Thursday, December 12, 2013

Growing Lavender in the Philippines

Can lavender grow in the tropics? Will it grow in the Philippines? Yes it most certainly can! For I have been asking myself the same question since September and been researching as much as I could on the web about it. There is a lot of information available about growing it but none about growing lavender specifically in the Philippines.

Here in Manila, it is something you wouldn't find in your neighbor's garden. According to the website on Philippine Alternative Medicine, it isn't native to us and was introduced to the Philippines though it doesn't say how. As such for the benefit of those not familiar with it let me share with you what I found in Wikipedia: lavender belongs to the genus Lavandula of the mint family. This probably accounts for it's strong fragrance. It is an herb usually with purple flowers (though there are also yellow, white, pink and green varieties) and are used in perfumes, oils, soaps, shampoo and even in detergents (like in these Bonux  and Surf TV ads) due to its fragrance. If you want to know more about this plant you can Google it for more info as I'm going to limit the information here related to growing lavender in the Philippines.

So I took the initiative and started my own experiment to see how they will thrive here in Manila. You may find updates as the months go by on my little lavender growing experiment by clicking on the 'Home' or 'Gardening' tabs at the top of this page.

Below is my simple three-step plan:

My Three-Step Plan. The Lavender picture and farm were taken from http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/giftflowers/flowersandfragrances/lavenders and http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6022/5956794509_2238b6b3cf_z.jpg respectively.


Step 1. Research. 


Why do people always want what they can't have? My research leads to the conclusion that I'm one of those people. But as the The Little Prince said in Antoine de Saint Exupery's famous novel, what makes a desert beautiful is that it hides a well somewhere. And I am determined to find that well.

 If you look at the map below which I found in Wikipedia, it will show you areas where lavender grows. Look for the green regions representing the temperate regions like France, Canada, North America, Spain, and the southern part of Australia among others.



Source Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/58/Klimag%C3%BCrtel-der-erde.png

As you can see, the Philippines is on the tropics where it's either sunny or rainy. This lavender flower that I'm trying to grow loves the cool climate with a little bit of sun and hates getting wet. So it's already a challenge to begin with, but I'm not backing down on opportunity it could present.

There's really very little I could find on the web about growing lavender locally. Mostly people want to grow them, but couldn't find how. There were a few who saw lavender being sold at Quezon City Circle and some at SM Supermarket. Further digging around led me to sites and people who seem to have grown lavender successfully in the Philippines.

1. Yahoo Answers Philippines shows that someone was able to grow them 5 years ago but they wouldn't bloom. It's just all leaves.

2. In a website about Philippine Alternative Medicine, it says it's cultivated and grows in Baguio.

3. Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm in Silang, Cavite. In English "ilog" means river and Maria is the same as Mary. They're the biggest honey farm in the country. I don't exactly remember which blog was it that mentioned Ilog Maria but there was a write up about them in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2002. According to reviews they make one of the best lavender and honey soap. Then I saw a picture of a lavender that grows in their farm. As per the person who uploaded this picture saying it was taken at Ilog Maria, it seems genuine lavender:

Image source: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5180/5490367969_e2fa335ba0_z.jpg
I
I haven't been there but I will definitely grab my sister one of these days to see for myself. They prefer to be contacted via email at:  info@ilogmaria.com.

4. Fil Mabuhay Pot Garden Herbs Distributed. I found their ad thru sulit.com. Here's a picture of the plant that they sell. I don't know whether this is a picture of the actual plant so it's best for you to check it out for yourself. This is the one on sulit.com:

Image source: http://cdn.sulitstatic.com/server2/images/2013/0626/062541183_396efbb505fc2d520ed41ee1d982833d3642b594.jpg



They are selling their lavender for PHP 150 per pot and when I asked them how much they charge for delivery to Muntinlupa, it's PHP 400. So if you want to save some money and just want to buy a few pots, I suggest you go to their shop. Below is their contact information:

FIL MABUHAY POT GARDEN HERBS DISTRIBUTED
BY: FIL MABUHAY HOTEL & RESTAURANT SERVICES
1202 GENERAL LUNA ST., ERMITA, MANILA

Phone numbers: 505-7784, 383-5580, 0917-6123508, 0916-3776466, 0922-4655241


Step 2. Grow them into something like this:

Image Source: http://thegraphicsfairy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Lavender-Plant-Stock-Image-graphicsfairy3.jpg

So to answer the question on whether lavender can grow in the Philippines? The answer is YES!

Please see my youtube video below so you can see how well my baby lavender are growing. I grew them from seeds on 20th of October. I bought specialty seeds at SM Supermarket which says: 5 in 1 Herb Italia from Ramgo . It has Parsley, Chives, Basil,Dill, Lavender and even comes with free Rocket Aragula seeds.





