Wednesday, September 26, 2012


YOU may not know it but in these latitudes as in any other there are changes in light, it gets darker earlier, and brighter later, in the mornings.

September 2012, has been the third driest and hottest in a hundred years or whatever, since they have kept some records in Puerto Rico, USA.  There are one or two blogs taking in consideration weather, eco-region, climate in the botanical inventory used in any installation.  When these are considered, in the planting scheme, in addition to soil structure,  the rate of survival increases, the amount of  diseases, weeds, maintenance, decreases at least in this neck of the concrete asphalt.

The Pithelobium is no longer with us, however our first egg plant and sweet capsicum were planted in the north side, not inducted yet until they prove their resilience.  They are a swap for the second pumpkin with Tio Felix, a self taught farming authority, mason and moonshine curator with tens of anecdotes to tell.

One about our Quiscalus niger brachypterus, Cassin, a small crow like, mischeviousl--bluejays come to mind--bird is unforgettable. While doing some construction work, the lady of the house commented on the skinny shape of her dog, even though she fed her regularly...Tio Felix surprised the birds mentioned picking the dog food, dropping it in the swimming pool to retrieve it later when soft. Solving the mystery.

In our garden All is fine and dandy in our garden, except that the time hose/hand irrigating increased accordingly, a shore I do not care for. There is not much else to write/say, well maybe I should finish with these words.

Watching all that is wrong in my surroundings in terms of gardening is wearing me out.  From now on, I will try to focus in the most documented garden in the Caribbean. A spot where perfection is always an issue. No sleeping and no laurels.

that is that  


Sunday, September 23, 2012


WHEN I commented to me wife the public  reaction in USA, regarding the 47  percent statement made by republican candidate Romney, she simply responded, 'It is true'.  Yours truly agrees.  In Manhattan, for example a huge segment of black people work in public transportation, Subway, buses you name it.  It is as if they own that little farm. Parents, children, grand, children greatest goal in life is a job here or there with  credentials and qualifications seeming irrelevant.  It is owed to them.

The white devil has kept them oppressed for centuries and there is not much left to grasp. I wonder what they do know that the government is slashing  spending in every imaginable public service.

Other colored and pale migrants have similar views on entitlement. They perceive themselves as victims not of the capital the real evil, but the white devil.

Moving away from that war lover//monger country, them Islamists barbarians have demonstrated once again their proneness to kill and maim, at the most insignificant excuse.
Cartoons do not kill.  Videos making fun of their religion do not kill.  In the west anything is mockable.

By the same token, they should remain in their own countries  and forget about migrating to the west to impose their silly views on what a religion is/should be. Europe was correct when  various countries with guts, stopped the Islamist desire to impose their irrational behavior as with  rags to hide face/hair in public or construction of mesquites.


In the south garden the second pumpkin is gone, the third, getting there. For the last couple of weeks I have noticed a significant amount of butterflies, rather unusual, hanging in the south side, while in the north the amount of bees is now around ten, from four.

The temperatures have been high, with very little rain or none. The amount of time irrigating has increased, not so much fun if you ask me. 

that is that  


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


 One of the most important studies being conducted today, at the Institute for Ecological Studies of the Carey Arboretum in Milbrook, New York is examining the types of changes to soil systems ocurring in the most urban to more natural landscapes.  Scientists are monitoring the similarities and differences of oak woodlands growing on similar soils on sites extending from Central Parkk, in Manhattan to a distance of about 200 miles north of New York where the institute is located.

This ongoing study has already shown several important urban-to-rural gradients in and around the New York City area. (Mcdonnell, Picket and Pouyat 1993).  Heavy metals in the soil were higher in urban areas and declined outwards.  Salt in the soil and soil waters trended in the same way.  Urban soils tended to be more hydrophobic, that is more resistant to wetting, as well.

Urban soils also had higher rates of mineralization of nitrogen, which is the conversion of organic forms of nitrogen, such as soil organic matter, to inorganic forms such as nitrate.  The authors suggested that the principal changes brought about by nitrogen deposition may be an increase in the abundance of bacteria in the soil and litter combined with reductions in fungal and invertebrate populations.  Urban forest-floor litter also decomposes more quickly than that of countryside forests. The authors further suggest that higher nitrogen deposition on the urban end of the gradient leads to the faster release of organic nitrogen from soil and litter that they observed.

