The whole point in getting rid of the lawn and covering the garden with rocks was to prevent weeds from growing and growing wild. Imagine our surprise when, instead of weeds, edibles started covering the rocks.
Basella alba is alugbati in Filipino. In English, it is known by various names including red vine spinach, climbing spinach and creeping spinach. It used to grow along the perimeter of the garden, but now, it covers almost half the entire garden. And that’s after we covered it with rocks.
Yes, a rock garden almost half of which is shaded by a mango tree. How alugbati sprouted, and continues to thrive, reminds me of that oft-quoted line in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” With rocks covering the soil, with the mango tree keeping direct sunlight away and with no water except when it rains, the persistent alugbati managed to find a way to push through the rocks and creep upward in search of the sun. One can consider it invasive. But what does it prevent from growing anyway but weeds? From an esoteric perspective, I see its tenacity to survive as both amazing and awe-inspiring.
But the alugbati is not the only survivor in the garden.
Almost a year ago, Alex planted seeds in pots. Basil, bell pepper, parsley, habanero, cherry tomatoes… Over the summer months, she watered them dutifully, pulled out weeds and even created makeshift trellises for the cherry tomato vine to climb on. When the monsoon season set it, it became difficult to monitor the seedlings’ growth. Eventually, Alex just let them be.
A few days ago, I was making pico de gallo and I went to the garden to pick some kaffir limes. What pushed me to walk to the opposite side of the garden where Alex’s pots were, I have no idea. But I did.
And that was how I discovered that the bell pepper and the habanero have started to bear fruits.
How we will cook the bounty from our garden, well, we’ll think up of a few dishes that require alugbati, habanero and bell pepper.