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Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Pleasant Surprise

Just last night I had dinner with a good friend of mine and she mentioned she checked my gardening blog.  It has been a while since I blogged anything about gardening.  And so she urged me to continue to update it.  I was so busy with work that I was unable to attend to my garden.  Fortunately our maid at home have the green thumb. 

So when I visited our garden this afternoon I was pleasantly surprised that my garden has some vegetables growing...

Some tomatoes... 


 Harvested some good-sized tomatoes too....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I wasn't able to focus on my veggie garden this year. I started seeding the tomatoes late, around end of January. From my past experience, seeding tomatoes should start in December, so that the seedlings are already a good height when I will be transplanting them come February, when the weather is just right for them to grow to their full potential, which is sunny but not scorching hot. This should last from February to mid-April. Well, that happens in a perfect world. My world however, is full of other things to accomplish besides gardening.

Irrigating the garden is not that easy too since the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) announced that we are experiencing draught because of the effects of El Nino, so our water supply is cut during the day and only comes in at night. We have to save water we use during the day in a big tanks. So wasn't able to easily irrigate my garden. :-( As can be expected with scorching hot summer weather and limited water supply, my plants did not fare so well.


Dry earth.


Lone tomato.


My bellpepper plant with fruit.
Bell pepper plants.

Freshly-picked cherry tomatoes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

After a year of Sabbatical.....

Yes, I'm back! I was unable to update my blog after June last year since it was already the monsoon season in the Philippines. It was hard to maintain all the plants since the weather is just not cooperating and everything dies from being beaten by the rain so often. This lasted up to September last year. And by the time September arrives, I'm just too busy with work and everything else that's happening with my life since its the time to be preparing for the Christmas season. Yes, it starts as early as September! :-) Oh, and I also went on a 1-month vacation in Richmond, Canada(more of that later). So I was unable to plant til the new year! That was a six-month rest for me from maintaining the veggie garden.

I was lucky enough that my boss allowed me to take a month of vacation leave to visit my sister in Richmond last October. We went to the Vancouver Aquarium since I always make it a point to visit an aquarium when I travel to a new place that has one. I just love everything about aquariums, the fishes, the habitats, the sea mammals, and the other animals, everything! I'm just so amazed by them. That day we also went to Stanley Park, Yaletown and finally Granville Island. OK, since my blog is mainly all about veggies and gardening I'll limit my writing of other topics. :-)

Granville Island Public Market
There was a lot to buy other than produce in this market. From frozen stuffed pastas like tortellini, ravioli and gnocchi, to frozen turkey pies and even gourmet fudge candies! Since it was almost Thanksgiving, we bought turkey pies. Too bad I wasn't able to try the candies, they look so tempting! There were so many things for sale in just one place! There were even musicians playing different musical instruments like the violin, cello, and guitar while singing! It was such a fun atmosphere! There were also a few galleries and arts and crafts stores outside but we just went in the Granville Island Public Market and had our afternoon snack there. There was also a French Patisserie/Boulangerie where we bought some pastries. We drank coffee and ate the best Pecan Cinnamon Roll and Lemon Poppy seed cake! Yum!

And being a newbie veggie gardener that had a semi-successful planting season of tomatoes last year.... I'm just so thrilled to see tomatoes in different colors!

From red, orange, yellow orange, pale yellow, purple, apple green and olive green!

Me beside the veggie stall.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Garden Update After 2 Months

After 2 months passed, there are some changes that have been made in our veggie garden. Being very prolific, we just planted our basil plants in spots where there aren't anything that's been planted on. My tomato plants are not yielding any fruits anymore from lack of nutrients in the soil and very hot midday sun. So we pulled them off and will let the soil rest for awhile and fertilize by adding a few garden/kitchen scraps and wait for another 2-3 months... which I have not yet done since I'm a bit busy as of these past few days. We have also added a third bed for bellpeppers, which can be seen in the foreground of the picture below.

The 2nd bed: Bellpeppers and oregano, among others.


My oregano plants. Very hardy and prolific.

Lemon mint (I think...): The leaves contain menthol, these will be great for making massage oil since it really gives off a scent like Vicks.

Rosemary plants have grown since my last picture 2 months ago.

I used this recently in my porkchop dish.


The plot where the tomato plants used to be.


The Third Bed: Dedicated to Capsicums or "Bellpeppers" with a few spring onions as companion plants to ward off pests. Planting these bellpeppers has been a challenge for me since
these plants are very sensitive to weather conditions, if its too hot or too cold, even too much watering, can make the plants' flowers fall off.... which means no fruit.....no harvest. But slowly but surely, they are bearing fruit now!

A Bug's Life: View from the Ground


In Focus: The Bellpepper Flower


This developing bellpepper doesn't look good, the skin is
cracked and I think I might have to cut this one off to direct the plant's energy
to produce another fruit. Let's just see what will happen in a couple of days.



The cracked skin of the bellpepper...... too bad.


Looking good.


At the backyard: My okra plant is also producing well.... okra!