Soil structure is affected by these changes, too, particularly by a shift from fungal dominance to bacterial dominance. The webby mycelia that comprise the bulk of soil's fungal component serves to knit together soil particles and bits of organic matter, while the substances secreted by bacteria are slippery and cause soil to slump when it is exposed to rain (Harris, Birch and Short 1993).

Unfortunately, conventional soil tests do not measure such factors as total biomass, that is, the living component of the soil, nor do they i

dentify levels of specific fungi or invertebrates. Conventional soils analyses do not reflect the high levels of nutrients cycling through ecosystems today because the analyses reflect what is present at the time rather than what is flowing through the system.  Thus we have remarkably little information on the soil's functional character.

I have been carving my niche my way or the highway slowly and focused. The information is taken from that work of art, The Once and Future Forest, previously mentioned more than once.

 Moving along, the crime committed by Alberto Areces Mallea and Gabriela Ocampo is much more grave than what I thought a decade ago.  The destruction was total.

Nevertheless, their stupidity and arrogance, has kept me going to places no other islander, in the horticultural/gardening/landscape installation here, has ever dreamed off.  Forest restoration, its principles can make anyjuan a better practioner. Understanding what goes down below the surface, could only improve what develops on top.

that is that 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


           or sterile, wasteful land uses...

TODAY while traveling to visit the PPT office, the isle workers party to become a member, the scenery from the train platform brought memories of sterile, dead and empty ghost towns. The palms and dry grass to the right,  (a deja vu) bai di guay, a reminder of charming memories of one recent  landscape/garden review in that South American territory.

The spaceship looking building is memorable for a couple of reasons. One, it looks like an airport terminal, but it is a coliseum mostly for musical events.  Two, with room for 20,000 people it has no parking lot. 

In the back of the silly dry grass landscape installation, there is parking with space for only 240 vehicles.  For reasons hard to comprehend,  the grass and walking areas, occupy as much area as the parking, a total waste if you ask me. After all, cars are more relevant in this context than a stupid ugly installation with abused vegetation.

In front of the building there are some hedges, with usual plants not worthy of mentioning, unless you request it.  The picture shows algae, a consequence of anaerobic conditions, due to water accumulation or poor drainage.  This in turn kills the vegetation for lack of oxigen.

The water on the pavement is a common occurrence everywhere irrigation systems here are installed. The heads are not aligned creating a situation of water waste and hazards when pavements are smooth. 

Any way you look at this, total waste is the only result. Money, energy, resources in an useless installation for people, other flora and fauna. Besides the evident lack of aesthetics, that,  unless you live in Barbados, in which case, all  is fine and dandy.    

that is that

Sunday, September 9, 2012


  WHEN the gardening takes place in urban asphalt/concrete situations as in mine, hiding as much as possible the sterile, hard, dull views provided by ugly structures is vital.  In the north garden, for example, I can sit in front of the garage and see mostly green, blue sky and white clouds.

This clip shows the work in progress.  I do not think there is much beauty yet, however, the shade is spreading consistentlyEventually the south and west gardens will reduce the heat significantly during certain hours, cooling off the yard and the house.

In many gardens there is intentional beauty and not a not much else rule. Down this neck of the concrete/asphalt is my way or the highway. Pragmatics, theory and praxis.

                                        that is that

Friday, September 7, 2012


I FOUND  the news  regarding the television transmission of bull fights again, after a six year hiatus in Spain, very odd.  When RTV.ES decided not to continue what had been a tradition, the forces against animal abuse were enchanted, not so those making profits with the 'culture'  folklorism and tradition.  Why now, some may wonder?  I see no other reason than helping that segment of the economy creating direct and indirect jobs in a country moving along the path Greece and others countries before.

There are other festivities abusing animals to a lesser extent like San Fermin or one I never knew until recently in Spain.  A bull is tied to a pole to allow everyjuan to stick all kind of sharp objects until ithe creature is killed.  San Fermin creates tons of money, profits for internal/foreign  tourism and the service industry.  The second festivity should be only for nationals with the stomach to participate and enjoy such brutality, in the name of tradition and culture.  The Catalonians were the first to prohibit such activity.  But the implications were clear, these guys are not very patriotic, after all they speak and write their own language.

