds? (YT vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDK7sP3ggeI&t=6s).

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Some plants have little to no seeds because they are cultivated in other form – in cassava for example, stem cuttings are used as planting material.

3. Let there be light!

Photosynthesis is a thing we were taught since grade school. Basically, plants need sunlight to grow. So plant where there is light.

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But, be mindful about your crop. Some crops love extreme sunlight while others are happy with a little ray of light.

4. Do some catching up (visit and talk)

After a successful germination, do not leave them like what your ex did to you. LOLjk. I wasn’t kidding when I said that do not leave them for good. Visit them from time to time and check their condition, and (this may sound weird)talk to them…some say plants grow well when you do this.

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5. Feed them

Fertile soil is good for your plant but when you observe yellowing on the leaves (with no insects or diseases), they may be suffering from lack of nutrient (like nitrogen). When this happens, you can put a little fertiliser like (14-14-14) or urea (46-0-0).

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If you observed low soil fertility prior your planting and you did some composting, add those to your soil (make sure they are fully decomposed) before planting.

6.  They get thirsty

Plants are approximately 95% water so they get thirsty. High temperature these days will easily dry out your soil and will eventually dehydrate your plant leading to death. Quench their thirst by watering your plants early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

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7.  You want to breathe? And so they are!

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by so many things and we want to breathe for while and I am telling you…your plants want to breathe too. Have you watched the K-dram ‘She Was Pretty’? There was a scene there wherein they grew an onion with smiley face in water…I tried doing it…but sadly the onion died. And this was probably because of hypoxia or lack of oxygen in the root.amigurumi_onion_from_korean_drama_she_was_pretty_1446773149_d02930d0

My point here is to give your plant air. Dig the soil around your plant (make sure not to damage the roots) to release some compaction of soil and allow air to flow.

8. Protect them (from pests)

Pests are those damaging your plants to the point that you are left with little to no harvest. Control the pests. If they are still manageable, you can just pick them with your hands.

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You can also plant some insect repellant plants like marigold. Or concoct your own natural insecticide (available in the internet). If you observed disease in your plants, remove and burn them. During your next cropping season, plant clean materials or try crops that are not the same family as your previous one.

9. Be gentle…they have feelings too

As you progress in your farming activities, these plants will grow in no time. You will apply good cultural practices you found during your search like pruning, weeding or bagging. When you do, be gentle, some plants are sensitive and brittle. Your days of growing them will be put into waste if you are careless.

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10. Understand their maturity

Different plants may have varying maturity. As I mentioned earlier, it is imperative to know your crop before planting. It is also important to know when they will mature. There are crops with dual purpose like sweet potato – you can harvest camote tops as early as 30 days from planting while the roots are harvestable after around 90 days.

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Some crops develop bitter taste when you prolong their harvest time or when the timing of harvesting is not appropriate.

11. Diversify

Plant several crops. There was a study that even a small area can house up to 9 different crops. This technique will give you variety of vegetables with different nutrient components. And since they are different from one another, you can program a daily harvesting of different veggies. Diversified garden may also lower incidence of pests and diseases.

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Farming will be your daily source of sun, healthy food, and exercise. If you do not have land with soil in your place…you can try doing hydroponics…I did a vid on how to do easy DIY hydroponics (below) – it’s kinda crappy but the basics are there.