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Saturday, February 28, 2009


Mulching is one of the simplest and most beneficial practice that can be used in the farm. Mulch is simply a protective layer of material that is spread on top of the soil.

Benefits That Can Be Derived From Mulch

  1. Protects the soil from erosion.
  2. Reduces compaction from the impact of raindrops.
  3. Conserves moisture, thus, reducing the need for frequent watering.
  4. Maintains a more even soil temperature.
  5. Prevents weed growth.

Mulches can either be used in the farm, backyard or in the garden. It can either be organic such as grass clippings, straws, crop residues, bark chips and similar materials or inorganic such as bark chips, stones and plastic (usually used in backyard or garden).

Organic mulches improve the condition of the soil. As these mulches slowly decompose, they provide organic matter which loosen the soil. This improves root growth, increases infiltration of water and improves water holding capacity of the soil. Organic matter is a source of plant nutrients which provides an ideal environment for beneficial soil organism.

While inorganic mulches have their place in certain landscapes and because of their permanence, they are usually used in garden. Therefore, this tip sheet is limited to the use of organic mulches.

Effects of Organic Mulches

  1. Organic mulches, derived from plant materials decomposed in time, enrich and improve the soil.
  2. It will increase aeration of silt or clay loam soil and added water holding capacity of sandy loam soil.
  3. It improves and stabilizes soil structure by reducing compaction.
  4. The pH of soil (acidity or alkalinity) can be changed depending on the mulch selected. Most composts will be slightly alkaline (pH >7) and excellent for use in acidic region.
  5. Organic mulch contain both major and minor essential elements for plant growth but should not be considered as substitutes for fertilizer.

When to Apply Mulch

Time of application depends on what you want to achieve by mulching. Mulches, by providing an insulating barrier between the soil and air, moderate the soil temperature. A mulched soil in summer will be cooler than an adjacent unmulched soil. It is better to apply mulch until the soil has warmed up completely.

Mulch Application

1. In applying mulch, begin with the following:

a) What do I want to achieve by mulching?

  • Weed control
  • Moisture retention
  • Soil improvement
  • Aesthetic

b) How large is the area to be mulched?

c) What is the volume of mulch that I will need?

  • Mulch is measured in cubic feet (ft3) or cubic meter (m3). For example if you have an area 10 x 10 ft and you wish to apply 2 inches (depth) of mulch, you would need 16.6 cu. ft.
  • Usually, the recommended mulching depth, depending on the materials selected is 2 to 2.5 inches. At this depth, most mulches will accommodate the primary objectives of weed control, soil moisture conservation and temperature modification.

2. Determine what material to use in order to accumulate what you need, depending on the availability of mulch materials in the area.

For questions and further information, contact:

Environmental and Productivity Management of Marginal Soils (EPMMS)
Soil Conservation and Management Division
Bureau of Soils and Water Management
Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel. No. (02) 923-0459/0454; 920-4382
Fax No. 920-4318

A Technical Cooperation Project between the Bureau of Soils and Water Management and the Japan International Cooperation Agency


The use of commercial pesticides kill, not only the target insect pests, but also beneficial insects like spiders, grasshoppers and others. Besides this, it leaves residues in the plant where it is sprayed, and is harmful to the person spraying. If inhaled, pesticides can cause cancer in the long run.

Pesticides chemically prepared are expensive; we have plants that naturally repel harmful insects at no cost, such as:

1. Wild pepper (dried and pulverized) — spray on infected plants. When this becomes moist from dew, insect pests are repelled.

2. Combination of 3 pieces garlic, 2 pieces pepper, and 2 pieces onions grind and pulverize these, soak overnight in water. By next morning, fill up the water to make 3 gallons. Strain and spray on affected plants.

3. Ash and lime:

  • spread around the plants to keep off snails or land leeches
  • put a basin of water beside the plant to attract and trap the snails

4. Essence (oil) from oranges, calamansi, pomelo and other citrus — dispels and kills ants, flies, white crickets, etc.

5. Damong Maria (dried) — when burned drives away insect pests

6. Eucalyptus leaves

7. Manzanilla flowers

Pyrethrum Flower

Is a kind of white chrysanthemum that grows in high altitudes like the Mountain Province. It contains pyrethrin, a chemical, that drives insects away. The higher the altitude, the stronger is its pyrethrin content. The pyrethrin or pesticide content of this flower is not harmful to humans, and is beneficial to plants like potatoes. It also repels insect pests that feed on cultured plants. Pyrethrin comes from chrysanthemum leaves.


Marigold or amarillo contains a chemical that is toxic to some pests in the soil, like nematodes. Thus, it is good to plant marigold together with vegetables or in between farm crops. Nematodes are very tiny parasites or worms in the soil, river, sea, rotting wood or plants. They also thrive in other parts of the plant like the roots, and in animals and insects. Most nematodes are not harmful, but even helpful in fertilizing the soil. However, their danger lies in that they feed on roots, stems, or leaves of plants — they suck the nutrients.

Kalingag - Insect Repellant

The most damaging insect pest that preys on fruits is the fruit fly. Once it gets into the flesh of any fruit, it can reproduce and spread wherever that fruit may be brought. Thus, in efforts of importing countries to avoid the entrance of this pest into their territories, strict regulations are imposed on incoming fruits for instance our mango.

It was found out by a scientist from the Bureau of Plant Industry in Quezon that the bark of the Kalingag attracts, insects, especially the fruit fly, thus facilitates their entrapment.


  1. Pulverize the bark of the kalingag tree.
  2. Mix the powder in 2% water solution that is, 2 grams per liter of water.
  3. Put this in containers with traps.

The fruit flies will approach it, especially early in the morning and late afternoon.

Makabuhay (Tubli) - Excellent Source of Insecticides

In a research conducted by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research & Development (PCARRD) at the U.P. Los Baños, it was found out that the juice of 50 grams of makabuhay for 1.25 liters water can control rice green leafhoppers, insects that bring the virus of the disease in palay.

There are various ways of using makabuhay. One is by soaking the roots of the palay seedlings in the makabuhay solution 24 hours before planting. Another is by broadcasting the juice of the makabuhay on the palay seedlings.

The effect of these is almost the same as that of carbofuran, a chemical insecticide against leafhoppers.

Two kilograms of ground makabuhay can also be broadcast in a square meter of field 10 days after plowing. This is the same as broadcasting carbofuran which is effective 5-7 days after application. Besides its use as insecticide, makabuhay is also used in the relief of stomachache, indigestion, diarrhea, ulcer, parasites and malaria.

For more information, contact:

Dept. of Science and Technology
Rm. 303 DOST Bldg., DOST Complex,
Gen. Santos Ave., Bicutan, Taguig City 1631
Telephone Nos: (632) 837-20-71 to 82
Fax: (632) 837-8937

Dept.of Agriculture
D.A. Compound, Elliptical Rd.,
Diliman,Quezon City
Tel. Nos. (632) 929-6065 to 67 / 920-3991 / 928-1134

Thursday, February 26, 2009


To achieve self-sufficiency in rice, production must be pursued within a sustainable framework, one that meets the country’s current food demand and yet protects the environment. The use of organic fertilizers, such as compost, either alone or in combination with inorganic fertilizers, is one of the measures incorporated in the Agrikulturang MakaMASA program to promote sustainable crop production.

Past efforts to promote compost-making have been constrained, to a large extent, by the relatively low cost of chemical fertilizers. But even with the increased cost of fertilizers in recent years, few farmers adopted this technology because of the following reasons:

  • It takes a long time to produce
  • It takes large quantities of raw materials.
  • It is laborious.
  • Beneficial effects on the soil are not easily seen or felt.

But now, composting technology has considerably improved so that compost can be made in just 3-4 weeks!

What is a Compost?

Compost is a mixture of decayed organic materials decomposed by microorganisms in a warm, moist, and aerobic environment, releasing nutrients into readily available forms for plant use.

Why Use Compost?

  • There is a need for sustainable production through integrated nutrient management.
  • Compost produces less methane than uncomposted rice straw when incorporated in the soil.
  • It solves the problem of declining yield.
  • It corrects micronutrient problems such as zinc deficiency.

Benefits of Using Compost

  • Big savings, increase farmers self reliance.
  • Increases yields.
  • Improves soil tilt and structure.
  • Increases water-holding capacity of the soil.
  • Improves aeration.
  • Provides humus or organic matter, vitamins, hormones, and plant enzymes which are not supplied by chemical fertilizers.
  • Acts as buffer to changes in soil pH.
  • Kills pathogenic organisms, weeds and other unwanted seeds when temperatures of over 60 C is reached.
  • Mature compost quickly comes into equilibrium with the soil.
  • Different materials can be blended or mixed which can increase the nutrient content of the compost fertilizer.

Recommended Fertilizer Rate

The Agrikulturang MakaMASA program recommends basal application of 6-8 bags inorganic fertilizer and 8 bags organic fertilizer per hectare. By composting all the rice straw after harvest, this requirement is adequately met, and one does not need to buy commercial organic fertilizer.
- 5 tons rice straw (0.58% N) and;
- 2 tons compost (1.5%-3%N)
Enriched with animal manure, nitrogen-rich farm residues such as legumes, and acted upon by microorganims like fungus Trichoderma sp. and nitrogen fixing bacteria, Azotobacter sp.

