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How to apply bio-intensive gardening in your backyard?

Updated on February 9, 2011

How to apply bio-intensive gardening in your backyard? In the Philippines Bio-Intensive Gardening is gaining its popularity. Bio Intensive Gardening is not expensive and it is environmentally friendly. It will support the basic needs of the whole family in terms of vegetables and fruits even in small parcels of land and even in urban setting. Bio-intensive gardening is a biological method of planting in small piece of land by way of natural cultivation and making the soil productive by using natural way which is normally called sustainable agriculture. Bio-intensive gardening is one of the programs of International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) that is intended to help the poor families to have their own sustainable sources of food. The very first institution to initiate the application of Bio-intensive gardening is the IIRR. It is intended that the poor family will strive, by using self reliance and self sustaining method of gardening, so that their basic sources of nutrient and food need not be expensive to buying is eliminated anymore but rather in will come from their own plantation which will guarantee the continuous source of nutritious foods for the poor family. This method of gardening is done by planting local seeds and by using the natural fertilizers – the organic. Controlling the pest is done by using the natural method, and by completely avoiding the use of chemically prepared insecticide.

What are the features of bio intensive gardening?

1. Maximum utilization of soil especially in areas where enough space is impossible to obtain. All vacant spaces of the soil shall be utilized. The kind of plant that shall be planted is aligned on the features of the soil and the shape of the garden plot. All the space in the plot will be filled with assorted but fully organized plants and these are also interchangeably planted on different seasons. This method shall guarantee that all year round the gardener shall reap fruits and different types of vegetables.

2. Using the double-digging method. The soil is irate and is more conducive to plant grow because the earth worms will be encouraged to reside in the garden plots hence in the long run the soil is sustain ably fertilized.

3. Use of compost and the use of organic fertilizers in the planting beds will ensure the nutrients supply needed by the plants. These will also help increase the volume of microscopic organism that are friendly to the plants, not unlike the use of synthetic fertilizers which will in the long run destroy the balance of the soil in terms of biodiversity of the microscopic organisms in the soil.

4. The use of indigenous cultivars; these are local vegetables that are resistant to pest due to their adaptability in the regions.

5. Sustenance for the balance diet of the family. Selecting the kind of vegetables that are highly nutritious and of good quality will ensure the source of nutrients for the whole family. It must include root crops, legumes, leafy veggies and fruit bearing crops.

6. Use of natural pest control without harming the environment and without side-effect to human health. This is done by planting crops that are naturally resistant to pest and also inserting plants in the garden rows that emits odors repellant to most insects, such as onions and garlic and ginger. In extreme cases where pesticide is necessary an organic component is used by utilizing the indigenous compounds. Pruning of the infected leaves of the plants is also manually done to suppress the spreading of plant disease.

7. The seeds of the plants must be collected from the matured crops in the garden to avoid unnecessary expense to buy the seed from the seed store. The gardener must reserve a certain plant for seed production, just a very small portion of the garden area. The cropping cycle must be ensured by creating a miniature seed bank of the indigenous plants.

8. Labor-intensive in the initial phase of gardening. But in the passing of times the method of bio-intensive gardening is not laborious anymore because it is not necessary to plow or shovel the soil for recultivation. This help a lot in the production of nutritious food for the small family and this is also practical for the poor family because they can resell the excess production of the veggies and at the same time almost all members of the family can help in gardening and eventually in reaping the fruits.


You should collect first all the kinds of plant, the indigenous crops that you will need to plant in your garden. For example, you can plant: pechay, pipino, kamote, labanos, philippine spinach, talbos ng kamote (amaranth or sweet potato tops) and mustasa or mustard, eggplant, tomato, zucchini or squash, upo, singkamas, etc. [The following list are plants suitable for natural fencing of your garden: kakawate, pinya, katuray, avocado, luya, gabi, kamyas, bayabas, sesame, breadfruit, fennel, langka (jack fruit), kamote, repolyo, suha, sugar apple, rensonii, pigeon pea, basella, mais (corn), papaya, sigarilyas, jute, saging, greater yam, chili, kalamansi, lesser yam, yam bean, fleminga, lemon grass, kamoteng-kahoy, horse radisd tree, japanese malunggay.]

