CAGAYAN DE ORO—After doing what we could to adapt to the higher temperatures of our new environment in an Earth-friendly way by widening our windows for ventilation and by creating a micro climate zone with plants and a clay wall, we put food security next on the agenda.
Fortunately, Mindanao has the perfect soil and climate for an agri-type activity—even if we were in the middle of the Class 1 Highly Urbanized City that is Cagayan de Oro, in a part of the world where development still equates to building concrete structures on everything in sight.
My friend Lin Razo-Valenzuela once told me that in every house that she moves to, the first thing she does outdoors is to plant ginger and malunggay. What wise words.
The first thing I did for our kitchen garden, however, was to segregate the kitchen compost. The rich black soil from the organic matter is then used as fertilizer. Fruit and vegetable peelings and such go into our compost. Seeds thrown into the compost that are hardy enough to grow shoots are then planted in the garden. That was how we had our second batch of tomatoes, papaya, and veggies.
We put plant cuttings on the window sill by the kitchen sink where they can get their sun and grow a little bit more. Then we use them for the next recipe, or we plant them in the ground. They’re also nice to look at when you’re washing your dishes.
I miss the wild mushrooms in the mountains. You know you’ll find them in the market come rainy season. The bu-o can be picked wild on the mountain trail under the pine trees. There are many other kinds growing after a thunderstorm. Here in the lowlands, I get my mushrooms from a can or dried in plastic bags. In the urban jungle my foraging days are over. I have no access to parks and forest trails.
Then in my first year here, an aunt, Celine Ongpin-Menes, invited me to a mushroom-growing seminar. I got oyster mushroom fruiting bags out of that as well as the knowledge to grow my own mushrooms at home.
NEXT: Recipes to fortify us for the coming days