April’s Dessert Garden

By Michelle Domocol

Back to Inflourish: Cebu

April is the perfect time to add dessert plants to your garden. These dessert plants are excellent flavors for ice creams, delicious smoothies, healing teas, favorite soups or other comforting dishes (Photo 2 and 3).

For April, I suggest a dessert garden planted with acerola, makrut lime, gumamela (hibiscus), luy-a (ginger), and turmeric. (Photo 1)

Photo 1. (Clockwise from Top Right) Acerola cherries; gumamela; harvest mix; makrut lime; turmeric & ginger

If you’d like to add some April savory ingredients, plant sayote, atsal (bell pepper), chili pepper, or repolyo (cabbage).

If you need more garden inspiration for April check out these past articles and my Cebu planting calendar:

Want some exciting dessert recipe ideas? Go to our Cookbook Store. We feature recipes for: Marang Acerola Ice Cream, Gingered Avocado Ice Cream Gingered, Pili Pineapple Ice Cream, Acerola Aloe Custard and sweet smoothies (Photo 2 and 3).

Photo 2. Assorted Acerola-flavored desserts from Healing Present cookbooks.
Photo 3. Original smoothies using April’s dessert garden plants; recipes in Healing Present’s cookbooks.
April Planting Advice

Here are some cultivation tips for turmeric, ginger, makrut lime, and acerola.

Acerola and Limes. Acerola and makrut limes are beautiful fruit shrubs that bloom almost year paths. They are both perfect in containers or planted directly well-draining, composted soil. They thrive in full sun exposure.

To produce more fruit, we like to prune the limes and acerolas so they remain short. Ideally, they stay 3 or 4 feet tall with lateral branches. Abundant fruit harvest on on the lower branches are easier to pick.

When I prune, I remove some upward growth tips near the top of the main stem. This ensures lower branches grow outward and horizontally. Pruning also trains the buds, flowers and fruit to grow on the lower portions of the shrub.

Ginger and Turmeric. These versatile gems thrive in partial sun exposure. The garden site should be well-draining, composted, and protected from strong winds. In the farm, they are shaded by fruit shrubs or fruit trees.

I like to get my ginger and turmeric root sections from other gardeners, official seed suppliers, or plant nurseries. Sometimes, if you use kitchen leftovers or roots from a grocery store, they may be sprayed with growth inhibitors. This affects its root growth when transfered to your garden.

If you still want to experiment with the common grocery store ginger or turmeric, soak them in water overnight. This may remove the commercial spray residue.

Ensure your ginger and turmeric roots are plump and healthy. Don’t plant any shriveled root sections. The root section should have well-developed buds (aka “eyes”). If you cut the ginger root section into smaller pieces, make sure the sliced area is calloused. To callous, dry the section for at least 24 hours. When I plant the root sections, the growth buds (or “eyes”) are pointed upwards. I cover them with 1-3 inches of soil.

Water well after planting. Regularly monitor your soil. The soil should be absorbing the water. Ginger and Turmeric roots rot easily in waterlogged, soggy soil with stagnant pools of moisture.

Gardens in the Sky: Green roof Gardens

By Michelle Domocol

Back to Inflourish: Cebu Blog

When Healing Present’s founder and staff asked me to design a green roof project in the Philippines, I was beyond excited. I knew a green roof would long-lasting value to the site’s environment as well as the owners themselves. Designed thoughtfully, a green roof gives people a layer of beautiful plants on their roof. Yes, a green roof can morph a plain roof into marvelous riots of floral color and soft, organic forms.

But beyond a look and feel, green roofs absorb heavy rainfall, reduce flooding, and naturally cool a building.

Plus a green roof is extra real estate! It’s more growing space for herbs, flowers, and vegetables. For Healing Present, it’s also another playground for children. All these benefits attracted Healing Present and other clients to the prospect of a green roof. Since Healing Present is in the middle of tropical, upland area of the Philippines, the plant selection was delectable and vast.

It included (A) coleus (B) cuban oregano, (C) purple & italian basil, (D) amaranth, and (E) purslane. This wide selection yields excellent harvests and dynamic plant combinations. If you had the time, you could install diverse plant combos 2 or 3 times a year just for fun.

Plant Mixes for Gardens in the Sky

  • Berries + Bulbs: In tropical areas, heavy duty roofs can handle dwarfed versions of acerola and calamansi (calamondin) trees contrasting tropical bulbs from the lily and onion family.
  • Native Meadow: Choose a mix of meadow flowers and grasses native to your region. In the past, I’ve chosen species that can easily grow in soil 4 to 6 inches deep.
  • Close, Happy Edibles: Choose edible dwarf varieties or veggies that can handle crowding and moderate soil depths like such as spinach, lettuce, and radishes. Or try herb mixes with lavenders, oregano, chives and sages.
  • Mediterranean Meadow: In regions outside the tropics, you can still mix dwarf fruit trees, native perennial succulents, flowers and berries. I had a successful design growing in a Mediterranean climate. The middle of the roof was sedum varieties with columbines, yarrows and chamomiles. Then the outer edge of the roof was planted with berry bushes like gooseberry and chokeberry. See the diagram below.
Mediterranean Meadow: For our readers in mediterranean regions, here’s a sample green roof concept. This is inspired by my work in the Bay Area (California)

For readers and Healing Present advocates in the US or in more temperate regions, you may want to consider the following planting combinations listed above. Of course, when you consult or hire a designer the planting combination should match your specific roof angle, roof soil depth and weight capacity.

If you’re interested in gardening outside of Cebu, you may want to check out my posts at the my posts at Inflourish: Around the World. There, I post gardening ideas inspired by my work in California, East Coast of US, Belize, Australia and other regions.