Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Super Pechay?

This is from the garden of Mr. and Mrs.
Rodrigo España in General Santos City.
No, it is not a special variety of pechay. It is one of those ordinarily available in seed stores. It just happens that it was sprayed with the special fertilizer formulation of Mr. Alfonso G. Puyat, the Power Grower Combo.

The plant was sprayed with Power Grower Combo four days after it was transplanted. Fifteen days later, it was sprayed with the special fertilizer for the second and last time.

The plant became very robust and tender at harvest time less than one month from transplanting.

Power Grower Combo also works wonders for other crops, including fruit trees, rice and corn, sugarcane, tobacco and practically every crop.

Text your full name and address to 0917-841-5477 so you will know how to order Power Grower Combo even if you are in the province. If you wish, you may also visit Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, where you can pick up the same yourself. Another formulation called Heavy Weight Tandem that promotes fruiting is also available.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Healthy Snack Food From Bangkok

PHOTO shows packs of ready-to-eat snack foods available in supermarkets like Big C in Bangkok, Thailand.
These could as well be copied by their Philippine counterparts. The packs include boiled sweet corn scraped from its cob, sticky rice, boiled gabi and camote roots.

These snack packs are filling and very healthy, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

National Mango Congress Moved To Mar. 20-22

Evelyn A. Grace and Virgie de la Fuente.
The 15th National Mango Congress has been moved to March 20 to 22, 2013, in Iba, Zambales. It was originally scheduled for March 13-14.

The new schedule was announced by Virgie de la Fuente, president of the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation, Inc. The host organization of mango growers is headed by Evelyn A. Grace with the full support of the provincial government and the Department of Agriculture.

Virgie de la Fuente can be contacted for additional information at 0908-309-2083; 0916-358-7738 or 0922-257-1199.

Ikenobo Ikebana Exhibit on Feb. 25-26, 2013

The Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Manila is inviting the public to a viewing of their exhibit of their floral arts on Feb. 25 to 26, 2013 at the Atrium, EDSA Shangri-La Mall, Mandaluyong City. The exhibit is open free to the public from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Before the exhibits, there will be a public demonstration by visiting Prof. Takashi Moribe from Kyoto, Japan on Feb. 23 from 2-5 p.m. at the Podium, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The demo is jointly sponsored by the Embassy of Japan, the Podium and the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Manila #67.

Those who would like to become a member of Ikenobo Ikebana Society may contact Serapion S. Metilla at 0939-922-2804.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pandan For Floral Arrangement, Not For Cooking

This is a photo of a beautiful variegated pandan sent to us by Dr. Benito S. Vergara of Los Baños.

He says, this is not for cooking. It is an excellent material for use in floral arrangements.

It could be a money-maker for those who can grow the plant in big numbers and harvest the leaves for sale to flower shops or at the Dangwa Flower Market in Sampaloc, Manila.

A Plant Lover's Lament

These are different varieties of Pothos, 
including Golden Ray, Silver Ray, 
Old Gold, Silver and Old Silver.
A Filipino National Scientist who is very much involved in the horticulture industry has a very valid lament.

He is Dr. Benito S. Vergara, a retired scientist of the International Rice Research Institute who is now very much involved in the plant business.

He usually makes a trip to Thailand where he has a lot of former students who usually guide him during his visits there.

In Thailand, he says: "You want 10,000 uniform seedlings for export or for supplying a landscaper for a semi-shaded area? Easy, ask a Thai nursery person and give him 6 months to produce as many plants as you want of pothos, syngonium and scindapsus. These plants are now tissue-cultured in Thailand and available at very reasonable price."

Now, he asks: "When will the local nursery grower benefit from such technologies? Technicians are available but no adequate laboratory and supply of chemicals at reasonable price. I have often received answers from the government that we already have sufficient labs. Where are they? What are the rates?"

KUNDOL: A Neglected Crop In The Philippines

TOM BRILLO of East-West Seed Philippines holding a
7-kilo wax gourd at the Talad Thai Market north of Bangkok.
Note the big pile of wax gourd in the wholesale market.
Kundol or wax gourd is an old fruit vegetable in the Philippines but it remains a very minor and neglected crop. There is need to promote the growing of this vegetable both in backyards as well as in commercial scale.
Kundol growing and consumption should be promoted for a number of good reasons. Simple dishes could be prepared with very little expense, yet delicious and tasty. One old dish we remember in the Ilocos which is not common now is to cook thinly sliced kundol with  pieces of native chicken and sotanghon with just enough broth. For variation kundol could be prepared into a soupy dish. Of course there are some other ways of preparing.

