So, I had an encounter today with some other expats that basically turned my stomach, and I just finished writing up a blog entry which was basically one big long vent. Realizing that most folks probably don’t want to hear it – and seeing as I am uploading our garden update video – I decided to put it on the back burner and perhaps save it for another time.
That said, our garden and backyard cleanup seems to be doing pretty well. In the video, you can see that there is a “before” and “after” section that shows some of the work we have done. First off, we cut the backyard grasses down. The Philippines is basically always trying to return to its natural jungle state, so by the time we moved in – and the previous renters hadn’t cut it down for a few weeks – the grass and weeds had gotten a bit out of hand. The Scott’s push lawnmower that we have couldn’t cut the whole yard, since it is uneven and scattered with rocks, so most the work was done with our trusty pruning shears. The shears are a bit work-intensive, but the area is pretty small, so it wasn’t too bad.
Once grass was cut down, we started the process of outlining the future garden area, weeding, turning soil (with a little handheld hoe/rake that’s Chinese metal was a bit suspect, twisting and bending quite a bit), collecting and moving rocks and getting rid of the large pile of burnt trash. This last bit was a bit of a chore but it also provided some unexpected dividends. The burn was a mix of black mulch, wads of plastic, glass, and aluminum foil. Once we pulled the unburnt plastic, glass, and foil from the rest of it, we ended up with nice pile of dark culture. Having already turned and weeded the soil of our future garden spot, we simply gathered it up and mixed it in to the garden soil. (Ugh – I say “soil,” but it is more along the lines of clay/sand/soil mix, that didn’t look all that healthy.) To further enrich it, we took a trip to the dump and bought 100 kilograms of vermiculture. (The dump in Dumaguete actually separates organics from the non-biodegradable materials and does a healthy business in selling fertilizer and mulch to the locals.) This stuff was also nice and dark, and once it was mixed in, the bed looked pretty healthy. It also smelled like crap, which is always a good sign.
I bought some okra, carrot, greenbean, and cucumber seed from a local shop in town – one packet of each which came to about five dollars. We started the seeds in paper towels, spraying them down and keeping the little fellers nice and damp. Thanks to the hot and humid weather, they sprouted VERY quickly (like in a day), and we soon found ourselves planting the little tykes into egg carton starter trays. Putting them outside, it only took a few days for them to turn into strong seedlings. They were growing so fast, in fact, that we had to get them into the ground fairly quickly. Well, that is, all except the carrots – they have taken about a week to germinate and are struggling a bit. I talked with a few other expat farmer types, and they also said that carrots are difficult to grow here – something to do with the weather.
Michell and I are new farmers, so we are learning as we go along, getting most of our info from Google and Youtube. Still – and despite our lack of experience – the little veggies seem to be doing well. And with the nice sunny weather, regular rains, and lack of veggie-loving bunny rabbits, we are hoping to be enjoying our first consumable harvest fairly soon.
Not to worry – when that happens, you will be the first to know.
Take care, ya’ll!