Tropical Heritage Garden Diary:

June 2013:

1 June:

The last mini-floating garden runs aground with a broken float.

Image of last mini-floating garden -grounded with
        broken float
-definitely needs redesigning!

Young Citrus tree with compost and the monster Durian seedling!
Images of young Citrus treee and a
        sprouting Durian

2 June:

This weekend, I spent almost the entire weekend watering the garden: Not because the garden is so big -but because when I water the garden myself, I'm able to see what is happening in the garden and make small interventions that often have a positive culminative effect.

I guess the British call this "pottering": An aimless (but creative) shifting from one spontaneously invented task to another, according to some intuitive set of priorities that only reveal themselves through the process itself. As part of the process, I'm able to observe closely how plants grow in their various environments and this understanding helps me with planning and planting.

Yesterday, I put around several young Citrus plants green, immature, coconut husks -thrown down from the trees by rats or bats, who like to eat the soft fruit inside. The husks provide a slow form of compost to the young plants and perhaps help preserve the moisture in the soil around the young tree's roots. Today, I also trimmed and thickened up some of the hedges -especially where Terri has placed a kind of temporary fence made from fallen coconut branches (Lukai) to stop local dogs and our chickens destroying the plants to make entrances and exits.

The recently sowed Banana patches seem to be responding nicely -so that encouraged me to continue. Today, I sowed heritage Miriah Amaranth and Black Seeded Sesame plus Red Creole Onion and Tokyo Long White Bunching Onion in both the new patches. The earlier transplanted heritage Onion seedlings (in one of the two patches) seem to be surviving quite well.

Before sowing, I collected a handful of Narra seeds that had blown down from a neighbour's trees onto the small Banana patch. Narra are supposedly rare and protected trees -but they are like weeds here in the garden. I'm sure one could populate the whole island with just the seeds found in our garden. The same is true of Mahogany -it is virtually a pest -and yet I hear of western "Green" tree schemes raising money to plant them in Asia.

I also planted some seeds saved from our own Okra (of unknown heritage) in patches N.1A, N.1B and N.1C -in order to help prepare the ground and provide some shade for seedlings when they are sown later.

With the last of the mini-floating gardens falling apart -it looks as if the whole concept will need to be rethought.

New Seedlings (sowed end of May) growing in Banana Patch

Images of newly planted Seedlings
Squash and peanuts                                 Red Radish(?)

Narra seeds collected from Banana patch

Narra seeds
        collected from Banana patch

4 June:

Lots of rain today. After the rain, a mixture of (Known You) Red Radish, (Chinese) Carrot and (Seed of Hope) Tomato were broadcast in areas T.1A, T2A and T.2B.

5 June:

Cucumber time! More rain in the morning. After lunch planted the two remaining Poona Khera Cucumber seeds in BP.2 (the other Banana patch which is not on the May map), (Chinese) Cucumber in BP.1 (the Banana patch which is on the May map) -and birthday (Known You) Cucumber in areas N.1A, N.1B and N.1C.

Seeds from Burmese Okra, house Okra and the market Squash (eaten for lunch) were saved for drying and planting.

A start was also made with marking out a new mini-garden under a coconut tree near the house.

The chickens continue to devastate any attempt to grow climbing vegetables on the fence of the chicken pen.

Seeds and Fences:
Burmese Okra                                                              Starting a new mini-garden
Images of Okra seeds and fences
Life on the Chicken Fence                                    Collected Okra and Squash Seeds

7 June:

Fallen Fences, Frames and Nets
-Lots of work to do in the Southern garden
Images of the mess
        in the southern garden area

Worked today on tidying up the fallen fences, frames and netting in the southern garden -which has been somewhat neglected due to the drought.

At the end of the day, planted some of the (local market) Squash seeds drying on the balcony. Also broadcast some Dragon Mix in the second Banana Patch. Noticed that the Poona Khera Cucumber (planted 5 June) and the Zucchini-Gray Squash (planted 30 may) were starting to sprout. The Durian continues to flex its muscles -but is not yet free of the ground.

Tonight, it rained quite heavily. We are still waiting for the new seeds.

8 June:

Rain all day today. The Durian is now free of the ground -but not yet free of the shell.

9 June:

Prepared patch V.3E (next to the compost heap -see May for map) and redeveloped an unmarked patch between V.1C and V.2C.

Burmese Okra was soaked for about 4 hours and planted in V.3E and V.3C.

3 Patola (from Catigbigan), 4 Ampalya (from both Jose and Naning in Catigbigan), 2 market Squash (still being air dried), 2 Cucumbers (Known You) and 5 Thai Yard Long Beans were planted in the new patch (see photo).

Preparing the Ground
A new patch for climbing plants
            of growing plots being prepared
Earth from drainage ditch used to cover organic matter to make mulch (

Baby Dragon Fruit -and the Durian Rises!

