Monday, 22 April 2013

Italian Flat Parsley in Raised Bed

The raised bed on the left side is the cabbage patch interspersed with Snap Dragon and Petunia flowers and some Spring Onions. The raised bed on the right side is planted with Italian Flat Parsley, Chinese Cabbage or Wombok and interspersed with Snap Dragon and French Marigold flowers. I start my plants from seeds and as usual, I sowed more than what I needed. So once the plants are germinated, I always have a glut and I have to give away some of the seedlings to friends and relatives so they don't go to waste. Whenever I needed some parsley in my cooking such as in making pasta or a sauce, all I have to do is go out and get them fresh from the garden. 

There are times when the Parsley plants would spill over into the walkway in the garden because they grow so fast, robust and healthy. I would snip off the stems of the ones that are spilling in the walkway and feed these to the rabbits and they go crazy because they can smell it even before I get to the door of the rabbitry knowing that they are going to have some fresh Parsley.  I still have some Italian Flat Parsley seedlings that are growing nicely in the growing pot because I staggered my planting, this way, I don't run out of it and I will have a continuous supply of this herb.  

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Mixed Salad Lettuce

I was able to source out several damaged 5-gallon plastic water bottles from a water refilling station and recycled these by cutting a portion from the top and here they are now, hanging pots. The bottom part which is much bigger were planted with tomatoes while the tops were used for planting loose leaf lettuce.  The two-inches diameter iron pipe that holds the "hanging pots" came from the old water line that had since been replaced with black pressurized PVC pipes.  So all I bought here are the nylon strings to hang these pots. Using a soldering iron, I poked holes on the sides of the hanging pots to which I attached the nylon strings. I used a fine wire mesh that I found in the shed and cut these up into 4-inch squares to cover the bottoms of these hanging pots before I put in the soil so the potting mix will not go out when I water the plants. So after hanging the pots and planting the leaf lettuce and watering them , I covered this whole thing with a 1/2-inch diameter netting to protect the plants from the birds. We have plenty of these sparrows just hanging out in our garden and they would eat most things if I don't cover the plants with a net. The raised bed with a green netting underneath the hanging pots are planted with Lollo Rosso lettuce and Cos Lettuce.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Planting Cabbage

Interspersed with the Cabbages are some flowers such as Petunias, Snap Dragons, Spring Onions and Chives.

I started the cabbages from seeds a few months ago and when they had their two sets of true leaves, I transferred them individually into plastic cups and let them stayed there for about a month. Then I had to transfer them into their permanent home. I was debating whether I should put them into 5-gallon buckets or into a raised bed. Finally, I chose to use this raised bed as their permanent place and reserved the 5-gallon buckets for my tomatoes. Since this is my first time to plant this kind of vegetable, I had to do a lot of reading about planting cabbage. I got swamped with "information overload" that I had a migraine he-he-he. Anyway, I spaced the seedlings in a zigzag manner so their distance are about 1 square foot away from each other. That should give them plenty of space to grow and it worked.

Anyway, I also read a lot of information on the Internet about companion planting and how it benefits the main crop if these were planted next to each other. The beneficial effects of these flowers and/or herbs are to deter some pests that likes to eat on the main crop. Petunias and Snap Dragon flowers are said to be good companion plants for cabbages so I sowed some seeds of these flowers. As usual, I sowed too many seeds of and since I don't like throwing away any plants that germinated, I had to find a place for all of them. As soon as the seedlings were ready for transplant, I planted some of them into the spaces in between the cabbages. The cabbages grew well and healthy and all the flowers are now in full bloom. It's a lovely sight to see, thank God for the beauty of the flowers! My Hubby and I often spend many a time just sitting on the bench in the garden and admiring the beauty and serenity of our small backyard garden while enjoying a cup of coffee. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Garden this Summer, 2013

It may be summer time here in Baguio City Philippines but we're having some rains and the temperature is between 16-20 Degrees Celsius unlike in Manila where it registered a 36 Degrees Celsius today, April 19, 2013! We being in the north of Luzon are affected by the tail-end of a cold front which is why it is still much cooler up here in this mountains as compared to the blazing heat in the lowlands. So with summer comes the rain and we thought it would be a good idea to take some pictures of the garden while all the flowers are in full bloom and before they get damaged by the rains. This afternoon just after the rains, there was this warm glow in the air just as the sun is going down and it turned the garden into an ethereal beauty that warmed my heart. It seems that the color of the greens were more pronounced and the beauty of the flowers came alive!

