Dr. Eduardo Paningbatan Jr., a retired soils scientist from UP Los Baños, has devised a new system of growing your favorite upland kangkong so that you can produce your kitchen requirements on a sustainable basis without your having to water your plants every so often. You can leave them for weeks without watering and still they will be growing well.
He displayed his new technique at the Hoticulture 2014, a garden show at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, January 24 – February 3, 2014.
A few years back we wrote about his system of growing vegetables, culinary herbs and other crops in halved soda bottles. He uses his special potting medium and his plant nutrient formulation. The plants grow very well in the small containers and can be hanged in any appropriate space around the home. But you have to water the plants now and then.
Now, his new system will enable you to leave your plants without you watering them for many days. This is what he has done. He halved lengthwise the plastic drum that is readily available. On top of the halved drum, he installs welded wire that will hold the plants grown in the soda bottles. The half drum is filled with water up to an inch or two below the rim.
The kangkong in the halved soda bottles are held in place by the welded wire, with the lower portion of the soda bottles submerged in the water. Water is taken up by the roots to make the plants grow. Dr. Paningbatan places algae in the water to produce oxygen gas that will help aerate the water.
He also places small tilapia fingerlings to eat the wrigglers of mosquitoes, if there are any.
Dr. Paningbatan said that seeds or cuttings can be used for planting in the soda bottles. Seeds will usually become harvestable in about 25 days. The leafy portion could be harvested leaving a leaf or two on the stump. The kangkong will regrow and in about 10 days the new shoots could be ready for harvesting.
Actually, other vegetables could be grown under the same system. These include leafy vegetables like lettuce, pechay, mustard, camote, alugbati, talinum and even fruiting vegetables, culinary herbs and ornamental plants.