Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"Wow imported!" --- is a common exclamation we hear in the Philippines when we see something that is not locally produced. Somehow there is this deep-seated fixation for anything that comes from abroad. An exception to this would be any kind of pests or diseases :)

Even in gardening, some gardeners easily succumb to the desire of acquiring a newly introduced breed of plant. Having a little of such mentality myself, I thought I'd send some non-native vegetable and other garden seeds back home and see if they would successfully grow in our farm with this crazy idea that maybe we would be the first to produce these vegetables locally. Well not really, I just wanted to experiment and see which of these imported seeds would grow in our farm.

Below are a few of the seed samples I sent home that they tried growing in the farm.

Zucchini squash (Cucurbita pepo). Some sprouted but some didn't. Those that grew rotted after a few days. Maybe they were sown during the wetter days. It's still worth another try although I've read that it's already commercially grown locally.

Packets of Zucchini squash seeds.

Birdhouse gourd (Lagenaria siceraria Birdhouse). I wasn't sure about the success of this plant because from what I read and seen on TV it needs the aid of certain night moths to pollinate the delicate flowers that open only at night and only for one night.

It grew! It climbed the trellis, flowers developed and produced young gourds. So there are night moths in the farm! Alas, the gourds did not mature, the plant rotted. Again I blame it on the rainy weather. But the fact that it produced fruits means that it can grow in our area, so it's also worth another try.

Young Birdhouse gourds hanging on a trellis.

Unlike the local vegetable "Upo" this gourd will produce a thick and hard shell, which can be fashioned into a birdhouse, a vessel to carry water and many other purposes. I was thinking if we succeed on this we could help our local community develop a backyard industry in producing handicrafts made of this gourd's tough shell.

Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata). I love this squash. It has the same taste and texture as the squash I like back in the Philippines but it doesn't look like any of the locally grown squash.

A young Butternut squash.

And it also grew! They let it crawl on the ground which then produced several baby Butternuts. Most didn't mature though. Another victim of the wet days. Like the song of the late 80's duo Milli Vanili, I blame it on the rain.

But all was not lost. They were able to harvest one squash each from the two seeds they sowed. And the verdict? They like its unique look and most of all they loved the taste. Definitely worth another try!

We had a very short summer this year, around three months. Even in those supposedly 'dry' months rain would intermittently soak the ground. The growing season for these plants is definitely over this year. My eyes are already set for a more normal summer next year. For the mean time, I'm out scouring garden stores for more seeds for next year's garden experiment.
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