3 ways of making compost

Traditional Method

This is slow process, requiring 3-4 months before warm wastes are fully decomposed and ready for use as compost fertilizer. This means that the fertilizer can only be used after one planting season. This also requires a bigger composting area. However, this method involves only eight steps, and it is inexpensive to produce, requiring no extensive inputs except labor.

Rapid Method

With the aid of fungus activator Trichoderma harzianum, decomposition of farm wastes is accelerated to just 3-4weeks! This means that the compost can be used in the next planting season. This involves ten steps.

Bio-Enriched Method

Employing both a fungus activator and a nitrogen-fixing bacteria, farm wastes are first decomposed by Trychoderma sp. for 2-3 weeks, after which the resulting compost is inculated with live N-fixing bacteria Azobacter sp. inocubation for one week produces a nitrogen-enriched compost that can supply a rice crop’s total N requirement. Depending on the material used, soil condition, and planting season, this involves 10 steps.

NOTE: For the Rapid and Bio-Enriched methods of composting, procedures in preparing these microorganism activators are available at the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) and the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) of the University of the Philippines in Los Banos (UPLB), College, Laguna; and at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Simplified guide to compost production

Most of the steps are common to the three methods of composting. Step 4 or the addition of fungus activator, however, does not apply to the traditional method. Step 8 or the addition of bacteria inocula, on the other hand, applies only to the Bio-Enriched method of composting.

Step 1. Gather Materials

Gather rice straw, weeds, sugarcane bagasse, corn stalks and stovers, leguminous materials such as ipil-ipil, azolla sesbania, mungbean, cowpea, soybean crop residues, and animal manure. Soak rice straw for 6-12 hours before piling. Chop materials for easier decomposition.

Ideal proportion of composting materials is 3 parts rice straw and 1 part mixture of animal manure (75%) and leguminous plant residues (25%). Less than this proportion prolongs the decomposition process.

Step 2. Prepare compost area

Choose a shaded and well-drained area.

To compost 5 tons of rice straw, we need a volume of 90 m3. A plot size of 2m x 6m 1.5 m can accommodate 1 ton of rice straw. Make 5 plots. If you want smaller plot size of 2m x 3m x 1.5m can accommodate 500 kg of rice straw materials. Make 10 small plots to be able to compost 5 tons rice straw.

Step 3. Pile materials

Traditional Method

Make six layers of compost materials, each layer about 25 cm thick. A layer of compost material consists of three parts rice straw, one part manure, soil, and ash or lime spread on top of each other. Stack the layers until the compost heap reaches 1.5m high. Insert several perforated bamboo poles into compost bed to serve as breathers.

Rapid Method (Trichoderma)

To provide aeration at the bottom, construct a platform or use available materials such as coconut leaf midribs, kakawate, banana trunk, and bamboo.

Make six layers of compost materials, each layer about 25 cm thick. A layer of compost material consists of three parts rice straw, one part mixture of animal manure and leguminous materials, and a thin layer of fungus activator known as compost Fungal Activator (CFA). There is no need to put ash/lime or bamboo breathers.

Bio-Enriched Method (Trichoderma and Azotobacter)

Mix all the rice straw, animal manure, and leguminous materials into 3:1 proportion. Apply 2.5 kg of the fungus activator, know as BIO-QUICK to every tone of composting material. Spread evenly on top of the first layer. Place 2-3 perforated bamboo poles horizontally across the first layer before adding the next layer. Make three layers.

Step 4. Spread fungus activator

Spread evenly 5-10 kg of Trichoderma fungus activator to every ton of composting material.

Step 5. Water compost heap

Water each layer compost heap until it is sufficiently moist.

Step 6. Cover compost heap

Cover with plastic sheet, used sacks, banana and coconut leaves to increase temperature and prevent too much water into the compost heap which could leach the nutrients.

Step 7. Turn compost heap

Traditional Method

Turn up side down or rotate, or mix compost heap after 3 weeks, then again after 5 weeks.

Rapid Method (Trichoderma)

Turn compost heap from top to bottom after 2 weeks. This step, however, is optional.

Bio-Enriched Method (Trichoderma and Azobacter )

Remove cover after 2-3 weeks or when the compost heap has decomposed. Separate undecomposed materials for further composting.

Step 8. Add bacteria inoculum

For every ton of compost material, spread evenly on top of each compost layer 2.5 kg of bacteria inocula, known as BIO-FIX and incubate for 1 week. Cover the compost heap but do not allow to dry.

Step 9. Harvest compost

Traditional Method

Harvest 4 weeks after the second rotation of the compost heap. The N content of the compost is now 1.5%. Use 2 tons of compost per hectare.

Rapid Method (Trichoderma)

Harvest 1-2 weeks after rotating the compost heap. The N content of the ripe compost varies from 1.0% - 3.0% depending on the amount of manure and nitrogenous plant materials used as substrates. Use all the compost produced in the field which could be about 2.0 tons per hectare. If commercial organic fertilizer produced through the rapid composting method is used, mix 8-10 bags per hectare.

Bio-Enriched Method (Trichoderma and Azobacter)

After 1 week of incubation of the bacteria inocula, the compost is ready for use. N content of the compost ranges from ranges from 1.5% to 3%. You need only apply 250-500 kg or 5-10 bags compost per hectare. Presence of live N-fixing bacteria in the compost will boost total N in the soil.

There are currently 36 Mass Production Centers (MPC) for fungal activators and 17 Compost Production Centers (CPC) accredited by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to make these activators available to farmers. These centers include government, nongovernment organizations, and cooperatives. There are 15 similar agencies producing both fungal activators and ready-to-use compost.

BIOTECH and IBS also provide training for cooperatives and entrepreneurs who wish to go into commercial organic fertilizer and mass production of these microorganisms.

Step 10. Apply compost

Broadcast compost as basal fertilizer before final harrowing during land preparation.

Health precautions

1. The decomposing compost heap can generate heat up to 60°C. Exercise care in handling the compost while rotating it. Wear protective gloves or foot gear so as not to scald your hands and feet.

2. Composting materials and microorganisms may cause allergies, although they are nonpathogenic. To avoid inconvenience from itching, cover nose and mouth with mask, use longsleeved clothes, and wash body and hand after working on the compost.



Many of our local plants contain helpful chemicals, particularly alkaloids, that are effective against fungal and bacterial diseases of other plants. Thus, they are mixed with the soil to control the fungus that causes the diseases of seedlings. Allow the leaves to decompose for about one week before transplanting the seedlings.

Thus, using plant leaves in controlling disease-causing organisms is no doubt cheaper than pesticides and insecticides. It is also simpler and easier to apply by merely incorporating the leaves with soil during cultivation. When decomposed, the leaves release certain chemicals which prevents harmful bacteria and fungi from attacking the crops. Besides controlling diseases, the leaves also increase the organic matter content of the soil, improving its structure and fertility.

Some of these leaves are as follows:

  • abaca leaves, sampaloc, avocado, kakawate, alibangbang, lanzones,
  • acacia, ginger, ampalaya, malunggay, atis, cowpea,
  • guava, sampaguita, coconut, santan pula, calamansi, santol,
  • star-apple, chico, jackfruit, garlic, orchid, tanglad, datiles
  • rimas eggplant, onions, beans (red variety),
  • papaya, chichirica, cacao, upo, cassava,
  • sugarcane, calachuchi, watermelon, tobacco, saluyot



Patola or luffa (scientific name) is commonly planted as vegetable or for food. According to scientists, it contains calcium, iron and plenty of phosphorus.

There are two kinds of patola:

  1. One is the many-sided which is inherently ours and the other is the cylindrical type which is called “patolang Kastila.”
  2. Our local version is the sweeter kind.


Patola is not difficult to grow, but it likes loose, sandy soil, fertile and does not lodge water. It may be planted at any time of year, but there are more flowers, and fruits are bigger when the weather is cool. Patola is planted two times a year: from March to May and from October to December. But if the fruits will be made into luffa, it is better to plant it in October-December so the harvest falls in summer. Ordinary patola is planted directly in the field; but if it is not in season, plant first in plastic bags (perforated at the bottom) and then latter transfer to the field when it will be needing trellises to climb on.

Land Preparation

  1. Plow the field and clean 2-3 times, with 7 days interval.
  2. Dig trenches 3 meters apart from each other.
  3. Plant the seed in the soil at 3 x 3 (or 2m) meters apart.
  4. Set bamboo poles or posts in rows about 3 meters long and 3 meters apart. Tie strings or wire from post to post about 3 weeks after germination of seeds. Patola will bear fruit even without trellis, but many fruits will turn out in bad shape.
  5. Patola needs watering. Dig canal for irrigation about 1½ meters from the plant or between trenches.

Fertilizer - Apply composting animal manure

Harvesting - About 3-4 months after planting, or 45-50 days after flowering, patola can be harvested. A hectare of patola can yield about 10,000 pieces or more, depending on how well the plants have been maintained.


