Thursday, November 4, 2010

Clean Easy and Safely with Lemon, Vinegar and Essential Oils

Organic cleaners are expensive if you buy them at the supermarket or health stores. Now that the economy is tight, there is a cleaner that you can use everywhere, in babies room, your kitchen and bathrooms, counters and pet areas.

A combination of vinegar, pure lemon or local lime juice, and drops of organic essential oils will do the trick. Vinegar is a natural anti-bacterial cleanser. The acid content is from pineapples, fruit or fermented sugars and readily avail of these ingredients.

Going organic and green should not be expensive since all the elements in nature are balanced, and only mankind has become an erratic member of the natural balance. A dose of 100% proof vinegar straight up will kill even fleas and ticks, cockroaches and other insects like bedbugs if these are put in a jar in vinegar. Just 5 percent vinegar kills every single bacteria and germ on the kitchen counter. In fact, when you get a new appliances like coffee maker, blenders, food processors and microwaves, should be cleaned with vinegar and lemon juice for at least 3 times before using it. Vinegar was used in the ancient times as a cleansing agent for wounds, and to disinfect animals before cooking. Vinegar from fruit is the safest, and vinegar from sugar is like using alcohol and will kill 99% of all bacteria, 82% of all molds, and 80% of germs and viruses. Vinegar is safe to use around children and around animal areas. The fact is it marketed as a food should indicate it safe!!

The cleaners we see in the supermarket are bad for our skin and are full of pesticide type chemicals that cause cancer because it interrupts the natural cycle of the metabolism of organisms Soaps and detergents, are full of triclosan-filled antibacterial products that actually can burn your skin if you are sensitive.

Here is the recipe for a "GREEN CLEANSER"

1 spray bottle
1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups of water
10-12 drops of your favorite essential oil, i.e. lavender, eucalyptus, jasmine (optional)

Method:

Use a spray bottle and put in all ingredients. Shake well to mix everything up, and always shake before using.

USE the above recipe for some of the following :

*kitchen countertops
*cutting boards
* Inside refrigerator
* disinfect freezer
* bathroom surfaces

TOUGH CLEANSER

Add baking soda with lemon juice, at least 50% of baking soda to 10% vinegar, and you have a good scrub for tough surfaces.

* clean up the water deposits on faucets/shower heads, soak with enough distilled white vinegar to completely cover the fixture with a damp towel or rag and let it soak overnight or eight hours.

GARDEN
* Vinegar is a natural weed killer. Use straight white vinegar (with a high percentage of acetic acid) on grass or weeds and watch them die!

AIR FRESHENER

* Freshen air and remove odors.
* Lemon grass or "Tanglad" or fresh gardenias, or break eucalyptus leaves
soaked in water overnight emit an essential oil that will devour the bad smell of food, and obnoxious smells in the toilet.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What is Missing? The elusive "Blue Morpho" Butterfly , August 7th, 2010

Blue morpho butterflies are found in the tropical rainforests of Indonesia, and South America. Their numbers have been depleted with the loss of habitat, and because their beauty is so rare, the Japanese collectors pay tribes people and provincial folk to take pupae, or the cocoons, that once matured  will turn their occupants into beautiful creatures. These blue morpho butterflies lie at the floor of the rainforest and are camoflaughed because the back of their wings are dark to blend in with the forest, but once they fly upwards, the beating of their wings attract the eyes to the flashing indicacent color of their blue wings.

video

We have some blue butterflies in Silang too, and I was excited to photograph even one. Blue butterflies are very rare, and they come in all types, from swallowtails, to the common cabbage butterflies. I was delighted to see this tiny local "banded blue butterfly" flying by and landing on my Ixora plant.

The Elusive Banded Blue Butterfly
One of the most noticeable effects of urban sprawl are the stripping away of the landscape. Bulldozers come in for months to scrape off the top soil, uproot trees, and strip everything in the effort to flatten the grounds to make way for roads and subdivide lots. The immediate change in the climate is apparent, but  the signs of a depleted environment are more evident when I  realize the experiences I had as a child ,  can no longer share with my grandsons.


