When we interviewed Regalado B. Manimtim in 1990, he was so proud of his 1,000-square meter asparagus garden in Tagaytay because it was largely responsible for the college education of two of his children.
The cost of education then was not as expensive as it is today. That’s why the P120,000 that he earned from that small patch in one year was enough to pay for much of the expenses of his children in college.
After retiring as a salesman of farm chemicals in an American company in 1984, he decided to go into hobby farming in his property in Tagaytay. His farm then had coffee trees but since coffee prices were very low, he did not pay much attention to his coffee trees. He cleared 1,000 square meters so he could plant asparagus.
His neighbors were skeptical about his project. They didn’t believe he can grow asparagus in Tagaytay because nobody had planted it before. But then Regalado believed in his project and really succeeded. How did he do it?
Well, he prepared his land thoroughly. He plowed it deep and incorporated a lot of rice hull before planting to make the soil porous and easily drained. He also applied a lot of animal manure to make the soil richer and more favorable for plant growth. Two times a year, he applied four bags of complete fertilizer to supplement the manure. This was at the beginning of the rainy season in June and before the rains stopped in December.
There’s also one secret that he did to make his asparagus plants very robust and productive. He called it “suero” but it is actually manure tea. He constructed a cement tank measuring 3 meters long, 1 meter wide and 1 meter deep. He filled one foot of the tank with carabao manure and then filled the whole tank with water. Every week, for one month, he stirred the mixture. By then the mixture was ready to apply to his plants.
He got a liter of the manure tea and mixed it with a gallon of water. This was what he used to water his asparagus once a week. It was very potent, according to him.
No daily watering was necessary because he used a lot of coffee hull as mulch. Since he started his asparagus project in 1985, he said he must have applied no less than 2,000 sacks of coffee hull which he got for free from his neighbors. The coffee hull which he spread about four inches thick conserved soil moisture and prevented weed growth.
Most of the work done in the asparagus garden was harvesting the spears almost every day. He got about three kilos each time worth P300 retailed to celebrity customers, including a movie star who loved asparagus. The P300 pesos per harvest was a big amount at that time. It could be worth more than a thousand of today’s depreciated peso.
And so with his income from his small patch of asparagus, he was able to send two of his children to college.—ZAC B. SARIAN, Memoirs of anAgri Journalist.