What can be written, not mentioned before, during the hunting ban of whales for such a long time?  Well, there is a tv show 'Whale Wars' or something like that.  Some mentally disturbed fellows dedicate their time, energy, effort to persecute whale hunters in the ocean to harass, making difficult the kill for these whale killers with a scientific mission for research.

But I have never heard anything about how plastic, chemicals, fecal matter in every ocean affect the possibilities of survivals of whales and most important, what they eat.  It is a very foolish game with good mentally disturbed people and the bad guys from Japan or Sweden can remember  if one/the other or both.

Turtles are another favorite annointed species requiring lots of tv shows telling us how they migrate from this point to the other to lay their eggs, always in the same spot. Or how the luminary contamination disturbs their sense of orientation. 

Swamp People has to be the most absurd animal related tv show.
The toothless, often, with speech impediment males/ females stars,
spend their time to shooting alligators with rifles.  All presented crudely and naturally.

There are other brutal sports, not involving animals. Boxing and American football.  One can leave you like Muhammed Ali/Myke Tyson in the first case or or quadra/paraplegic or with dementia for entertainment, money and profit.

Making money is all that matters.  What I would like to see is, people (mentally disturbed or not) acting against building and highway developers as they do in Whale Wars.

that is that 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I HAVE been preaching about the good side of vines in our garden for quite a while.  In our enclosed,  urban, concrete/asphalt  space, they perform their duties without complaint.  However, let the record show that only Bouganvilleas and a couple of Hibiscus  planted in  five holes dug in the concrete share the same air space.
They are one thing in nature, another in our residence.

They live happily ever after, helping each other hanging it there, creating a dense cool shade scaffold with little use of wires for support.  The botanical inventory is not necessary at this point since it is available in caribbeanbotanical review. Besides, most gardeners here or there do not keep vines in their installations for unknown reasons, even though
I speculate they could become cumbersome and scary, if you are prone to stiff views in terms of formal/informal, pruning and such. Or more probable, not living in a box like habitat, but open space in  four sides.

Before I get to that story,  I strongly suggest not to plant anything under/nearby Bouganvilleas like yuccas, agavaceas, lillys or any other plant with similar leave structure.  Their  flowers will accumulate and stick glue like on leaves, a messy picture.

The Once and Future Forest
Leslie Ann Sauer 
page 29 

The worst problems are usually caused by exotic vine growth.
Tangles of Japanese honeysuckle, multifora rose, porcelain berry, kudzu, oriental bittersweet, and certain other prolific climbers overwhelm the early growth stages of forest trees and sometimes even the canopy trees as well.  The description of these problems in Overton Park in Memphis by Guldin , Smith , and Thompson (1990) is an excellent example of an old-growth woodland in an urban park where honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and wisteria were blanketing gaps in the landscape and restricting the recruitment of almost all other species. 

The effect of invasive vines can be rather spectacular, but herbaceous plant competition by exotics such as knotweed,  gas mustard, and lesser cenaldine buttercup can also negatively affect recruitment.
If you wonder why I bother with this kind of information living in tropical Puerto Rico, it is simple, what goes on with nature in the country side or the urban side here is the same anywhere, same rules apply.  Only certain variables change: four seasons versus two, soil composition, altitude, wind, humidity and else.

Many of our 'forests' are covered by kudzu like vines, particularly in those areas near by highways that have been disturbed, one third of the country that you could observe without much effort while driving.. The amusing or pathetic thing is that  nojuan seems to notice, or the consequences in the long run. Having no sun light, covered with them vines,  the trees will pass away soon or later.

However, every other agency, group or individual too often talk/write about the environment as if some ideal Shangrila far away, unable to see the problems in front of their noses.

I recommend The Once and Future Forest to anyone in the practice.  Forest restoration is a complicated issue, requiring some research and careful observation. Yet going back to principles, fundamentals, once those are is understood, the rules are the same. In nature, divide and conquer is very true.  The deaf hogs dominant in Puerto Rico apparently never heard of it.  Alberto Areces Mallea, Phd, is one of them.
that is that 




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