The old swing from Loyola Heights where
my father and I would sit and watch
the fireflies at night.
When I was a child, my father would take me out at night to see the fire flies. These are magical insects that glow in the dark and I would catch some and place them in jars so I could look at them more closely, then let them go.

We had this old swing were I could sit across from my Dad and it would be humid right after a rain. I knew nothing about fire flies, but a few tiny specks of light would float by, but the sight became spectacular once my father would request all the lights to be shut off so I could see the glowing little fire flies. The night would be lit with tiny twinkling lights, and I could reach out my hand to touch them, and to play with them as they were attracted to the salt on our sweaty arms.

Another missing element are tiny green frogs, about an inch long, and these would be jumping about during the breaks of the monsoon rains.  These tiny frogs lay their eggs with a white foamy mix of their own body fluids in  the puddles formed by stagnant water. In just two weeks these tiny frogs are jumping everywhere!


One Inch  Tiny Frog Is Full Grown
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 17, 2010, Butteflies and Bees are back again!

Collins Butterfly Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Europe (Collins Guides)
"Painted Lady Butterfly on Red Star Cluster Flowers"
Butterflies come out once the temperatures reach a high of      85 * F.  These flying flowers shield themselves against the rain by hiding under the large leaves and branches of trees. Once the rain stops, they begin to descend on certain flowers and even suck up salt from the wet clay soils on the ground.  Each of these butterflies are of different varieties depending on the patterns, background colors and wing shapes.



The photos of the butterflies on this page are just a few that I was able to photograph using a  simple Nikon Coolpix camera.


 Butterfly are hard to photograph with a simple camera. There is a reward for the patience required to study how these insects behave. I use to follow these flittering little insects while they feed on the blooms in my garden. I try to position myself in the flower garden at different times of the day, but mid morning is the best time to observe butterflies.


Nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing these butterflies and birds that feast on their larvae.  Organic gardening has many benefits, and one of these are the delight in welcoming these winged wonders fluttering about.



Butterflies pollinate flower, and both adults and larvae are an important food source for birds, bats, and other wildlife. Butterflies will lay eggs that will become caterpillars and eat the leaves of the host plant.



Commercial flower farms cannot sell their floral blooms if there are bite marks and tears from caterpillars, so you can be sure that an open air garden is going to have to be free of any pesticides or chemicals if you want these butterflies to propogate.  Be sure to avoid the use of insecticides, even the organic kind made with neem tree leaves.  You can expect these lovely insects to provide you hours of pleasure admiring the adults, as these butterflies make your garden their breeding and feeding grounds.  - and birds,  wasps, ladybugs, praying mantis and lacewings will  control  caterpillars, and other unwanted pests.



"Black Winged Postman Butterfly on Lazy Susan Flowers"

All my zinnias, star clusters, asters, dahlias, yellow bush, pink periwinkles, impatients are the favorite food of pollinators. Huge bumble bees are often so busy sipping nectar that they are not bothered by me taking their picture.

Bees are gorging themselves on nectar of flowers they see are fully open.

Zinnias are the perfect flower to attract them, and have your camera ready, you can't fail to get a shot of these huge, gentle wild bees that join butterflies in gorging on nectar!


Adult butterflies look for sources of nectar for food and color, fragrance, size, and shape are all important characteristics of the best nectar flowers. Because butterflies are nearsighted, they are attracted to large patches of a particular type of flower.

"Yellow and White Sulphur Butterfly on  a Zinnia Flower"
If you want to attract a certain species, a large splash of brightly colored flowers of one type is more effective than several types of different plants.  Butterflies will hover and land on blooms from one to the other. If you want to photograph them, stay in one area and focus your camera towards the center of the flower bed. Don't chase the butterflies but trust they will eventually come nearer if you remain still.


