Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mystery Mushrooms

Mystery mushrooms have cropped up in my garden! They look like brown flowers.

I was hanging around the coconut tree when I saw this little flower-like thing on the ground. I thought it to be that part of the fruit that people turn into ornaments, the thing that holds the coconut while still on the tree. When I picked it up, I was startled to find that it was soft and actually a mushroom. I had to yank one out of the ground for inspection, and was surprised to find that the stem was really skinny and quite short.

What the hell is this thing? Anyone familiar with it?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Uray (Amaranthus spinosus)

Uray is a leafy green vegetable-weed that grows in various empty lots. Some sources say that varieties with spines are called uray while those without are called kulitis. Most say that they are one and the same. Whatever!

All I know is that, aside from having many medicinal qualities, it's very good in any dish that calls for spinach or other leafy greens. A pity so many people consider them to be garden nuisances.

My brother and I used to eat (imported and hulled) amaranth grain in place of rice, as it is high in protein as well as calcium, thus ideal for vegetarians and vegans. Manang Flor once told me that in some Bicol provinces, they collect the seeds of uray for use as a rice substitute in making native sweet delicacies. I've only seen this done with millet, and now I wonder if it really is possible with uray, as the local variety's seeds are tiny!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Some Photos

These are the flowers of the talinum I was talking about from a previous post. They are actually pinker-- the light was super bright.

A guyabano (soursop) baby! Let's hope he makes it through the rain.

Look what the higads did to my eggplant-plant!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Updates! Chestnuts, Manga Chupadera, Durian, OMG Higadz

And so my chestnuts continue to burst through their hairy coverings to expose those frilled-up first leaves. They are growing out in a quite exclamatory manner, all three of them. In a decade or so, I will probably have enough nuts to feed a single miserable person hiding in a dark closet on Christmas Eve. I took the seeds from the side of the road at SEARSOLIN in Cagayan de Oro.

I also have quite an abundance of Manga Chupadera seedlings. Yes, those small sweet ones that are also called supsupins, of which you can stuff three or four of into your mouth. They grew out of my compost pile, which had considerably overflowed during mango season. They are funny seedlings, with three or four stems growing out of a single seed.

The durian seeds are also looking pretty good! The babies look strange. They look like little monsters.

But really, what everyone has been talking about back here, are the itchy caterpillars or higads. They go through this horrible hairy phase before becoming moths. My eggplant-plant, once full of promise and all that, now looks like a cheap umbrella would after running into a hurricane and a teething pup. It has also eaten a lot of the vines I was supposed to use as green manure. If it's any consolation, they leave a lot of frass (caterpillar poo) behind, which is supposed to be quite nutritious. Ah, the give-and-take of nature.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Talinum (Talinum triangulare)

I've been thinking about doing a series on edible weeds. Partly because finding wild plants in your garden and pretending you are taking care of them actually is a good step to developing a sense of being a gardener. You can cook them for your friends and say "I grew that! Farm fresh, baby."

So when you spot a talinum or water leaf plant, also supposedly known as Philippine spinach, you can make a little barbeque-stick fence around it and water it lovingly. It grows pretty fast, and after a short time, it will have pink flowers that fold up and attract butterflies.

You can eat the leaves just as you would spinach, or add a few leaves randomly to any dish to get a dose of vitamin A. Or just eat the leaves as salad for some energy (hence the other nickname, leaf ginseng). Last week I added some of them to a pesto-ish sauce with sesame oil.

Growing these things is a breeze. You can snap the stems off like this:

Then stick them in the ground, water some, and soon they will be alive. Soon they will multiply like gremlins and you won't have any excuses not to eat veggies.

I personally spend some of my idle time just planting cuttings (or snappings) in random places. It grows in pretty bad soil, like that stuff that accumulates inside the holes of hollow blocks when you don't use them.