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Vegetable cultivation

Tomatoe seedlings in a plastic bag sorrounded by straw mulch
Despite tropical temperatures troughout the year there are still seasons: The dry season lasting form january to june, sometimes accompanied by serious draught, and the rainy season from july to december, sometimes accompanied by heavy rain and every now and then catastrophic typhoons.

The dry season is applicable for planting vegetables, provided there is a functional system of irrigation, but unfortunately prices are extremely low during this season which makes planting hardly worth the effort.

The rainy season on the other hand brings good market prices, sometimes even higher prices than in europe. Main problem of this season is countinous moisture which often triggers the spreading of serious fungus spores, damaging the plants.
A good lot of research had to be invested to cope with difficulties like these.

It is actually a combination of about 20 measures taken to solve this problem. The picture on the left shows the use of plastic planting bags. These have holes in them so excess amounts of water may run down. The mulch layer prohibits soil compression through heavy rain and supresses the growing of weeds.. This is the solution for the excess moisture problem.

A more complicated matter is the struggle against fungus spores like the "blight", a serious fungus disease damaging tomatoes.
A complete reconstruction of our measures is not possible at this point because we ourselves are not sure how we got this problem solved. Some thing just work when acting most randomly. Our guess is the connection between our soil mixture,  the distance from one plant to another, the influence of intercropped cultures and various maintenance operations of ours. We invite every agriculturist interested to investigate these matters, could be worth it.

In the beginning there was the seed. And this was also the beginning of problems. Which stock of seeds shoould be applied in which season? We solved this problem by simply asking the seed companies we obtain our seeds from on a regular basis. Following this the seed companies sent us technicians and invites for their seminars. Whenever a problem would occur, one call or e-mail is the right thing to do. Today we even contract with them to experiment with their products. This provides us now with seeds, fertilizer and other products for free and an easy access to expert knowledge.  

The following was planted succesfully during the rainy season:

tomatoes, eggplant, chili, bushbeans, stringbeans, ampalaya (bitter cucumber), lettuce, sweet corn, squash and upo (calabash).
The question of our planting's resistance against typhoons remains unanswered as there was no really serious typhoon since 2006.

In October 2009 a class 3 typhoon came upon us with 120 km/h speed, but the impact was minimal.  2010 being an El Niño year, on the other hand, another heavy typhoon would be likely to arrive in autumn. Well, soon we'll know anyway.

Our nursery protects our young shoots from birds and other unwanted visitors.

Finally we've also got a motorized blender for our soil mixture
It took many years for us to develop the optimally measured soil mixture. The main ingredients are charcoal, ashes, dung and top soil. The details of our recipe are not open to the public yet; Not because we want to be ungenerous, but the longterm effects are not clear to us up to this point, it would be irresponsible to publish it at this point.

The principle is the same as the concept of the "Terra Preta", once produced by the amazon delta natives. The main difference is our effort to produce everything as organic as possible, but we will not make a dogma of it, we'll stick to pragmatism. Much more important is the customer's interest which is to have fresh vegetables provided out of a local production. The financial means of the Bicol region's people is still limited by european standards, they would not accept to pay any higher price for organic products. This is the reality we have to accept, otherwise our project would result in another epic failure.

The use of charcoal makes our project a point of carbon storage, but it's only a side effect without any financial advantages on our side. According to the Kyoto Protocoll this measure is not accredited for carbon storage. But who needs Wallstreet traders ripping off another fortune with CO2-certificates from third world peasants?

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