The "Bird Wing" Butterfly
However, you can find a wider variety of butterflies when there is rain. After the rain, there are many adult butterflies feeding on the abundant blooms. Planting several kinds of good nectar producing flowers usually attracts more varieties of the species of butterflies common in tropical gardens.

Fragrance is even more important than color for attracting butterflies. Many nectar producing flowers such as lavender, lilac, and honeysuckle, gives off strong fragrances to attract pollinators. The size and shape of flowers is also important in attracting butterflies for your garden.

 Large butterflies, such as the swallowtail, prefer to land on flowers with large compact heads because they provide a seat for the butterflies to rest on while feeding. These types of flowers include asters, goldenrod, zinnia, marigolds, and herb flowers also draw in tiny little butterflies about the size of a fingernail.

Other flower types that butterflies prefer have tightly packed clusters of flowers. These include lantana, honeysuckle, and mildweed. For the best butterfly garden, choose a selection of plants that blossom at different times of the year to provide nectar throughout the rainy and during the dry and sunny seasons. Summer is often very hot in the Philippines, and to keep butterflies coming in to feed,  water your flower bed early in the morning to leave little droplets of moisture on the leaves and petals of your flowers.



"Painted Lady Lace Wing Butterfly"
 There are different types of patterns on the back of the butterfly wings for each species breeding in your garden. I notice many "lace wings" with a scalloped edge and tiny white designs that remind me of 'lace" at the edge of Spanish fans. A "Painted Lady" is a mixed pattern of splashes of colors, dots, and different intricate designs all on one butterfly.


There have been many sightings of the giant birdswing but these types have become extinct in my region and prefer forests where there are few people.

Cutting down the number of wild meadows, have destroyed habitat of these insects that need a lot of nectar to keep their energy going. They don't live very long, and I think it is cruel to kill a butterfly only to capture its beauty! I would suggest instead of catching them during their breeding season, wait for these creatures to slow down, and they will gently float downwards to the ground and die naturally. If you go around the area where the butterflies are found, you can see  a few in perfect condition, quietly still, then pick them up with a gauze cloth, not with your hands because the wings may break off. Gently transfer them onto  acid free paper to dry, then pin them in a glass frame.

A scientist from Japan exploring the forests of the Philippines had discovered the giant birdswings in remote areas of the country. These beautiful and colorful butterflies are so prized in the Orient, that hunters are paid $50 to find their chrysallis and export these to Japan where newly married couples release them for good luck during the wedding reception. Bred in captivity, these butterflies often die after just one generation.
GOLIATH MOTH
Giant moths are very different from butterflies. In the Philippines, giant moths are often seen perched on a tree and seen in the daytime, and are mistaken for the giant birdswing butterfly. Large Goliath moths fly at night and they lay their eggs on trees producing a brood of hairy caterpillars that are often despised because if handled, the fine hairs are very itchy and stick to the skin for a long time!


The Beautiful " Black and White Lace Wing Butterfly"


There have been many people who are superstitious about seeing a black butterfly. In the Philippines, there is a legend of the giant birdwing butterfly that is associated with the "dwende" or the elves that guard the forests and wild animals. People who venture into the countryside are asked to "greet and ask permission" to pass through their realm. The elves allow the enchanted faeries to recruit future mates, and these female faeries take the form of the butterfly. 
"Black and White Lace Wing Butterfly"


Old ladies warn young boys who go deep into the forest for adventure to be careful not to get lost. They speak of the legend of a  man wandering alone and a large colorful birdswing butterfly came and  landed near, and he noticed this huge butterfly would  flirt with him.  The tale of the giant birdswing is that men are lured to venture  deep into the forests never to be seen again! The birdswing butterfly is different from the giant moths. Butterflies only fly about when there is sunshine.

These legends often are the cause why tribespeople kill the larger birdswings.

