Monday, August 15, 2011

Little Garden Guests

Starting out with gardening was quite fun but as I went on appreciating, discovering and learning the ropes of the new found hobby, I began to encounter several visitors that made me frown, some of them not that friendly to my plants. Frustrated and annoyed by their presence, I began to understand how nature works in my own little yard. Slowly, my attitude towards these unwanted visitors changed as I call to mind  "planting a little extra for the bugs."

Rainy season keeps the soil moist most of the time so with that I am spared from watering the plants. Even with enough drainage, soil gets muddy, surroundings damp. I panic everytime I see snails and slugs crawling, leaving iridescent trail on the walls and feeding holes on the leaves. Getting rid of them is by simply sprinkling them with salt causing their bodies to dry up and shrink. Crushing them would be too messy. During dry season, they bury themselves in moist ground, under barks of trees or stones. I usually encounter them early in the morning.
Gastropods Mollusks

Other visitors during rainy days are the millipedes. Though friendlier and harmless than the terrifying centipedes, I make it a point to get rid of them as they tend to multiply fast if ignored. They are friendlier in such a way that they don't bite, and they go for decaying and dead plants for their nourishment. Millipedes protect themselves from predators by rolling into a ball. They love to stay in cracks of  damp walls or concrete floors so during excessive rains, they tend to go out and look for a safer, and moist place but not wet. Maintaining the place dry which is impossible during rainy days is the only way to decrease millipedes so I try to sweep the water off from the concrete floors and secondly, I get rid of them by my hands. Nothing to worry about because they don't hurt and they move slowly. They emit a stinky odor when crushed.  


Whiteflies are in a way related to aphids. The stick under leaves, stems and even in the petals. They are more difficult to eradicate and a real garden pests, they just keep on coming back. Using pesticide would not be an option because kids love to play in the yard so I go for milder and safer ones which is spraying them with soap and water.

Dragonflies are frequent and favorite guests of all. I find them rather useful than any other insects that can be found in the yard because they eat insects particularly mosquitoes (another very unwanted visitors) that can cause hemorrhagic disease which is considered to be endemic in the area. Dragonflies are commonly found near ponds and lakes because young dragonflies are aquatic. One of my favorite things to do when I was in grade school was catching dragonflies, and then letting them go, watching them fly from one plant to another. For me they look like tiny soundless choppers, flying low, with their own different and distinctive colors. I just love to see a dragonfly on top of a water plant in a pond, too bad I don't have one in the yard.

It is quite amazing to discover how plants, insects and pests are interrelated and somehow influenced by each other. Nature has its own way of maintaining the garden ecosystem and it's up to the gardener how to manage and control these pests and diseases.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Fukien Tea Ball

Good thing I was able to plant new fukien tea balls in my garden a couple of days ago or else typhoon  Falcon would not allow me to tend my garden have I waited for this weekend to come. I had uprooted several old mayanas in exchange for fukien tea balls and I'm quite satisfied with it. Honestly, I had no idea what the name of that plant was until I asked manong where I bought several of them. Knowing how to maintain Fukien tea balls is basically an advantage so one can keep its rounded form. So it's called a Fukien Tea Ball, apparently it resembles a dragon tea ball used during Chinese New Year that's why it's called as such.  

I left some empty spaces along those fukien tea balls as I'm still figuring out what plants are best beside them. I decided to retain some mayanas so there would be variations in colors.

Perhaps growing a Mother-in-law's tongue or devil's tongue, also known as Sansevieria with its elongated leaves bearing yellow and green stripes would be suitable enough in contrast to the shapes of fukien tea balls. Benefits of Sansevieria are believed to have pollution-buster effects so I make it a point to have at least a couple of them in pots anywhere in the yard. The latter tend to grow by division so propagating them is not a problem although they tend to grow faster than other plants.

The only thing is that I just hope there would be no more headlong rains, understandably it's rainy season. Advantages are: tipid sa sa tubig pandilig, tipid sa aircon. Disadvantages are: floods, landslides, suspension of classes, possible power interruptions.

These Hands