We are back at the farm! The Covid-19 quarantine kept us away for more than three months. It felt so good to be back! The farm never fails to surprise us with new things.
Tonji was walking around when he smelt a beautiful fragrance. It was coming from this tree! This is Flueggea virosa. It is a shrub or small tree that will eventually have white waxy fruits! It is known in other countries as a medicinal plant. According to this website , extracts from the bark are lethal to mice. Our caretakers call this small tree Suliak Daga. Not sure if that means lethal to mice.
It’s hard to imagine that back in September 2019 this shrub looked very pitiful and was full of hard brown galls. What a pleasant surprise to see it bounce back from its previous gall-ridden state!
One of the first things I did when I got to the farm was check the seedlings in the nursery. I was very pleasantly surprised to see so many of them were ready to be planted outside.
In June 2019 I planted 18 Taluto seeds that I got from Cel Tungol. I even sketched them. The Taluto seeds were tiny.
One year later in June 2020 we planted 16 Taluto that were almost as tall as me!
This is a low weedy plant growing by the path to the cottage. Even this little plant has a surprise! From the top it is all stiff angles and thorns.
But when you lift it up it has dainty white flowers growing on the underside! This plant is called Canthium pedunculare.
Our trip to the farm coincided with Momo’s birthday. Momo turned 11! Happy birthday Momo!
It was so good to be back, walk around, and discover the surprises that await us.
We should take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.
This is our big year for planting tree seeds. In a few short months, we have gone from having a few seedlings in bags to more than one thousand pots with seeds in various stages of growth!
February 2019 – It all started with the free seeds we received from the Horti Fair in Quezon Memorial Circle. The seeds came from members of the Philippine Native Trees Enthusiasts (PNTE) and they had tips on how to treat each seed type of seed before planting it. It was fun to follow the different pre-germination treatment instructions for each type of seed and very rewarding to see the seeds grow!
June – We received more free seeds from Philippine Native Trees Enthusiasts at another plant show. This time we kept the seeds at home in Alabang instead of bringing them to Batangas.
None of the Buri sprouted. The Taluto and Ipil were amazing! They grew quickly and were transplanted to bigger pots after 7 weeks. After a couple more weeks, they were big enough to move to the farm nursery. The Malapapaya is slow growing. They are in individual pots and are just getting their true leaves.
In June, we also bought 100 Pili seeds that we planted and then discarded by August. They weren’t showing any signs of life and we needed the space for other seeds!
July – We bought 200 Balai Lamok seeds from a member of the Philippine Native Trees Enthusiasts group. We were excited to try the germination technique of Ephraim Cercado from PNTE. He in very successful in growing Balai Lamok.
Success! Back in 2017 we bought 198 Balai Lamok seeds and were able to grow only 8 seedlings. Now with the new germination technique we have 135 seedlings!
I think we can improve our Balai Lamok production even more if we decide to try again next season. We waited too long before planting the seeds and some of them got moldy. I think this may have made the seeds weaker. The potting mix was also too fluffy. It should have been packed down more evenly. The seedlings kept toppling over. We also may have been over watering in the early days.
Our Philippine Teak produced seeds for the first time. We collected them and tried different planting techniques. We were told that Philippine Teak is difficult to grow from seeds. We may possibly have one seed that grew. Or it might be a weed!
August – Our biggest month for seed planting so far! We bought 4 kilos of seeds and gathered fruit and pods from 3 kinds of trees in our subdivision.
We gathered Banaba from flowering trees in our subdivision. We experimented on which pods had viable seeds. The pods that were brown and dry and still on the tree but slightly open did the best. The seedlings from pods that were not planted immediately were undersized.
We gathered Mabolo fruit from two fruiting trees in our subdivision. Some of fruit practically fell on our head while we were standing under the tree. We were able to eat those and enjoy the creamy apple flavor. The other fruits on the ground were spoiled, but the seeds were good for planting. All 91 seeds sprouted!
We bought 1 kilo of White Lauan seeds and 1 kilo of Red Lauan seeds from Bukidnon. When the seeds arrived, most of the Red Lauan already germinated! Lauan are from the Dipterocarps family. Their seeds have wings and germinate readily but are only viable for one or two weeks. And many Dipterocarps only have seeds every 5 or more years.
We bought 1 kilo of Anang seeds and 1 kilo of Tail-leafed Panau seeds. Anang is the same family as Mabolo. It also has black wood. Tail-leafed Panau is a Dipterocarp. Most of the Tail-leafed Panau were germinated when they arrived, with very long roots. The Anang hasn’t sprouted yet.
Tonji noticed a good looking tree with pods in the village. It turned out to be Bani, a beach forest tree that grows quickly and can produce seeds in 3 years. We planted 35 seeds and are waiting for them to sprout.
All these seedlings from seeds that we bought and gathered are like our little babies. They have taken over the front steps of our house, the side garden, and one section of our lanai. We check on them every day, sprinkle them with rainwater, and pick out the hairy caterpillars that like to eat their leaves. When they get bigger, they will move from our house to the farm nursery and then eventually get planted on the ground.
The next stage of our seed collecting and planting will be collecting seeds from the Philippine native trees in our refuge that we have a lot of and that produce a lot of seeds. Trees like Banato, Alibangbang, and Akleng Parang. Then we can distribute them among the tree-loving members of the Philippine Native Trees Enthusiasts group so that even more people can learn to enjoy planting the seeds of Philippine native trees!