Saturday, October 20, 2012

Melaka Urban Greenery

Pistia stratioses or kiapo.

Some ornamental whose name escapes me, and mugwort (damong maria) doing quite well. It seems a thing to grow stuff in styrofoam boxes here...

... Like this pandan!

Unintentional green roof.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Alchemical Waters Off Plant Leaves

I stumbled upon the great Annals of Botany blog, which you can now find in my sidebar. I found that they recently wrote about the origins of the temperate plant Lady's Mantle's scientific name, Alchemilla. Apparently, the dew or rain that gathered on its water-repellent leaves was in high demand because of its purity. Among its fans were said to be alchemists, who used it in their procedures to turn stuff into gold, and women, who apparently used it for beauty purposes.

Photo is by Pat Heslop-Harrison, from the Annals of Botany post.
A photo from an old post on this blog.
I was reminded of gabi leaves, which gather water not so gracefully, due to the shape and size of its leaves. The "plant leaf surface property" that enables it to repel water and keep itself "clean" is mentioned also in an AoB piece cited in the article. I've tried searching for local rituals that utilize this water, but nothing came up, unfortunately.

Water gathers at center, reflects juvenile brontosaurus.
Another famously water-repellent leaf surface is that of the tree star from Land Before Time. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Talisay Leaves in Place of Plastic Pots

I picked some eggplant seedlings up (for immediate transplant) at the Paoay market. Talisay leaves were wrapped around the seedlings' soil and roots. Awesome way to avoid propagation-related plastic.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Flooding, Water Hyacinth, Etc.

Almost exactly a year ago, I planted some trees in Taguig. We (together with a group that my father had organized) planted banaba trees along the new C-6 highway, in a place called Wawa. Incidentally, Wawa is actually an old word used to denote areas that are deltas (mouths of rivers). There is a Wawa in Paranaque (near Merville), and also Guagua in Pampanga. Both are deltas. Great job building a highway here!  Planners are excellent at ignoring wetlands, deltas, and all of that stuff.

The pumping station in the photo above (painted blue) is actually under heat after the recent floodings, particularly for running out of gasoline and being unable to pump water into Laguna de Bay. The district, according to an SMS I received this morning, was flooded severely, with some areas sunken as deep as two persons standing atop each other. I am not sure of the water hyacinth's role in the flood, but I'm sure they had some effect.

As you can see, the place was rife with water hyacinth, and people were collecting small amounts of it and making them into handicrafts. The MMDA also has harvesters sailing the murky waters and collecting the plant. I believe that composting programs are a better way to deal with this biomass, instead of creating highly varnished souvenirs.

Meanwhile, in Davao, we ate at a catfish joint with surrounding aquaculture areas that were densely populated with water hyacinth. Contained, they are quite benign and beautiful.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


The silence is due to finding myself running three small companies, with some consultations as well. I look at this blog and think fonly back on the days wherein I was able to share photos and thoughts (and the accompanying research), and know that soon I will be back and a-posting again.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Periurban Farming is Everywhere (ie. Beside My Office, Luckily)

Corn and peanut intercrop.
The long silence owes itself to the fact that, aside from our shop, we've put up a cacao company. And that takes up a lot of time, actually. From being a semi-loafer, I've become some kind of weird version of an adult. Although the home garden is undergoing a lot of progress, I am not always home to experience it.

Luckily, we still live in a country that is hopeless in its planning. The continued migration and unplanned development has its advantages-- one significant one being that we are still reminded of the possibilities, plant- and food-wise, of our chaotic metropolis. I document this a lot in my other blog.

That's Max under a talisay tree.
I'm from the periurbs and I work in the periurbs (that's a buzzword among one person, myself). The periurban areas are the ones on the fringes of urban areas. I can ramble about it like I do in real life, but I don't have enough time and alcohol to do that, so here is a more concise description. I love that the concept is out there, because a massive portion of Metro Manila is in that sort of gray zone. My office building is inside a sort of "pseudo-subdivision" that has none of the planning aspects of those privatized zones. Our building is beside warehouses, small homes (some of them may be informal), medium homes, a lot of people sitting around all day, chickens, and yes, ambulant vendors and their fruit. Most importantly, there is a vacant farm lot beside my building. I often peer out into it.