"Green Jay Butterfly"
As a gardener, I do not mind if my flowers and leaves of plants are eaten by these insects. Butterfly populations have declined rapidly in recent years, due in part to lack of habitat for their young.  Millions of hectares are being converted to urban dwellings, and stripping the ground of plants and grasses has caused the extinction of many butterfly species, especially the rarest of these the Philippine Papillion and the giant birdswing butterfly.

We all love to watch beautiful, multicolored butterflies flit from flower to flower in our garden, but we hate to see the eaten leaves and partially stripped stems due to feeding caterpillars. But you can't have butterflies without caterpillars!

Flower pecker birds, and fly catcher or bee eaters birds will catch the butterflies in flight. Bee Eater Birds are very colorful too. Sadly, those who own apiaries kill these birds for they feed on honey bees and apiaries lose money if these birds nest near their commercial bee colonies.  Bee eaters and fly catchers are the best friends of gardeners, for they will eat any flying insect. I never use pescticides because the healthier your garden is, the more  insects like butterflies will want to make it their home. Insects  have natural predators in lady bug beetles, preying mantis, birds, lizards and frogs will feast on butterfly caterpillars. In fact, caterpillars provide my free range hens lots of protein! 




Asters, Duranta, Roses, Suntan, Zinnias, Daisies, Dahlias  among other types of flowers, are the favorite food of butterflies.


And since many butterflies live only a few days to a few weeks, providing a home and food for their young is essential to their life cycle. Fortunately, many of the plants preferred by caterpillars are not the same which are fed upon for butterfly nectar, so it is easy to grow both in the garden.




A butterfly's energy is spent up feeding, breeding and laying egs, and once they have done their job,  these insects  are carried to different places by the wind, and slow down and then pass on too!

Read More About Butterflies :


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Budget Constraints Are Pushing More Women To Plant Their Own Food Gardens!

The demand for organic food is reaching a fever pitch, driving prices sky high at most markets. In these difficult economic times, our household budget has to be shrunk to fit in a lot of requirements for healthier children's lunches and snacks, and  to accomodate all kinds of tastes and caprices for food.

At home, I prepare a wide variety of food to suit the tastes of the family. Our menus are never complicated, but we do try to appeal to satisfy the desire  for food ranging from ordinary Filipino-Asian food, to gourmet cuisine.

I feel that we are returning to an era where families brought in vegetables, herbs and fruits from their own gardens to be the ingredients of desire for a variety of cuisine.  The economic crisis--which is pinching all our budgets--and the shift in values has triggered the most recent collision of people  of all classes of society, patronizing the street markets instead of supermarkets. There are the hi-heeled crowd of urbanites, and ordinary housewives  who are now shopping at farmers markets at designated areas in certain cities. A few like SM Hypermart supply  restaurants with fresh fish, meats and vegetables  at wholesale prices.

 I for one prefer to  search  locally produced ingredients for a variety of cuisine that are different from the traditional Filipino food. Goat cheese, fresh rosemary sprigs, hand picked and roasted coffee beans, and cultivated honey from neighborhood apiary contribute to an interesting combination of cuisine we serve at home.

Economic  factors are pushing those who live in the cities, to start their own potted herbal gardens at home, or to venture to the rural areas to  find a larger tract of land in the countryside to set up a small farm.

Farming in the backyard has put agriculture back in the mainstream. A growing awareness of  the methods in starting a small vegetable garden is becomming easy with access to the internet, One can find any subject from raising free range chickens, to planting rice from many websites on these topics. 


There is a committed desire for fresh, unpolluted (and unpolluting) organic produce. There is a concern now for the environment  with the reality of global warming; the need for alternative sources of energy, and the ever-increasing sophistication of Manila  cooks. There are blogs that show  the proliferation of self-described "foodies" and the demand for varied, "gourmet" produce. Families are going to nearby agricultural communities to get in contact with mother nature, and to get away from a frantic world.