The kundol is also used for making sweets. The good thing about kundol is that the fruits are big and a lot of sweets could be produced with just one fruit.

Kundol is easy to grow. They are high-yielding, too. We have seen some at the International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand recently. And the good thing is that improved varieties are being developed by seed companies like East-West Seed.

We met Ing-Orn Srikubua at the International Field Day where she attended to visitors in the wax gourd section of the demo farm. She said that they have developed a cylindrical variety for the Thai market whereas another type with round fruits was developed for the Indian market. Both are high-yielding and resistant to diseases.

The good thing about kundol is that the fruits can be stored for months under ordinary conditions. That is why it is also a favorite in Taiwan where they have winter. They call the kundol winter gourd because that’s what is most available during the winter months.

At the 30th anniversary celebration of East-West Seed in Bulacan last December, we saw a showcase of prolific kundol at the demo farm. To this day, we have been wondering why farmers are not producing more kundol. It could be a money-maker even for the small-scale growers. Big-volume producers could also encourage more processors to do value-adding to the neglected kundol fruit.

Ing-Orn Srikubua posing with
East-West's wax gourd variety
for the Thai market. Each fruit
is relatively small, cylindrical
and weighing 3-4 kilos each.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How To Produce Big Makopa Fruits

These are big fruits of green makopa
at the Talad Thai Market in Thailand.
Only one fruit is retained per cluster
so that the mature fruits are big.
The green wax apple or Makopa being sold at the Talad Thai Market in Thailand are really big compared to fruits that are produced by growers in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, the same variety comes in much smaller sizes. The main reason is that the growers don't thin their fruits. It is very common that clusters of as many as 7 fruits are produced on the tree. Because many growers don't remove the excess fruits, the mature fruits are necessarily small.

In Thailand, growers just leave one fruit to develop and mature per cluster. That's the main reason why the fruits sold in the markets are big. 

Another secret in producing fruits that are sweet and crisp is to include trace elements in the fertilizer applied when the fruits are developing. When the fruits are half mature, a high-potash formulation will make the fruits sweeter.

The fruits have to be bagged to protect them from fruitfly damage. The bag could be made of cloth or sheets of paper. At the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, we use cloth bags.

 By the way, we visited the Talad Thai Market on February 7, 2013 together with visitors from Iran, Sri Lanka and South American countries who attended the International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Sansai, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

This is a typical cluster of green
makopa in the Philippines. Because
the cluster is not thinned, the fruits
will be small. The recommendation is
to leave just one fruit per cluster.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Prolific Finger Peppers

Nongluck Milerue, a pepper breeder at the East-West
in Thailand, poses with a promising pepper hybrid.
The new hybrids of  hot finger peppers were showcased at the International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on February 4, 2013.

These included new varieties being intended for different markets such as the Philippines, India, China, Vietnam, Aftica, Sri Lanka and to the Latin American countries in South America.

The pepper plants are trained to grow upright.
They are pruned at the bottom so that there
is free flow of air above ground. The fruits
are visible and are easier to harvest.
What a prolific finger pepper!
The one intended for the Philippines is tentatively named Batur which may take the place of Django, the front-running "Pangsigang" variety in the Philippines. Batur is said to be more prolific than Django, the fruits are a bit bigger, and the plant is more resistant to bacterial wilt disease.

This is Batur, a new finger pepper
variety for the Philippines.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Grafted Papaya In Taiwan

Yu Cai, a technical staff of a seed company in Thailand, informed us that in Taiwan they are grafting papayas. This is something new to us because we only knew that in the past many years they were only grafting vegetables and other high-value crops like tomato, eggplant, melons and other cucurbits.

They graft unto any papaya rootstock scions from a hermaphrodite plant which they simply call "herma." The objective is to produce herma fruits which are oblong. They don't want the round fruits of the truly female papaya. Why?

Because they claim that the herma fruits taste better and are preferred by consumers. Moreover, herma fruits are easier to arrange in a crate for shipment.

