Gardening in the City

I grew up in a home surrounded by trees, vegetation, and the happy sounds of birds waking me up every morning. Now, I live in a place with concrete walls everywhere and a small patch of soil housing a lone dwarf coconut tree. My mama gifted me with two small pots of oregano plants. Oregano is perfect for beginner gardeners as they are super low maintenance and easy-peasy to grow. I decided to turn them into my gardening mission. 

One of the beauties of homeschooling is that I get to learn alongside my child. A favourite science book is by Gail Gibbons, From Seed to Plant. It is very basic. Plants need lots of water and sunshine to grow. Photosynthesis—I knew that. But before I read the book, I thought that the hot sun (especially the summer sun) is evil to plants. I know right, what was I thinking?

My oregano plants suffered from too much watering and not enough sun. I was panicking. I did not know what to do. Until someone kindly pointed out to me, they just need some sunshine-love.

My boy has joined me in my daily gardening activity. We would check on our oregano and inspect it for new leaves. We have also started a compost, rather, a few composts already. Composting is a wonderful way to manage the fruit and vegetable peels in your home and have nature turn them back into rich fertilizers for your plants. The first one (compost) became too smelly for the other household members so we had to bury it immediately. The second one is ongoing. The two of us are learning how to manage it. 

I mentioned the picture book about growing seeds. It is very well read now, together with a book on botany which my son has been going over again and again. (Send me an email, and I will share the title with you!) Our small oregano crop and composting activity have become our nature study. Some people might think it is strange, but I am thankful my son has the opportunity to dig up the soil and just be dirty. He is learning so much about God’s creation from a scientific point of view!

DIY Compost

Here is a quick recipe for compost that you can do and add to your homeschool routine.

  1. Get a bucket with a lid.
  2. Drill out holes in the bucket to allow air and microscopic decomposers to enter the bucket. Alternatively, you can place the bucket directly into the soil for easy access of the worms (which help speed up decomposition). Yes, those wondrous worms are our friends.
  3. Prepare compostable material to put inside. A list of compostable materials follows.
  4. Turn your compost every day to get air in.
  5. Add water if your compost is too dry but not too much so that it becomes anaerobic and releases hydrogen sulfide; hence it becomes smelly! There is a separate technique for anaerobic (without oxygen) composting which you could learn along the way. This is a great article you can read about anaerobic composting.

Compostable Material 

(Information taken from the United States Environmental Protection Agency)

Nitrogen-Rich Material (“Greens”)      

Food and vegetable scraps

Most grass clippings and yard trim

Coffee grounds and paper filters   

Paper tea bags (no staples)

Eggshells (crushed)

Carbon-Rich Materials (“Browns”)      

Dry leaves  

Plant stalks and twigs

Shredded paper (non-glossy, not colored) and shredded brown bags       

Shredded cardboard (no wax coating, tape, or glue)

Untreated wood chips

Additional information about composting at home can be found on the EPA website.

You want a nice balance between the greens and the browns. Do not put dairy and meat products so as not to attract the attention of unwanted animals, although my son and I are especially curious about the Indians’ and Pilgrims’ way of planting fish alongside their crops. Fish fertilizer is good for plants. But then we are beginner gardeners so we are starting with the basics. If you are diligent with the daily turning, the compost will be ready in two months. I was amazed that you could put paper in a compost pile. They are, after all, able to decompose. I hope you and your family will be inspired by our trek with nature!

Written by Katherine Tanyu

Aside from God, her family, homeschooling (and books!), Katherine's love lies in stationeries. She and her husband manage growing stationery brands Forestmil, Prevailed®, and FengShui Power® in the Philippines. She is also the community moderator of a Facebook group for Office and School Supplies Wholesalers.

See more articles on The Canadian Schoolhouse written by Katherine.

Facebook icon

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).