Sunday, June 28, 2009

Storm Clouds, June 27, 2009

The weather is beginning to transform the grounds from hard and dry to muddy puddles. Vegetables like kangkong, alugbati, pechay and other leafy greens will be planted and harvested quickly. Rice crops enjoy this very wet season. Summer is finally over and its festive garb of colorful flowers will be replaced with a landscape of uniform green. Like a child looking a crayola box for the right name of the different shades of a single color, I can't help but notice the differences among the variations of the color green.

The time when storms are predicted to hit the southern Tagalog region, is an interesting time to take photos. Even if everything becomes wet and muggy, it is also a time of quiet meditation with nature. There are fewer vistors coming to the upland areas of Cavite. Neighboring organic farms will plant inside their greenhouses, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and a variety of culinary herbs.

My farm is located in the watershed area, and everything will slowly return to an exotic rainforest. Jungle vines will wrap around even the tallest trees, and elephant grass, and wild weeds will take over quickly if these are not pulled out in its early stages.

There are plants that sprout only during the rainy season. The few hardwood trees will drink up the volume of water pouring from the clouds and dig deeper into the ground to anchor their roots into the many subterranean wells that feed them all year round. To be able to boost enough energy to reach their mature growth, certain plants will not bloom until the summer heat comes back. A few varieties of tropical trees bear fruits with khaki colored skins, and the flesh and pulp of the fruits like santol, and lanzones, longan are white and very sweet.

The transformation of my farm into a rainforest was occuring before my eyes on the afternoon of 27 June, 2009. I looked up, and saw the clouds darkening from powdery white to gray. My farm took on an overcast atmosphere, and as the sunlight began to fade, the male geckos began to chant for a willing female to meet them in a puddle somehwere. Crickets joined in, and it was just an hour or two before large drops fell from the sky.

June is a month that sits on the shoulder of the hurricane season in the Philippines. I can feel the temperatures going abruptly from a cool 26 C when its raining to a steamy 32C in a few hours after a downpour. A few bad storms are predicted this year, but unless a typhoon makes a direct hit, my farm can withstand the hurricane season, for we are on high ground.

Texture and the different shapes of leaves break the monotony of green in the garden. Xanadu plant in a clay urn is located near my greenhouse.

The rainforest plants must compete for the attention of few pollinators hunting for sources of nectar. These exotic plants are only seen in botanical displays in temperate countries but only in tropical environments can one experience their natural beauty with the steamy humidity that brings out some of the more intense aromas of their blooms.

This is a variety of jasmine has a peculiar name.

The local name
of this plant is:
Today &
and the name implies the fickle attitude of youthful romance!
The flowers are white the first day, then turn purple the next and after a day begin to fade to a lemon yellow before dropping off. The aroma of the flowers is very intense and is used to create a base for only the most expensive perfumes.

This curcuma flower is used for floral arrangements, but it is actually an herbal plant. Tumeric powder is made from drying and grinding its root. This is a well known culinary ingredient for Asian cooking.

This herbal plant, and its roots are used to make dishes such as curry and laska in Southeast Asia.

Wind Chimes hung on my santol tree.

Bromeliads continue to provide color variations during the typhoon season.

This bromeliad looks like someone gave it a "french manicure" and painted the end of the leaves with a little dab of pink polish!

The fuschia colors of the Adenium Obesum or Bangkok Kalatuchi liven up the garden.

The "Falling Bird" Heliconia plant attracts birds and the hummingbird moth that I hope to catch feeding on these exotic blooms.

I am happy that there has been a brief respite from the rains to allow me to harvest my "baby sweet corn" variety. The kernels are small and ideal to be grounded up for "cream of corn" baby food. Older people prefer this type of corn because it is easy to digest.

Dainty lavander asters greet me from my kitchen window.

Thank you for stopping by, and I offer up prayers for everyone who visits my garden blog! See you all again next week.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Day of Sunshine in the Monsoon Season, June 20, 2009

I set out to find good opportunities to photograph the flora and fauna of my Silang farm during the few available sunny days during the rainy season. Sunshine quickly turned from a pleasant break from the monsoon season to humid heat.

