Over the weekend, I did a few more plantings for my weekend farm.
Some more plants blooming this Easter. These plants are growing in the lowlands of Metro Manila.
I’ve been using an orchid as litmus.
It may not be the best method; and definitely not the most scientific, but this is just for leisure! I’ve planted a lot of Phalaenopsis schilleriana orchids and these continue to give me an indication of the climate in my weekend farm.
Firstly, these plants need to receive enough moisture to survive. For now, I can only visit the farm during my free weekends which means that I’m incapable of watering my plants regularly. Also, I can’t afford a caretaker to live at my plot; hence I’m at the mercy of nature for now. So far, the orchids I have planted have grown roots and a lot of them are actually blooming! Apart from those, I planted fruit trees like cacao and mangosteen and these are growing without watering.
More than that, these orchids gave me an indication of what other crops I can plant. Phalaenopsis schilleriana plants will only bloom in cooler weather. This means that I can try to grow cooler weather crops (at least relative to my location here in the tropics) like more exotic/non-local fruits and vegetables.
These plants have been in my plot for months, and a few plants have just been in flower recently. Apparently, it has caught the attention of a few people who may have chanced upon my area. During my last visit I found that two plants which were in flower have been plucked from the branches. I wasn’t surprised that this happened; but now I realize that my area is too open and some people might think it’s alright to pluck a few plants for them to take.
And so this plant is telling me to do something about it.
It’s interesting that someone has found plants growing on my weekend farm attractive!
I just continue to hope they’ll admire it and not take plants from my weekend farm. Still, I should work on that nice looking bamboo fence already :))
I’ve planted several local species of Phalaenopsis.
These are the first ones to flower at my weekend farm.
In Southern Luzon, tiger orchids are very popular. Its scientific name is Phalaenopsis schilleriana. These orchids captivated me as kid. It had leathery leaves that reminded me of elephant ears and its leaves were stripped with silver and purple. These never flower in the lowlands since they need cooler temperature to bloom, but a lot of people still keep them anyway.
I was fascinated growing them since its leaves and roots looked wild.
This tiger orchid, Phalaenopsis schilleriana, is definitely more common. It produces pink flowers that sometimes smell like cotton candy. I’ve planted a lot of these in the coffee trees and I want to plant more because the coffee trees will look like cherry blossoms when these are in bloom.
The other tiger orchid is the less common Phalaenopsis stuartiana.
I saw a few plants of Phalaenopsis stuartiana at the sunday market a few weekends ago, so I bought two plants.
Instead of pink flowers the Phalaenopsis stuartiana has white flowers. When not in bloom, it’s close to impossible to distinguish it from the more common tiger orchid (Phalaenopsis schilleriana)… but I noticed that this plant might have rounder and greener leaves.
Last week during my weekend farm visit, I planted the two Phalaenopsis stuartiana plants on their coffee trees.
I invited a few friends for picnic again.
From the previous picnic, I was convinced that I need to set-up temporary structures to make visits more comfortable. These will allow me to stay longer in the plot and accomplish more work.
By next year I want to build my bamboo hut! But for now, I want to set up a temporary shade area. I also want to make an outdoor shower of some sort so I can clean up before entering my car after working on the plot. I also need to build a toilet so the friends I invite can spend more time in the plot.
We had wine, cheese, some fancy dips and tapenades for brunch. It was hot. There were some ants.
I left my friends under the shade to check the water pipe. I was not present when they installed the pipes but I knew where they laid it. I needed to know what it looks like so I can progress with installing my outdoor shower.
I planned on replanting the pineapple in neat rows. I got help from a few friends who held the machete to slash some weedy patches. It was midday. We went back under the shade.
At 1pm it became cloudy. It began to drizzle. I brought with me around thirty orchid plants. I did not want to bring them home again. My friends helped me attach the plants to the coffee trees.
Drizzle became rain. The rain was as cold as cool drinking water. I told my friends, “I told you it’s cool here!”
How I wish I could watch the rain under a nice shade.
Clean up was not the goal for this visit. I just wanted to see the extent of the damage.
I wanted to check which of the few things I planted were damaged by the storm. I was expecting to see impassable roads and felled coconut trees.
Along with a few adventurous friends, some food, and wine; I brought a ground sheet and a shade cover for our make-shift picnic area.
I thought of sharing a story about cleaning up and re-planting after the storm, but I realized I have not started much yet.
Having looked at how the few plants I planted were faring, the land told me a different story.
The Phalaenopsis aphrodite that was attached to a coffee branch had three fresh sets of leaves and new roots firmly attached to the branch.
The Platycerium grande (Giant Stag’s-horn-fern) from Mindanao which I flimsily attached to a coconut managed to stay put despite the strong wind of the typhoon.
The Taiwanese olive tree has also sent out a robust set of new leaves. It was lucky that no tree or banana was felled on top of it.
It was not good news for some other plants.
This Vanda javierae, a native in the mountains of Nueva Viscaya, was struggling to survive in the lowlands of Quezon City. It was attached to this coffee tree a few weeks ago. Now, it finally dried up. Perhaps it really needs higher elevation or perhaps it was too weak when I planted it out here.
Despite being slightly uprooted, the 7-ft Yakal tree is thriving. With proper support, its roots can be given more time to set itself firmly on the ground.
Other then some felled banana trees and coconut saplings; it was this Tipolo tree that was the noticeable casualty of the storm.
Our picnic was pleasant but it could be more comfortable. Perhaps I could use that Antipolo tree to build a temporary shelter.