Patola as sponge has long been known in this country, but abroad, they are just beginning to know its use, and have learned to like it. Patola is sewn on a piece of cloth that serves as a handle for rubbing. Because of this, luffa or matured patola is in demand abroad, but we cannot meet this demand. Australian asks for a million pieces, to be sold in drug stores and department stores as sponge, 30×6 cm sizes. This is flat, but expands when put in water. The U.S. gets its supply from Korea (from where luffa is supplied by a certain “Luffa King” because of his extensive luffa plantation for the purpose), by Japan, China and some other countries.

In France, they like luffa as a natural beautifier and cleanser. In Germany, their import of luffa is as natural as DM 1.83 million from Egypt, Greece, Japan, Cuba, USA, Tinisia, France, Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain and Lebanon. Thus, if we can produce enough patola for export, it will mean bringing in dollars to our country, without much competition.

Manner of Preparation

  1. Let the patola grow mature before harvesting.
  2. Remove the peel and shake off the seeds. It could be easier to clean this by boiling first, but this will diminish the coarseness for rubbing.
  3. Dry in the sun for two days (in Summer) or 4-5 days in rainy weather. It can also be dried in the oven but the quality is inferior to that which is sun dried. Its whiteness is less.
  4. Wash to clean and soften. Bleach to make it white.
  5. Dry in the sun again 3-5 days. Now, the patola becomes wider, softer, and milk colored.
  6. Cut into desired sizes (according to customers taste).
  7. Seal in plastic bag.

Plant and Planting Materials Directory

source:, pictures from


The “vermi” or earthworms are important in enriching the soil with organic matter which comes from biodegradable materials such as dead plants and animals which the earthworms ingest. Besides this,there are other benefits from earthworms.

The castings of earthworms also known as vermicompost is an excellent soil enhancer and bioactive high quality fertilizer for organic farming. This is a perfect alternative to using chemical fertilizers, and this has been proven in field tests. Earthworms can also be made into feed for fish and other domesticated animals called vermimeal.

The “African Nightcrawler” (Eudrilus eugeniae) is the earthworm species suited to be grown in the Philippines for the production of vermicompost and vermimeal. Vermicompost is used or sold as organic fertilizer for plant and crop farming. Vermimeal is used as an alternative for imported fish meal that we feed to fish and other farmed animals.

Vermicompost Production

The first step in vermicompost production is to gather and prepare all the materials to make the vermi bed. The biodegradable materials may be sourced from the backyard or kitchen. In the backyard, use dried leaves, newly cut grass or plant trimmings. From the kitchen, discarded vegetable parts, fruit peelings and fish entrails may also be used.

Before stocking the earthworms, make sure that all the materials in the vermi bed are prepared. To start, mix the dried leaves and kitchen waste thoroughly with enough water. Cover the materials with a plastic sheet, old sacks or banana leaves to start the “anaerobic process”. This process is completed after one to two weeks.

After the “anaerobic process”, remove the cover and stock the vermi bed with one kilo of earthworms or approximately 1,000 pieces for every one square meter of vermi bed that contains 100-200 kilos of materials.

Vermicompost is harvested when most of the materials have been consumed by the worms. This takes about 30-45 days, depending on environmental and culture conditions. Maintain the moisture content and temperature of the vermi beds through regular checking. Protect the earthworms from predatory animals.

In harvesting, separate the “vermi” from the vermicompost either manually (hand-picking) or by using a screen. Properly pack vermicompost in sealed bags or sacks and store in a cool dry place.

Vermimeal Production

Harvested “vermi” from the culture beds may either be used for the next vermicomposting cycle or made into vermimeal through the following process:

  1. Wash the worms thoroughly with clean flowing water to remove dirt.
  2. Kill the “vermi” by putting them in a basin with warm water (40-60ºC).
  3. Dry under the sun until brittle.
  4. Grind dried worms manually or through a grinder into meal form.
  5. Store in sealed polyethylene bags with proper label and store in cool dry place.

Advantages of Vermicomposting:

  • Environment friendly since earthworms feed on anything that is biodegradable, vermicomposting then partially aids in the garbage disposal problems.
  • No imported inputs required worms are now locally available and the materials for feeding are abundant in the locality as market wastes, grasses, used papers and farm wastes.
  • Vermicompost is more effective as an organic fertilizer than ordinary compost
  • Has auxin, a naturally occurring growth hormone
  • Improves soil health
  • No overdosage
  • Turns trash to cash
  • Highly profitable both the worms and castings are saleable

Market Potential:

  • World and local markets for vermicomposting are big.
  • World consumption of organically grown foods is estimated at US$ 100 billion per year.
  • In 1993, the potential use of organic fertilizer covered 2.5 million hectares in the Philippines.
  • The demand for organic fertilizer in 1993 was 6.25 billion bags (50 kg/bag) compared to actual consumption of only 62,000 metric tons

For more information, contact worm suppliers:

Vermi Action Center
Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine
Research and Development (DoST),
Jamboree Road, Timugan, Los Banos, Laguna
Tel/Fax: (049) 536-1582 or (049) 536-5578

VermiPhil Farm
Mr. Tony De Castro
Tel: 0918-938-5726

Brgy. San Isidro, Calauan, Laguna
Phone: (049) 568-0168, Fax: (049) 568-0265

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Young cob corn (Zea mays L.), the newly developed corn, has been used by Chinese as vegetable for generations and this practice has spread to other Asian countries. It is used as ingredient in most food preparations. It has nutritive value similar to that of non-legume vegetable such as cauliflower, tomato, cucumber and cabbage (Yodpetch and Bautista, 1983). This vegetable has a great potential for cooking purposes and for processing as a canned product. Canned cob corn export to Thailand, Japan and Europe is increasing and has a good future.

Generally, corn farmers strive their competitive position by improving yields and cutting cost of production, for instance, though shortening cultural risk by harvesting for either green corn or baby corn. Young cob corn has a short growth duration thus a farmer can grow four or more crops a year. It has a wide range of adaptation and does not need intensive cultivation. Pollination is also not a problem because young cob corn is harvested before kernels are developed. Considering these factors, young cob corn has good potentials.


Sweet corn varieties are commonly used for the production of baby corn. In some areas of the country, Pioneer 305 and SMC (hybrid) varieties are being commercially grown for young corn. Golden Cross Bantam and Super sweet were also found to posses the best attribute of young cob corn. (Yodpetch and Bautista, 1983). IPB Var 1, IPB Var 2, IES Cn 1, IES Var 2 and Super sweet corn #33 were also proven to be suitable for young corn production (Masana et al., 1990).

Soil and Climate Requirements

The best soil for corn is a well-drained with a texture of silt loam or loam type. It should be a type of soil with a high moisture holding capacity, high amount of organic matter and be slightly acidic (pH 5.3 to 7.3). A rainfall of 200 to 1,500 mm is required in its growing period. However, the optimum requirement of corn is 400 to 600 mm per growing period. In time of moisture deficiency, irrigation is essential.

Land Preparations

  • A seedbed which is deep, well pulverized yet fairly compact is excellent for corn.
  • A clayey and weedy field requires more plowing. In a weedy field where trash is plowed under, a second or third operation may be needed to obtain a clean seedbed.
  • Plowing is done when the field is at the right moisture, when the soil particles 13 cm. Below the ground separate, only a thin portion sticks to the finger but no ball is formed.
  • For animal-drawn plow, a depth of 4 to 6 cm is sufficient. When tractor is used, 12 to 14 cm is preferable.
  • Harrowing is done at the time the soil has the right moisture content. It is done again within two days before planting to level the soil.

Planting Method

1. Surface or Flat-bed Planting

Seeds are drilled or hill-planted on a level to slightly rolling topography at a desired depth and row spacing. It is suited for areas with abundant precipitation and heavy soil types.

2. Listed planting

Seeds are placed at the bottom o the V-shaped furrow. A lister which is double mold board blade is used for opening furrow of this kind. It is practiced in areas where rainfall is a limiting factor, where soil is drainage is good and the soil is friable.

3. Ridged Planting

The seeds are placed to a specified depth on top of the ridge. The conditions described in listed planting are also appropriate for this type.

If the soil contains considerable moisture at planting time, the seeds should be planted from 2 to 5 cm deep. On dry soil, the seeds should be planted 5 to 8 cm deep.

Rate of Seeding

The amount of seeds needed in a hectare to have a population density of 80,000 to 100,00 plants/hectare is 27 to 30 kg of hybrid seeds. The rows are spaced 100 cm with a hill spacing of 25 cm with 3 plants/hill or drilled 25 cm between hills. No thinning on corn seedlings will be done.


The field should be irrigated moderately even at the time of seed germination and during the early growth and development of corn plants. Weekly irrigation must be done especially during summer.


The recommended rate of fertilizer per hectare is 3 bags 14-14-14 and 1 bag Urea. One half of N and all of P and K is applied in the furrow and then cover 2 to 3 cm layer of soil before planting. The remaining half also of N is side dressed 20 to 30 days after planting. Fertilization may also vary as recommended by the Bureau of Soils as a result of a soil analysis.