I am happy to know that everyone is interested in  food gardening, and that it should really be a result of a number of the educated population for natural products and organic food.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chemical Free Weed Killer

All herbicides that are sprayed, or are mixed with water then sprinkled on lawns, golf course turf, or other large areas will pollute the air, water and soil. Garden stores sell all kinds of nasty chemicals that are guaranteed to get rid of weeks, and pests. These bottles of poison will probably be mixed and sprayed on plants, then the remainder of what is inside those bottles will sit in the garage for the next few years.

Herbicides have been the element that humans and animals take in accidentally by breathing in air around golf courses, parks, subdivision home lawns. The worst exposure comes from herbicides that are sprayed over large tracts of land using airplanes. Herbicides and pesticides that are sprayed in the air, or mixed with water and then sprinkled overhead are the causes of a host of diseases including cancer in people and their pets. Glyphosphate is the active ingredient in most herbicides. It is an enzyme inhibitor, which chokes off the enzyme that plants require in order to grow, killing the weed and only one of many questionable chemicals in pesticides marketed for lawn and garden care.

Glyphosphate related incidents are one of the highest reported of all accidental poisoning cases reported to doctors. Patients who have ingested, or been exposed to this chemical are often rushed to the emergency room for treatment.

Pesticides are the one toxic substance that can be bought over the counter in almost all the garden stores for use by ordinary people in their homes or gardens. According to the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns of 30 top products, more than 50% of these are linked to cancer, a third are linked to birth defects, 70% related to reproductive effects, 80% with liver or kidney damage, 50% with neurotoxicity, and 31% with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system.

There is a better way! This completely free and non-toxic alternative is very effective and can be repeated as needed, without fear of toxic exposure.

Biodiversity is necessary in the garden. It’s healthy to have arachnids, earthworms, insects and live viruses in it since they aid in balancing the environment of the garden. Utilizing chemical-based pesticides place these creatures at menace of being damaged.If you are anxious on the pests, think on this. About 90 percent of the pests in garden aid in plant’s growth and are actually harmless. That’s why it is actually better to utilize organic pesticides with the plants. Using man-made or synthetic pesticides might carry threat to the soil, people, and plant alike.

The instant effect might not be understandable but believe it - these pesticides might cause danger to wildlife. Think about this; the pesticide could not recognize the precise organism to involve so either comes in contact by it in the plot might either gets ill or die because of the toxic content.Selecting synthetic pesticides on organic pesticides could also damage the top soil. There are these chemicals that could carry obnoxious effects on the plants like restraining their growth or exterminating them. Others might effect to growth sprays that could damage the quality and savor of the item for consumption.


The good thing on these pesticides is you could essentially make them at the home with the leftover components. You could in fact save since you do not have to use much for it, presently be ingenious making used the ingredients that you include:

1. Fill a teakettle with water, bring it to a boil, and simply pour the boiling water on each of the offending weeds. By the next day you will have a very dead, brown little weed that is easily pulled from the crack with just a little tug.

2. Blend 2 tbsp. dish washing liquid, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp bleach to treat mildew or fungus growing on special plants like orchid leaves.

3. Spray a mix of 1 entire bulb of garlic mixed with 2 pints of water. This removes whatever pests on your vegetables or plants.

4. Get Tide or Breeze, detergents. Put enough water bottle and shake. Spray on plants.

5. Take about 30 pcs miniature hot chillies and mash. Use little water and spray on insects harming your plants.

6. Spray vegetable oil to rid your plants of pests.

One thing to remember, wash all vegetables and edible plants in a soak of water and vinegar to disinfect, and to rid the edible plants of dirt, grime, harmful germs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

STEVIA, a natural sugar substitute


The photo above is of the original stevia plant my friend Betty gave me.

STEVIA is a natural and organic sugar substitute. The plant looks like mint, but has no fragrance.  I have several pots growing now from that original plant.

