Mulberry farm tourists from the Philippines.
Mulberry pickers from the Philippines.
IN TAIWAN, the leisure farms offer a lot of recreational activities to attract visitors from the local cities as well as from abroad. One of them is fruit picking that is enjoyed by both the young and the not-so-young.
MULBERRY TO ATTRACT TOURISTS – At the Fairy Story Village Organic Farm in Yilan county, we particularly enjoyed picking ripe mulberry fruits. This is a fruit tree that is grown in many countries around the globe, both in temperate and tropical countries. Some varieties have elongated cylindrical fruits while others are just half an inch long or even shorter. In our hometown in Ilocos Norte, we call mulberry “amoras” but is rarely found now in backyards.
MULBERRY PICKING AS D.I.Y. – At the Fairy Story Village Organic Farm, a bread and breakfast (B&B) business in the countryside, mulberry picking is one of 12 DIY or do-it-yourself recreational activities. Mulberry picking offers an opportunity for families (parents and children) to experience the joy of staying in the farm away from heavy traffic and pollution.
WHY ENJOYABLE? – Mulberry picking is an enjoyable experience because you can harvest the ripe fruits and can eat them immediately, even without washing. That’s all right because the plantation is an organic farm that uses no chemical pesticides. The ripe fruits, red or purple, are sweet and juicy and even children will love eating them.
MAKE THEM LOW-GROWING – The mulberry tree can develop into a tall tree, but at Fairy Story the trees are very low growing. Most of them are just five to six feet tall. And that makes harvesting easy, even for small children because many of the fruits can be found just about two feet above the ground. The trees are drastically pruned to make them low-growing.
4 METERS APART – Because the trees are not allowed to grow tall, they are spaced just about three to four meters apart. With this spacing, you can plant a lot of trees in just one or even half a hectare. Of course, to make the trees healthy and fruitful, they should be adequately fertilized with organic fertilizer.
PROPAGATION – Mulberry trees are easy to propagate. Branches can be marcotted to produce planting materials that will bear fruit in a year or two after planting. Branch cuttings can also be rooted in nursery propagation bags. This, too, is a practical system of multiplying mulberry. There are also reports that mulberry can be propagated from seeds. The plants from seeds will take a longer time to grow but it is claimed that fruits of seedling trees are often more uniform than those from cuttings.
NATURAL FOOD COLORANT – Mulberry fruits contain anthocyanins which are responsible for the red, purple or black color of the ripe fruits. The anthocyanins are said to be water-soluble and are easy to extract for use as natural food colorants.
LEAVES FOR SILKWORMS & LIVESTOCK – Mulberry trees are not only important for their edible fruits. The leaves are the main food for silkworms. They are also rich in nutrients for feeding livestock. In fact, the Alaminos Goat Farm of Rene Almeda in Laguna uses leafy mulberry twigs for feeding their goats.
AS BONSAI – We have also seen another use of the mulberry tree in Taiwan and in Thailand. Plant arts aficionados grow the mulberry tree as bonsai. And the trees, grown in shallow pots, are very attractive especially when they are heavily laden with fruits.
COLLECTION AT DMMMSU – By the way, in the Philippines the Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU) in Bacnotan, La Union, has a collection of mulberry varieties that are used in their silkworm project.