Weeds are the unwanted plant companion of crops. Besides serving as host to plant pest and diseases, weeds can reduce corn yield by as much as 50 to 80% if left uncontrolled.

Weeds are commonly controlled by hand weeding, hoeing within the rows and cultivation in between the rows.


Detasseling is achieved by removing all the tassels of corn plants. This is done as soon as the tassels emerge.

Crop Protection

Baby corn requires practically no application of pesticides because the crop has short growth duration thereby eliminating the residue factor and minimizing in production cost.


Timeliness is the most important consideration in harvesting baby corn. Ideally, young corn is harvested 2 to 3 days after silking or 50 to 55 days after emergence. Harvesting duration may last for 15 to 18 days which is carried on by hand picking.

Cobs for market must have a good quality. Young cob corn of excellent quality is straight, has uniform ovary alignment, is 4 to 11 cm. Long, 0.8 to 1.8 cm. In diameter, slightly yellow to yellow color, sweet and not fibrous (Yodpetch and Bautista). Cobs must be free from bites of corn borer, must be clean and not broken.

For more information, contact:

Dept.of Agriculture
D.A. Compound, Elliptical Rd.,
Diliman,Quezon City
Tel. Nos. (632) 929-6065 to 67 / 920-3991 / 928-1134

source:, photo from


Ampalaya, amargoso or bitter gourd (Momordica Charantia Linn) is one of the most important commercial and backyard fruit vegetables in the country today. It has both nutritive and medicinal use. The fruit and leaves of which are used as vegetable and the latter are further used as a laxative for new born babies while the stem and roots as antidotes for fever. They are rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron, carbohydrates and vitamin B. It is also known to cure diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, warts, and ulcer.

The commercial cultivation of the crop is concentrated to Region II and IV. Generally two types are being grown the Sta. Rita type, which is long, dark green and less warty and the Pinakbet type which is short and warty and much bitter in flavor.

Varieties / Days After Planting

  • Sta. Rita strains / 70-75
  • Makiling / 65-70
  • Sta. Isabel / 70-75
  • Jade star (A, L, XL) / 60-70
  • Mayon / 65-70
  • Million Green / 65-75
  • Galaxy / 65-75

Climatic and Soil Requirement

Ampalaya thrives well in all types of climates but high yield can be obtained during the cooler months because of more flower setting and bigger fruits. It grows in low elevation area anytime of the year. The crops grow well in any types of soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Higher yield however is attained on sandy loam soil. Soil analysis is a must for commercial planting.

Land Preparation

A good land preparation is very important in ampalaya culture. The field should be well prepared, plowed and harrowed twice to remove weeds and other plant debris in the field. Furrows are then made 3 meter apart. Organic fertilizer is applied at the rate of 5 tons per hectare during land preparation or a week before planting.

Plastic Mulching

An improved technology in the Philippines for ampalaya production is the use of plastic mulch to cover the beds. Planting holes are bored into the plastic sheet base on the planting distance. It offers number of advantage, its control weeds, preserve soil moisture, prevent soil erosion and leaching of fertilizers and reflect light, serving as repellant to insect which hide under the leaves.

To use the plastic mulch, stretch it over the planting beds, with edges held down by thin bamboo slats, staple well into the soil every 20 cm. Punch holes at 50 cm between plants in the row and 3 meters between rows.


Ampalaya can be direct seeded or transplanted. Direct seeding is most common, a hectare of production area requires 2.5 to 3.0 kilograms of seeds, Seeds are soak in water overnight or wrap in cheesecloth to facilitate water absorption. Seeds are planted the following day or as the radicle break. Transplanting can also be done specially when the seeds are scarce and during off-season planting. Seeds are planted in small plastic bags (1 seed/bag with soil mixture of 1:1 garden soil and sand/compost/carbonized rice hull) and transplanted to the field when the vine starts to grow. Pre- germinated seeds result in good seedling and an even crop establishment.

Time of Planting

Early planting in some areas is usually done during the months of October to December and the late planting are during the month of January to February.

Rate of Planting

The rate and distance of planting use by most farmers is three meters between furrows and 0.5 meters between hills with 3 seeds line at 4 inches apart. Other recommended spacing are: 30 m x 30 m with 1 plant/hill and 2.0 m x 0.5 m with 2 plants/hill.


Bitter gourd or ampalaya grows best with overhead (balag type) trellis about 6 ft high. A lining of bamboo poles with abaca twine as lateral supports is done three weeks after germination. Lateral support of bamboo poles are spaced three meters between furrows and two meters between hills and the side support is place after the bamboo poles are constructed. The horizontal support of abaca twine is place before the vine reaches the top with a 6-inch mesh.

Abaca twine is use as a lateral and horizontal support because it does not absorb too much heat however it is not reusable for the next cropping season.

For plantation, the use of big wooden posts (kakawate or ipil-ipil) are dug into the soil about 1.5 to 2 ft at the four corners of the field and the posts are interconnected with G.I. wire stronger enough as main frame. The side support is used to prevent breaking down of the trellis.

Vine Training and Pruning

Train the vines on the vertical trellis regularly by tying the vines to the trellis. Lateral shoot/vine may be pruned every 4-5 days, leaving only the main stem. Initial pruning should be done one month after planting or when lateral vines appeared.? Remove all lateral vines from ground level up to the top of the trellis and all ineffective lateral vines above the trellis at 15 to 20 days interval.

Remove all female flowers below the overhead trellis. Allow branching and fruiting on the overhead trellis. Fruits may also be allowed to form just above the 10th node.

Water and Weeding Management

Ampalaya is a plant that requires an abundant supply of moisture for vegetative and reproductive development to maintain a good crop stand in the dry season. Furrow irrigation is done twice a week during vegetative stage and once a week during the reproductive stage or before each application of fertilizer. Weeding is done when need arises.


The use of organic fertilizer such as manure or compost about 5 to 10 tons per hectare with inorganic fertilizer is recommended. Apply basal fertilizer at about 25 grams/hill of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) or 5 bags per hectare. During dry season, sidedress 10-20 grams/hill of (urea 46-0-0) and muriate of potash (0-0-60) once a month. However during wet season, side dress 5- 10 grams/hill of urea and muriate of potash every week.

Pests and Diseases Control

Powdery Mildew- It is cause by a fungus that appears as white powdery growth on leaves. Crown leaves are affected first and may wither and die. The fungus may be introduced on greenhouse grown plants or wind from areas infected with the diseases. Disease development is favor by high temperature.

Downy Mildew-A irregular shaped yellowish to brown spots appears on upper side of the leaves, usually at the center of plants. Under moist condition, a purplish mildew develops on the underside of the leaf spots. Leaves die as spots increase it size. Spread is rapid from the crown toward new growth. Moist condition favors the development of the disease.

Bacterial Wilt -The disease is characterized initially by wilting and drying of individual leaves, which also exhibit cucumber beetle injury. Later, leaves on one or more laterals or entire plants wilts. Wilted parts may appear to recover at night, but they wilt on successive sunny days and finally die.

Several kinds of leaf diseases attack the plant and can cause yield reduction. Most often, the old leaves are affected; spraying of Fungicide is a preventive measure. You can consult your local inputs dealer on how and what fungicide to use. However crop rotation, field sanitation, and the use of resistant varieties is also highly recommended.

Fruitfly- The fruitfly is one of the major insect pests of ampalaya. Adults lay it eggs on the young fruits. The eggs later hatch into small worms that starts feeding inside the fruits. Symptoms are deformed fruits, fruits with holes that turn orange or yellow prematurely. The insect can be control by removing all damage fruits from the field. Spray only after the removal of the damage fruits with insecticides recommended by your pesticide dealer. Wrapping young fruits with newspaper or plastic bags prevent the fruit fly from laying eggs on the fruits. Wrapping reduce the use of pesticides.

Thrips- it is a very small crawling insect on that stays on the lower side of the leaves. It is recommended to spray during nighttime 2 t0 3 consecutive nights if infestation is severed. This was found to be very effective time to spray. The pest hides during daytime and cannot be control using contact insecticides. Neighboring plantation should also be sprayed at the same time. Consult your input dealer on what pesticides to use in controlling this pest.


Harvest when the fruits are green. Harvesting starts 45 to 50 days after seedling. It can be done twice a week. Harvest early in the morning to protect harvested fruits against rain, sun, and mechanical damage. Sort fruits according to marketable standards, and remove damage fruits. Pack in plastic or bamboo crates line with newspaper or bamboo leaves. Fruits can be stored for 2-3 days under this condition.

Herbal Benefits of Ampalaya

  • Good for rheumatism and gout
  • And diseases of the spleen and liver
  • Aids in lowering blood sugar levels
  • Helps in lowering blood pressure
  • Relives headaches
  • Disinfects and heals wounds & burns
  • Can be used as a cough & fever remedy
  • Treatment of intestinal worms, diarrhea
  • Helps prevent some types of cancer
  • Enhances immune system to fight infection
  • Is an antioxidant, parasiticide, antibacterial & antipyretic
  • In large dozes, pure Ampalaya juice can be a purgative and abortifacient.

