WE are still discovering what plants grow well on sandy soil and on warm temperatures. The first two years seem not enough to decide and we keep on planting any seed that comes our way, noting how these grow and adapt to the soil and climatic conditions.
Rather than trying to amend the soil to make it suitable to grow some crops, we were told to just select plants and trees that grow well on sandy soil. It makes a lot of sense. Imagine having to change the soil just to achieve some degree of success on growing certain crops, oh, oh! That alone was among our greatest mistakes as newbies in gardening.
I can no longer remember how much time and effort we have spent on a laborious task to amend the soil. There was a lot of hard labor lining sandy plots with clay to incorporate water into the planting sites. Besides clay we also added ash, seaweeds,kitchen wastes, animal manure and dry and fresh leaves on the sand. By the way, these are natural organic materials that fertilize the sandy soil and help plants grow well.
Despite all these, our crops appeared wanting. We thought the clay would help retain water and the dry grass mulch would entrap moisture. Well, it might as well be, but the results were not as good as we had expected.
Our cassavas seem to have established and have yielded more than we expected. Peanuts thrive on sand, and we had leaves that were lush but some rodents might have harvested ahead as we did not see that many pods when we tried to pull the peanuts. Linga, sesame were also a beautiful sight but we did not know how to harvest the tiny seeds. We shall wait another season for the fallen seeds to grow.
Our camote or sweet potatoes are now green and stout with tops which we harvest daily for our meals. We had assigned a patch for gathering tops and left the rest to develop tubers. Before we knew it, though, the vines wilted with the scorching heat and before we were able to dig up the potatoes. The plots were dry and no sign told us there had been camote on the spot. It turned out that rodents had harvested our sweet potatoes.
It was the same with the ube or purple yams When the vines wilted, we immediately dug into the ground. Nothing was at the end of the vines. How I loved to just simply look at the heart-shaped leaves connected to the vine by a violet structure. Even the tendrils were purplish green and it made me wonder how purple the yams were.
The gabi has a different story. I saw how ducks fed on the exposed tubers until the trunk and leaves were all laid on the ground.
Ah, these ducks and chickens can be destructive also. They forage on anything. So, mulching can really be both beneficial as well as an aid for chickens to scratch and feed on. Mulch tends to house insects, larvae and worms that chickens love to chase for food. While we like to maintain moisture on the sand, mulching can be very laborious.
Farmers say that bananas can withstand sand as well as a long dry spell. Well, we still have to prove it. Astray cows and goats have eaten up our banana leaves long before these had established their roots. Our lone Golden Queen Mango, barely a meter high, also met its predators early on.
Patola grows well. It has been fruiting for more than six months now. More are coming.
Papayas that survived two summers and a long rainy season have started to bear fruits, though smaller than usual. I pruned these to induce flowering and it was quite a success.
Malunggay and mulberry planted during the rainy season are now doing well. Those planted in summer did not germinate. We can still do more research on why these delicate twigs did not survive.
Kasuy, sampalok, atis and other fruit trees that were transfered to the ground during the rainy season are surviving. These need some watering though to adapt to the heat.
Forest trees like acacia, neem and balitbitan are doing well. Trees guard and protect these from astray animals.
The question as to what to plant on sandy soil when there is no rain remains a challenge. We could have planted a lot of camotes and cassavas during the last month of rains so that these would have germinated before the rains stopped.
Next year we will try to do a calendar of what to plant and when in our inventory. Our agriculture calendar seems erratic and we shall get ready to leave the rest of the seeds we have until it is time for these to be sown.
We may not have learned our lessons in time but we keep learning as we go on. Gardening is not that easy afterall.