• Home Gardening in the Time of Pandemic

    Plant collection of Ann Momongan

    Spending more time at home because of the quarantine mandated by authorities has led people to take up old hobbies, discover new hobbies, learn new skills and even discover the hidden entrepreneur in them.

    Gardening is just among the popular activities or hobbies that people indulge in during this stay-at-home period to avoid contamination of the dreaded Covid-19.

    These days, people who indulge in gardening and who love to care of plants are called “plant parent” or “plantita,” even a “plantito.” Gardening helps people relax, ease stress and simply gives joy to people who are in awe at seeing and touching how their plants develop or grow each day. It is one way of coping with the anxieties brought about by the pandemic which is believed to be a long stretch.

    In this article, we spoke with two people who started indulging in gardening in the early part of the quarantine period that started in March this year.

    Ted Madamba, A-1 professional photographer, and Ann Momongan, a travel dynamo who runs a travel agency, both shared why they have taken on gardening as their new favorite pastime.

    Madamba plants mostly herbs, vegetables to complement his cooking skills while Momongan is a plant parent to ornamental plants especially rare ones.

    One of Ted Madamba's potted herbs

    Madamba, describes himself as a newbie in gardening, having taken interest in it a couple of weeks after the first city-mandated general community quarantine (GCQ) in March this year.

    “With cancelled photo trips/contracts and stop operations of our resort business, just like everyone else in these trying times, staying at home and bonding with the family is a ‘no choice’ blessing. What other productive stuff one can do at home is a choice. So, I decided to further hone my other passion, ie, cooking skills but along the way, I needed fresh herbs and spices. The best choice then was to grow it right at home. The rest will soon be history with my new love on ‘pot gardening’.”

    Momongan, whose travel agency is put on hold, also said, “Due to Covid 19, I decided to go into gardening. It helps reduce stress, lets in cleaner air, and a happier environment. Houseplants can transform your surroundings and help bring a little of the garden into a home while also improving the air quality. It has been found to provide therapeutic benefits, including reduction in both anxiety and depression. Studies also show that spending time with nature has huge mental health benefits.”

    According to plant seller Brenda Amancio Ambayec, her clients are looking for some form of diversion to ease the stress of the current situation.

    “One way to relieve the stress is gardening and looking at your plants growing beautiful and lively,” said Ambayec, a member of the Barangay Apas online community.

    In separate interviews, Madamba and Momongan shared the anticipation and excitement they feel when they check out their plants early each morning. They both grow plants on pots but for different reasons. Momongan said she purposely have pot plants because it is easier to move them around the house.

    “Planting in pots is a viable option for many flowers and trees. They can then be moved anywhere you want, including indoors and giving you more options. Ceramics are often the pots of my choice. They can be painted, glazed or remain natural, and shapes vary to meet your taste,” she shared.

    For his part, Madamba said, “I don’t have the luxury of space in our home, so mostly all my plants are on pots.”

    In these quarantine times, gardening gives them a measure of socializing, too. They buy plants or receive plants from neighbors and friends or even do plant exchanges with them adding more variety to their collection.

    Momongan's collection includes snake plants and other rare plants. She said that most of her plants need watering only once a week.

    “The Snake Plant cleans air better than most other indoor plants as it has the ability to absorb excessive amounts of carbon monoxide,” she explained.

    Madamba, who describes himself as a home chef, also said his plant collection consists mostly of herbs.

    “Sweet Basil, Lemon Basil, various Peppers, Lemongrass, various Oregano, Dill, Fennel, Tarragon. I also have Lettuce, Arugula and Water Spinach & Kalamunggay. I also started with 4 full grown strawberry plants and now its runners have more than doubled the number. The cute and bright red strawberry fruits just ‘tickle my ribs’ with simple joy of having to grow them. I chose these plants basically because I find good use of these for my cooking!,” he said.

    Gardening seems to give them a natural high. But how does gardening actually make them feel?

    Momongan said, “The best part is the payoff — less stress, and a happy new hobby. Its really beautiful, just to be able to touch plants, hold them, feel the leaves,It's just fantastic. My morning happy pill. If you've got a garden, just get out there and enjoy! It's therapeutic.”

    Madamba, for his part, shared, “PHYawwSICAL: Revitalizing because it’s a good physical exertion when you take time to water the plants, transfer the pots, plant, cultivate, etc with free Vitamin D early morning.

    “MENTAL: Educational because it is new knowledge for me, and I hunger for it now.

    “EMOTIONAL: Rewarding because despite our non-physical appearances, we can still interact and socialize with friends and new friends of the same interest in gardening, through com-u technologies. Talking with people other than your fellow ‘prisoners’ at home is likewise a pleasant emotional exercise.

    “SPIRITUAL: Inspiring because you know that plants are God’s creation for a purpose. And being able to take care of them is a way of thanking Him.”

    Clearly, plant parents have found fulfillment and ease to a certain degree even in the quarantine period where movements are limited and restricted. Caring for plants, growing them and finding excitement and satisfaction with each new day help people cope with the stresses and anxieties that this pandemic brings. (Thea C. Rinen)
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    Comments 1 Comment
    1. alexanderjones's Avatar
      alexanderjones -
      It's great keep up the good work!

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