Monday, September 20, 2010

Organic Ampalaya in the Backyard

plants_4374.gif Flower Animation image by Michael_Hogue

by : Felix B. Daray, (published in the Agriculture Magazine, Sept. 2010)

LIKE MANY PEOPLE , my favorite pastime is gardening. It is my relief from stress and source of joy, especially when it’s harvest time.

These days, I am growing organic ampalaya in my backyard. I enjoy sharing my harvest with my friends and neighbors. Likewise, I like to impart my little knowledge on it.
I suggest to those who plan to grow ampalaya in the backyard to plant it in an area that is exposed to sunlight. They should also plant the crop near a compost pit. Eight months after the biodegradable waste decomposed, sow two seeds near the pit.

As soon as the vines start growing and crawling up on the trellis, water the plant with rice wash or fish wash or meat wash .It would be best for the plants as they are very rich in nutrients and minerals.
To prevent infestation, bag the fruits with cellophane or old newsprints as soon as the flowers fall down. Doing so would hinder sucking insects and fruit flies to lay eggs on the young fruits.

I also inspect my ampalaya plants every morning to see if there are tiny holes or scratches on the leaves. These are indications that the plants are infested by pin worms or cutworms, which I remove manually .I also suggest that biodegradable waste be burned under the trellis in the early morning or late afternoon as the smoke will drive insects away.
In fact, I grow the native variety as it is resistant to pest. It is shorter to other cultivars but it has thicker pulp.

I start to harvest after 45 days. And for about 90 days, I pick one to two fruits every other day. Like most households, my family often cooks pinakbet or ampalaya con egg. And we don’t mind its bitter taste as we know it’s because ampalaya contains momordicin, a compound found to be effective in treating diabetes.