Monday, December 2, 2013


SUNDIALS This blog entry is going to be about TIME!


I keep hearing the phrases " Oh, time is up," or " there isn't enough time". Keeping time doesn't seem to be possible, but telling time in a natural way, using the sun is the best way to know where to plant the next crop. I want to add on my "wish list" , a sundial for my Christmas present. I also want $1Million dollars, so if Santa Claus is reading blogs this season, these are the two items I really want!


I've been tilling in my garden and this is the time to plant. We have such a difficult time getting things moving with the late rains, but we have to get the seeds in the ground soon.

My eggplants , tomatoes, beans, cucumbers have to be planted now. Lettuce seeds in the nursery, and herbs should be re potted.

My new Hawaiian orchids that came from the greenhouses in pampered farms in Waimanalo, Ohau, are now feeling the heat. These plants must have realized, they are not getting the pampering they are used to. I am always watching any sign of rot from the recent rains, or heat exhaustion... they are not having such a hard time, but I do see a bit of shrinking in their stems. This means that their stored water supplies are near empty. They will need a good soak.


Till then, the hectic time is Christmas season. I avoid stores as much as possible. Christmas for me is a religious festival, and having 2 grand children, I love seeing their smiles on Christmas when they open their presents. My older grandson of 12 says, he rather know what we are getting and enjoy the gift, than to open his presents on Christmas day and find out he is disappointed.

Oh well, as I said, Christmas is for kids...teenagers and pre-teens take the opportunity to hit us grandparents with items their own parents won't or cannot afford to buy them. Well, I am spending all my holidays in the rapture of being near my plants and animals ...

Till next time..


Friday, November 1, 2013

Fragrant Hawaiian Orchids

I have acquired a few new orchids for my farm. All the orchids originate from Hawaii, and I was delighted to see these were adult size, and already in bloom. I purchase these pampered plants from their growers, who raise them in greenhouses, and feed them chemicals. I do the reverse...I allow these plants to go and live in the tropics, in their natural environment on my farm. If they make it, I am very pleased, but if these plants cannot cope without the attention they are used to in the greenhouses, then they will collapse and die. However, even in death, these plants can suddenly come back to life, and produce new shoots, to start life over again in a more natural setting.




My garden is located in the highlands of Cavite, in the Philippines. The weather can go from extreme heat of 100F to a cool 63F. Our weather in the Philippines is very hot during summer months beginning in early March, to late May, then the climate can change to very damp, and soggy, as the monsoon rains start in June and end sometime October. The hurricanes that normally come in from June to late September, can bring strong winds, heavy rainfall, dark skies during the day. There may be periods of hot and humid days during breaks in the monsoon rain. In summer there will be radiant sunshine in the morning, to scorching heat in the afternoon.


Silang and Tagaytay, has salty air because it is near the China sea . The monsoon months, have heavy rainfall for weeks at times. Even during the rainy months, the evaporation of water from the China Sea and Laguna de Bay, and Taal Lake causes the high humidity. factor In these parts of the Philippines, there are many elevation changes – many within very close proximity to each other. So one variety of orchid will do better for you than others, in one area , so it just depends on how much vegetation you have in the garden. Large trees planted around my home, keep my gardens cool all year, and prevent strong rains from directly drenching my orchids that I place on the terrace.


I have noticed that I have different climate areas in my garden. Full sunlight will be the hottest area near the cement wall, where the heat is absorbed by the concrete. Orchids like the coolness of gravel stones on the ground, or red lava rock on the floor in greenhouses. Orchids also love to be preched on tree trunks, or on driftwood displays. These plants cannot stand very hot weather with full exposure to the sun. There has to be some shade, and they can tolerate the warm air in summer provided they are watered very early in the day. The other areas in your garden may have a cooler temperature in summer, or in the rainy season, areas to be avoided are those with full shade. Orchids like to be cool with sunlight hitting their leaves in the morning, and during the hot afternoons, they prefer semi shade. Some ground orchids can tolerate full sun, but most prefer to be hung on trees and like absorbing humidity from the air.

I find that I like quite a variety of different orchids in different areas of my garden. I observe them closely, and monitor the way their leaves look, and that in itself will give you clues how they are doing. Their stalks are their water reservoir. The leaves must be plump and green. The commercial growers will tell you to feed weekly or monthly with chemical fertilizers, but I am lucky if I remember to feed them a special mix of a “tea” made with bird manure gathered from leaves of my large hardwood trees!! I know that it may be difficult to locate bird dung, but leaves usually has residues of bird droppings, especially fruit trees. Orchids that used to thrive in the wild, are fertilized by bird droppings and they still flower in abundance when rain dissolves the high phosphorus content of the droppings off the leaves of trees where these orchids hang with roots firmly anchored on the bark.