Stevia leaf is sweeter than sugar, so you need much less in recipes. You can use the leaves of a stevia plant in your garden to make your own stevia liquid sweetener drops. While using whole, dried stevia leaves off of a plant to create homemade sweetener drops will not be as strong as the powdered stevia sugar substitutes sold in health food stores, but making your own stevia drops will be much cheaper.  You can get a clean old baby medicine bottle and dropper, or get one at the pharmacy. I prefer to use a glass bottle/dropper since I want to use the least amount of plastic for anything.

Anyway, the stevia plant will yield more sweet taste and at least you know if you grow it yourself, it is definately organic and fresh.

You will only need a a few homemade drops to sweeten your tea, coffee or cereal. The level of sweetness from your stevia plant will depend upon when you harvest the leaves, the age of the plant and the amount of drying time. Pick leaves early in the morning. Take the leaves and wash them. Dry the leaves on a clean towel, and then pound them or put them inbetween two sheets of  kraft paper, and use  a rolling pin to crush the leaves.

I tried it in making "Green Ice Tea" by crushing the leaves, and then adding water until the desired sweetness was achieved. This would be about 3 tablespoons of Stevia leaves, crushed and then add about 1/4 cup water, then taste it if the sweetness is sufficiently strong. I also boil 6 cups of water, add 4 green tea sachets, and cool it down in a glass pitcher, then add lemon juice, about 1/4 cup, the Stevia water and ice. Strain out any crushed leaves , and I have a cool, refreshing drink to sip all day! This green ice tea tastes just the same as the commercial, "LIPTON" brand green ice tea.



Aspartame, is being sold mainly under the brand called "  EQUAL." This is a chemical that gives soda , juice and many other confectionaries the taste of sweetness, without actually adding on any calories. Ants being feed aspartame will die because it can dupe the brain to believe it is actually sugar, and drive the body to crave more and more sugar.

There are  people on a sugar restricted diet who are taking EQUAL in larger amounts each time they use it.  who are overweight don't even lose weight if they seek to lower their intake of sugar calories. I know, I am one of those who started with 1 sachet of EQUAL per cup of coffee and now use 2 sachets. My husband started with 1 sachet and is using 4 to sweeten his coffee. Another brand, SLENDA, has the same effect.

STEVIA on the other hand is a natural herb that when crushed and powdered, actually tastes like sugar but is in fact helpful in regulating the craving for sugar.

SO CHEERS!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eggplants Love Summer!

The one crop that will grow in a drought, even during El Nino, is the eggplant. This vegetable is easy to plant and can be grown in pots. Their leaves spread out like solar panels to capture the heat of the day and take the energy into these lovely purple fruit. When ripened, eggplants are a glossy, purple, and have a waxy texture. Do not pick if there are patches of green. Eggplants are edible but like tomatoes, the leaves , stems and roots are actually considered toxic.

 My family enjoys my "Eggplant Lasagne" without any noodles or pasta. You first make  a vegetable sauce made from crushed tomatoes, garlic, onions, celery and carrots. Just slice the eggplant and put in layers of mozzarella cheese, drizzle olive oil in between each layer and the insert vegetable sauce, top with bread crumbs and it makes a great side dish or main dish for summer.



Eggplant is an excellent source of  fiber. Full of vitamins and minerals, eggplant is high in the B1, B6 and potassium nutrients. Beneficial minerals we don't get from other foods in our main diet, are trace elements of copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, and folic acid.

Organically grown eggplants are also a source of a special natural anti-biotic that can root out radicals in our system.  This vegetable has enzymes that protect us from accumulating plaque in our arteries, and bad LDL -cholesterol.

Eating eggplant as part of a meal either as a side dish or main dish benefits diabetics by naturally regulating insulin levels.  Individuals who have high blood pressure should include 1 serving of eggplants every week to help keep their arteries healthy . Eggplant is also beneficial for those who are anemic and for cancer patients to inhibit the spread of the disease to the liver.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

MAY 2010, A little rain gives my plants a boost!

