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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.