In producing scions for grafting, they take young seedlings that are confirmed hermaphrodite. When they are about two feet tall, they nip the growing point of the plant so it will produce several new shoots which they graft unto the  rootstock.

By the way, we met Yu cai at the International Field Day at the Simon Groot Research Center in Sansai, Chiang Mai, Thailand on Feb. 4, 2013. Stakeholders in the global papaya industry from 25 countries attended the field day. Of course, the field day also showcased many other commercial high-value vegetables and other crops.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

New Salad Tomato From East-West Seed

Karina van Leeuwen is Crop Breeding
manager of the East-West Seed Group.
It was shown to the public for the first time during the International Field Day held on Feb. 4, 2013 at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Sansai, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The latest salad tomato variety to be released by East-West Seed International for commercial planting is the Millennium variety developed by the team headed by Karina van Leeuwen, the crop breeding manager for the East-West Group.

Dr. Mary Ann P. Sayoc, East-West
Seed general manager in the Philippines,
holds a fruit of Millennium salad tomato.
One fruit could fetch P70 in the Philippines.
The Millennium is the first output of the company under its new beef or salad tomato program, according to Karina. The variety is intended for growing under greenhouse. It is indeterminate and can grow up to three meters high. Each plant can produce 10 to 12 clusters of fruits, each cluster weighing about one kilo.

The salad tomato is very expensive. In the Philippines, according to Dr. Mary Ann P. Sayoc, general manager of East-West Seed Philippines, one fruit can cost as much as P70 in an upscale supermarket.

Karina has been breeding tomatoes for East-West Seed for several years now. For a number of years, she was posted in the Philippines and developed the very high-yielding D-Max variety that is good for year-round production. This variety has made many farmers in the Philippines very rich.

SM Foundation Supports Other Livelihood Trainings

Out-of-school youth are undergoing training
in Landscape Installation and Maintenance
SM Foundation is well known for its vegetable training program called "Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan" Farmers Training Program.

Little known is the fact that SM Foundation is also conducting several skills development courses.

At the Foundation's Skills Training Center in Nasugbu, Batangas, several training courses have been conducted for women, men and the youth.

These include Specialized Hospitality Skills training program, tailoring and dressmaking, candle making, and the "Isang Gunting, Isang Kulot" program. These training courses are conducted inpartnership with Fil-Hair Foundation, Taal Vista Hotel, CDHI, and Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club, and Hotel Specialist Inc.

Most of the graduates are already employed in the partner agencies while others opted to find employment in Metro Manila. Still others have put up their own businesses like those who finished the courses in candle making.

Landscaping Installation and Maintenance, the latest of these livelihood projects, has graduated 26 out-of-school youth. The 30-day course was conducted at the SM Foundation Skills Training Center in Nasugbu by Dr. Armando Palijon of UP Los Baños and Lorenz Palec, landscape supervisor at the Costa del Hamilo, Inc. Estate Management Office. Better work opportunities await these graduates after hurdling the examination and skills assessment given by TESDA.

Other livelihood projects include free-range chicken raising, hog and carabao dispersal, tree planting and mangrove reforestaion, and backyard farming.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Papaya With Mango Flavor A Hit At Field Day

Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc and your blogger,
Zac B. Sarian, tasting the "Papamango"
 during theInternational Field Day in
 Chiang Mai, February 4, 2013.
The new hybrid papaya which has a mango flavor was a hit at the International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Sansai, Chang Mai, Thailand last February 4, 2013.
Ric Reyes and a plate of Papamango
for tasting by visitors.
This is a very promising variety that will be field tested later this year in the Philippines. It has a yellow flesh, sweet and juicy.

A lot of people who tasted the sample fruits were impressed by its peculiar taste that reminds one of mango flavor.

This "Papamango" is the result of several years of breeding work by Lamai Yapanan and her colleagues at the East-West Seed International in Thailand. Lamai is a lady plant breeder who has also developed notable hybrids of ampalaya or bitter gourd.

The new papaya does not have an official name yet, but for easy recall, those who have tasted it just call it Papamango.

A plate of cubed "Papamango" ready for serving.
Lamai Yapanan (right) with Zac B. Sarian. She
and her colleagues bred the "Papamango." She
also bred the leading bitter gourd variety
called Kiew Yok 16 which has big fruits shown

here in photo. It is the favorite of Thai and Vietnamese

Friday, February 1, 2013

Organic Egg Production At Costales Nature Farms

Ronald Costales and his layers.
The Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna is also exclusively producing organic eggs for a client that also buys his culinary herbs, leafy greens and sweet corn. 

