THE movement control order (MCO) saw people stocking up on essentials like canned food, rice, noodles and seasoning, but they overlooked the need for greens in their diet.
Perhaps, marketing and buying vegetables would not have been a matter of top priority during such trying times but many failed to realise that one can grow these greens in the tiniest space available.
To teach the public on the perks of having their own greens to cook as well as ways to make these plants thrive under any living condition, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has come to the rescue by holding its monthly chemical-free urban farming workshop.
CAP education officer N.V. Subbarow shared how many do not realise about the chemicals that are used to keep vegetables fresh for days.
“If you can plant and grow your own vegetables it would be great.
“Now with this pandemic, many are not consuming vegetables as it is considered easier to just eat canned or take-away food.
“There are many preservatives in those meals and in the long run it can cause health issues.
“If one can plant and grow greens in their house, it would not only be good for their health but the environment as well.
“Here we are teaching people the correct way to plant vegetables and how to produce compost to ensure a great yield as well, ” he said at one of the workshops at the CAP premises in Jalan Masjid Negeri, Penang, recently.
Subbarow said the workshop aimed to teach people how to plant vegetables like chilli, okra and other greens.
“We have tested shop-bought vegetables and many times they contain chemicals to keep them fresh.
“Here you know what goes into growing your vegetables at home.
“We have ways in which people can plant their vegetables even if they are living in an apartment.
“These are vegetables that are consumed daily.
“You only need the right soil.
“They can be planted in pre-used pots or containers, ” he said.
Subbarow said the participants were taught to not only plant vegetables, but also on how to keep pests away from plants organically by using other plants to ward them off as well as homemade growth enhancers for plants using fish and brown sugar.
“It can be a whole family hobby, planting and harvesting their vegetables.
“I encourage families to plant now as they can start harvesting in weeks or a few months depending on what they plant.
“This is one way to save money as well, because by cooking two vegetable dishes from your garden, you have covered one meal for the day, ” he said.
Subbarow then taught the participants how to make compost, one being collecting organic waste and making compost in a container.
“Then there is the seven pot system where organic waste is placed in a pot a day with pots marked for each day of the week.
“This helps keep track of your compost and then you can plant something in each pot.
“The third way is where a pipe is placed in the pot with 5cm of the pipe buried in the soil.
“Organic waste is placed in the pipe and the pipe is closed to avoid water mixing with the compost.
“The roots of the plant in the pot will absorb the nutrients from the compost, ” he said.
CAP education officer Saraswathi Devi Odian also taught participants to layer soil in a pot.
“People do not realise you have to mix the soil.
“You need half the pot to be filled with garden soil, the other half has to be equal parts of sand, red soil and compost, ” she said.
Friends Rachel Jasmine Richard and M. Deenadayalani, both 27, were happy to attend the workshop to learn about planting vegetables.
Rachel said she had planted curry leaves and pandan, but now realised that she did not use the right soil.
“I only used garden soil which is not good enough.
“I now want to plant chillies and will do it the right way.
“I always wondered if I could use the peels from vegetables and fruits, now I know I can compost it, ” said the customer service representative.
Deenadayalani, whose mother loves to plant vegetables, said they have quite a number of greens in their garden.
“I would like to plant tomatoes next, ” she said.
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