Saturday, February 26, 2011

Summer Is Here!!

It's summer! We've gotten watermelons, onions, corn, kadyos, etc. in the works. I planted some glutinous white-and-purple corn in a few weeks ago and they are kind of runty, beginning to show heads of corn at a couple of feet. I was pretty late in transferring them, so... Yeah, my fault completely.

The cotton is bolling again. I've already got a lot to sort out.

The Indian mango tree is blooming like never before! Because we have been making siga or burning dried leaves under the tree. This traditional burning (mostly related to agriculture) is the only exception to the Clean Air Act. It keeps the pests away from the fruit, and somehow, stops the falling off of immature mangoes.

We're collecting seed from some denizens, like eggplants:

The garden is on steroids by the way.

After getting together with the fantastic people from my home, we created a common vision for a dynamic urban farm, and we immediately attacked the garden, energized. Now we are utilizing spaces we never touched (the place is 2,500 square meters-- some areas are dead zones), cleaning, preparing soil like never before. I've always been a solitary gardener at home (save for a few common projects and amusements), so this felt... great. It feels strangely exciting to step out of the house everyday with 2 or 3 companions, ready to get our hands dirty, ready to "deserve" lunch after hard work. The progress is astounding. I haven't got the most recent pics, but I'm extremely psyched about the way things are going.

We sort of started by fencing off this idle plot (we needed a goat-proof place), which was eventually vetoed by the padre de pamilia, and moved further down. To date, the area pictured below is covered by a tent, contains a long and convivial table, surrounded by flowering plants. It is the new designated coffee-drinking area.

My "laboratory" is serving as a nursery (I caged the seed beds to prevent the chickens from trampling and scratching). We're doing a lot of lemongrass because we're preparing a massive weed barrier for the front lot.

I hope to post more often. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 4, 2011

2011 & The Garden

Hey you guys, you haven't stopped reading my blog! Nice. I've been remiss in filling up this space. For the first time in my life, it's not because I'm doing "a whole assortment of things", but because I'm running a shop, learning real-life-business-skills, and managing a few more people and "operations" than I am used to. Yes, this is growth. For myself, it's life on steroids. I suppose I won't have the energy for this sort of thing when I get older, so what the heck.

A month and some into 2011, I'd like to share my resolution with you: to garden more, and to feed more people with my garden.

(Above, a normal meal from the garden, assorted greens and flowers with our own coconut milk!)

To Garden is To Live

It is one of the greatest joys in my life to garden. Perhaps, like there are hunting dogs and those meant to become topiaries of hair, there are also people who just like the soil and leaves. I love the soil. I can live in a shack, for so long as around me is a garden (or something that can become one). I am happy when I garden. I daydream about it. I hyperventilate when I meet people who are doing exciting garden things. I am, quite clearly, a garden nerd, and, most probably, a garden bore.

Given the world is obviously ending in 2012-- I'll probably be watching Paranaque from the top of a coconut tree whilst slowly sinking with the trunk into water and/or lava-- I should do it while I can. Simple. The truth is, I want to do what I enjoy most, not save enough money and retire on some leisure farm, only to find out my back can't take wielding a pickaxe, and that I am to die running amongst the tomatoes a la Vito Corleone.

Can it be simple? I enjoy doing it and it teaches me about life and the universe. And I will do it as much as I can, screw what everyone says.

The Urban Farm Project

I live in a lot that is 2500 square meters large and within a "mega-city". 1/8 of it is a house (a converted handicrafts factory), 1/4 is my chaotic garden, and the rest is wild grass, trees, and patches of leisure. I've been feeding myself (and the familia) with wild food plants and cultivated vegetables for quite sometime, recently more than ever. I can feed more people. I just have to think about scale. I've even got a name for the farm. If it's got a name, it's happening.

I'm quite used to doing small garden projects. Growing enough cotton to make a few small dolls, growing all sorts of gingers and all sorts of cemetery trees, but I haven't been able to maximize the yield. It's been about amusement and meeting a very limited food demand. I can make cheap, low-carbon organic food for people. Closer even than Cavite farms, cleaner than the urban ones fed with sewage. Yes, be a farmer most of the time! See point A, above.

(Just wanted to show off my ginger assortment, above).

I was wondering if I should keep this goal of mine secret, but I decided to put good pressure on myself by telling other people. Besides trying to get people to eat "weird" crops (we eat a variety of plants that modern Filipinos have never heard of), I want to feed their brains by creating a farm that is more organized chaos. Fieldtrips within the city, etc. Teaching them to compost, showing them that chicken eggs don't all have white shells. Stuff like that. Sounds like fun? It's hard work and fun. The good kind of hard work.