That's Daang Hari, a road connecting the mess of new real estate developments to Metro Manila.
I like it. I really don't like the monokultura of subdivisions. It's all fine, but it gets boring. People end up consuming too much media, and they define themselves by the media they consume in their sensory deprivation chambers. That's another post altogether.

So I finally went and met the farmer from next lot. His name is Max and he is a migrant from Cagayan de Oro. He lives two blocks down (and carries his water everyday to his plot, Jeebus). The lot he farms doesn't belong to him, but the owner has allowed him to use it. Apparently, there is a sort of farming tenant arrangement that is common in the periurbs-- this is completely new to me (When chatting with Max about my garden, he asked me if I had a tenant in my lot. I kind of laughed and realized he wasn't joking.).

Alugbati crawling on the gate, which is usually locked.
He plants mostly things that he is able to buy seed for. That means, commercial varieties of corn, chilis, peanuts, etc. The alugbati and kamote, he grows from cuttings. He also has wild saluyot that he didn't plant in. He will give me seeds once they come about.

Here is Max looking spiffy in his buri hat with green trim.
Max has trouble keeping his corn from being stolen. Judging from the amount of people hanging out in the streets, many are jobless. Probably a lot of them are migrants. Anecdotes point to areas like this supplying much of the labor of subdivisions of Ayala Alabang, the adjoining mini-suburban-city, and the malls.

"Wild" saluyot that just grew without any seeding. And my foot.
His soil is also very poor, as it was subsoil dumped on the lot. His crops aren't doing too well-- there is very little mulch as well. He does use chemicals to "start plants up".

Large siling labuyo.

That's about what I know for now. I said I would drop by with seeds, so I want to poke around a bit more at Max's context (does he have a sort of "day job" if you may, and how things all tie in with migration, periurban landlordism, and whatnot.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Japanese Parasol (Coprinus plicatilis)

These mushrooms, one of the groups of mushrooms commonly known as ink-caps, are all over the garden now. They are actually edible, but taste like nothing. They also must not be eaten when festivities are in the planning, because they contain a substance that encourages vomiting and accelerated heart rates when taken with alcohol. Once you pick them, they will quickly turn black (hence the name). You should try to cook them before they do, as they then begin disintegrating into a mush.

The name Japanese Parasol is derived from the graceful shape of the cap. Incidentally,they sometimes turn outward like an umbrella in the wind. From the ground, they resemble a head of garlic.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Indian Tree Fruit

Indian tree (Polyalthia longifolia) seeds are often found, dropped by birds (and bats, maybe) all over the city. I've always wondered what the fruit is like-- obviously, flying creatures love it.

I found a half-eaten fruit recently. It actually tastes like a very paltry date. Not to sweet, pretty delicious. (Note: I didn't eat a lot of it, so I don't know if there are adverse reactions involved.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Encouraging Signs of Lubi-Lubi Eating

I am wildly encouraged when I see evidence of underutilized plants being eaten. I was taking a suburban walk when I saw signs of lubi-lubi tops being harvested and eaten. I have only met one person in my life (aside from myself) who eats them. I was looking to snap some off,but saw that someone had beaten me to it. That made me happy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Elusive Fungus Identity

I've died and gone to mushroom identification hell. I eat about 4 varieties of mushrooms from the garden, including the one pictured above, said to be edible by our helper. It turned out to be tough and spongy, but it makes a good "soup bone", tossed in a pot to make broth, and later removed. Don't judge me for eating strange mushrooms, please.

I stayed up all night last night looking for its identity, saw many that resembled it, but none with its underside!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tree Ride

Alikbangon has become one of my favorite plants. It's so humble, it tastes so neutral (sometimes tender enough to be a salad green), and yet it can be used for a myriad of conditions, including embarrassing ailments such as swelling of the groin. Yes, and I recently found it can grow on trees together with ferns! Such an underappreciated (unknown, actually) one.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Coconut Trunk Pot

Coconut trunk segments, originally set out to block people from parking on the sidewalk, one now home to a wild lupo plant.