06 Mar2013

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There are five kinds of herbal/vegetable flowers in this photo, can you guess what they are? Dill, coriander, wild arugula, tarragon and alugbati. Seriously. It rarely gets better than this… just a part of the loot from a quick visit to Gejo Jimenez’s Malipayon Farms in Silang, Cavite. I was on my way to the beach in Nasugbu for a photo shoot for a snazzy magazine (I provided a few dishes, they used them as decor for a story about a beachside picnic or meal), and I asked Gejo if I could drop by his farm to pick up whatever he thought was freshest and most interesting… and these were some of the goodies I took away from the farm that morning.

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A small detour from the main route between Manila and Nasugbu, the farm was in FINE condition, with plots filled with wonderful produce. The best time for farms in Silang is between January and April, I gather, with the cool weather helping many of the crops reach peak condition before the very hot and dry summer season sets in… It was so refreshing to just wander about the farm (I was there a few minutes ahead of schedule and waited for Gejo to arrive) in the cool conditions and I just kept snapping shots of this and that…

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Some of the vibrant leaves of lettuce to the left, and young carrot greens to the right.

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A patch of vibrant flat-leaf Italian parsley.

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Sweet basil plants.

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Kale, I think.

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A bush I first thought were blueberries, but Gejo said they were some African green past their prime. Gejo, please leave a comment with the name of this plant, I have forgotten yet again. Thanks. :)

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A close-up of the berries or fruit.

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The lushest patch of coriander I have seen…they are notoriously hard to grow during the rainy season.

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Some freshly harvested stalks of lemongrass or tanglad.

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A small healthy clump of thyme, also notoriously hard to keep going in hot, then rainy weather.

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Some spinach – Gejo sells baby and full grown spinach leaves. They are SPECTACULAR in salads.

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Some swiss chard.

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Dandelion greens.

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A hedge of ginger or galanggal.

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The stunningly beautiful blooms of a dill plant.

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Equally stunning but a bit powdery white flowers of overgrown wansoy or coriander.

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A close-up of the coriander blooms, and the green immature coriander seeds. Cool, huh? :)

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Blooming tarragon, who would have thought they would have such pretty blooms?

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Mature arugula plants gone to flower and seed…

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…and last, but not least, the unusual blooms of alugbati, which taste like a really mild version of adult alugbati leaves. Many, many thanks to Gejo Jimenez for allowing me to visit and pick up a LOT of spectacular produce. Not all of it would be used the next day (in fact, the photo shoot was postponed by a day due to inclement weather) but I was happy to have such a wonderful selection to choose from.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. millet says:

    my dream garden! great work, Gejo! am so envious of the coriander and the thyme because i’ve never been able to grow them properly. and i never knew you could eat the alugbati flowers..will have to try them soon.

    Mar 6, 2013 | 7:11 am

     
  2. allen says:

    wow..great garden! very nice photo as well MM. I wish that they have a restaurant on the side of their farm that serves those fresh produce

    Mar 6, 2013 | 7:24 am

     
  3. natie says:

    Oh, MM!! So lovely!! Something to shoot for when I permanently retire in Iloilo..I’ll have a small “crew” like you..hehe. Though I do love to putter with soil with bare hands and weed.

    Mar 6, 2013 | 8:16 am

     
  4. cumin says:

    I could look at these pictures all day. And stay in Gejo’s farm as a happy slave (aliping sagigilid). How do you manage to grow coriander, Gej? I’ve been trying for more than a year but simply failed.

    Mar 6, 2013 | 8:44 am

     
  5. pinkytab says:

    The plant that you labeled as kale is actually collard greens. I cook those in chicken broth with left over ham bones in a crockpot for hours. Delicious!

    Mar 6, 2013 | 9:55 am

     
  6. pinkytab says:

    Allen, what a great idea!

    Mar 6, 2013 | 9:58 am

     
  7. Gej says:

    Thanks MM for passing by, and featuring the produce and the farm. The pictures are great !

    The plant with berry-like fruits came from Cameroon. They call them Cameroon greens there – how generic can one get?! I suspect they are a variety of collard. I found an article in Food and Wine with something similar (though with much bigger leaves) which were referred to as collards as well.

    Thanks cumin. Aliping sagigilid – ha ha! The cilantro grows really well from Dec – April in the farm. I think it’s the combination of cool and dry weather and the resulting “breathing room” in the soil for the plants. When summer comes the plants get smaller. Then growing them becomes next to impossible when it the rainy season starts. I then rely on sawtooth coriander (also called kulantro, Indian, or Mexican coriander) as a substitute.