Today, I woke to the scent of my jasmine bush all blooming after three days of rain that broke the dry spell of the El Nino climate on the Philippines.



This jasmine bush, "Brunfelsia paneaflora" or its common name  "Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" that describes the phenomenonal change in colors of the  flowers that bloom white the first day, then turns purple the 2nd day, and yellow the 3rd day. This plant  has few leaves at this time but the flowers are profusely spread out all over the bush. 


"HAEMANTHUS  KATHERENINAE"
I call this the "Rain Puff Ball Lilly" that is dormant all year round. The bulbs break through the dry, parched earth right before the rainy season begins. The hurricane season usually starts in late May and ends in early November in the Philippines. You can observe the little shoots coming through the ground.


 Dendrobiums are starting to flower as the air cools off after the rain.

A Few Days Of Rain, May 8, 2010

 These are the "before EL NINO PHOTOS" and the "AFTER THE FEW DAYS OF RAIN" in May 2010



BEFORE / DURING EL NINO


These are the photos of my farm a few weeks ago between April 4 and April 30, 2010. 

The larger trees like eucalyptus, mahogany and coconut have deep roots that can draw water from the acquifers underground.

AFTER ONE DAY OF LIGHT RAIN

RAIN, AND MORE RAIN!

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Heavy downpour lasts about an hour

Monsoon Rains Arrive Late


THE MORNING AFTER RAIN FELL FOR 2 HOURS CONTINOUSLY.


GREEN PATCHES OF GRASS CAN BE SEEN BY THE 2nd
DAY  OF RAIN

THIS IS A PHOTO TAKEN AFTER THE THIRD DAY OF RAIN.

THE GREEN FIELDS ARE NOW SPROUTING NEW BLADES OF GRASS.

 

THE EVILS OF URBAN SPRAWL HAS COME TO MY NEIGHBORHOOD

I view this conversion of agricultural land and the government selling watershed rainforest to commercial, industrial and residential land, as evil. This is greed, plain and simple.


Urban developers are in this for the money. They could care less about Cavite. Whatever they do to carve out thousands of hectares into subdivisions and urban centers is depleting the lowlands of fresh water, and driving the rain towards the ocean instead of filling up the estuaries that supply the people with fresh fish, and flooding the rice fields that bring us our staple food.


Think of all those subdivisions around Tagaytay ridge, imagine how it will be once Lake Taal fills up with their pollution. This beautiful canyon is full of people all wanting to have that view of the volcano right outside the bedroom or living room windows. I wonder if one day when the lake turns into a putrid mess like all our rivers are beginning to look like will those who bought land there and built houses will find another pristine area to destroy?


One one side are brightly painted new houses. Across from those houses is the Biluso river and then the last remnants of the rainforest area which surrounds my farm. At the rate the property values are going up, I will need at least P6,000,000 pesos or $125,000 to buy the forest near my farm so I can preserve the habitat of the few native birds that live there.One person needs oxygen supplied by three large trees, or 1,000 square meters of green grass and shrubery, but birds and other animals need thousands of hectares of land to establish a breeding site where they can nest and raise their young.

Trees, and plants are treated as "decor" items for real estate developers who have decimated 500 hectares of forest lands next to my farm ( see photo above). The sales brochures of the neighboring subdivision have computer generated images and sketches of how this subdivision developer has planted a "park" of green trees. I went inside to visit the "park" and counted 5 mango trees on a hill. Eventually should anyone buy more land in the subdivision near my farm, they might find that the day this subdivision is full of houses, pollution will come from homes throwing out plastic, debris, chemical detergents, poisons, and human wastes into the rivers.   Developers  knows this would be "greenwashed" by claiming to retain a few trees for these parks or "green zone," or putting in a golf course. Urban developers do not tell buyers, that they had to kill the big trees, and poison the roots of hardwood trees, and keep golf courses green by spraying herbicides on the grass to keep the weeds from growing. If they don't, they know their investments will be useless. Big rainforest trees for a subdivision developer means blocked drainage pipes and ripped up cemented roads. Trees, and shrubs are a nuisance to a developer who will run down an entire forest with a bulldozer to get the lanscape "sculpted" to be as flat as possible, or level with the roads they will pave to be able sell lots to buyers.