I started all my flowers from seeds instead of buying the seedlings from the city Orchidarium and I saved some money that way. I wanted to have enough flowers that I could use around my garden so I sowed Petunias, Zinnias, Snap Dragons, Marigolds and Dahlias. I still have some potted Sweet Williams from last year and I plan on propagating these flowers. The first batch of Marigolds that I planted grew up to about 4 inches tall and then the house birds ate them all! So I planted again a second time and kept them until they were about 6 inches tall and brought them out into the garden and would you believe that they were eaten by the birds as well? So now all that is left are the stems and I decide not to plant a 3rd batch and since I was busy with other things, I just left them in their pots. Then I noticed that what remained of the Marigold stubs were growing with new leaves! Now perhaps those pesky sparrows that likes to hang around the garden would leave my Marigolds alone.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Fortune Plants

On July 01, 2012, I asked my two older nephews to cut down some Fortune plants around the south side of the property that had become tree-like in size. I planted these some years ago on a 2-feet wide space on top of an 8-feet high stone retaining wall. Some years ago, this retaining wall came down during a heavy storm and I spent a hefty sum of money just to have it fixed. It used to be a 13-feet high retaining wall. The workers had to redo the whole thing all over again but this time, they split the height and made it into 2 terraces. Starting from the bottom of the hill, it is 8 feet high and then it has a 2-feet wide space before the next terrace which is 5 feet high. The 2 terraces are slanted slightly at the tops. So to help prevent another erosion on this side of the property, I planted these Fortune plants because of their capacity in holding the soil together with their strong root system. It's just that these Fortune plants are now about 16-18 feet tall so it is time to cut them down to about 5 feet high. This is to prevent any stress on the retaining wall below especially during a windy storm. We're doing this in anticipation of the onslaught of the typhoon season here in the Philippines which comes around this month of July until late October to early part of November.

The Fortune plants behind me on the left side of the rabbitry.

Sayote or Chayote plants climbing over the Fortune plants.

The tops are heavy with Sayote/Chayote fruits and leaves.

My hubby and I spent 3 days to finish the cutting and chopping of the big pile of leaves from the Fortune plants. It was fun but we had blisters on our hands after we were done cutting leaves manually because we do not have a shredder machine. We found out that the rabbits don't care to eat the leaves of this fortune plant for some reason. They do eat most of the plants including the leaves of the banana plants that we have around our property but not the Fortune plants. So we had to cut these leaves into smaller pieces for the compost pile.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Preserving Sweet Basil and Italian Flat Parsley

These are the last herbs and plants that are still in the garden: Celery, Sweet Basil, Flat Italian Parsley, Spring Onions and the Zucchini. The Spring Onions will be left in the garden because they seem to do well even during the rainy season. We harvest mostly the outer leaves of the Celery plants and feed these to the rabbits so the main stem remains in the ground and they grow back again. I will harvest some Sweet Basil leaves tomorrow to make some Pesto. I often buy the bottled Pesto in the grocery but they are kinda expensive. Since I already have the Sweet Basil in my garden, so I might as well make my own Pesto. I will preserve the rest of the Sweet Basil leaves in the microwave oven. It only takes a minute or two to dry them in the microwave.

How do I do it? First is to wash the leaves after I harvest them and let them drip dry. I separate the mature leaves from the more tender ones because the latter dries up much faster than the matured ones. Put a paper towel over the round dish of the microwave and arrange the leaves on the towel making sure that they are not overlapping together so each leaf will dry well. Then turn the microwave on high at 2 minutes and check the leaves for dryness. If it needs more time, do it again in small increments so as not to burn the leaves. I do the same thing with the Italian Flat Parsley. I like using the microwave in drying these herbs because it retains the color of the leaves even when they are dried. I could hang-dry the herbs in the kitchen by tying them on the stem and putting them in an airy room. It's just that there is a lot of moisture in the air at this time because it is now the onset of the rainy season here in the Philippines. I am afraid that molds will build up fast on the herbs before they dry so I'm going to use the microwave to dry them up.
Sweet Basil  

Italian Flat Parsley

Italian Flat Parsley and Sweet Basil

Celery in the forefront and Sweet Basil behind it.

Zucchini plant

Zucchini flower

Spring Onions

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Drying the Seeds

I intentionally left some Green beans to mature on the tepee trellis and on the welded wire trellis so they will dry up on the vines because I plan on using the seeds for next year's planting season. I am hoping for a few more days of sunshine this month of June so the drying process will be complete before I harvest the seeds. Even the two Okra plants which I thought will never bear fruit somehow managed to grow 2-3 pods but I left them alone to mature and dry. I am trying to keep some of the seeds from my plants now, so I do not have to buy them for the next planting season. I dried some Tomato seeds and Pepper seeds as well including the Snap Dragon seeds and these will all be kept in an airtight bottle for the next planting season. Next time around, I know not to plant my tomatoes in the garden but will plant them in pots and put them all in the patio where they will be exposed to direct sunlight for at least 8 hours. I learned not to get the leaves of the Tomato and Pepper plants wet when watering because otherwise, they easily get infected.  In drying the tomato seeds, I soaked the seeds in a bowl of water for 3 days and I had to change the water everyday. Then I drained the water out and put the seeds on a paper towel and dried them up under the sun. In harvesting the seeds of the Snap Dragon flowers, I let the flowers mature in the stalk until they turn brown. Then I simply open the brown pods and pour out the black seeds into a paper towel and transfer them into an envelope or an airtight container. The seeds of the Snap Dragon flowers are very small just like Celery seeds so you have to be very careful when opening and taking out the seeds.