    Thanks millet, natie. I think what goes for cilantro, goes for thyme too. Go. The best herbs and vegetables to cook and eat are the ones grown in your own garden.

    allen … !

    Mar 6, 2013 | 11:05 am

     
  8. amy says:

    MM, I swear that the bush with tiny black berries are Solanum Nigrum or Black Nightshade, I have them in my garden. Mexicans here cook and eat the leaves like spinach, and I have yet to try them in tinola just like we do with pepper leaves. The berries can be made into pies and jellies, but I did not have enough for either one to try making them, so I let the birds eat them. My arugula is flowering too, but the flowers are white with brownish-maroon veins on petals. Is the yellow-flowered arugula better-tasting than the white-fowered one? I love cooking, and all the herbs I need are just right there outside my kitchen, it’s so great to get them fresh every time I need them :)

    Mar 6, 2013 | 12:02 pm

     
  9. ConnieC says:

    MM: Missing in your collection of vegetable blooms in Gej’s garden are chive blooms.

    I believe it was late summer last year when I discovered these tiny beautiful and delicate white blooms in my garden, undisturbed by deer or ground hog. I’ve never seen them before in large clumps and while the stalks are pungent and onion smelling, the blooms had a nice delicate scent ( to attract pollination?). I cut a bunch and placed them in a narrow tall vase on my dining room server table. Lovely! and who would have guessed?

    https://www.google.com/search?q=chive+blossoms+white+picture&hl=en&sa=X&nfpr=1&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=oss2UbjRBef90gGMioHIBA&ved=0CC0QsAQ&biw=1189&bih=726

    Mar 6, 2013 | 12:56 pm

     
  10. mina says:

    Gejo, is there a place where your produce is available for purchase? Please let us know!

    Thanks in advance :)

    Mar 6, 2013 | 1:30 pm

     
  11. Maki says:

    wow, look at the lush garden, I think its expensive to buy/pick from these kinds of farms.. but i certainly like to see bacopa in one of the isles.. :D

    Mar 6, 2013 | 1:47 pm

     
  12. blaise says:

    This is just beautiful. I love farms, especially a well manicured farm.

    Mar 6, 2013 | 4:15 pm

     
  13. denise says:

    wow…didn’t know alugbati blooms could be eaten?! then again, we usually let it grow out into the purple berries…which we let ripen and then crush in water and then throw at each other…hehehe

    Mar 6, 2013 | 8:05 pm

     
  14. Gej says:

    Hi mina. Ani Mo Store beside Rockwell carries our produce (though at this time my labels are still Kitchen Herbs Farm), as well as the produce of other organic/biodynamic growers. You might want to know more about their ordering scheme. Their contact number is 09474485119.

    If you have any more questions you can e-mail me at malipayonfarms@gmail.com. Thanks.

    Mar 6, 2013 | 10:37 pm

     
  15. vancalapano says:

    Lovely garden, I love plants because I grew up in the province, we used to have plenty of plants. How I wish I will have all the time in the world to devote to planting such beautiful and useful plants.

    Mar 6, 2013 | 11:54 pm

     
  16. EbbaBlue says:

    I did not about the alugbati flowers are edible, kala ko pang-decoration lang. I did not know also that coriander seeds are edible, last year, napabayaan ko ang cilantro plants ko, so ayun nag bolt out sa heat dito sa Texas and before you know it, nag-flower na siya then seeds, naku inilagay ko lang sa compost yung buong plant. This time, I know better. Thanks ha, sa pag-share mo nito.

    Gej, can anybody visit your farm. I might just do that when I come to Pina this November.

    Mar 7, 2013 | 12:04 am

     
  17. Roddy says:

    Great greens, good job, Gejo….still need to plan that picnic/cookout one day

    Mar 7, 2013 | 12:10 am

     
  18. DhayL says:

    What a beautiful farm Gejo! This would be my vision someday when I retire someplace warm! :)

    MM: alugbati is the one the you add when you make monggo right? They’re bitter if I can remember?

    Mar 7, 2013 | 2:12 am

     
  19. linda says:

    We have alugbati in our garden that’s so invasive that it’s taking over the next door neighbours fence and also halfway our pergola (it can take over the whole pergola if we don’t trim it). It grows all year round and the blooms smell beautiful ,but when it dries out they fall off and cover the ground like little black stars…..they’re a nuisance in the paved area as I have to sweep everyday. The plant itself is very tasty and my dh uses the baby leaves in his salads. This will be good for Pinas as it’s so prolific and could feed a whole town:)

    MM,I could send you a photo if you’re interested.