The chickens are very tame, and they lay big eggs that fetch as much as P15 apiece. 

The chickens are fed with their own feed formulation consisting of corn grits, fine rice bran, copra meal, soybean meal, livestock lime and fermented hog feed. To prevent disease, EM or effective micro-organisms is added to their drinking water. They are also given an immune booster consisting of a concoction of garlic, ginger and molasses. Ronald says this is anti-bacterial.

Flat-Leaf Parsley Is P500 Per Kilo

Eddie Gamalando with a
 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
that sells at P500 a kilo
THE FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY is one of the money-makers at the Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna. It is being sold at P500 per kilo to specialty restaurants and other customers, especially in Metro Manila.

It is useful as a flavoring for soups, salads, stews and more. Photo shows Eddie Gamalando of Costales Nature Farms showing a bunch of flat-leaf parsley grown in a greenhouse.

With a greenhouse, production is year-round. Ronald Costales, the farm owner, says that the flat-leaf parsley is good for the health of the kidney. 

There is another variety, the curly parsley which is less flavorful than the flat-leaf. It is, however, more decorative and it has its own use in culinary preparations.

Vermi Tea Brewer At AANI Urban Farm

ONE WAY to apply vermicast in an economical way is to convert it into a tea. This can be done with the use of a vermi tea brewer shown here in photo.

Vermicast, the feces of the African nightcrawler earthworm, is placd in the brewer together with molasses. By means of an aerator, the beneficial organisms in the vermicast multiply. The liquid is then used as organic foliar fertilizer, sprayed on the leaves or drenched in the planting soil.

This brewer is available at the AANI Urban Farm in Antipolo City. Contact Pol Rubia for more details at 0917-847-5071.

Agri-Fisheries Confab Set Feb. 6-8, 2013

A National Conference on Agriculture and Fisheries Information Knowledge Management (IKM) will be held on Feb. 6-8 at Hotel Kimberly in Tagaytay City.

The event is organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in cooperation with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture.

The event will convene the agricultural and fisheries IKM community to draft terms of reference of information and knowledge management staff, propose information and knowledge management staffing policies, and validate and finalize a capacity development program on IKM.

Expected to attend are regional managers and information officers/technical staff from the DA-BAR, Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs), Regional Fisheries Research and Development Centers (RFRDCs), and the DA bureaus and attached agencies.

They will take off from the outputs of a series of training activities and consultative workshops held last year in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to arrive at a conceptual definition of and an approach to IKM that could apply to the agriculture and fisheries sector.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ZAC B. SARIAN: Notice to Readers,Pageviewers, Friends

Zac B. Sarian might not be able to answer your inquiries and other messages from February 3 to 8, 2013. I will be attending an International Field Day in Chang Mai, Thailand, where they will showcase more than 200 varieties of vegetables, 25 of which will be shown to the world for the first time. I will also visit farms in other parts of Thailand to meet successful farmers. We will also visit our favorite market, Talad Thai Market north of Bangkok.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sweet Corn In A Greenhouse

Ronald Costales posing with sweet corn
and French beans he grows inside a greenhouse.
RONALD COSTALES of Costales Nature Farms will do everything just to meet the demand of a special customer.

A big customer that distributes organically grown food products wanted to be assured of a supply of sweet corn all year round. So what did Ronald do?

He is now growing sweet corn inside a greenhouse together with other high-value crops like French beans, arugula, flat-leaf parsley and others.

Some might think that it is just too expensive to produce sweet corn in a greenhouse. That's true but Ronald says it is still profitable. After all, his buyer which has several branches in Metro Manila and some provinces, pays him P120 per kilo. That's about P40 per ear!

Costales Nature Farms is now a tourist destination. It is in Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna. Some may consider the farm remote but about 2,000 agri-tourists visit it every month. Entrance fee is P200 per person who is given a meal of organically grown salad.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Veggie Field Day In Tayug, Feb. 21, 2013

Allied Botanical Corporation will hold a field day in its research station in Tayug, Pangasinan on February 21, 2013. They will be showcasing their commercial as well as experimental varieties grown side by side with their competitors' varieties in the market.

