It is the rainy season; it is the best season to plant.
How much do camote (sweet potato) tops cost today? Five pesos for a bunch of five whose leaves are wilted and whose stalks are hard as wood and, therefore, not palatable to cook (although they are still edible and contain as much nutrients as the new growth). To cook sinigang (meat or seafood stew) for three or more people, you need two or three bunches.
What are the benefits of camote tops and fruits? They promote good health, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, regulate bowel movements, destroy bacteria and inhibit fungi.
Among all the other plants, research studies have shown that camote tops may be used as a remedy for dengue fever. It is said to help increase platelet counts that would help one recover from dengue. Talbos ng kamote is also recommended for anemic persons since it is rich in iron.
Camote tops can also be used to treat other diseases or ailments: heart disease, cancer (colon, stomach), high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney stones, boils and acne, among others. Sweet potato leaves are packed full of great antioxidant and also vitamin C making them great for fighting off free radicals, thus preventing premature aging and diseases.
How much does it cost to plant camote? Nothing. You go to the market and ask for scraps or camote stalks that are not sold anymore. Or you buy camote tops for your sinigang but do not throw the scraps. Then you plant these camote stalks. Just stick them into the soil, ground or container. A good exposure to the sun would help, but not necessary. Camote tops could be planted indoors or in shaded areas. Very low maintenance plant, all they need is water. And in a few weeks, you have your own fresh camote tops. Or if you want to harvest the camote fruits, don’t get the tops. Now, you just continue to water what is left of your camote and every other week you can harvest new tops. Forever.
Companies should encourage their employees to plant their own vegetables and fruit trees. Growing their own food is like giving themselves a salary increase. We help each other reduce poverty and, at the same time, deal with the food crisis. Excess produce could be shared with neighbors or officemates or sold to earn money to buy other needed things.
The biggest expense of an employee with family or even single employees is food. So we reduce the cost of buying food, we save money for other foods such as meat and fish to provide us with a balanced diet.
No space? Your front yard, backyard or whatever space is left around your house are probably already paved. Or indoors. No problem. If you are after the leaves, plants could withstand shade or partial shade. If you are after the roots or fruits, your plants need a good amount of sunshine. You can use containers–clay pots, used pail and laundry bins, cans, plastic water or juice bottles anything around your house. You can buy different kinds of pots—clay, hard plastic or thick black polyethylene bags. Or you can just plant beans and other climbing plants in your existing pots of plants–this is called companion planting.
If you want a variety of veggies such as pechay, mustard, broccoli, winged beans, cowpea, string beans, lettuce and many others, you can buy them from any reputable agriculture store such as Allied Botanicals and Harbest or you could buy them at very low prices (For example, P2 per packet of 150 pechay seeds) from the Bureau of Plant Industry in San Andres Bukid, Manila, or Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, or any branch in the Philippines where there is a Department of Agriculture office. Some seeds could be planted directly in the soil; others would need to germinate in a seed tray (used shallow Styrofoam containers or egg trays)
Companies are well advised to provide seeds as part of their annual benefits given to employees. This is a very generative employee social responsibility initiative. This will go well with the practice of giving sacks of rice monthly. The company could provide the planting materials (seeds or seedlings or cuttings) and some organic soil and fertilizer. UP Diliman Solid Waste Management Department sells compost at P25 per one-kilo bag or they are readily available and cheaper at the QC Memorial Circle. Companies could even have other rewarding activities around this project, such as, contest for most produce harvested, biggest squash and many others. The whole family of the employees will also be involved and the benefits will accrue to them.
Companies could also transform their parking lots and other open spaces around their premises into a food forest. They could replace existing decorative plants with edible/medicinal plants. There are many flowers that are edible. Edible/medicinal plants such as rose, katuray, bougainvilla, hibiscus (gumamela), nasturtium, sabsabirokong, kakawate, clitoria ternatea, chamomile, cucurbits, fern, oregano, basil, thyme, sambong, lagundi, ikmo, celery and many others. Try salad greens topped with the edible flower petals of pink cadena de amor, bright yellow arachis pintoi, red roses and white ternatea.
Or what about java rice (cooked with turmeric and a dash of pepper) or blue rice (with blue ternatea)? Beautiful and nutritious at no cost–just pick them from your garden.
Many “weeds” abound that could be used for cooking or as medicine. For example, purslane, dandelion, kogon, tawa-tawa, arachis pintoi, gynura procumbens or nepalensis, lemongrass, talinum, ulasiman, pancit-pancitan, damong maria, makahiya, butones-butonesan, takip-kuhol, among numerous others. You don’t evenhave to make an effort to plant them; they simply sprout here, there and everywhere. Careful, you might be pulling them out of your garden or might be stepping on them constantly.
There are so many ways of creating wealth for both employees and employers. God is good and has provided us with everything we need through nature. All we have to do is plant and take care of what we plant so that we could enjoy its bountiful blessings forever.
The only poor people are those who do not plant. And when it is your own plant, you could be assured that the veggies and fruits you are eating are organic and fresh.
With food on the table and preventative and curative medicinal plants for illnesses, who needs bigger salary? Well, perhaps to buy load for the prepaid cellphone line.