So what do you need to start growing lavender?

Lavender Seeds
Soil
Paper Cups with punched holes at the bottom
Pots
Water Sprayer
Patience
Slow Release Fertilizer (only after 3-4 set of true leaves has emerged)

I used ordinary garden soil with a bit of rice and coconut husk to improve drainage. Since the seeds are so tiny, I made sure that the seeds weren't planted too deep just around half a centimeter or 5 mm. Then I planted them in paper cups and placed them on my window sill. I also put anti-ant chalk around the base of the cups to protect it from ants and other insects. It's been raining like crazy so I kept them safe from rain and direct sunlight since it's really hot in the tropics during the day. I lightly sprayed it with water when needed. It took three weeks before the first few seeds germinate.

After one month I had about 20 seeds germinate from around 100 seeds that I sowed. After 40 days I have more than 70! This morning, I was surprised to see a few more seeds that just sprouted. I guess it's also because I planted them now that it's a bit colder but I doubt they will grow as well if you plant them during the hot season from March-May.

I had to transfer the ones with true set of leaves to a bigger pot but since I didn't have enough soil nor pot I put around 4 in a pot and will transplant them again once they grow bigger. It's okay as long as the spacing is at least 2-3 inches. But you need to transfer them once they grow bigger, otherwise their roots will get all tangled up and it will be hard for you to transplant. You also need to make sure that it's not too crowded to allow for better air circulation. Don't water them unless you see that the soil is really dry because while they need water the plants hate it when their roots are wet. I sprayed slow release fertilizer for the plants that have 3 or 4 sets of leaves just to encourage new growth.

During the Typhoon Haiyan (which the strongest Typhoon ever recorded) I put them all inside. Last night it started to rain again at around 11 PM and I run down the stairs like crazy (I bet waking up the entire barangay!) because I forgot to put my baby lavender under the window sill where it's protected from heavy rains. This morning I put them out again under the sun for a bit of sun-bathing. :-)

Step 3. Dream big and start a farm

Right now, I am still in the first part of Step 3, which is dreaming big. This post about growing lavender in the Philippines is one my life dreams. I hope you get inspired by it and learned something. Please feel free to comment or ask a question if you need clarification. Right now, it's 1:07 AM and it's time to dream more dreams. Wish me luck!


Image source: http://media-cache-ec3.pinimg.com/736x/15/da/74/15da743146f9af78b4f1707c2ddcb45c.jpg





©2013 Ma. Leonor Jambalos. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Prophecies of Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda

     November 7, 2013, Manila Time. We knew he was coming. The Angel of Death named Haiyan or Yolanda in the Philippines. It was like an apocalypse saying "in the hours to come I will sweep upon your land and reap souls by the thousands."

     Who could prepare? Nobody. Nothing could prepare us for this. Everyone in Samar and Leyte lost someone they knew.

     Yet, it seems like we've been given a warning before. I saw a video on Youtube of a man and another of a woman who both predicted that this would happen. Below is a video from four years back of a prediction made by Cindy Jacobs.


     And this is another video which I just saw today of an Indian prophet named Sadhu who predicted the tragedy in Samar and Leyte:



     God spoke to them to warn us of this tragedy and also to give hope that after this an anointing of our land would follow. Whether or not this is true, all I can say to God is this---I don't understand why, but I have faith and trust in Your plans for my beloved country.



     As I prepare a compilation of video clips and images that struck me I can't help but cry. Here I am in the comfort of my home, watching my baby play. I am safe and my family was spared, but that doesn't mean that we don't share their pain. The tragedy is felt everywhere in the Philippines and the whole world.

     There was a picture of a father carrying the body of his lifeless daughter, another is a woman on her knees crying and dead bodies were piled everywhere. There were images of newly orphaned kids wet and crying and in another photo-- a boy with a wounded face amidst debris they once dearly called home.

     Yesterday I heard Susan Boyle's version of You'll Never Walk Alone and in my mind I saw the pictures of survivors of the typhoon and the overwhelming help we got from all over the world.  Kindly see the video below that I created and uploaded on Youtube as a tribute to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda and to the International Community who came to our aid. You'll see pictures of survival, courage and faith in God. This is a story of humanity and that how different we may seem we are one. We breath the same air, we see the same stars at night and feel the same kind of joy and pain.


video

     I made this so that when we get through it all we will feel proud at recalling how we survived this nightmare. At the same time for all the Filipinos to remember that in our time of need, our brothers and sisters from different countries helped us and was with us on our grieving.

*
Please note that I do not own any of the materials used in my youtube video.You may see the credits page for the original sources. Neither do I own the other two videos and picture used in this blog post.