One of the biggest things I have learned is to be sure to water at least once a week, and more than just spraying moisture in the air. They actually want some warm water – just do not let the roots sit in water, soaking. The water should not pool in the pot, and one has to make sure they are in an area where their roots will dry out. Watering during the week, should be at least 20 minutes of drenching the roots, because the leaves are very sensistive to too much water, and can cause fungi growth that will soften and rot the leaves. There must be a potting mix for the orchid, that allows the roots to drain out, because they tend to also soften. Roots must feel firm to the touch.


Orchids are not that hard to grow and these plants will bloom naturally 1 time during their preferred season.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Deluge Monsoon Season August 2013

I had a lovely weekend, despite the monsoon rains with my girlfriends who stayed over in my little farm in Silang. We had lunch in Marcia Adams, at a new little restaurant in Alfonso, Cavite. We stayed at the farm, just chilling and experiencing the peace and quiet of the upland Cavite countryside. I am glad we all came down late afternoon, Sunday, because that evening, the monsoon rains started to fall in sheets! How timely our return to Manila. We missed the closure of the Southern Luzon Express (SLEX) by a few hours. Southwoods exist towards SLEX, is always a shorter route back to Manila However, Sunday evening, the monsoon rains flooded the exit. Had we come down any later, we would have been stranded !
( Photo from ABS CBN News, August 19, 2013) Government isn’t concerned about saving the rainforests in the uplands of Cavite, or protecting small farms from being a target of elimination ever since the SLEX was extended towards Calamba and Batangas. The political leaders have even encouraged urban sprawl towards the South to increase the earnings of the province from tax revenues . The land in the agricultural areas have been converted to commercial/residential. Shopping malls, cemeteries, and subdivisions have replaced the idyllic mango groves, and miles of rice paddies that lined the highways leading to Tagaytay. The big 8 lane expressway, or “ SLEX” did not exist in my younger days. I have been posting for so long how the hills of the uplands of Silang have been deforested, and the large mango farms and orchards, coconut plantations are gone. Those huge trees hold water in their roots, and keep the soil from being eroded...these floods have happened before but very few people were affected . The government has more maintenance costs in these highways...not to mention the many who are living in those subdivisions who are now stranded not being able to go to work in the Metropolis! The government of the Philippines, should set their priorities straight. This is going to cripple the economy eventually. Unless the rainforests and agro lands are protected, the people in the main city of Metro Manila and the neighboring provinces will just have to get used to closure of all businesses due to the flooding of major highways during the monsoon season!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rainy Season 2013

Rainy season automatically raises my flowers up from their sleep, and my little farm is now ablaze with color! I don't have a manicured fact right now my project is to scatter flowering seeds on the big field, and just let it bloom wild! yehey!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Harvest 2013

I know it has been years since I came to blog something about my farm. I was devastated about being infested with pythons. The town where my farm is located has suddenly become the center of urban development. Everywhere it seems are these new projects for subdivisions and shopping malls.

The town of Silang is not yet a city, but the population is growing by the thousands of rich people settling in swank subdivisions. The poor are following, by squatting    on the roadside and around creeks and rivers.  The people are  streaming in from squatter areas of  Metro Manila being relocated in low cost housing built in the saltbeds of Tanza, and Cavite City.  Industrial districts  have opened up new factory sites on what was once sugar cane fields. Local farmers are giving up trying to plant vegetables on smaller plots that render their income as negligible considering they had access to more lands that were cheaper to rent.  Silang is bordered by Tagaytay City in Cavite, and Santa Rosa, Laguna, and Metro-Manila.

Silang was this quiet town, with coffee plantations, coconut lands, orchards, forests, and  grazing cows The .area was a good area to buy fresh produce.   The 300 hectare Riviera Golf and Country Club was already the first development whereby it was necessary to  cut down one of the oldest standing virgin forests in Silang, Cavite and replaced it with a subdivision and golf courses.

  We no longer can draw water up from our wells, even at the depth of 300 feet...there is no water!This area is considered the watershed with abundant under ground rivers that supply my farm with fresh, sweet water. Water is now being syphoned by the millions of gallons to provide tap water to subdivision homes.

In my small little farm, I practice organic farming methods. I grow vegetables from non-GMO seeds. I have culinary herbs and spice trees growing abundantly. Recently I had my summer harvest of tomatoes, spinach, pole beans, string beans,   alugbati, okra, cucumber, sweet corn,  eggplant, peppers.  We also harvested rambutan, and  sweet santol off my trees.