ALL lights that blink indicate warning signs against outplanting tree seedlings.
First, there has been no serious rainfall in this part of the universe in the last two weeks. Second, the midday sun is again too hot, it easily scorches. Third, no one is volunteering to fix the DIY water system that we used last summer.
In any case, some of our tree seedlings have been taken out for hardening before transplanting them. So I took toog out into the spot where we envision it to grow. Known to be the tallest of Philippine native trees, we foresee our toog trees to be a future landmark. Like, when tricycle drivers refer to your place as “where the twin towers are,” or “where the towering trees are,” it will be giving us or our children a sense of pride.
A Katmon seedling has also been waiting to be outplanted. A small tree with prominent fragrant flowers, we want to see our katmon right in front of the hut. It will complete the threesome in a line with toog and balimbing (karnate) or star fruit. The two sour fruits will flank toog in the middle and act as sentinels.
I will defy the warning signs by planting the seedlings near our hand pump deep well, gripo de bomba. A little paint pail is all I will carry to water each new plant. There!
This week I transplanted a toog and a katmon. Last week, some lubeg, black zapote, ilang-ilang, himbabao (baeg) and cherry seedlings saw their permanent sites. The ground was well drenched then so we did not worry too much that the sun always shone hard for about 10 days in a row. Then there was a five-minute drizzle at noon. Yesterday, I was feeling the hot sand under my feet while trying to mulch our “lasagna” plots with moist narra leaves. Good thing it rained a little more today but just enough to break a rather warm day. Again, we pray for more rain tonight, albeit, we started to water newly transplanted tree seedlings after the short rain.
Something brought me a ray of hope and I was happy recalling how I saw droplets of water on the tibig leaves early this morning. It was like there was a brief shower before I went out into the garden. Looking closely, it was only the tibig that had droplets on its leaves. All the trees that flank it were dry. So I looked more closely and saw that the tibig trunk was wet, like someone poured water on it. It was not dripping but it was wet from the top to its roots. When I decided to take a picture after about an hour, the sun had dried up the droplets.
I remember having seen a similar event when it was like raining under a tree. The droplets were so tremendous one really had to open an umbrella lest one drenched like under a gutter after a heavy rain. Under that tree was a natural pond on which carabaos bathed. It is really possible to “plant rain” with tibig and other water-beating tree species.
In our case, there had been no tibig, is-is nor hauili before. We started collecting these native fig species in May 2022, more than a year ago. It was during a plant exhibit on native trees that we realized we can seriously bring back a lush beach forest into life by first planting species that would restore the surface water.
So from then on, we made it a point to collect all available seedlings, nurture them in a mini-nursery and wait for a proper time to outplant them. We have seen the trees grow. We have also seen how some dried up scorched by the sun. At least, now we have three or four tibig; two or three is-is; a hauili; an apatot; and tangisang bayawak. Some came from friends, others bought online; most of the time, wildlings I pulled along familiar routes and brought home for nurturing in our mini nursery. We even have red balete, also a known water-beating tree species. With this morning’s experience with our own tibig, we are more confident to declare this early that we are on the right track.