Betty came over with her two handsome doggies, and provided an added attraction to my photo journal.

Betty's dog Spot is aware his photo is being taken. Just look at Spot face the camera and flash his doggie profile, while the other dog disappears into the flower bed, and helps himself to a zinnia salad!

Betty hangs her sagumay on my kamuning bush. She attributes the condition of her very thin sangumay to pollution in the city, where it was originally posted on a dry fern on her home perimeter wall. She felt her sagumay will be happier in the country.

A lovely butterfly caught my eye. This little butterfly was literally dancing around Betty and I when we came in from our photo shoot. I tried chasing this butterfly that must have been high on flower nectar and it was an impossible task to set up the camera in time to get it to reveal the bright lemon yellow and white colors as it flexed its wings. I decided to wait beside my purple duranta, a favorite food for nectar feeders. I know the butterfly cannot resist stopping by the purple duranta for a sweet drink. The little butterfly did perch and calmly was feeding, but she refused to open up her wings, and then as soon as I was ready, she was off again!

I didn't catch a photo of the yellow and white butterfly but this huge black bumble bee was a persistent feeder, and kept hovering during this morning's photo shoot!

The attractions of the day, are the Purple Thunbegia,

a very pretty, and rare Lavender Hibiscus,

Giant Fuchsia Hibiscus,

a common bromeliad

and tiny white portulaca.

Well, the rest of the day was spent pulling weeds, planting the bulbs of pink amaryllis and a kamias tree sapling that Betty brought as a donation to my farm.

Till next week again, ALOHA and thanks for visiting my blog and seeing what's blooming in my garden.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Monsoon Season, June 2009

I've been looking forward to the coolness of the rainy season. Now I must focus on harvesting the corn as the last few stalks and the remaining vegetables that are holding on reach maturity. The vegetable roots will eventually disintegrate due to intense flooding. Now it is time to say goodbye to the profuse colors of summer and welcome a few flowers that enjoy the coming of the monsoon.

I know from past seasons that this is the time for discovering new forms of mushrooms and attracting slugs that can be fed to my ducks, but it's not the best weather for a walk, nor is it fun to be bitten by throngs of mosquitoes either.

Everything will become very noisy then totally quiet before the storm.That's the exiting thing about living in the province when the weather turns the grounds to mud.

If ever there are breaks in the rainy season, and pockets of sunshine, I look forward to the sound of geckos announce to the precise number of hours when the next torrent will arrive. The call of the gecko is a mating invitation to any female that happens to hear the males booming " tuck-oo tuck-oo".

He beckons her to come quickly during his announcement of the future rains that will combine his and her DNA into a frothy mix that will result in the fertilization of the female eggs.

These salamanders will appreciate the puddles of fresh rainwater, along with the multitude of frogs who happen to wait for this every year. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer green frogs, and more toads that feed off practically anything, but most especially the offspring of fellow amphibians. I do not mourn for the cockroaches, flies, or beetles that end up as a toadies meal.

These cane toads have taken over the world. Nothing escapes its massive maw and sticky tongue, and almost nothing will eat it, except the soft shell turtle, and land tortoise that also goes after baby ducklings.

I will turn over the soil at the vegetable garden, where earthworms will be encouraged to process any manure or compost material for the next planting season.

I am very attracted to the blossoms of the lavender gumamela or hibiscus that are just beginning to flower. This is the favorite time when the personally "queen" of my garden, the Rosal, or gardenias make their appearance. My objective this year is to divert compost materials and new soil to encourage the gigantic incense plants to increase their stems and produce their heady perfume.

My white garden will be lovely once the "Witches Notes" are in bloom, and of course with their fellow "mystica" sprouting due to the intense rain, my garden will have an ethereal ambiance under the overcast of heavy dark clouds. Time to read books, and watch DVD's indoors!

Mystica flowers are also called "Spider Flowers".

