Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two More Gabis

I asked the lady at the market store what the difference between her two gabi were, and she just muttered something along the lines of (translated): "Aaaah, they are different, one is a bit more slippery, I'm not sure which one, but they are different, but kind of the same."

She peeled them off and rubbed with her finger, but could not tell the difference. I bought a whole bunch to propagate, and add to the growing population of gabi in the garden.

There were longer ones (on the right) and short, round ones (below, beside some turmeric). I bought about seven pieces of each.

Upon examining at home, I found that the longer variety actually was pinkish underneath the skin.

And came out with more apparent dots than the round one when sliced.

Planted in underneath this seedling rack, so that excess water will drip onto them. You may notice that they are labeled with broken pieces of clay pots ("Pula haba" or "red long" and "Puti bilog" or "white round", together with their planting dates. Note that the Filipino language really has no common word for pink, so that to say pink you must say mapula or somewhat reddish, veering towards red, in the red family.). Further observation in the following weeks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Updates! Transplants, Weather, Skull

(Found a rodent jaw^) Okay! I need to do these "dump them in the bag" updates because I like to look back at past months and track progress and changes.

I recently transplanted a chico seedling (above) that I bought at the AANI market. I planted it among the weeds and grass, so I first put a kaing in place and mulched the bottom heavily with paper, stuffed with leaves (like this), and stuck the tree in. The dried coconut is there so that the chickens won't have the urge to jump in and mess it up.

I did the same for the cacao, only this time I put the bark of palm trees to deter chickens.

Our first marigolds are blooming! My dad used to think we had them, but we actually had cosmos flowers. They smell so good in a rank way, kind of like being cute-ugly, perhaps.

I just remembered my gisol or lesser galangal. I stuck it under the cotton plant way back and just sort of forgot about it. I transferred two small plants into pots until they recover from being weak and I will plant them out and propagate.

And it has been a ginger week indeed, as I have received two other kinds of plants from the family, and have found the identity of luyang itim. Another celebration resulting in breaking the root apart and transplanting them with room to grow, by the turmeric (larger one in the back) and the kamias tree. More on the identity later, that's it for now.

Broken Pots as Labels

One labeling strategy is to write on broken pots with permanent markers. Like I did for a couple of Batanes gabi that I planted in and wrote about previously. You often tell yourself you will remember where you got the plant, but really, you are bound to forget once you have a lot of varieties in.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tenga ng Daga (Auricularia polytricha)

I have a soft spot for tenga ng daga or tainga ng daga mushrooms, because of their charming name (means "rat's ears") and, in addition, because they once grew on my bathroom door. They have made brief appearances here and here on this blog. In English, they are known as cloud ear fungus, black wood ear, or tree ear. They are called bukni in Cebuano.

I have, in the past, collected them mostly at the stage where they still do resemble ears, like the photo below.

Only during the past month's rains and floods did I get to collect those that look like the dramatic hem of a flamenco dancer's skirt-- one with an overzealous seamstress.

Outside my window is the side of the house, one area that is always moist, mosquito-filled, and full of branches. Early this year, we began pruning the eucalyptus, mahogany, is-is, and balete trees, and their branches dumped by the wall. These branches have now compacted a little bit, retaining enough humidity to welcome the tenga ng daga, which grow well in the heat but can survive a little bit of cold.

I have also removed some from rotting things like stools and benches. I was sorry to delay a bit the decomposition of the broken furniture, but confident that they will get there soon enough. If the sun comes up and your mushrooms dry up, worry not, as I have seen them seem quite dried up and dead when the rains stop, then start to come alive and grow plump once it starts pouring again.

In the Philippines, we often eat them as relatively chunky pieces, like the Chinese. In Japan, a close relative is sliced neatly into strips.These mushrooms have a quality accurately described by many sources as cartilaginous, providing some kind of crunch followed by an interplay of tiny squeaking and... jellyness against your teeth. I say tiny because the mushroom is quite thin, and you are likely to notice the crunch aspect more, but move it around with your tongue while it is still whole, and you will see what I mean. Anyway.

Most of the tenga ng daga that we eat comes dried from China, and some say Indonesia. I have not come across fresh ones being sold here. They are cultivated commercially on sawdust. We have the capacity to forage and cultivate much more. I am, at this point, a bit too lazy to get into mushroom cultivation, as it seems very technical and maselan to me. I get "wild" ones just fine.

The mushrooms are supposed to be good for circulation, for menstrual problems, sore throats, and more.