Preparation of Ampalaya:

  • For coughs, fever, worms, diarrhea, diabetes, juice the Ampalaya leaves and drink a spoonful every day.
  • For other ailments, the fruit and leaves can both be juiced and taken orally.
  • For headaches wounds, burns and skin diseases, apply warmed leaves to afflicted area.

For more information, contact:

Bureau of Plant Industry
692 San Andres St., Malate, Manila
Tel. No. (+632) 525-78-57
Fax No. (+632) 521-7650

photo from


The mushroom business in the Philippines is apparently a burgeoning business with enormous commercial potential in as much as it targets a basic need: food. There is also a claim, on the contrary, that its present cultivation in this country is limited, perhaps due to the limited local knowledge about its culture.

But at the heart of the Manila metropolis in Boni Avenue is a dynamic and bracing research center of Rizal Technological University that is taming and developing mushrooms in underground passageways. These channels are valued historically where they were used by World War II soldiers to transport themselves inconspicuously to and from adjoining towns from their attack or defense or simply to escape from enemy troops.

Finding the tunnels apposite for other purposes has given them modern-day worth. The tunnels are regarded to impact positively and directly to the local mushroom industry.

Cultured inside the adobe-made tunnels are edible mushrooms species that grow in semi-temperate areas like Pleurotus sp. (oyster or abalone mushrooms), Auricularia sp. (ear fungi), Agaricus bisporus (tropical white button mushrooms), Volvariela volvacea (rice straw or banana mushrooms), and Lentinus edodes (shiitake or brown or black Japanese mushroom).

Mushroom growing can be made double in a cooperative where division of labor can be resourcefully practiced.

The Biology

Mushrooms are fungi characterized by the presence of gills under the umbrella-shaped cap called pileus. Some have the presence of rings; others have none. Some grow in mass or in clusters; others develop in singles or in pairs. Others thrive well on cool weather, some in warm places. Like plants, mushrooms have seeds responsible for propagating the species. They produce spores like all fungi. These spores are very diminutive and microscopic that they disperse and disseminate through the air with the wind. When they happen to fall on a suitable agricultural waste, these spores germinate and develop into mycelium. If the conditions are favorable, it continues to grow, ramify and develop into mushrooms.

Why Grow Mushrooms?

Medalla stresses that edible mushrooms are good sources of high-quality protein. “They can be produced with greater biological efficiency and have an important role in elevating the diet of people enduring from protein deficiency,” she says, adding that they can represent a source of high-value metabolites like anti-tumor or cancer agents.

There is also a reason that one of the most cost-effectively practical processes for biocon-version of agricultural and industrial lingo cellulosic wastes is the cultivation of edible mushroom. “This is extremely important in rural areas where there are available large quantities of agricultural wastes ideally suited for growing different types of edible mushrooms,” Medalla exemplifies.

Furthermore, the substrate (or agricultural waste) residues that are left after harvesting mushrooms can be converted into feedstock to ruminants and used as soil conditioners. Medalla articulates they can help increase the income in the rural and urban areas, improving the social status of unemployed people.

Economics of Cultivation

Mushroom cultivation is an income-generating activity that can be done both in rural and urban areas. Mushrooms can be grown on commercial or small scale using either highly urbane equipment or low-cost materials and agricultural wastes.

The choice of species and technology, according to Medalla, will depend on the conditions prevailing in the place where one prefers to grow the mushrooms, the availability of the substrate to be used and the availability and amount of capital.

Medalla suggests that mushroom growing can be made doable in a cooperative where division of labor can be adroitly practiced. “There is a group that can be engaged in spawn production, substrate preparation, planting or inoculation, fruiting, harvesting, processing and marketing aspects,” she says.

Mushroom production is a complicated business. It involves a number of complicated steps and operations like the pure culture preparation (the selection of the acceptable fruiting culture of the mushroom); the planting material preparation; the substrate preparation where mushrooms will be grown; the actual planting or the inoculation of the substrate; and the harvesting, processing and marketing.

The Technology

Each operation, according to Medalla, consists of many sequential steps that are crucial and important if success is to be achieved. Despite the electricity fluctuation in the university when MARID visited the university for two days, she shared how mushroom technology functions in their laboratory and underground passageways:

A. Propagation of pure culture

During the preparation of the culture media, peel and weigh the 200 grams of fresh, hale and hearty potatoes. Dice these potatoes to about two-centimeter cubes. Boil one-liter distilled water and add these diced potatoes. Let them simmer for ten minutes or until they are soft enough to be eaten. Strain off these diced potato through cheesecloth, and restore the volume of the potato decoction (broth) to one liter by simply adding distilled water. Bring the potato decoction to boil, and add 20 grams of agar. Stir the mixture until the agar dissolves. Add 20 grams of dextrose powder and stir until it also dissolves.

Pour and distribute 40 to 50 milliliters of the mixture into empty bottles. Plug the mouth of the bottles with cotton, cover with paper, and tie with rubber band. Sterilize them in pressure cooker at 15 pounds for 15 to 20 minutes, and allow the pressure to drop down to zero pounds per square inch. Take out the sterilized culture media, and slant the culture media bottles.

Then isolate the pure culture using the tissue culture. This method is done through selecting a young and healthy mushroom that is disinfected with 70 percent alcohol by rubbing a cotton swab. With a sterilized scalpel, cut approximately one-centimeter cube of the tissue and plant on the slanted agar with the use of sterilized forceps or scalpel. Incubate at room temperature for ten to 14 days or until the media is fully impregnated with the mycelia.

B. Production of the spawn

Wash thoroughly the grains in tap water. Transfer in clean casserole, and add water till one inch above the level of grains. Boil until the grains are about to burst. Cool the grains by spreading in a nylon cloth or line screen and allow the water to drain off leaving the grains just damp (65 to 70 percent moisture). Distribute grains equally in bottles, plug with cotton and cover them with paper or foil, and support them with rubber band. Sterilize at 15 pounds for an hour. Cool the bottles at room temperature; aseptically inoculate with young and vigorous culture of the mushroom mold. Incubate at room temperature until the grains are fully impregnated with the mushroom molds.

C. Production of the fruiting bags (growing method)

At the preparation of the composted sawdust medium, mix thoroughly the composted sawdust medium composed of 78 percent sawdust, 20 percent class A rice bran, one percent calcium carbonate or lime and a percent of washed sugar. Add tap water until the mixture attains 65 to 70 percent moisture, which is determined by pressing a handful of mixture in the hand and no water should run off in between fingers and the materials should stay in form after releasing the pressure.

Pile the substrate or mixture in a pyramidal form. Cover with plastic sheet for a period of five days with turning every after two days, repiling and returning the plastic cover again. On the fifth day or after the second turning, aerate the piled materials by spreading thinly in a shaded area to remove the toxic gases that may have been produced during the period of composting. After the acidic smell has gone, check and adjust the moisture content making sure that it is 65 to 70 percent.

Pack the substrate in not-so-loose-or-not-so-compact bag. Collect the upper part of the
bag and pass it through a plastic ring, and pull the plastic ring down thus making the mouth of the bag. Plug each bag with cotton, cover it with paper, and tie with rubber band. Sterilize 15 pounds for an hour and a half, or the bags may be subjected to steaming process. The period of steaming depends on the load of the container.

To propagate the mushrooms, transfer the sterilized and cooled bags inside the inoculation room, which has been previously disinfected. Aseptically inoculate each bag with the mother spawn. Transfer the spawned bags in the incubation house, and incubate at 25 to 28 degrees Celcius for a month or until fully impregnated with the mushroom mold.

Once the bags are fully ramified, allow them to undergo maturation period by extending incubation by another month. The matured bags are then ready to open. Open the bags carefully by cutting the plastic below the neck, and water them abundantly but carefully. The floor and the walls of the house should also be watered.

On the third day, pinheads or primordial will develop. In this case, do not water the bags but the walls and the floor. Harvest period is expected on the fourth and the fifth day and harvesting goes for two to three days. After fruiting, the bags should rest for five to seven days. During rest period, monitor the temperature (25 to 28 degrees Celcius), relative humidity (85 to 90 percent) and moisture (65 to 70 percent). After each rest period, normal flushing or fruiting will follow and the cycle is repeated. The complete fruiting cycle lasts for two to three months.

Author: Jesse John Edep, Marid Digest


Common Names: Papaya, chich put, fan kua, kavunagaci, lechoso, lohong si phle, mapaza, mu kua, papailler, papaw, papaye, papayer, pawpaw tree, pepol, tinti, wan shou kuo, betik petik, gandul, katela gantung, kates, kepaya, kuntaia.

Papaya (Carica papaya Linn.), originated from tropical America and is considered as one of most important fruit crops in the Philippines because of its great economic potential. The fruit is cylindrically long, pear shaped or round, it is orange to orange-red, sweet and juicy when ripe. Unripe papaya makes for a good concoction of vegetable stew, salad or pickle. The fruit is rich in Vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein, carbohydrates and phosphorous. Papaya produces latex which contains papain, an enzyme that breaks protein. Papain has been commonly of use to the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Papain is used for cleansing lotions, facial creams and toothpastes.