They want to show how Allied's varieties compare with other companies' varieties in terms of prolificacy, yield, pest and disease resistance. The attendees will also be able to see how Allied's upcoming varieties perform in the experimental field.

Weng Bienes, executive assistant, says that attendance is by invitation only.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Paraoakan Becoming A Favorite Native Chicken

Paraoakan breeders at the Abalos farm.
Paraoakan is becoming the choice of native chicken raisers. And it is for a number of good reasons.
Paraoakan, of course, is the native chicken from Palawan. Of the several strains of native chickens, Paraoakan is the biggest of them all. It has long legs, bigger body than the rest, long neck and bigger head.
Latest to be convinced about the Paraoakan is Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao. He has launched a provincewide dispersal program of Paraoakan chicken to provide his constituents with a new source of income.
He said that earlier, the provincial government has promoted the growing of two commercial plantation crops, namely oil palm and rubber. These are profitable crops but they take a few years before the farmers can have their first harvest.

That is why in the meantime, while the farmers are waiting for their oil palm and rubber trees to yield their first harvest, the farmers are being encouraged to raise native chickens and vegetables.

Very recently, Gov. Mangudadatu bought his initial stocks from Ernie Abalos for dispersal to his constituents. For a start, he said, one male and two females are given to each beneficiary. From there, the farmers could start multiplying their chickens.

Abalos had the foresight to multiply Paraoakan because he saw the potentials of this native strain. He bought a few breeders several years ago and multiplied them in his farm in San Mateo, Rizal. At the latest Agrilink trade show last October, he displayed adult Paraoakan as well as organic Paraoakan eggs. The adult chickens sold like the proverbial hotcake at P700 each and the eggs at P10 apiece. That further motivated Abalos to produce day-old chicks by the hundreds and then thousands because there are so many interested customers, including Gov. Mangudadatu. At P75 apiece, the day-old chicks are also bestsellers.

Gov. Mangudadatu has bought all the female pullets from Abalos and also intends to buy cocks from other sources also for dispersal. This will ensure that there will be no inbreeding which could cause deterioration among the succeeding generations.

Gov. Mangudadatu plans to saturate his province with Paraoakan so that the province could also become the source of breeding stocks for other provinces in Mindanao and perhaps Visayas and Luzon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

14 SM Veggie Trainings Slated

The batch that trained 
in 2012 in Pangasinan.
One very successful program that is helping farmers become more entrepreneurial is the Kabalikat Sa Kabuhayan training program for farmers to grow vegetables and other high-value crops (watermelon, honeydew, sweet corn) that was started about five years ago in Bacolod and is being expanded aggressively.
The original proponent is the SM Foundation in collaboration with Harbest Agribusiness headed by Toto Barcelona. It used to be that there were less than 10 batches of trainees in one year. This year, the objective is to undertake no less than 14 batches in different parts of the country.

The first batch for 2013, the 47th batch with 123 participants, was launched last January 18 at the Lex Mundi Monastery Farm run by the Monks of St. John the Baptist in Hacienda Binitin, Murcia, Negros Occidental.

On Friday, January 25, the 48th batch of trainees will be launched in Monkayo, Compostela Valley, to help rehabilitate the livelihood of the victims of Typhoon Pablo and the beneficiaries of the “Pantawid” program of the government. This batch is being implemented in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development headed by Sec. Dinky Soliman.

The participants will be taught not only how to grow vegetables but also proper character formation and business enterprise empowerment. The graduates will be linked with wholesale buyers of supermarkets like Savemore, SM Hypermart and Supermarkets so they will be assured of a market for their produce.

The beauty of this KSK program is that it is now being noticed by various agencies, public and private. They want to join a winner. Just like what the DSWD has done. This is good because more people would be trained to be productive and entrepreneurial.

It is possible for local government units to join the program by sponsoring some of the participants. Mayors and governors could participate in the program so that more jobs and livelihood in the countryside would be created.

Local NGOs with their own funding could also collaborate with the KSK organizers so more farmers could participate in the program. The more the merrier, as they say.