Images of young Dragon Fruit seedlings and Durian

10 June:

Terri repaired the climbing frames in V.1A and V.2A. The Winged Beans seem to be recovering there.

Assorted Hot and Sweet Peppers (including the last two Heritage Red Marconi Sweet Peppers), Amaranth, Black Sesame and (Chinese) Carrot and White Radish  broadcast in V.3E.

11 June:

Terri's new Framework

Images of repaired growing frames

No rain today. Watered parts of the (freshly sown) garden -until the water pressure became too low.

Terri rebuilt the climbing frames.

Planted 3 different types of Luffa (Known You Angled Luffa, Chinese and home grown) around the various climbing frames and added a variety of different (home grown) Winged Beans (of various vintages) along the chicken fence and where they were already growing but not flowering.

12 June:

Instant Garden
Just add (optional) Compost,                         Earth................                                     and Plants
Images of creating a garden

And another small hill of beans..............     Down in the jungle somewhere

Images of another
        new patch for planting

Planted assorted Sitauw (long beans), Angled Loofah (known You), various Cucumber and (market) Squash in the new bean hill.

Two Patola (of different origin) were planted by one nearby Ipil-Ipil tree and two Ampalya (of different origin) were planted by another, so they can grow up them.

Assorted Sweet Pepper seeds were planted behind the Coconut in the chicken fence garden area.

Finally, Chinese Chives (Known You), Rocket (the last remains), Chinese Chay (Kangkong) , Green and White Pechay, Chinese Mustard and assorted Hot Peppers were broadcast in the "Instant Garden" created by Penny. Then some cuttings from the Talinum (given to us by Terri earlier) were planted to kick-start the garden.

13 June:

Young Chico seedling -and the Durian struggles to break free
Images of Chico seedling and Durian
        seedling sprouting

Pepper Plots
(Hot or Sweet?)
Images of pepper
        planted locations
Second Chicken Fence.....                 the other side......                            and the stump

Planted both Hot and  Sweet Peppers in the above locations.

Also improved two planting hills in the undefined area between V.1C, V.2C and V.2E. Planted Cow Peas, Patola and Cucumber  (Known You)

15 June:

Young Mandarin seedlings -and the Durian heads for Space
Images of Mandarin seedlings and Still
        sprouting Durian

Awakening Seeds?
Early Risers                                                              Late Sleepers
Images of
        seedlings in various locations
Instant seeds or weeds?                            The Mini-garden is firmly grounded

Planted heritage Squash (Zucchini-Gray,  White Bush Marrow and Seminole Pumpkin) in various (labeled) locations around the Northern garden (N.1B, N2A, N.2B). So far, only one labeled Zucchini-Gray (planted 30th May) seems to be sprouting under a banana tree.

Also started planting Peanuts to improve the soil in V.4C, V.4D and V.4E -but rain stopped play.

18 June:

Terri's new climbing frame -and a natural climbing frame

Image of constructed frame and free
            climbing plants

Terri's new climbing frame was planted with extra Patola (Loofah) and Ampalya (Bitter Gourd) -where it extended the original frames.

19 June:

Young Lanzones -and the Durian

Lanzones seedling and
        sprouting Durian

Bean Scheme

Diagramme of bean planting scheme

A Competitive bean feastThai Long Bean, Asparagus Bean and Cowpea (first and second generation)were planted in the Northern garden. Also three different batches of Sitaw (Native Yardlong Bean) -from Naning and Jose in Catigbigan  plus our own home grown (originally from Penny). Also three batches of homegrown Winged Beans (from February, March and April). See diagramme above.

While planting the beans, I noticed that the (market) Squash growing on the compost heap is now starting to flower. This prompted me to plant around a dozen assorted market Squash in various mini-compost heaps under more Coconut and Banana trees. Unfortunately, the remaining heritage Squash growing on the compost heap seems to be dying. Perhaps in the winter it will be cold enough to plant imported "summer" Squash here.

Also some Lychee seeds (from fruit bought in the supermarket) were planted in pots.

Additionally, a Dragon Fruit seedling (also from supermarket fruit) was transplanted from a pot to where two larger cuttings (from a neighbour) have been planted earlier.

Bananas and Squash

Images of Squash growing under Banana trees

20 June:

Finally Arrived!
One month after dispatch
Photo of newly arrived heritage seeds

Some of the newly arrived heritage seeds might prefer the shade offered by a mini-garden under a tree.

So, the mini-gardens by the house were slightly reshaped and planted with both local "mums" and newly arrived edible Chrysanthemums.

In order to get some extra soil (to mix with seeds when broadcasting them), the last row of the Southern garden (V.4A - V4E) were cleaned by removing the fallen Mahogany leaves (which were thrown onto the Cassava patch along the Southern hedge).  Some soil could then be taken from the drainage channels around each patch.

Penny, our household helper, found some viable Rice seeds while sieving the rice for lunch. So (as a test run for the Blue Bonnet Rice) some was planted in V.3C and V.3E -plus N.1B and N.2D.