A study conducted by the University of Indonesia discovered that glycoside, an organic compound that can be extracted from ripe papaya seeds, reduces fertility among men. This break through is being pursued to provide an alternative contraceptive method for men. Further, a new scientific finding reveals that papaya could be an effective remedy for cancer.


Solo s an improved, high quality selection with reddish-orange flesh. Its fruit weighs about half a kilogram.

The most popular strains of Solo papaya commercially propagated in the Philippines are the Kapoho and Sunrise which are high-yielding and pear shaped. They are smoother and sweeter but smaller and lighter compared to other solo strains.

Cavite Special is a popular semi-dwarf type that blooms 6-8 months after planting. The fruit is large, oblong and weighs from 3 to 5 kilograms. It has a star-shaped cavity. The flesh is yellow orange and sweet when ripe.

Sintais the first Philippine bred hybrid papaya. It is a cross between Line no. 5 and Line no. 3. It is moderately tolerant to papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) and produces more quality fruits than the ordinary papaya strains. It is semi-dwarf and therefore, easier to harvest.

Sinta is early maturing and prolific, which bears 17-50 fruits per tree. Its fruit weighs 1.2 - 2.0 kg, is sweet and has firmer flesh.

Red Lady Papaya (F1 Hybrid) - Early, vigorous productive and tolerant to papaya ring spot virus. Plants begin to bear fruits at 80cm. height and normally have over 30 fruits per plant in each fruit setting season. Fruits are short-oblong on female plants and rather long shaped on bisexual plants, weighing about 1.5 - 2 kg.

Known You No.1 - Tolerant to papaya ring spot virus. Plants are thick, sturdy early and heavy yielding. Yellow fleshed fruit is large, weighing about 1.6 - 3 kg.

Tainung No. 1 - Plants are vigorous and prolific. Fruits weigh about 1.1 kg with red flesh and good aroma.

Tainung No. 2 - Fruits with pointed blossom end weigh about 1.1 kg. Flesh is orange red, tender with good taste and quality. Suitable for local market.

Tainung No. 3 - Plants are dwarf but with good growth. Fruits are larger than Tainung No. 1 and weigh about 1.3 kg. Flesh is yellow-orange, sweet and good quality.


Papaya thrives best in areas with dry climate ( 25-30 C ) with annual rainfall of 1,200 mm to 1,500 mm distributed throughout the year. Normally, it is a crop for low to medium elevations (from sea level to 900 meters above sea level) with humid to fairly humid conditions. It requires ample sunshine and protection from strong winds.

Papaya is adapted to a wide range of soils but its grows best in well- drained light textured soils with pH range from 5-6.5.Good drainage is important as water logging kills plants. Sticky and calcareous soil are not good as rain water, may accumulate in the soil even only for a few hours. In this case, raised beds and drainage ditch are recommended.

Land Preparation

Clear the area of all shrubs and trees preferably during dry season and alternately plow and harrow to obtain fine tilth.


Seeds are recommended to be sown in polyethylene bags. Sow at least 3 to 4 seeds and cover with fine soil. Germination takes 15 to 20 days. Thin out to two seedlings per polybag. A booster dose of 2 grams urea after emergence and 2 weeks interval in subsequent application may be given for rapid growth and development of seedlings. Regular daily watering is necessary. The seedlings are ready for transplanting when they are about 6 inches high or 2 months old.

Prior to planting , stake at a distance of 2.5 X 2.5 and dig 45 cm X 45 cm holes. Two seedlings should be planted per hole and later thinned out to only one after assurance of most vigorous tree.

Water Management

Water is required for papaya during the early stages of growth and periods of prolonged drought. Lack of moisture over prolonged periods causes growth retardation, flower abortion and dropping of young fruits.

Water newly transplanted seedlings daily until they become fully established. Young papaya seedlings should be irrigated once a week and bearing trees every week during dry periods. During rainy season, hill up to improve drainage.

Weed Control

Remove the weeds by proper cultivation of the soil around the plants. It is done by hand pulling, hoeing or by shallow cultivation. Extreme care should be exercised in manual weeding around the trees since papaya is shallow-rooted and surface feeder roots injured. Mulch during the dry season to control growth of weeds and to conserve moisture.


The following is the general fertilizer recommendation for papaya:

- At planting to 1st month, 50g of ammonium sulfate
- 2nd - 6th month, 100g
- Every 2 months (after 6 month), 100g

Common Pests and Diseases and their Control


Mites - Under local conditions, the red spider mites (Tetranychus kanzawai Kishida) is most common attacking and severely damaging the older leaves of papaya and sometimes attacking its seedlings. Its serious damage causes the leaves to dry up, thus, reducing the photosynthetic activity of the plant.

Control Measures - To prevent the sources and build up of mite population, leaf pruning and burning of damaged and attacked leaves are done weekly. For chemical control, use selective miticides sprayed at 7 to 10 days interval.

Scale insects - The most common scale insects species colonizing and feeding on papaya fruit is the Aspidiotus destructor Sig. Their feeding caused the fruit to ripen prematurely and destroy the external appearance of the fruits.

Control Measures - Spray recommended insecticide to control incidence of scale insects in the fruits. Spraying should be done directly to the fruits 15 days before harvest. Adjust spray nozzle so as not to hit harvestable fruit in case there are available harvestable fruits. Re-spray 7 days after if presence of such pest is still visible.

Fruit Fly - Dacus dorsalis and Dacus cucurbitae Coq. are species of fruit fly attacking papaya. When an outbreak in population occurs, the eggs are deposited in the ripening fruits while they are still attached to the tree. Harvested fruits eventually rot as the newly hatched larvae start to feed inside the fruit.

Control Measures - Sanitation inside the population is essential by gathering all ripened, damaged and fallen fruits. Gathered fruits should be dumped in pit and burned. Use Methyl Eugenol to attract male files and kill them. Do not allow ripe fruits to remain in the tree for sometime.


Damping off - Symptoms:

Tissues of the papaya seedling stems at the solid line become water-soaked and rotten due to infection by one or more species of fungi-like Pithium debayranum, Pytopthora palmivora and Rhizoctonia sp. It is common in the nursery or in the field where seedlings are too crowded. It is favored by high temperature and wet weather.

Control Measures - Avoid overcrowding of seedlings. Provide good drainage and adequate soil erosion. Practice proper plant spacing and depth of planting.

Papaya mosaic - Symptoms:

Leaves of infected plants develop a wrinkled and rough appearance. Younger leaves are generally stunted and chlorotic and are accompanied by vein-banding or transparent oil that are scattered over the leaf veins. Older and mature leaves show more pronounced chlorotic areas and are stunted. Severe attack results in stunting of petioles.

Infected young fruit shows small, dark green spots, which appear either on the stem or blossom end. They enlarge as the fruit develops. Mottling of green and brownish rings appear.

Control Measures - Cut down infected plant and burn.

Bacterial Crown Rot - Diseased papaya are really distinguished in the field by the dropping leaves which results from infection of the petiole or stem with the bacterium Erwina cariceae.

Symptoms - Initial symptoms found on the petiole and stem are water-soaked spots. The spots rapidly enlarged causing rotting of the petiole or stem. Then the crown droops and wilts showing leaf yellowing it may topple-over.

Young, soft plant parts are susceptible to infection with the bacterium gaining entry through natural openings and wounds. In susceptible cultivars, infection becomes systematic causing vascular discoloration of the stem, fruits and roots. The disease is common during periods of prolonged wetness or continuous rainfall. Infected plants may recover and produce productive branches during dry season.

Control measures - Eradicate severely infested plants and disinfect tools with 10% formalin solution. In cases when the stem is not infected, remove only the infected petioles and leaves. Provide protection to the papaya plants during rainy periods by spraying crown (petioles, leaves, fruit and young stem) with copper fungicide at 3 g/li. of water once every 14 days.

Anthracnose - The disease is caused by Collectrichum gleosporiodes and effects not only the fruits but also petioles of older leaves.

Symptoms - Small, round, water-soaked areas appear on infected ripened portion of the fruits. Fungus produces pink spore masses, which appear in concentric rings in the lesions. Fungus also penetrates into the tissues of the fruit, causing it to become darker and softer than the surrounding tissues. Infected portion have unpleasant flavor. On green parts, it appears as small, water-soaked lesions oozing out from the infected areas.

Control Measures - Spray with recommended fungicide plus a spreader sticker to ensure good spray coverage at 7-10 days interval. Post harvest storage decay can be reduced by treating fruits in hot water at temperature of 110-120?F for 20 minutes.

Pythoptora rot - Symptoms:

Seedling damps-off, root rots, trunk cankers and fruit rots. Immature fruits are attacked through wounds while mature fruits at any location.

Control Measures - Remove infected fruit and dispose properly. Spray copper fungicide at recommended rate. (For fruits in storage, control by hot water dips at 46.7?F for 20 minutes then cool with running tap water.)