The third batch for 2013 will be conducted in Batangas City; the 4th will be at the Bulacan Agricultural State College, followed by batches in Cebu City, Laoag City, Tarlac, Magallanes (Cavite), Cabanatuan City, La Trinidad (Benguet), Minalin (Pampanga), Legazpi City and Tanay, Rizal.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Garden Shows Boost Horticulture Industry

Vangie Go and her landscape booth at a recent
garden show. Note her prize-winning orchids.
Garden shows create more livelihood opportunities than most people would imagine. They serve as an engine that propels the growth of the ornamental plant business. And that is why garden shows have become a regular presentation by various horticultural groups year-round.
First to be staged this year is Horticulture 2013 which starts January 31 thru February 6. This is at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City under the auspices of the Philippine Horticultural Society. Less than two months later, the Philippine Orchid Society will also hold its own flower and garden show at the same venue.
Not many people may realize it but garden shows play an important role in promoting the horticulture industry. These create new opportunities for small as well as big scale entrepreneurs. They could be simple hobbyists who are growing plants as a mere sideline, or they could be entrepreneurs who grow plants as an honest-to-goodness source of livelihood.

While most major garden shows are held in Metro Manila, there are important garden shows in other parts of the country. This February, for instance, a garden show will be held to coincide with the Panagbenga Flower Festival in Baguio. This will be followed by the first garden show for the year of the Los Baños Horticultural Society sometime in April. Another major garden show will be held in August in Davao City as a highlight of the Kadayawan celebration. In September, the Philippine Orchid Society will hold its second garden show for the year in time for the blooming of the Waling-Waling. Then Los Baños will stage its second garden show for the year in October in time for the Loyalty Day celebration.

There are two parts in a garden show. One is the Landscape Exhibits where aspiring landscapers try their very best to come up with the best landscape showcase. There is usually a stiff competition because the participants want to win the coveted First Prize or even the lesser prizes. If they win the first prize, they don’t only become richer by a few thousand pesos, their career as a landscaper could also be launched.  People will ask them to do the landscaping for them and they could command a respectable price for their services.

The landscape booth is also where they showcase the best looking ornamental plants. That’s not just to satisfy the ego of the owner. It could be for hefty financial reward. The winning plant could be sold for a very high price. If the specimen plant is not for sale, the owner could make money from his propagations of smaller sizes at more affordable prices. It is very possible for him to sell a lot of those propagations because many people would also like to have their own clone of the winning ornamental plant.

Among those who would likely buy propagations of the prize-winning plant are propagators not only from Metro Manila but also from the provinces. Provincial propagators will also make money if they can be the first to multiply the same in their town or province.

In the commercial section of the garden show, you will find a lot of people selling a wide variety of ornamentals, orchids and gardening supplies. You will find very ordinary plants as well as very rare ones. Enterprising sellers display very beautiful specimen plants alongside their smaller propagations. People will readily notice the attractive specimen plant and the likelihood is that they will buy the more affordable smaller propagations.

It is possible to find in the commercial sections the plants that one has been looking for in the past many years. It is also where one can find new varieties that could be added to one’s collection, either for personal pleasure or for commercial purposes. You can also meet new friends who could be of help to you, or you could be of help to them.

The beginnings of the Los Baños garden show come to mind. That was when we worked for the UP College of Agriculture in the early 1960s. No less than Dr. Robert Chandler Jr., the director general of the International Rice Research Institute, actively participated in the garden show. He displayed his imported ornamentals like the Lady Palmer bougainvillea  and anthuriums from Hawaii for his own pleasure and not for monetary considerations.

At that time there were no commercial growers of ornamental plants except the housewives on Bangkal Street who grew a few foliage plants like the Philodendron Selloum and some other aroids.  In the beginning, there was no commercial section to speak of in the garden show. Very few brought plants for sale even if the stalls were for free. However, it did not take long for the UP professors and other employees to realize that there was good money that could be mined from ornamental plants.

In the succeeding years, there were more applicants for commercial stalls than could be accommodated even if the stalls were for rent at a few thousand pesos. The stalls had to be raffled off.

It could now be said that the flourishing ornamental plant business not only in the towns of Laguna but also in many other provinces could have benefited from the unending garden shows staged by organizers around the country.

Norma Villanueva is the chairperson of Horti 2013
to be held Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 at the Quezon Memorial
Circle in Quezon City. This is the annual garden

show of the Philippine Horticultural Society headed
by May Caballero-Dumlao.
Bong Rivera and Norma Villanueva posing
at the exhibit booth of the latter during the
Quezon City Country Fair in October 2012.

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