My Chilli Peppers:
At long last, it bore fruits, this pepper plant has been growing FOREVER!!!
I think it was planted in January of this year. Its now May and it just started to produce
these chilli peppers. It has been flowering since March and the flowers just kept falling off. I thought it will never produce anything. Luckily it did, maybe it just waited for the
right time to produce its fruits. The weather is very hot right now. Hmm... so this one likes it hot! Hahahah! Chilli pepper right? Hot. Get it? Hahaha!

My usual harvest before cooking in the weekend... Some oregano, rosemary and basil!

Peppered Porkchops with Potatoes
Ingredients:
  • 5-6 pcs. porkchops cut into 2-inch strips
  • 15 baby potatoes, skinned
  • olive oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
  • oregano
  • onions
  • garlic
  • freshly ground blackpepper
  • coarsely ground blackpepper
  • salt

Procedure:

  1. In a pot, put salt in boiling water and boil the potatoes. Remove from water after 10-15 minutes.
  2. Put salt, freshly ground blackpepper and coarse ground blackpepper in a bowl and mix the three ingredients.
  3. Season the porkchops with the blackpepper and salt mixture, oregano and chopped rosemary and set aside for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. In a pan, over medium heat, put some olive oil and saute onion and garlic until lightly browned. Set aside. In the same pan, add some olive oil and rosemary sprigs and sear the seasoned porkchops for 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven for 300 degrees F.
  6. In an oven-proof pan, place porkchops, potatoes and sauted onion and garlic. Place in the oven until it finishes cooking, about 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Fave Plants in the Garden

Other than veggies, we have a few plants in our garden that I really love. These are just some of them... The Papyrus Plants.

True papyrus are marshland plants, it can grow to around 3-4 meters high and have a clump of thread-like "leaves" on the top that make it fluffy-looking, almost like a feather duster. It was once used as the material to manufacture papyrus paper, the writing surface of the Ancient Eqyptians.

My papyrus plant with some water lettuces, this papyrus plant is not the same kind as what you'll find in Ancient Egypt.

A closer look.... it's already blooming.


Dwarf papyrus.... but I'm not sure if it is a true papyrus plant, it sure looks like a miniature papyrus... maybe its in the same family. And as you can see it is not submerged in water. It will thrive as long as it is constantly watered.


A clump with a baby plant.

Baby plant can be planted in a new pot.
As a marshland plant, the papyrus loves wet soil, but if its possible, the soil where it is planted should be submerged in water, as to mimic its native environment.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The New Additions

Another week has gone by and you really feel that summer has arrived. The sun is more intense and you really feel the heat. Thank goodness the office maintains a "winter temperature" all year round with the aircons in full blast, but I can't say the same for the people at home and the plants in my garden. Although veggie plants love sunshine, around here, it really dries them up even if they are watered in the morning and in the late afternoon. The midday sun really is different today as compared to, say, 15 years ago? That is just one of the effects of GLOBAL WARMING!!! My tomato plants' leaves are already affected by it. They have shriveled a bit and are not the green, FRESH-looking, healthy leaves I saw just a week ago.


Tomato Plants with new stakes and supports.

We have prepared the second veggie patch last Sunday. We have put in some organic materials that should have increased the bulk of the soil, a few dried leaves and twigs and a LOT of banana leaves we got from our neighbor’s banana plants. We also incorporated around 6 sacks of sand with the soil to make it well-draining. We added the "black gold".....earthworm castings, which is very very good for the soil and the plants! So with all those new materials in there you would think it really is a raised bed right? Take a look at it below……..

The "raised-bed"... but not quite raised enough though.

Mom also got very excited and bought a few more plants:

Sweet Basil, has a broader leaf than the Thai Basil, which means... more pesto!!!



Rosemary...I used to have a mother plant of rosemary but it died last year due to overdose of coffee grounds. I learned my lesson.

I’ll post the other plants some other time because Mom forgot what they are called and I can’t label them. I have to check with the garden nursery what type of herbs they are.

Mint is one of the hardiest herb around. Last year, we had a 2 week vacation in the middle of summer and after we came back, I found my mint plants to be a pile of dried, dead plants. I was so sad because I thought they were really dead. My mom kept on watering them, even if there were no signs of life. I already forgot about them and was surprised to see them growing really well and lush at the back of our house. My mom said she just kept watering them until they grew new shoots. So now, I have healthy mint plants again, thanks to my mom. :-)

Mint... cut some and put it in a glass of ice cold water with slices of lemon... just right for summer!

My list for today is to add earthworm castings to the tomato plants, mulch them, and also make some compost tea. Compost tea is like liquefied compost. Usually consist of your usual garden cuttings, manure, fish emulsion or any other organic matter that you can put in a compost, then add water, keep it covered for a week, after that its ready to be utilized. It may be used as foliar spray and also to water the plants. Since it’s my first time to try to make compost tea I only used earthworm castings and a few cut leaves. I’m not too keen on putting in manure so as not to be confronted with a “smell from hell” after I open the lid by the end of the week. Mwahahahah!!!


“The Black Gold” of gardeners.

Add some water, cover for a week, Compost tea!