Reshaped mini-gardens
Planted with local "mums" and newly arrived edible Chrysanths
Images of reshaped
        mini-gardens under trees

21 June:

Bed News!
Tidy beds.......       .                                                        late sleepers rising
Images of various garden patches
newly sown.......                                             and Purple Taro along the hedge

Soaking Coffee

Image of dwarf
        coffee beans soaking before sowing

The planting instructions said coffee beans don't store well and they should be planted as soon as possible, So today, everybody (Terri, Penny, Fatima and myself) all planted Miniature Coffee beans  (after soaking them for 24 hours). I planted most of mine along the hedge, in the area of the pig pen, with some under a Banana tree.  The others I planted around an old tree stump, also near a Banana patch. Now we may have to wait up to four months to see if anything happens.

A lovely bunch of Bananas
Food for us........                                                          the baby pup
Images of picked banana bunch with
          remains of tree distributed among other banana plants
...... and the neighbours

Penny and Terri have harvested some Bananas by cutting down the tree (which otherwise falls over after fruiting). Fatima is experimenting with fermenting some of the trunk (in combination with other things) for chicken feed. The rest of the trunk was used as compost for the next generation of Bananas.

Some of the Dragon Stir Mix and the new heritage Mesclun Salad Mix were planted in two different (labeled) areas in V.3E (see today's photo, newly sown -and renovated plot, 9 June) and the other banana mini-garden (not on the map) as a test run.

Finally, some more (local market) Squash were planted (mostly along the Northern hedge) where it has a good chance to climb.

22 June:

Planted heritage Wild Dagga, Korean Hyssop and Marsh Mallow in various sunny patches around the house.

Climate conditioning

Images of home made plant cooling evaporation
        system and cacti in moisture preserving plastic bag
Refrigeration plants.......                                                         and Sauna plant

Although the floating mini-gardens have not been successful technically (i.e. sinking, capsizing or simply falling apart) they did appear to be successful regarding germination of certain "difficult" seeds. As a result, I'm now experimenting with a new non-floating variation.This involves two polystyrene pots -one inside the other. The inner, earth filled, pot has holes in the bottom and a strip of cloth inside which covers the bottom and hangs out over the top edge. The outer pot is filled with water. The idea is that water inside is sucked up by the cloth and allowed to evaporate -thus reducing the local temperature. Three pots have been constructed and planted with (non-heritage) Parsley, Kimchay and Coriander. Perhaps a second strip of cloth could be added inside the outer pot -to increase evaporation rates.  Water from the Tilapia pond is used to water the pots -as this presumably contains extra nutrients produced by the fish and other pond creatures.

Some (heritage) Mixed Cacti were also potted in a specially prepared mix of sand and garden soil with a few bits of chopped coconut husk.The seeds were mixed with a small amount of sieved soil and then broadcast. The (plastic bonsai) pot was then put inside two plastic bags to preserve moisture and placed under the house to germinate.

Young Avocado seedling -but the Durian still struggles

Images of Avocado sprouting and Durian seedling
        struggling to get free of seedshell

Leading in the "Bean race" (planted 19 June) seems to be the plants that seem to have the most trouble dealing with the heat. First out the ground are the Asparagus Beans, followed by the Thai Purple Yard-long Beans. Until now, the Asparagus Beans appear to have been the least productive of all. Perhaps the change of season, and/or the change of location (from Southern garden to Northern garden) has changed the game somewhat.

26 June:

Penny's new pig -and his housemates

Images of Pig and Chickens

27 June:

Another Avocado -and the Durian struggles on

Another image of an Avocado and Durian seedlings

28 June:

Another Plot with compost and soil
Linking Banana and Coconut trees
Images of another prepared plot

Some of the Banana trees were looking a bit poorly -so we tried improving their environment.

Garden in the rain
Looking South                                                                                   Looking North
Images of garden in the rain

When the rain stopped, planted Artichoke and Cardoon in T.5A, N.1A and BP.2

29 June:

Fallen Banana
A failed harvest                                       but still useful                                as  food for the pig
Images of collapsed Banana tree being
        chopped up and used for fertilizer and animal food
the neighbours                               fermented chicken food                           ...and the siblings  

30 June:

Newly sown -and protected against chickens

Images of newly
        sown patch with netting

A drainage channel was dug around patch V.3D and the soil thrown up onto the plot to cover the weeds. It was then sown with a mixture of seeds including Asparagus, Artichoke, Cardoon, Korean Hyssop, Edible Chrysanthemum, Wild Dagga, Mesclun Salad Mix and Bird seed.

Mesclun Salad Mix was also broadcast in T.2B and T.5B.

Mung beans were broadcast around the roots of several seedling trees -as green manure.


Trevor Batten
 <trevor at tebatt dot net>
 Baclayon 2013