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close this bookBio-Intensive Approach to Small-Scale Household Food Production (IIRR, 1993, 180 p.)
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View the documentCharacteristics of the bio-intensive approach to small-scale household food production
View the documentWhy household food security through gardens makes sense?
View the documentInformation, education and communication approaches to household vegetable gardening
View the documentThe household as a production and consumption unit
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View the documentVegetables throughout the year

Vegetables throughout the year

You can fight malnutrition right in your backyard!

The Food Always In The Home (FAITH) gardening method is a nonconventional form of gardening that, with minimum capital and lots of-native enterprise, can assure needy families of a steady supply of nutritious food - and extra income. FAITH can provide the necessary protein, vitamin and mineral requirements needed by a family of six. It can also reduce the country's heavy reliance on chemical fertilizers that pose health hazards and wreak havoc on the environment.

The system was developed and popularized by the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC), a nongovernment organization working in Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur, Philippines since 1974.

While vegetables can be grown easily in the Philippines, Filipinos do not grow enough of them. The average per capita consumption of 12.4 kilograms of green and yellow vegetables is far short of the recommended allowance of 32.4 kilograms per year. (Medrana 1988)

Home gardening can reduce, by about 20%, a family's total daily food expenditures. (Tones 1987)

19%, or one out of every five of the country's pre-school population, is severely or moderately underweight.

16.8% of the country's school children (7 - 10 years) have weights that fall below the standard weight for their age.

The Ten Steps of FAITH Gardening

1. Locate the best site for the garden. Select a site with a good water supply (it is vital, particularly during the dry season), good soil drainage (if your land is flat, dig drainage channels or ditches around the planting site) and fertility (it must be fertile enough to make plants grow), sunlight availability (growing plants need sunshine to manufacture food), and good air circulation (the site must have natural windbreaks).

2. Provide enough space. The ideal garden size is 96-100 square meters and has a dimension of 6 × 16 meters. This size is adequate to supply every day the fresh vegetables needed for a family of six.
3. Thoroughly prepare the plot. Prepare the land manually with a hoe and rake. Clean the site and save cut grasses and weeds for composting later on. Dig the land at least two times to a depth of 15 - 20 cm, harrowing with a rake and pulverizing clods between diggings. To provide good surface drainage, make raised beds 10 - 15 cm above ground level.

4. Fertilize with compost. Make compost baskets of wire or shape flexible bamboo strips around stakes to make round forms at least 30 cm high. Plant seeds/seedlings 5 - 8 cm away from the composts. Watering should be done inside the baskets - not directly to the plants.

5. Plant 1/3 of the section to early maturing vegetables. Divide the garden into three sections. Set aside the first section for vegetables that you can harvest in 2-4 months, such as tomato, pechay, sweet corn, etc. Do not plant the whole section; reserve I/2 of the section for relay planting.

6. Plant another 1/3 to semi-annual vegetables; Set aside the second section for vegetables that are harvestable in 6-9 months. Examples: winged bean, bitter gourd, cucumber, ginger. As in the first section, plant ½ of this section and reserve the remaining half-portion for relay planting.

7. Plant the remaining 1/3 to annual vegetables. Set aside the last section for planting year-round vegetables like lima beans, upland swamp cabbage, basella, pigeon pea, etc. Reserve In of the section for relay planting.

8. Plant the surrounding area of the garden to permanent crops and semipermanent crops. Examples of these crops are papaya, pineapple, guava, yam beans, horseradish, banana and citrus.

9. Plant reserved portions on time. This will further help ensure continuous and adequate supply of fresh vegetables in your home. In the third section of the garden, plant the reserved half-portion when the first crops in the other half are about 5 months old. In the second section, plant the reserved portion when the first crops are about 4 months old. In the first section, plant the reserved portion when the first crops start to flower.

10. Practice crop rotation when replanting. This is done to improve soil fertility and prevent the spread of pests and diseases. This means that you plant leguminous vegetables (like soybean, bush sitao) to garden plots where non-leguminous vegetables (such as tomato, eggplant, ginger) were previously planted and vice versa.


Locate the best site for the garden


Thoroughly prepare the plot


Fertilize with compost


Plant 1/3 of the section to early maturing vegetables


Plant reserved portions on time

Before transplanting seedlings in the garden plots, "harden" them first for several days. This is done by exposing them gradually to strong sunlight in the field or by withholding water from them.

Cultivate or loosen the soil around the plants to enable their roots to expand and develop fully.

When you observe that your vegetable crops are no longer productive, you can rejuvenate plants like ladyfinger, lima beans, winged beans, eggplants sweet pepper and horseradish by cutting to a height of ½ to 1 foot above the ground.

Plants like cucumber, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, winged beans, string beans and snap beans need trellises or supports. Poles 2.4 - 2.7 meters in length are usually set in the ground to a sufficient depth in a tepee-like arrangement.

FAITH is not the final word in family gardening. This is only an attempt to develop a home garden that can provide adequate food with minimum cost, labor and land utilization. It is meant to be used as a guide.

Source: Tacio, H. D., HR. Watson and W. A. Laquihon. (Undated). Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center.