More photos to follow for this edition of MONSOON, JUNE 2009.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Independence Day at Silang, 12 June 2009

The day was one of those hot and humid days that interrupt the rainy season! Sunshine, and a clear blue sky was overhead, making the day perfect to shoot some photos for my journal. Here are a few of the photos I took during this holiday to commemorate the Philippine's Independence Day! I was immediately greeted by my orchids. Raised with no chemical fertilizers, sprays, or hormones to induce blooms, these orchids will flower at their own pace. These catleyas respond to temperature changes, and they usually remain dormant during the rainy season. I change their location to allow the orchids to get maximum sunlight. These plants often suffer from fungal infections during the rainy season. I also change their potting materials from the husks of coconuts, to charcoal made from coconuts. The charcoal potting medium drains well. The orchids benefit from bird droppings as a natural fertilizer. I encourage birds to come and eat insects that may be living in the pots, by sprinkling some birdseed inside the pots and the plant will get a dose of phosphorus rich droppings. These four, lavender catleyas bloomed all at the same time from a communal pot, and were placed in the house for me to enjoy.

This butterfly wouldn't stay put! I caught it while it was feeding on the blooms of the Purple Durante bush.

This prickly bromeliad has a radiant baby pink color. Bromeliads are from the tropical area of Central and South America. These plants were introduced by landscapers importing plants for their colorful leaves. Bromeliads are easy to care for, and don't need much soil. These can be placed in full sun or semi shade to adorn rock gardens. Bromeliads are preferred tropical plants because they love the heat and humidity, and will bloom all year round. This particular bromeliad, "aechmea fasciata" resembles its more famous cousin, the pineapple.

Varigated kalamanci plant. If you look closely, there are stripes on the skin of the fruit. This tiny fruit enhances the flavor of Asian dishes. The little lime has a very sharp citrus taste, and is usually combined with soy sauce as a marinade for chicken, pork, fish or meats.

This is the last watermelon to be harvested in June. In a week or two, the hurricane season will bring torrential rains that will flood my veggie patch. This watermellon will be ready next Saturday, and I intend to leave it in the refrigerator overnight to chill, and then enjoy as a healthy desert!

My friend Betty takes photos in the corn patch.

We don't eat our Mornay ducks. We raise ducks for the eggs that we salt and serve as "itlog na maalat" and it is also made into thin crepes to use for Asian lumpia wrappers.

My organic poultry are doing very well. The white feathers replace the yellow downy fluff on these three week old pullets.

This batch of sweet corn will be ready in three more weeks!

Till next week, organically yours,

Mrs. Organic Mom

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What Blooms During The Monsoon Season?

Journal Blog Entry: June 7, 2009

This lovely catleya bloomed the night before I arrived at my farm in Silang. This is a clear sign that temperatures have dropped, and the rainy season is beginning.

Once the torrential rains fall, plants take on all shades of green. A few thrive in the heavy downpour that often last for days. Certain plants start blooming profusely and are swamped by bees, and other pollinators ravenously searching for nectar that quickly washes away in the rain.

The allum that line the center pathway, have burst into tiny white tulip-shaped flowers.

This is the season for harvesting Kalamanci, Langka, Guyabano, and Buko. These are all "green" fruits,and blending in with the rest of the foliage, these "green fruits" are less likely to attract insects that prefer the more colorful fruit.

My eyes are drawn to the shades of tangerine, salmon pink, and bright red orange that break up the monotony of the green landscape. The flowers of the Ixora, Dona Imelda bush, and African daisy plants are a source of cheer when overcasts block out the sunshine during the rainy season.

There are a lot of beautiful tropical plants that stand out in the garden, and one of these are the Dona Imelda Flowers.

I can count on the African Daisies to bloom all year round.

My favorite fragrant flowers at this time of the year are the pure white flowers of the local "Rosal" or "Gardenia" .

"Grand Duke" and "Incense Spathypyllum", give off the sweetest scent during warmer nights.

This very large spathyphyllum loves almost complete shade and thrive when gray clouds obstruct the sun, during most of the rainy season.

Even during the rainy season, my garden is full of wonderful things. I look forward to my santol harvest at the height of the monsoon season sometime August where my husband and I sit underneath the tree, and like hungry monkeys we indulge to our heart's content!

Till next week! God bless my farm!