Coffee harvest for a small batch

Over the past few months, I have seen my coffee trees in bloom. Its flowers are very sweet smelling; like jasmine.

This time, I noticed three trees laden with ripe coffee beans!

Lucky I brought with me a small tub. I used this to contain the beans that I picked.

My method of harvesting was not delicate, I simply held to a bunch then brushed down along the branch to scrape the beans away. At times, a few branches were dismembered from the tree especially when the branch was packed with ripe fruit. It would have been more convenient if I had a tarp or some giant cloth placed under the tree so that the fruit which would fall off my hands can be collected; nonetheless, I was still able to get a substantial amount of beans.

The tub of coffee beans smelled of grass and earth; the smell of my weekend farm! It smelled like the sap of wild growth whenever I slashed them to clear an area or whenever I stepped on them! It smelled like the fresh earth whenever I dig a hole to plant a new tree!

I was so excited to start a coffee project but I just have a vague idea of what to do. I brought the beans back to the city to dry them out under then sun.

When the beans are completely dry, these need to be peeled or de-husked to get the coffee kernel. After which, the coffee kernels will be roasted; perhaps in a pan over a stove since I do not have roasting equipment. After roasting, these will be placed inside a food processor for grinding. After grinding the beans, I plan to place them in small pouches to give away to a few friends.

I hope this works. I’m really looking forward to sharing this!

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a blooming coffee tree!

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Ripe fruit on a coffee branch

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another coffee branch with fruit that is more red in color

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Close up of a coffee bean bunch.

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my tub of coffee beans, my method of harvesting was very crude. Notice how the beans come in different colors. I wasn’t so delicate in selecting the ripest fruit, I just yanked the beans from the branches

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every morning the beans are laid out in the sun to dry. This is just a fraction of the amount from my total harvest in the tub.

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on its third day of drying, the husks of the beans are now darker in color….now, to worry about how to peel these :))

 

Birthday Dream

It was my birthday!

I spent the afternoon at my weekend farm with a few friends, Kiko and Teban. A few months ago it was their first time to visit my weekend farm. At that time, our shelter was very crude; a ground sheet and a shade cloth tied to the bushes. I told them I wanted to spend my birthday here. I imagined my friends sprawled across my weekend farm enjoying barbecue and beer next to a large inflatable pool! That didn’t happen, I brought take-out barbecue and beer. We stayed inside the kubo (bamboo house).

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spent the afternoon admiring what’s around, inside a more comfortable hut with beer and food

When I started this, I just wanted my weekend farm to exist. I did not know how to progress. But slowly as I committed more time and energy I’ve discovered and realized possibilities and opportunities along the way.

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I will be planting more cacao trees for next year. I’m drawn to discovering and learning more about these trees

It has been a year of sharing this personal endeavor to friends and to people I meet. I have found it delightful to share my experiences and discoveries! I share that, for as long as one follows their heart, the universe will conspire to make things possible. I do not see this as a “passion project,” I see this as a personal pursuit! Progress and growth entails more than just passion, it requires commitment especially at times when resources become limited.

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The moon appearing as the sun begins to set

I spent the afternoon inside my kubo for my birthday. Before sunset, I planted two cacao trees. For the first time, I watched the sky change colors as the sun set on my weekend farm, and I have never been more excited to continue coming back.

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I have never seen my weekend farm look like this

Fair Sunday morning

I was really worried about Typhon Ruby /”Hagupit” making landfall that weekend… but I continued to believe and hope that the weather won’t bring harm.

It was fair weather when I visited that morning and it was so great to see the area looking cleaner!

The first thing I did was to walk to the hill, towards the back portion and inside the hut to admire how the place has changed.

I also found a few surprises along the way!

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Although cleaning was not yet finished, the area was looking better already

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The people we contracted uprooted the vines, weed and tall grass. I wanted to do the cleaning myself but I it was not possible to accomplish within a few hours visit during weekends

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Grass, weed, vines and stumps were pilled to be burnt

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The back portion was not as clean as the front area. I can’t wait to see this area looking nice on my next visit

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One coffee tree shared a few surprises. The native orchids which I attached were blooming. I’ll share the plants in another post.

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This is looking more comfortable! I used to set-up a ground sheet with an overhanging tarp for shade. Now I have a more proper rest area.

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a rest area…where I can nap and stay overnight!

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more importantly it has such as nice view!

I’ve made this journey early this year, and with the year coming to a close, it feels like so much have happened and changed.

It feels great to be able to share something that continues to grow and improve and very grateful for people who have witnessed and taken part in my weekend farm.

All Soul’s Day weekend at the farm

I was worried about the possible heavy traffic on the road due to people visiting the cemeteries, but I drove to the farm anyway.

The drive was actually swift, there were fewer jeeps and buses on the road.

For the second time, my car was full. I had to fold the backseats so that I could fit the logs of Dracaena (Yucca) in my car. I collected these just last weekend. The goal for this visit was to continue where I left-off from the green fence planting.

Lucky, I wasn’t working alone. My friend Gab was visiting Manila for a few days, he phoned me since he wanted to check on the farm plot while he’s here. So, just like that, I got help.

We started planting at the back portion of the lot. Planting the first five logs was quite fast since the area was a bit clear.

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The spiky plant on the right portion of the photo is the Dracaena tree. It was planted in-front of the “muhon” at the back portion of the property

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Planting the next few logs was a breeze…

Before this, It was difficult to determine the boundaries at this portion of my property. While digging, I found patches of ginger. I plucked a stem for me to take home.