Papaya Ringspot Virus - The Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV) is readily transmitted mechanically by sap. It is also stylet born and insect transmitted by aphids. It is not readily transmitted through seeds.

Symptoms - Vein clearing, mottling and the presence of yellow spots are the initial symptoms of the leaf. Later, the leaves are reduced in size and margins tend to curls upward and downward. Dark green concentric rings or green spots appear on fruits and the disease progresses, fruit set is sharply deformed and smaller.

Control Measures - Eradication of infested plants and spraying the infected and the apparently healthy tree surrounding it with appropriate insecticide before uprooting and chopping the infected trees to small pieces. Place the chopped plant debris in a sack or plastic bag and burn it in a suitable place.

Never intercrop papaya trees with possible alternate host such as watermelon, cucumber, squash, etc. Enforce quarantine measures prohibiting the transfer and introduction of papaya and alternate hosts from affected orchards to new growing areas. Use resistant papaya cultivars.

Harvesting and Post Harvest Management

Papaya generally starts to flower after 5 months from seedling and the first harvest is obtained 4 to 5 months later. When intended for vegetable, papaya can be harvested when fruit is at color break to ripe. For shipping to distant market the fruits should be harvested when the apical end starts turning yellow and the latex is no longer milky. Do not allow fruits to ripen on the plant and they should not be dropped to the ground to avoid possible injuries. Use step ladder or plumber helper with long bamboo pole to pick the fruits if the tree grows taller.

To harvest, to twist the fruit until its stalk snaps off the plant or cut the stalk with sharp knife.

The productive lifespan of papaya gradually ends on the 3rd or 4th year. As the tree matures, production also slackens. The yield of well-managed papaya plantation is 35 to 40 tons per hectare.


A good method of packing is to place the fruits in single layer in a rectangular wood container lined with dried banana leaves or shredded newsprint to protect the fruit against the normal hazards of transport and handling.


Ripe papayas may be stored at 8.3 C and partially ripe ones at 11.9 C. At these temperatures, the fruit can be kept for 3 weeks. To avoid chilling injury which is manifested by impaired ripening, do not store less mature fruit below 7.1 C.

Food Uses

The papaya is regarded as a fair source of iron and calcium; a good source of vitamins A, B and G and an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The following figures represent the minimum and maximum levels of constituents as reported from Central America and Cuba.

Ripe papayas are most commonly eaten fresh, merely peeled, seeded, cut in wedges and served with a half or quarter of lime or lemon. Sometimes a few seeds are left attached for those who enjoy their peppery flavor but not many should be eaten. The flesh is often cubed or shaped into balls and served in fruit salad or fruit cup. Firm-ripe papaya may be seasoned and baked for consumption as a vegetable. Ripe flesh is commonly made into sauce for shortcake or ice cream sundaes, or is added to ice cream just before freezing; or is cooked in pie, pickled, or preserved as marmalade or jam. Papaya and pineapple cubes, covered with sugar sirup, may be quick-frozen for later serving as dessert. Half-ripe fruits are sliced and crystallized as a sweetmeat.

Papaya juice and nectar may be prepared from peeled or unpeeled fruit and are sold fresh in bottles or canned. In Hawaii, papayas are reduced to puree with sucrose added to retard gelling and the puree is frozen for later use locally or in mainland USA in fruit juice blending or for making jam.

Unripe papaya is never eaten raw because of its latex content. [Raw green papaya is frequently used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.] Even for use in salads, it must first be peeled, seeded, and boiled until tender, then chilled. Green papaya is frequently boiled and served as a vegetable. Cubed green papaya is cooked in mixed vegetable soup. Green papaya is commonly canned in sugar sirup in Puerto Rico for local consumption and for export.

Young leaves are cooked and eaten like spinach in the East Indies. Mature leaves are bitter and must be boiled with a change of water to eliminate much of the bitterness. Papaya leaves contain the bitter alkaloids, carpaine and pseudocarpaine, which act on the heart and respiration like digitalis, but are destroyed by heat. In Indonesia, the flowers are sometimes candied. Young stems are cooked and served in Africa. Older stems, after peeling, are grated, the bitter juice squeezed out, and the mash mixed with sugar and salt.

Antibiotic Activity

Studies at the University of Nigeria have revealed that extracts of ripe and unripe papaya fruits and of the seeds are active against gram-positive bacteria. Strong doses are effective against gram-negative bacteria. The substance has protein-like properties.

sources:,,, picture from


Banana is one of the most common and widely grown fruit crops in the Philippines. It is also one of the country’s major dollar earners, and has consistently ranked next to coconut oil and prawns in terms of value earnings during the last five years.

In 1991, banana topped local production among the other major fruits such as pineapple and mango, thus eating up more than one-third of the production pie.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Beekeeping (or apiculture, from Latin apis, a bee) is the practice of intentional maintenance of honeybee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper (or apiarist) may keep bees in order to collect honey and beeswax, or for the purpose of pollinating crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary.

What is it? - It is something you can do as an extension to your farming activities.It involves keeping bees to get honey and wax as a final product.

What can I earn? (gross, net) - The more the number of bees you keep, the more the quantity of honey produced and hence more the profit.

What is the market for it? - Honey and wax have the potential of being sold at a local haat(market) as well as in the national market because of their demand in the household as well as the industrial sector.

What is required? (raw materials, skills, technology) - A little bit of space, a queen bee and some flowers around. Your family can run this business. But you can have a larger farm by adding as you go.

Can someone help? (training, tech. support, loans, raw material, and marketing)
Yes (see related post at the bottom)

The Enterprise

The enterprise is based on the conversion of nectar of flowers into honey by the honeybees. The worker honeybee collect the nectar from the flowers over a period of time and convert it into edible honey. The honeybees store the final product in the combs of the hive. The conversion of nectar into honey by the honeybees is by a biological process. The harvesting of honey from the forest has been in practice since long and huge profits from this enterprise promoted rearing bees in the farms. In the recent past this practice has been adopted gradually by rural communities while diversifying their agricultural practices.

Market Potential

The products of be keeping are honey and wax. These are the sources of income from local market and can be marketed from the local haat to a big market. Honey has been used extensively by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies as an ingredient of medicines and cosmetic. Most of the medicines of ayurveda are honey based. Honey is also used as an astringent. Even at an household level ,honey is consumed daily due to its medicinal properties as has been recommended in the traditional medicinal system. It is also considered beneficial for diabetic patients. Wax is another product from this enterprise which has a flourishing rural market due to its different uses.

Production of honey from farmlands can be a secondary activity for farmers as it requires less time as compared with other activities and can be carried out by women and children in a house.


Beekeeping can be initiated by individuals or groups .It requires limited capital and minimum dependence on foreign technology. Its manufacturing process is described below.

Production / Manufacturing Process

Honey is a delicious and highly nutritious food .By the traditional methods of honey hunting , many wild colonies of bees are destroyed. This can be prevented by raising bees in boxes producing honey at home.

Following preparations are required for starting beekeeping:

Hive: It is a simple long box covered with a number of slats on top. The rough measurements of the box should be around 100 cm of length , 45 cm of width and 25 cm in height. The box should be 2 cm thick and the hive must be glued and screwed together with entrance holes of 1 cm wide. The slats (top bars ) must be as long as the hive is wide in order to fit across and the thickness of about 1.5 cm is sufficient to support a heavy honey comb. The width of 3.3 cm needs to be given to give the bees the natural spacing they need to easily build one comb to each separate top bar.

Smoker : It is the second important piece of equipment. This can be made from a small tin. We use the smoker to protect ourselves from bee stings and to control the bees.

Cloth: to protect our eyes and nose from stings at the time of work near the apiary.

Knife: It is used to loosen the top bars and to cut of the honey bars.

Feather:To sweep the bees from the comb.

Queen Excluder:

Match box:


Protection from sunlight is important in order to maintain an optimum temperature in the hive, also care should be taken to prevent against overcrowding and drought by taking suitable in order to make this enterprise sucessful. Apart from this, there are pests like ants , bee pirates (a kind of wasp ), wax moth, honey badger, spiders and large hive beetles which also attack honey combs over a period of time so it is necessary to take adequate protection against them.

Production Flowchart

1. Prepare a home for the bees by taking a single longer box covered by a number of slats . this is called the hive.

2. Before putting a swarm or even a colony in a prepared hive ,it would be beneficial to make the hive smell familiar by rubbing old brown comb pieces.

3. Capture the Queen bee from a natural swarm hanging from a tree into a match box.

4. Place the queen under a hive and let it spread its special scent to attract the other bees and then place the swarm into the hive.

5. Feed the hived swarm for a few weeks by diluting a half cup of white sugar in half a cup of hot water as this will also help in building the comb along with the bars rapidly.

6. Harvest the honey by smoking the bees off the parts which needs to be harvested and cut the combs carefully. Harvests are normally possible during and shortly after the two main flowering seasons , namely October/November and February-June .A ripe comb is light in colour and filled with honey. More than half of the honey cells on both the sides are sealed with wax.

