From "Green Thumbs Up" a column by by Elina V. Ramo
There were no more greens inside the refrigerator and the cupboard yielded just a few pieces of salted tawilis or simply put, tuyo and a handful green mongo.
The floods were not going to drain in a few hours and this unwilling city dweller would not dare wade in flood waters just to get a wilted sprig of moringa.
By the way, the leptospirosis scare is real. In fact, even before the floods hospitals have been treating cases, some might have died of the disease. I was asking my mentor in Traditional Chinese Medicine-Acupuncture Dr. Francis Ras if there is an acupuncture formula for the disease from rats. Unfortunately, the Chinese medicine practitioners are yet to come up with their success story for leptospirosis. That is sad, because yesterday, my friend's stepfather died of the disease at the National Kidney Institute.
In the middle of torrential rains, I braved going out of the enclave that was my comfort zone during the three-day floods, and behold! I got back in no time with the most precious gift my home garden ever presented to my daughters: a bunch of talinum/talinong tops and a handful of moringa sprigs from my landlady's tree.
The talinum came from several plastic containers, which I have been tending since June. During one of my running expeditions I came across a sidewalk where the talinum was growing like it has been there for ages. The stalks were so robust and the tops were beautiful with little pink blooms. As usual, these tiny flowers did not escape my eyes and I pulled every top I could reach from the sidewalk.
Mind you, a horticulturist will know that no one gets imprisoned getting a cutting of any plant (s)he wants to try to propagate in her/his garden.
The next thing I knew was that my neighbor who claims to be another green thumb in the compound was already enjoying her own pot of talinum with little pink florets. She got it from my pots and I do not doubt it.
Back to my flood guerrilla cuisine, I succeeded in concocting a whole new mongo recipe: sauteed mongo with talinum, moringa and ashitaba leaves.
My daughters' discriminating appetite for vegetable dishes did not work and I heard no unprintable comment from any of them.
Back in Baguio City after getting stranded for about a month in the erstwhile city of man, I was more than glad to see the herbs in my garden. Despite the rains and the very cold easterly winds from Lingayen Gulf, my oregano, basil, chives, leeks and mint remain robust.
All the pots that contained rosemary were empty. Only the rotting twigs were on the pots. Earlier rains damaged the tomatoes, some tea mints, and the little lemon grass that I tried to grow on the ground. Even the camote patches wilted in extreme cold.
The nasuortium, geranium and ashitaba look great even under very little sun. In summer, these are also very robust like the oregano and mints.
Some sayote had to go before the onset of the rainy season because of the threat of dengue. Its wide bowl-like leaves tend to collect rainwater where mosquitoes lay eggs. If only I knew that food crops would dwindle like these, I could have risked getting dengue than starve without veggies on the table.
By the way, my friend Chongloy of Luisa's Cafe was asking for some tawa-tawa, a proven cure for dengue fever. I heard he wanted to propagate some in his home garden. Unfortunately, my own tawa-tawa is no longer in the flower pot where I first saw it two summers ago. #