Saturday, September 27, 2008

Flower Days

One thing also about the rain is that it brings a barrage of nice little flowers. I collect them regularly for use in making soap, tea, etc. After a light rain and some wind, you always find that many flowers have just fallen.

I like the feeling of just picking them up as they are resting on blades of grass. They are fresh, as though you have taken them from the plant-- but the wind and drops have done it for you. Here are some photos of my "gatherings" on different days. They dry out in my room, and usually it smells really good because of that.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Baby Snails

I know it seems like I've been a bit obsessed with snails. I'm not. It's just that they're all over! Awhile back I chronicled snail eggs and snail action. Here's what comes of all that: snail babies!!!

Tiny, with translucent shells. Very very cute. There were about thirty of them in one spot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


When it rains, the gabi or taro leaf always exhibits how graceful natural waterproofing is. Makes me think we can do much better at making umbrellas and raincoats, which are toxic and non-biodegradable.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some Thoughts on Poop

Fail. Seedy bird poop landed on a leaf instead of the ground.

This made me ponder on the idea of birds expanding forests. They just do it. They don't even mean to, it's just part of what happens when they go on being alive.

How different are human beings? Do we really have to try so hard to get back in line with nature, or do some things just make sense if we go beyond social norms?

Some points on human poop and our possible contribution to the greater scheme of things:
  • Recently I read that rats sometimes eat their own poop when they are lacking in certain digestive microorganisms, because their poop has lots of them.
  • The first orchards grew out of latrines. Human beings pooped in certain areas and fruit trees grew there.
So, if our poop goes in the ground, we may not only be putting mass and nutrients in, but also microorganisms that may be beneficial. We hear about pathogens in humanure, never about good bacteria getting donated back. Is humanuring hazardous only if its producers are unhealthy? Does it become, then become a responsibility for us to maintain good health in order to prevent unhealthy soil? Some people say their personal health is no one's business. Does this trump that line of thinking?

Human beings expanding forests or green areas by pooping is an awesome idea. It's like planting with compost, only, it's just what we do after every meal. Furthermore, what will automatically be spread are species that are useful to us as food sources.

Although there are pretty sophisticated composting toilet designs, I recall how we'd do it camping back when I was a kid: finding a hidden spot, digging, pooping, covering. Perhaps some fruit trees have grown out of those already.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Caballero (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

Finally, a caballero tree has graced us with its presence! A pink one, too. Though it is a very easy tree to grow, I've not been successful at all these past years. I scored some seeds from a plant in Bacolod (3 years ago!). Months back, I broadcasted a bunch of old mixed seeds by the entrance to the front lot, and this just popped up afterwards.

I very much love the color of the blooms, which are darker than the pinks I see. Pink itself is not very common among caballeros, they are usually red-orange and/or yellow. This is what I observe around, and an image search confirms that this is probably true for the rest of the world:

I am unable to figure out why the plant is called caballero, Spanish for "horse-rider", some kind of knight or anything similarly gentlemanly. It has no indigenous names (aside from bulaklak ng paraiso or "flower of paradise", which still uses a Spanish word) tells us it arrived on our shores after we were colonized.

Barbados has a cute little rendering of it on their Queen's flag. It is considered to be an introduced (sometimes invasive) species everywhere except in the West Indies. However, a Harvard professor wonders in a very interesting article if it was brought there by African slaves.

The plant is a beautiful way to get nitrogen into the ground. It's probably been around long enough in the country to have the corresponding native nitrogen-fixing bacteria readily available in the soil. The leaves are also small and decompose fast, and the seeds are popped out of the pod. Branches grow quickly after cutting and using for mulch, and the tree does not grow very tall either-- usually just above a one-story home.

There are thorns on the trunk and branches, though, and the roots are poisonous. I interpret these as signals that it is indeed a pioneer tree, ready to act on poor soil and keep botherers like people out while it regenerates! At the same time, it attracts butterflies, which are its main pollinators.

The whole plant has a long history of medicinal use in other countries, but in the Philippines only one area has been reported to use them (in La Union, where a decoction of its parts is used for a laxative or to stimulate menstruation). This is perhaps evidence of its fairly recent introduction, because usually Pinoys are all over a plant for folk uses.

The bark is used as to make a healing and disinfecting mouthwash. The plant parts are used in a similar way as they do in La Union, and also to abort babes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Higad Babies

This rainy season brings a lot of babies about. Baby plants, baby snails, baby worms, baby higads!

I saw a bunch of the little itchies on a cup I leave out. I never usually kill creatures, but my impulse was to chuck the cup in a bucket of water. I feel a bit bad about that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Waiting and Mating

The permaculture course was moved to November. Guess I'll have to keep reading and observing until then! There might be one in Cebu though, I'll keep you posted about that.

Here are some millipedes getting it on.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Exploding Egg

Oh dear.

I felt really bad last week, as I heard a loud bang from outside. Puti's egg had exploded, as evidenced by the smell (sourish festering) and some chicken cries of confusion and grief. I came out to see Puti balanced on the outer rim of the kaing, staring inside in total bewilderment.

Guilt came over me as I wondered if this was the egg I had placed in the kaing after finding it in the compost. I should have just let it be. I have no idea if this resulted in a mass splattering of some fungal infection on the other eggs. Even if Puti did know better, it was impossible for her to roll the egg out, as the nest is suspended above the ground and the walls are high.

Mind you, this is not my first experience with smelly exploding eggs!

We'll see how her brood turns out.

Monday, September 1, 2008


I will be taking a permaculture design course in a few days. Pretty excited about that.

I've been out of the garden for sometime due to work and events. But it has been on my mind, as I've been remixing certain pictures with the meager contrast-tint skillz I have.

Basically, this has (to a minor but exciting extent) enabled me to see similarities in leaf formations (deepness of venation) that thrive in certain spots of my garden. Removing the color and other characteristics of a leaf allows you to make correlations easier among seemingly unrelated plants.

It has also made me see death and disease in a way that reminds me of aerial photographs of landscapes.

I've not so many conclusions on these yet, but I will probably keep doing them when I am bored. Patterns are bound to arise.