Friday, April 29, 2011

Sili In A Sack

Sili grows in a sack, QC parking lot.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Garden Update: Lettuce & Friends, Flowering Cashew

Hey now, summer's here again. And it's the first summer since we've colonized the front lot. It's a laughable attempt, honestly, but hey! Our lives are colorful and lots of breaks happen. Above is a pair of anonymous legs, of those who work in the garden.

Below is our lettuce plot (those are still small and far from ready to eat), beside our tomato plot (equally small). The tomato plot is weedy. We can't mulch so much because the chickens tear that apart, and if the plants are small, they break.

A row of lemongrass-- the easiest things, it's funny to even see them in a row.

One of our many kalabasa or squash plants:

And after a few long years, our cashew tree is finally producing cashew nuts! Seriously, yes-- the flowers smell really really good, and have been appearing for a couple of years, but the nuts have finally developed. They look like beans. The nut kernel came out first, and the fruit will develop later on:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

The water hyacinth is a loathed invasive plant all over the world. It is a floater, with stems that have a bulb containing a cavity with spongy material inside. The plant material is hollow, making for a therapeutic squeeze-ball. It multiplies rapidly by sending runners out, developing whole new plants in a bit more than a week or so. For a lazy gardener with some kind of water receptacle, it is great. When your pond is completely covered, mosquito populations can be controlled. Note the word "completely".

The plant sends up beautiful, fleeting flowers that are a pale violet in color. I was quite shocked to see them. I have just read now that they are fragrant-- and I went outside to check-- but the flowers close up at night.

The water hyacinth builds mass quickly with its roots (which often grow into a mat, like a bad wig). I got a plant from outside someone's house in Ayala Alabang, and grew it in an old refrigerator bin, and then in an antique iron pond-bowl. Their root system has some benefits-- I popped some gabi corms in one day, seeing that the roots created some kind of "soil-in-water" condition. After a week, small leaves came up, and now they live in harmony.

(Eventually, I will probably transition into mostly gabi.)

The water hyacinth is much-loathed, because it multiplies really quickly by both runners and dropping seed, and is known to clog waterways (see photo below, which I selected based on instilled awe, from this blog). Mindanao has seen massive flooding because of the plant. The problem is so great, that people have started to make things like bags out of the "bodies" of the plant. (You know that a resource is a pest when people start to make "unconventional" bags out of them-- e.g. juice wrapper and plastic bag bags). See the end of this post for a note on this whole bag-making thing.*

Water hyacinths have been known to thrive in areas where there are excess nutrients, or even chemical run-off from wetlands into lakes. The plant absorbs toxins and heavy metals while gathering solid waste and silt at its root systems. This characteristic has led to its use in wastewater treatment all over the world. It cleans bum waterways and reduces algae populations, like it did in Laguna.

If your water hyacinth babies are getting too crazy, do not hesitate to yank a few out and lay at the feet of your favorite trees. The plant is an excellent mulch. It contains a lot of moisture, and will keep your ground cool during the summer. If you don't have waterspace, you can actually grow them on land-- in Sri Lanka, they hold a nickname that translates to "Japan trouble", as the British are said to have planted them to give Japanese planes the impression of a body of water, leading to failed water landings.

And lastly, if you're not convinced enough, water hyacinth is actually edible (not only to animals, but to people)! I didn't know this before I sat down to write this tonight. It is added to soups in Thailand, and this guy claims that the stalks and leaves are edible. I will definitely try this soon. If you will too, make sure you know the water source isn't polluted-- grow your own, perhaps. But be careful and don't let it out into the wild.

*I would like to say that I am of the opinion that we should do massive composting or mulching instead with "harvested" water hyacinths. The material is flimsy and needs to be varnished in order to preserve it, so I think other resources are better suited for objects like bags and shoes.


I love it when plants reach out like gangly tentacles. It gives me an opportunity to imagine them doing so in a time-lapse video, which in turn creates a sense of appreciation for the "aliveness" of the plant. This hibiscus plant is reaching out like there's no tomorrow. It's crossed its wall and fence, which all plants should be encouraged to do.

Friday, April 8, 2011

More Renegade Tomatoes

A vigorously growing tomato bush, with some oregano brujo (Indian borage) growing in the middle. This was in an empty lot along Pasong Tamo Extension.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Renegade Tomato

I've been seeing a lot of tomatoes in Metro Manila and other places, just growing in poor patches of soil, and, sometimes, in small cracks on the street.

Wild Amaranth or Kulitis

Kulitis, the thorn-less version of uray, is an edible spinach-like leaf that grows everywhere. It has been described in permaculture material as an "encouraged weed", which it definitely is, to many people in the world. It is delicious.

Plants in High Places

Euphorbias and sanseveria along a wall in Davao City. Beside is a thriving plant growing from a crack-- possibly an alagaw.

Since I'm moving around lots, I'll be stepping up my street photos to bring attention to the plants that cross the everyday person's path. I feel like the seeds of some kind of commonsense, urban garden wave is there. I will also aim to make people a bit happier with the small plant-related details they see everyday.