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the uprooted stem came out with this root system… to be used for curry!

As we continued, the land started to slope down, the soil became harder, and the area was overgrown with coffee, banana and weedy vines. It would take more time and more people to clear and plant on this area.

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The land started to slope… planting became more challenging

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…and so the jungle introduced itself!

It was noon…so we deserted this task.

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These unplanted logs will not dry-up quickly.. I’ll plant them when I return.

Before leaving, I proceeded to attach some orchids that I brought. I also checked on the other orchids that I planted just two weeks ago. These are probably the easiest to plant; I just tie these on to some coffee trees.

It’s a delight to do this since it makes me feel that I’m “moving” the land. It also gives me something new to check-up on every time I visit.

I really need to move the land more though… But for now (and for the past few months) I’m glad that I’ve gotten to know the land well.

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The violet and silver blotched leaves are Phalaenopsis schilleriana while the spiky and floppy ones are an unknown Vanda species from Nueva Viscaya (probably Vanda barnesii or Vanda javierae)

 

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This plant is a Ceratocentron fesselii from Nueva Viscaya, the whole plant is just about the size of a 5-peso coin

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This is a juvenile pitcher plant (Nepenthes alata) from Mindoro. When i planted it here it had no pitchers…now it has produced a pitcher trap!

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Another coffee tree filled with Vanda lamellata, Vanda roeblingiana, Aerides quinquevulnera, and a Phalaenopsis stuartiana, all wild, and native orchids

 

 

 

How to set up a green fence

Last week, I wrote about my plan to build a green fence to surround the property. The northern and western sides of the property already have green fences made of sarrassa and croton bushes along with a few coconut trees. I was thinking of working on defining the eastern portion of the plot before I work on improving the existing green fences. (Yes, I used a compass.)

I shared that I want to plant Dracaena, Rambutan and Lanzones as part of the green fence.  Serendipitously, a friend asked me if I can help collect cuttings of Dracaena multiflora; more popularly called as Yucca. The “Yucca” trees seen in gardens of Metro Manila for decades actually do not come from the Americas. These are native to Mindoro and the Visayas islands in the Philippines.

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Clumps of Dracaena multiflora were growing in this property in Metro Manila, a friend got to talk to the person managing the property. We got the cuttings for free!

I spent Sunday morning collecting the branches and preparing them for my weekend farm visit. Yesterday, I brought the Dracaena branches to the farm. For the first time, I visited the farm alone.

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My car was full of branches and leaves! I cleaned-up the branches so that my long drive at my weekend farm was safe and comfortable.

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I took off a few leaves and bundled the remaining leaves with some straw-twine

I got to the farm at around 9 am. I started by unloading the branches.

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A more neatly packed set of branches in my car.

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unloaded the branches at my weekend farm.. and look the pineapples are doing well!

My weekend farm is a rectangular plot, already defined by a muhon on each of its four corners. A “muhon” is just a cement cylinder which is around 8 inches in diameter and a little over a foot long. These are submerged by the land-surveyors of the local government unit to mark the edges of a defined plot.

Alone in the plot, I realized that what I was about to do is not as simple as I’ve thought it would be. I needed to know where to plant the Dracaena since my eastern border does not exist.

It was past 9am and I haven’t started planting. For a few minutes I just stared at the things I unloaded; the Draceana cuttings, a saw, a machete, a large shovel, some native orchids and a bundle of straw twine. A quick thought came, I grabbed the straw twine and cut a piece that spans the muhon on the western side and the muhon on the eastern side.

This straw twine segment helped me mark the spots where the Dracaena can be planted.

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A photo with the straw twine, set across my plot, to guide me where to plant the Dracaena multiflora. I had to move it every 5-7 feet to mark my digging area

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During my rest, I took this photo. You could barely see the green straw-twine across the plot.

By noon I finished planting around 5 branches. It was hot so I rested under the shade of a banana plant. I was alone and it was quiet. For a time I could hear the sound of a few motored tricycles passing along the main road,which was probably around half a kilometer away. Then a bit of breeze came and I noticed how the banana leaves made weird sounds when wind passes thru them. It was at that moment when I realized how alive this place was! I saw a large bird (not sure what it was but definitely not an egret or an eagle) fly across my farm towards a nearby tree; it was very boisterous and it squawked while it flew. Then just a few seconds later, I saw a pair of small black swallows that chirped and chased each other. Then a few butterflies appeared but these did not linger in the plot. I found it funny how all these animals suddenly appeared all at one short instance! My thoughts were: “I really need to build a shelter so I can enjoy more of these soon!”

After that short break, I resumed planting even if it was still midday! This part was more challenging, I had to clear the weed, coffee branches, and banana plants before digging at the marked spots.

At around 3pm, I was able to plant 9 Dracaena multiflora branches. I was only able to plant the Dracaena in less than half of the border. I will need more Dracaena branches to continue.

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My plot is starting to look neat! These Dracaena multiflora cuttings will be my “live posts” for the green fence.

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Same area. That’s a “sarrassa” branch in front of the Dracaena multiflora at the foreground

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This is the weedier portion of the border. I had to clear the area before digging the holes for the Dracaena cuttings.

I had a few small Dracaena multiflora cuttings left over, these are not as big as the ones I’ve set on ground; so I decided not to include them. (Plus I was tired from clearing and digging by that time)

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The four remaining cuttings which were not planted. I actually gave 2 of those to 2 people I met on the plot that afternoon, I think that deserves another story.