Financial Viability

1. Social Viability- A beekeeper need not own land to realise a cash crop from this part time rural enterprise. Honey and beeswax can be produced from an area of little agricultural value The Honey bee does not compete for resources with any other agricultural enterprise. Beekeeping can be initiated by either individuals or groups. It allows the farmer to earn additional income to support his family.

2. Legal/Statutory Requirements- Since the unit proposed can be set up at the household level, with no major investment, no legal formalities are required for setting up the unit.

3. Environmental Viability - Beekeeping has positive ecological consequences .Bees play an important role in the pollination of many flowering plants , thus increasing the yield of certain crops such as beans, melons, sunflowers and various fruits. Honey is a delicious and highly nutritious food. By the traditional method of honey hunting many wild colonies of bees are destroyed. This can be prevented by raising bees in boxes and producing honey at home.

For bee supplies and materials, and further information, read Honey Bee Culture


Monday, February 16, 2009


Garlic grows well in clay, alluvial and sandy loam soils. Sandy loam, properly applied with fertilizer, generally produces big, compact and heavy bulbs of good quality. Heavier soils such as clay loam also give good yields if cultivated and fertilized properly. Garlic needs cool weather during the early stage of growth thus it is best to plant them on months oc October and November.

Garlic likes full sun an well drained soil. Garlic is quite tolerant to any soil types but it does best with sandy-clay-loam with pH 6.2 to 6.8. The field should drain easily - standing water can make the bulbs rot on the ground. To increase the tilth of the soil, add organic matter like well-composted manure. You also green mulch, that is plant cover crops such as clover or buckwheat and till them to the ground.

Prepare pieces of cloves in the afternoon, the day before planting. Carefully separate the cloves from each other, caring no to injure them. Choose only the big pieces for planting. Soak the cloves for 2 minutes in a solution of malathion prepared by mixing 3 tbsps in five gallons water. Treating the cloves with malathion would kill the microscopic mites that causes " tangle top" a common garlic disease. Drain off the solution and put the cloves in a clean container for planting.

Land Preparation

Plow and harrow the land thoroughly to kill weeds and to produce fine smooth, and level surface. Broadcast the recommended amount of fertilizers and mix thoroughly with the soil before leveling the field. For 1 hectare, use 125 to 175 kgs. each of Urea(45-0-0) and 14-14-14 or 12-24-12 NPK fertilizers. Mix the 2 fertilizers thoroughly. If Urea is not available, use 235 to 270 kgs. of ammonium sulphate. Mix with 115 to 130 kgs. 14-14-14 or 12-24-12 fertilizers.

After these, spread rice straw evenly on the entire paddy to a thickness of about 5 cms. Irrigate the field just enough to moist the soil. In a few days the soil is ready for planting. In planting, mark the rows with the use of parallel lines of string spaced 20 cms apart and placed jus on top of the straw mulch.

Hold the clove between thumb and forefinger and set 1/4 of the clove into the soil. Then press the soil slightly but firmly towards the clove. Plant the cloves at intervals of 20 cms. in the row. Garlic does not need much irrigation, as long as there is sufficient soil moisture, bulb formation would be normal. The plants are ready to be harvested as soon as 3/4 of the tops or leaves become fully ripe or dry. Lift the matured plants gently from the ground and then arrange them under direct heat of thw sun.

Pest an Diseases

The important pests of garlic are mites and cut worms. Cut worms can be controlled by spraying with solutions of EPN-300 at 3 tablespoons in 5 gallons water plus sticker. andImidan 50 WP at 3 tablespoons in 5 gallons water plus sticker. Against mites use Tedion V-18 at 3 tablespoons of water. Spray the plant once a week. Pink rootcan be prevented only by planting resistant varieties.


Many people make a istake by waiting too long to harvest. Keeping the garlic in the ground beyond a certain poin does not result in bigger bulbs, but rather dried out,split and become useless. When to harvest? When the lower third to half of the leaves turned brown, but there are still mostly green leaves high on the plant, its time to harvest. Others suggest when the hardneck scapes are standing straight up but before the pods containing the bulb is open up. You can always test dig one or two plants. Yopu should be able to see the shape of the cloves beginning to bulge through the wrapper. There is also 2 to 3 weeks in the harvest dates of sev eral varieties. Watch your plants carefully. To get the plants off the ground, don't just pull them, stlaks will break. You must dig, using a pitchfork or the like to loosen the soil. then you can lift the plant off the ground.

Dont let the bulb stay in the sun very long as it will scald, which would reduce its quality.


Storing garlic needs an even temperature (50-70 degrees F) and a relative humidity i the 50-60% range. Make sure they get plenty of air circulation. when storing in bulk, onion type mesh bags hanging in a well ventilated room is good. In the kitchen, a ceramic garlic keeper will do. Do not store at high humidity or i the refrigerator - they will try to sprout and their taste will not be good.



Planting potatoes using growths has been tried and found better than using the root crop itself. The former is more productive and grows faster. This is possible with the varieties Ackersegen and Mariella.

Manner of Planting

1. Select potatoes free from disease with growths around 1-3 cm long.
2. Cut up the parts with growths that will serve as " cuttings ".
3. Plant these first in a pot.
4. When 4 or more leaves come out, this can be transferred in the field.
5. Potatoes like clayey soil or sandy soil. Seve the soil to remove dirt and clumps of soil. Mix the soil with animal manure. 1 part soil and 2 aprts dried manure.
6. Make pots out of banana or nanka or similar wide leaves.
7. Fill this with the mixture of soil and manure.

Cutting Up the Growths - The best time for cutting growths is from October to the first days of November.

1. Remove with hand the growths from the flesh of the potato.
2. Cut up the potato with growths around 4-5 mm size.
3. Place the growths in the center of each pot and press gently until it is halfway down in the soil mixture.
4. Place these in shade where there is no strong wind.
5. Water with hose 3-4 times a day.
6. In 3-5 days, roots and shoots will grow.
7. 0n the 7-8 days, put them in a place with adequate sunlight.
8. Put 1 gram urea and 2 grams single superphosphate in a liter of water, and spray this on the plants 2-3 times a day.
9. After 2 weeks, plants will be about 7-10 cm. high. This can now be transferred to the field.
10. The mother potato from where the growths were taken can also be planted.

If shoots are many, 2 growths can be taken from every root crop and planted immediately.


1. Make beds where the cuttings will be planted. Make the soil fine, and plant the cuttings 20-25 cm apart.
2. Apply fertilizer :
. animal manure - 2 kgs/sq. m. or 20 tons/ hectare.
. superphosphates - 350 grms./hectare
. muriate of potash - 150 gms./hectare
. nitrigen - 150 gms./hectare
3. In planting, choose a time when it is not rainy. Transplant the whole plant from its pot so as not to hurt the roots. Place 1-2 plants in every hill. Put soil around each plant.
4. Water the plants 2 times a day for a week.
5. From transplanting, apply fertilizer 4 times: 12-15, 25-30, 40-45, 55-60.
6. After 3-4 weeks without rain, irrigate the plants as in ordinary irrigation.


1. Choose only matured root crops.
2. Store in a place with plenty of sunlight. Let this harden and turn green.
3. after 7-8 days, store in the usual way of storing crops.



There is one way of planting kamote that has been tried that can make it yield 20% more. The stems to be planted are taken from healthy plants, 2 to 3 months old. The cut stems are watered first, then covered with plastic sheet for 2 days. When ready for plantin, the stems will have developed small roots which will hasten the growth of the new plant. It is advised not to remove the leaves before planting as this will reduce the roots that will eventually become crops.


Sweet potatoes can be harvested about 3 1/2 - 4 months after planting. If the harvesting is made too early or too late, only a few crops are harvested and the quality is not good. The over natured ones are fibrous and rot easily. Do not harvest after a rain or when the ground is wet because the fruit contains much water then, and will rot easily. Besides it is harder to gather and clean the crops whenthe soil is muddy it is easy t when the soil is dry.

Procedure in Harvesting

1. Cut the vine first, roll it over to one side and plow the beds to bring out the crops.
2. If done manually, do not use pointed metal tools but wooden tools with pointed ends so as not to hurt the crop.
3. Carefully cut the vine in separating the crop.
4. Cut the vine closest to the crop.
5. Do not pile up the crops so as not to bruise them.
6. Do not leave the newly harvested crops exposed to the sun. This will make them dry up and shrivel.
7. Put the crops under a shade.

Storing Procedure

1. Use a right size basket to contain the harvested crops- not overflowing so as not to bruise them. It is in bruises and hurts that rotting starts.
2. Becuase of this do not use sacks for storing.
3. The storage place must be near to your house or farm so the crops will be transported easily.
4. Use bamboo, cogon or coconut leaves for roofing and sawali for for walls in storage places.


Sunday, February 15, 2009


Millions of Filipinos leave the countryside to find greener pastures in the cities and in other countries only to find out later that the greenest pastures for them are in their country and in their hometowns.
This blog is to inspire Filipinos to go Back to the Basics and start looking around for opportunities in the countryside where can live contently with their families.
The Philippines is an agricultural country and we must concentrate basically on agriculture and its potential to make our country self-sufficient and a very comfortable place to live.

Back to the Farms


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