Secondly, you should design the layout of the garden plot. The best design is rectangular and should align on east-west setting. The longer side of the plot must be aligned on the east-west alignment in order to maximize the sun exposure of the crops. But if you are in an urban area the best design is a plot that is align to the available space that is at least expose to sunlight for 30% or more; 100% sunlight exposure of your garden is best but this require lots of watering too.

Thirdly, spread the compost or decayed animal manure on top of the garden beds not exceeding 3 inch thick. Then prepare the garden bed by using the double-digging method. The plot must be shoveled to twice the normal depth and transferring the soil from the lower level to the top in order to revitalize it before planting.

Fourth, after several days, you can plant the seeds. Do not plant immediately after shoveling the soil so that fungus will be scorched under the sun for two to three days; this will destroy plant diseases. Use occasional watering if necessary but only after eight days of planting the seeds otherwise the plant will be stunted. Most farmers understand this. But if you are not experienced in seed behavior you must understand that most plant hate watering while they are on the process of germinating in the soil. But in cases of doubt just follow your instint in planting. Observe carefully each plant behavior. Plants are living things also. Probably they can feel your loving treatment. Love your plants.

The additional article in relation to bio-intensive gardening will follow in my future hubs. Let your planting be enjoyable. Watching your plants grow from seed to maturity is worth more than buying a full grown plant. It will heal your sorrow, if there be any.

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One method of tapping your dirt water coming from lavatory or wash area.  Rice terraces style.
One method of tapping your dirt water coming from lavatory or wash area. Rice terraces style.

The flower of salt-water palm (NIPA)

Nipa, is a palm suited for salty area. Nipa wine is one of the sweetest wine in the world.  Its philippine name is "tuba"
Nipa, is a palm suited for salty area. Nipa wine is one of the sweetest wine in the world. Its philippine name is "tuba"


You can protect your garden from extreme heat if you will include the millionaires' vine in your garden's border.
You can protect your garden from extreme heat if you will include the millionaires' vine in your garden's border.

The katuray seedling. Ideal for fencing your garden


Do you have a garden in your backyard?

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    • techygran profile image


      6 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      thank you for this interesting article-- it made some things clearer for me!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've gardened this way for years. It still amazes me how many people are reluctant to give it a try.

      Two times when it is the best meathod to use, 1 when you don't have time to garden. This meathod takes much less time. 2 when your soil needs enrichment or has lots of stones.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Its nice that more people are becoming interested in backyard gardening. it seems its becoming a lost art but we should promote it among our kababayans because we have plenty of agricultural areas. kudos to your article!

    • profile image

      Assem Tesfaw Ayelle  

      7 years ago

      It is a good practice and I may adopt for Ethiopia after coming to your coutry for experince sharing in the coming weeks

    • kimhopesmith profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Very nice Hub and photos.

      I am very impressed!

      I am in the process of building a large garden to grow and sell vegatables and I will be using the "French Intensive" method (bio intensive) I enjoyed your Hub very, very much!

      Thank You


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Really enjoyed your aticle, especially the last line. I am currently trialling bio-intensive gardening in my back yard in the cold, wet north east of England; very different to the Phillipines! I am hoping to put something about what I have learned on the internet eventually, but it will probabaly take a coupe of years. In the meantime, I look forward to reading your future posts.

    • profile image

      gay magcuyao 

      8 years ago

      i would like to start gardening in order to help my family for our basic needs.

    • denden mangubat profile image

      denden mangubat 

      8 years ago from liloan, cebu, philippines

      ok i'll try this at home

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice hub. keep it up


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