    Mar 7, 2013 | 6:06 am

     
  20. Cathy says:

    @ Gejo: You sure that berry isn’t nightshade? I would not try eating that fruit myself.
    On another note, pinalalakas mo ang loob ko! I want my future garden in the Philippines to look like this.

    Mar 7, 2013 | 8:26 am

     
  21. Gej says:

    Hi Cathy. I’m not sure now whether the Cameroon greens (how they are called in the place they were taken from) are one and the same as what amy (thanks!) calls as Black Nightshade, I have not tried eating nor cooking the fruits myself. I just use the fruits to prepare the next crop’s seeds. From what I understand, the leaves are at their best harvested while the plant is still not fruiting. Leaves usually turn bitter once they flower and fruit. It’s quite a pleasant hobby to have, gardening, and might even lead to other pursuits or even ventures!

    Mar 7, 2013 | 10:28 am

     
  22. cherryoyvr says:

    Wow! It’s great that one can grow this bounty all year round over there. I hope the locals know how lucky they are.

    Mar 7, 2013 | 12:31 pm

     
  23. Corrine says:

    Beautiful photos of a beautiful farm! I started a small culinary herb and veg garden last nov and it’s nice to see them grow and use for cooking. Gejo, any plan to go into aquaphonics? :)

    Mar 7, 2013 | 10:21 pm

     
  24. betty q, says:

    Gejo…someone in the community garden planted something which looks close to the berry picture above. It was wonder berry( sun berry) . The berries are edible . Further googling …nightshade is not…berries are poisonous.

    Mar 7, 2013 | 11:09 pm

     
  25. Jean says:

    I think the past-their-prime greens are Malabar spinach (alugbati).

    Mar 8, 2013 | 1:22 am

     
  26. Gej says:

    betty Q ! I really know very little about the plant. Yes, I remember a bit that there is a poisonous plant called night shade, but I don’t know if it’s the same plant you and amy are referring to. I have not taken the chance to try the fruits.

    do you still use the same e-mail address?

    Mar 8, 2013 | 2:32 pm

     
  27. Marketman says:

    Gej, I have to admit I ate a berry while waiting for you, thinking they were blueberries, and I didn’t die/get queasy so these cant be the poisonous ones. Would have served me right if I had keeled over as a result… :)

    Mar 8, 2013 | 3:37 pm

     
  28. betty q. says:

    Corrine…I think you meant aquaponics?

    yeah, Gejo…same banana! maybe you should consider trying the aquaponics system if you haven’t yet….meron ka ng gulay that looks like they were on steroids plus the added bonus of tilapia!…kompleto na your meal!

    Further googling about your plant yielded what Jean mentioned above…there was even a picture that looked exactly like MM’s picture…red stems ! You know what they say about how do you know if a plant is poisonous….slugs will stay away from them. If you see a plant devoured by slugs, then it is safe to eat? Have you ever seen rhubarb leaves feasted on by slugs?…not in my neck of the woods!

    Mar 8, 2013 | 3:37 pm

     
  29. linda says:

    In Australia the Malabar Spinach is a survival vegetable, it’s not poverty food, when we have our regular 3 to 5 year droughts, this veritable wonder food provides the necessary fresh veggies for humans and animals and doesn’t require watering. It does contain all the necessary micro nutrients that today’s store bought diet is lacking, especially if its from your backyard.
    Stir fried with wild onion,(similar to garlic chives) salt and pepper to taste, is heaven on a plate. In my house, everybody comes back for seconds.
    Most Australians eat the baby leaves fresh in salads and I have also cooked it with my omelette in place of spinach.
    It has the same nutritional value as the wonder vegetable Kale, however it’s easier to eat, nowhere near as chewy. Malabar Spinach grows wild in many Australian backyards.
    This vegetable is definitely not past its prime. It’s the perfect vegetable for stews and the well known munggo creation that most Filipinos eat regularly here in Australia.
    Our department of Agriculture recognizes it as a value added food to the Australian diet. The plant in my backyard in Adelaide, is out of control and is harvested year round.
    When it flowers, the perfume is unbelievable, and this happens twice a year. Our native bees love it, they don’t sting. We share it with friends and neighbors and to buy it is $4.00/ small bunch.

    Mar 8, 2013 | 4:27 pm

     
  30. Cathy says:

    @ Marketman and Gejo, what a relief! How will I get my Marketman fix if you keel over?

    I am a part of a community gardening initiative here in Germany, so I am learning a lot. I also plant vegetables on my balcony. Here in Germany, the challenge is to get tropical plants to bloom. Pechay and Sayote do surprisingly well here. Malunggay just dies here,

    A lot of German gardeners in the Philippines get frustrated with radiccio, many heirloom tomato varieties and floury potatoes, essential for making potato dumplings. What I think they get wrong is that many of them buy lots near the beach, not very high up the sea level.

