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close this bookLivelihood Options for Coastal Communities (IIRR, 1995, 77 p.)
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Pot gardening for coastal areas

Majority of the houses in the fishing communities in Southern Philippines or Mindanao are constructed in areas within tidal influence. Hence, there are no lands to grow vegetables.

Far-flung coastal fishing villages are practically isolated from the sources of vegetables important to nutrition and health. Vegetables in town centers are also quite expensive. A fisherman in Mindanao can catch enough fish for his family's consumption; vegetables, however, are quite in short supply to achieve a balanced or improved nutrition.

Yet, a combination of vegetable and fish preparations is not only more nutritious but also more palatable.

Vegetable gardening may provide part-time employment to family members. Mothers or youth can raise vegetables in pots. In general, common vegetable varieties, like eggplants, tomatoes, pechay, etc., do not require complex technology.

Fisherfolk families are now oriented and encouraged to diversify available household labor to engage in meat, egg and vegetable production not only to provide variety of food for better nutrition and health but also for added income.

Pot gardening

A 50-container vegetable garden can be attended to easily as a part-time activity of fisherfolk. Plastic bags, tin cans, clay pots or indigenous materials, like bamboo, discarded wooden boat and coconut husk, may serve as growing pots.

Mindanao has the longest rainfall belonging to Types II and IV climatic zones of at least eight months' wet season. This is about the growing period of most seasonal vegetable varieties, like beans, squash, tomatoes, eggplants, spinach, etc. Extra water containers from rainwater can be provided for the 50 vegetable pots.

A community-type vegetable nursery is one of the priority projects of Agricultural Technicians (ATs) in the villages. The ATs can also provide the necessary training and information for various vegetable varieties. With 50 vegetable pots or containers, a fisherman can raise at least five kinds of vegetables of 10 plants each.

Methods of pot gardening

Mix one-fourth part compost or animal manure with one-third part of garden soil (preferably coming from rich, light to medium soil). Fill up the containers with the soil mixture.

Vegetables that are large-seeded, like beans, squash, etc., can be planted directly to the pots. Sow small-seeded varieties' like tomatoes, pechay, etc., first in seedbeds for two to three weeks before transplanting them. Vine plants, like squash or ampalaya (bitter gourd), can climb the rooftops of the house or porch.

Almost all houses above water have porches for many uses, such as for drying salted fish, for fishing paraphernalia, etc. A bamboo or wooden rail may be provided at the edges of the porch to place the pots. Another way is to place three to four rack-type bamboo or wooden tiers to place the pots. Three to four horizontal poles can also be used where you can hang the containers.

Rail-type pot gardening for coastal areas.

Rack type of vegetable pots.

Hanging type of vegetable pots.

Care of plants

Pot gardening under coastal conditions is believed to be less prone to vegetable pest and diseases, although this is not yet properly documented. Do not spray pesticides in the vegetable gardens because of their bad effects. Instead, use plant repellents, like marigold flower, etc. These can also serve as decors, beautifying a fisherman's house. In addition, ducks eat insects which minimize pest infestation.

Most vegetable varieties do not require too much water. When there is no rain for five to seven days, some varieties need watering.

Additional compost can be done during replanting. Some vegetable varieties like, tomatoes, eggplant, etc., can be pruned and fertilized to produce new growth. Pruning vegetables also hastens harvesting.


One-time harvesting can be done on short, leafy vegetables like pechay or mustard after 50-60 days. Most fruit vegetables are harvested continuously. Part of the harvest can be sold to neighbors or nearby markets.


Practically, the expenses in coastal pot gardening are very minimal. Seeds can be requested free from neighboring inland villages or public nurseries. Containers can be collected from nearby villages. Expenses can be incurred in putting up rails, racks or hangers for the pots. A 50-pot garden will need at least P250.00. Depending on the combination of vegetables to be grown, one popular vegetable in great demand is eggplant. The eggplant can give at least 40 fruits per fruiting season of four to six months. With 50 plants producing 40 fruits, one can have 2,000 fruits. This will easily give an income of P1,000 (lowest estimate) in one-half year.

Vegetables are high-profit crops in coastal areas.