I still pray I will win the lottery and buy the property being sold next door. This is the last section of rainforest left and I need $125,000 to make an offer to acquire this. My dream is to set up a botanical garden, and a small animal preserve/shelter with indigenous species of birds and  my collection of tropical plants for children to come and view the beauty of the natural flora and fauna that is being destroyed by the millions of hectares every day all over the Philippines.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

MY FARM IS SURVIVING THE EL NINO, MARCH 2010

MARCH 6, 2010

El Nino has dried up almost everything around me. Sparse water resources are being directed to those plants that are in dire need of moisture like the vanilla orchid vines, grapes, and my flowering plants. Other plants may have to wait for the rain. 




My fruit trees are flowering and producing fruit too early.


The trees must sense the dry heat is going to deplete the ground water very quickly and its survival instrincts are stimulating the early flowering. Drawing from its roots, trees will direct moisture into propogating its species.










Early flowers will produce fruit very early in this summer heat.  Fruits will develop seeds and in a month or two, these fruit trees seeds will start falling on the ground during times of drought .

















When rains come in mid June or July, the seeds that  fall,  will sprout a  new generation. 

I am observing everything, and Mother Nature is teaching me to understand how it will surive inspite of the El Nino. Much of the hot air and dry heat is also caused by mans overdevelopment of upland rainforests that protect the watersheds into subdivisions, golf courses, commercial and industrial land.

Here are some photos of my farm in this dry, and very hot summer month that is just beginning.

Covering seedlings with fish nets help conserve moisture. These bak-choy or pechay seedlings will not be able to survive the summer heat if these are not put into greenhouses where shade will prevent it from bolting.

Our cat HEART sniffs fish net and wonders where are the fish?

                                                                                                                                                               SANGUMAY ORCHIDS LOVE HEAT, AND THEIR LAVENDER FLOWERS ARE JUST IN TIME FOR THE LENTEN SEASON. THEIR FRAGRANCE IS CARRIED IN THE AIR FOR SEVERAL METERS.


GOLDEN SHOWER ORCHIDS DISPLAY THEIR YELLOW BLOOMS



VANILLA ORCHIDS BLOOM
ON CAREFULLY TENDED VINES.

POLLINATION BY BENEFICIAL INSECTS WILL RESULT IN FRAGRANT PODS THAT WILL BE PLACED TOGETHER WITH COFFEE TO CREATE  A NATURAL FLAVORED ICE COFFEE DRINK.

A REAL TREAT IN THIS SUMMER HEAT!
AND WHO CAN RESIST MANGA' HILAW WITH BAGOONG?
HARVEST OF ORGANICALLY GROWN MANGOS. GOOD TREES DON'T NEED CHEMICAL SPRAYS AND PESTICIDES. MANGOES HAVE A SAP THAT IS NATURALLY TOXIC TO INSECTS. THERE ARE NO ANTS GOING TO CRAWL ON THESE FRUITS!




THE ONCE GREEN FIELDS DRY OUT IN THE HEAT.
                                          

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE? EL NINO TOOK THEM!
My farm is going to survive, but conserving water means I will have less produce, just like most of the farms around me who are holding on to their land and hoping for a better harvest next year.
COFFEE HARVESTED RIGHT BEFORE EL NINO ARRIVED THIS YEAR.
CORN CROP BOLTS IN THE HEAT
A LONE COW FEEDS HER CALF IN A FIELD