March 27, 2023

Coaxing plants to grow successfully is one of my failures in life. I never intended to be a farmer but once in a while there is this yearning to grow food in our backyard. Perhaps it has to do with the dearth of food in my childhood. I’m not too sure, but I would rush from one farm supply to the next to buy seeds, fertilizers, and gardening tools. In a flurry of activities, our backyard would be weeded, cultivated, harrowed, and seeded.
But the outcome, sad to say, is always the same: Some dwarfish, worm-infested seedlings would struggle out of the ground and they stay stunted no matter how much care I would impart. I wouldn’t mind at all if my efforts and investments were less than the results (in money terms); to see robust vegetables populating our backyard was enough. It would have given me a feeling of adequacy.
To rub salt to the wound, healthy weeds of various kinds would proliferate unstoppably in our garden and beyond. It is a glaring insult to my while and sometimes I would just stand amid this unfairness and curse like an old woman.
Then Covid-19 came along. We saw in the tell news how this strange, devastating disease was wreaking havoc in Wuhan, China. We thought nonchalantly that it was a local problem and the Chinese would successfully deal with it soon enough. But the disease became more virulent as the days went by. Then horror of horrors it started crossing borders. In a matter of months, the disease became a full-blown pandemic.
We were told over and over again that to protect ourselves from the dreaded disease, we should wear face mask so as not to inhale the virus from a contaminated air, possibly from a contaminated person. We should wash our hands with alcohol or soap before and after going to a public place. We should practice social distancing always or isolate ourselves in a crowd so as not to be infected by carriers of the disease.
I have no problem with all of the above as I live alone in an isolated place (my wife works abroad and no kids). Still, the problem with logistics will eventually rear its ugly head. As my pantry dipped to alarmingly low, I got to thinking just where I can avail food. Going to the market is out of the question. Quarantine procedures saw to that.
As I was looking at our backyard a few weeks back, I remembered reading somewhere that some weeds are actually good to eat. A lady doctor wrote that the weeds are not only tasty, they are also nutritious. Our vegetable patches were a veritable home to amti, sap-sapon, kalunay, and even the elusive pak-pako. I tried them all with misgivings but they all turned out to be good.
In fact, they, just like the doctor said, taste delicious. Of course, they need a little getting used to. Now, I’m confident I can survive this pandemic. I am now looking at my weedy garden in a new light: I can be a gardener without really trying. And I don’t need to curse anymore. — Elmer Apacway