    Mar 8, 2013 | 5:20 pm

     
  31. Gej says:

    Ha ha MM. I’m afraid I’m not as daring as you in trying out new stuff, even in the farm! How did it taste?

    bettyQ – i certainly want to try aquaponics, even livestock sana. That would be a more efficient and interesting farm since the waste of one is the food of the other. I visited a farm in Palawan – wonderful farm called Aloha that started farming to feed the children in the orphanage that it managed , but which grew as more and more people got interested in what they grew – that also had aquaponics. Ang galing! The waste of the fish – basically ammonia, was great food for the plants, and the water (stripped of its ammonia by the plants- was recycled back to the fish. The system could support so much fish in so little space!

    Cathy, I find the effort to plant vegetables etc from one’s homeland, in another country, very moving. It’s like having a patch of home with you. I can imagine how a meal with those vegetables would be like.

    linda, what most satisfies me most about the farm is that my kids have learned to love eating vegetables and other greens. One of my daughters’ favorites is the alugbati , or Malabar spinach, that you mentioned.

    Mar 9, 2013 | 7:55 am

     
  32. EbbaBlue says:

    Malabar spinach pala yung alugbati. My assistant/caretaker in Quezon province wants me to send her seeds since, she grew up with it in Iloilo, pero dito sa kinaroroonan na bayan na namin ay wala raw nuon. The seeds are available for me to purchase, so ayun, ilalagay ko sa susunod kong balikbayan box. Maybe she can share it to the neighbors, it will be good for this railroad community who does not have enough space to plant. Ayos na sa gilid ng side fencing ng PNR.

    Mar 9, 2013 | 1:06 pm

     
  33. Debbie says:

    Gej, I notice when I buy cilantro these days (here in Toronto), it doesn’t have that distinct “cilantro smell”. I love cilantro and would add this to my salad greens or soup but I has only a faint cilantro smell to it.

    Mar 10, 2013 | 7:52 am

     
  34. Gej says:

    Hi Debbie. I wouldn’t know for sure if what you saw is the same variety, or if there are other factors that contributed to the lack of flavor and smell. In general though (I’ve read about this, and have discovered from experience too), herbs grown with natural fertilizers (compost, beneficial microbes, well-aged manure, etc) have a more intense taste and aroma than herbs grown with synthetically manufactured chemical fertilizers.

    Also. when herbs, and all edible plants for that matter, are grown out of season, their flavor, aroma and appearance are not as great.

    Mar 11, 2013 | 1:05 pm

     
  35. meh says:

    the mystery plant from Cameroon is definitely a Solanum of some sort. Some species are deadly poisonous — think nightshade — while others are edible. There’s one species that they use in Taiwan, they pick the fresh leaves and add it to congee. But it looks very similar to the deadly nightshade. Of course, the tomato, eggplant, and potato are all species of Solanum too! So, lesson: don’t just eat any unknown Solanum that you see! You were lucky, MM!

    Mar 11, 2013 | 1:06 pm

     
  36. Slightly Epicurean says:

    I have dreams of having my very own herb garden and maybe some additions of other green veggies too because most them are either out of stock or hard to find in the supermarket when I need them. Thanks for the inspiration Market Man and Sir Gejo! =)

    Mar 11, 2013 | 9:51 pm

     
  37. Lissa says:

    @Gejo: Wonderful farm!

    Mar 11, 2013 | 10:52 pm

     
  38. Debbie says:

    Thanks for the information, Gej! More power to you and your farm!

    Mar 13, 2013 | 11:12 am

     
  39. Batibut says:

    Do you sell produce anywhere? In Makati, maybe? *crosses fingers

    May 2, 2013 | 6:18 pm

     
  40. Rosenda says:

    do you do aquaponics…please mail me, we need some expert to train here in aklan.

    Dec 5, 2013 | 4:43 pm

     
  41. philip delfin says:

    i want to produce that kind of varieties here in aklan but i dont have seedling yet, who could help to find a seedling for my gardening start-ups?

    Mar 2, 2014 | 9:07 am

     
  42. May says:

    Hello,

    Great job, MM!

    Where can we buy dandelion leaves?

    Thanks in advance.

    Mar 10, 2014 | 11:04 pm

     
  43. Cornelle Rose says:

    hi can I buy dandelion. Really need them. Can you ship here in Cebu? Pls? Cant find them here

    Jun 30, 2014 | 12:38 pm

     

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