It’s also during the summer that the garden comes alive with a multitude of bugs, both beneficial and harmful insects. So far, I saw more harmful bugs today than good ones. I saw:

· A huge wasp! = Good for the gardener, bad for other insects it preys on.

· A tiny hairy caterpillar = Locally called “itchy worms”(whatever happened to that band?) or “higad” in the local dialect. Very, very bad for your plants! It can do considerable amount of damage in just a few days. So after I took a picture….it’s bye bye itchy worm!
Hairy Caterpillar or "Itchy worm".

· A big, hairy, rhinoceros beetle! = It’s not common to see these kinds of beetle nowadays since it usually develops in decaying logs or trees usually in forests or provincial/rural areas where there are lots of dense tree growth, but sometimes…like once in a blue moon, we encounter these guys. Did I mention I hate creepy crawlies? Especially anything that resembles a cockroach’s dark beetle-like shape and dark-colored wings!!! Eek!!! I hate them!
At least this beetle is slow and cumbersome because of its armor-like exoskeleton. That’s why I was able to get it on a stick and get some pictures of it. I’ve done a little research based on my snapshots too.
A specimen of a Rhinoceros Beetle, it's about 2 inches in length, a big bug in my book!
I know its some kind of rhino beetle based on its “tusk”(I watch National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and The Animal Planet!), so I googled and found a close-resembling picture of the beetle in a website all about beetles. It's amazing that I was able to find, what I think, is the same species of the beetle I got, since there are hundreds, or even thousands of rhinoceros beetles in the planet! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is an ENEMA PAN from the Subfamily DYNASTIDAE of rhinoceros beetles. You can check the picture of the website at:


It’s different from the STAG BEETLES since this only has one tusk as compared to the 2 enlarged mandibles of the stag beetles seen here:

Stag beetles look ferocious but are really harmless to humans.

I released the poor bug on a tree in our garden, it happily went inside a crevice, away from the human that kept on pestering it by taking pictures....oh well, bye bye tree! The adult eats tree sap, fruit, or bark. If in case this is a female specimen, and is ready to lay its eggs, chances are it will lay it inside that tree, then the beetle larvae(grubs) develop inside the tree, eating organic matter, usually it should be in decaying logs but a live tree will do. These beetle larvae develop slowly, around 2 years before it becomes an adult. Other species develops for 4 years before it becomes an adult. The adult's lifespan is around 4 months. Interesting. Hopefully that tree will survive, so I guess we'll see what happens in 2 years.

  • A lone locust = Hmm... if there's one there are others. Beware! It can also strip anything green into nothing. I hate them as well.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

First Three Months of 2009

Since I was little, I loved to plant things. Mung beans, corn from popcorn packs, any seed that I can get my hands on I tried to plant. All failed attempts at growing my own veggies.... what can I do? I was just a child back then and don't know anything about fertilizers,compost, mulch, etc. etc....

Fast forward. After graduating from college, I have to take care of my dad who was then sick. I have a lot of free time and started to learn how to cook.... and use herbs. So I got interested in basil, rosemary, oregano, particularly because I love cooking Italian-style food....started planting these herbs in containers then the rest, as they say, is history.....

Fast forward to the present, I just started my "full-scale" veggy garden this year, started out with my favorite all-time herb, basil. There are also "spring onions" as we call it locally and tomatoes, plus a capsicum and ginger in between. I really got excited about two weeks ago when I first "harvested" my two tomatoes. I considered them good-sized tomatoes(around 2 inches across, I did not weigh it though) since we have bought smaller ones at the supermarket. This morning, I woke up early and did all the pruning necessary in my tomato patch, snapped a couple of pictures for records sake.
The Existing Veggy Garden


Thai Basil starting to bloom


Spring Onions, basically planted onions and use the tops for soups, omelets, etc.

My tomatoes, I really am not sure what particular varieties these are since we got the seeds from tomatoes we bought at the supermarket, market, and maybe a few strays??? I'll explain this as we go along....

These are the ones I'm so happy about, I know its not really that impressive like the other types of tomatoes like the beefsteak variety, but I'm just proud that my garden was able to produce this size of a tomato, normally we buy these at the supermarket or market and now we just pick them from the veggie patch! Great right?


I was quite suprised with this variety, at first, I thought the tomato just lacked some fertilizers or something that made it shaped like this, but as it produced more fruits, all of them are shaped like this! I call them my pear tomatoes. We probably bought this from the market.

Here's the major surprise. Imagine how many question marks popped over my head when these popped on the tomato plants I expected to yield 2-inch-across-sized tomatoes. I thought how did these get in my tomato patch??? We certainly did not buy any tomato the size of marbles?! Its even smaller than cherry tomatoes! So I did a little research and found out that there really are the really really small varieties of tomatoes, which are called currant tomatoes. So I guess these are currant tomatoes? I still haven't figured out how we got them. The mystery is still to be solved.....



More pictures of the mystery currant tomatoes....


More of my regular tomatoes


There's no escaping the Blossom-End Rot that plagues a few of my tomato fruits.(Upper Left)

We are currently working on our 2nd veggie bed.... I'm planning of doing a raised-bed.