Saturday, July 31, 2010

Strawberries for Ilhan

alpine berryWe are very lucky our strawberry plants fruit all year round. Strawberry is an extraordinary fruit because it seeds are not inside the fruit like other fruit but it is on the outside where we could see it.I sowed alpine strawberry seed last year April and it start to produce fruit in October the same year. I did not get to see  these alpine strawberry first set of fruit because I was staying with Rayyan in Hospital nearly a month due to his critical condition in need of close monitoring. Each time I tend to our alpine strawberry plant, I feel grateful enough that it provided Ilhan something to look forward to everyday searching strawberry when it was difficult for him to cope with our absence in those hard moment because he is still very young. An activity I still enjoy with Ilhan early in the morning searching for ripe strawberry when I don’t have to rush to school.

Alpine strawberry seedlings.
Alpine strawberry flower is white. I found that during cooler season the fruit is much bigger compared to warm weather even though it takes longer to ripe. Compare with other strawberry variety in our veggie patch, Ilhan like the alpine strawberry the most.
This is the first strawberry runner we ever planted in our life. It has pink flower. This strawberry plant still provide us many fruits. The taste is not very sweet, a bit sour suitable for cakes. I like this one but not Ilhan favourite.

Another different white flower strawberry variety planted in hanging basket. I cannot remember either this is tioga or red gauntlet variety.
As I am posting this, thinking of tomorrow morning - search strawberry with Ilhan.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Purple Choy Sum

Hon Tsai Tai or known as ‘Purple Choy sum’. Sowed them last month and transplanted them to their permanent place 2 weeks ago. We look forward growing ‘Purple Choy sum’ as it has been said the stem become more purplish as the weather gets cooler.
Intercropping hon tsai tai with cauliflower to utilise space. We tried using coriander to prevent snail or cabbage butterfly from chomping the leaves. Not very effective this time . Hon tsai sai were planted near the fence and it is too far for me to stretch my body to  check for cabbage butterfly egg or caterpillar.

We could see different shade of purple colour hon tsai tai stem.
Mik was collecting seeds from English Daisy flower when she heard a loud bang on the sliding door window. To her surprise she had to rescue a fainted bird. Mik pampered the bird I reckon cause it gets very comfortable in the house and is not afraid of us. The bird had 5 fresh fat caterpillar pick from vegetable leaves for tea and chook food for dinner. Mik even made the bird its own little nest with tissue box and put in on top of the kitchen cupboard. The bird did not attempt to fly outside when it is much warmer in the house then outside. Clever little bird. Of course the kids are excited too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Popeye favourite vegetable


We started to sow spinach seeds (Bloomsdale variety bought from phoenix seed) from this month as the weather in Adelaide are much cooler now. Moreover, we only have limited kind of vegetable seed that we could sow now due to the cold weather. I never grow spinach before, so this is another first exciting attempt

.This is the biggest spinach growing now in polystyrene containers. BLOOMSDALE SPINACH (1)


Spinach growth stages.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Currently, I am reading a book by Sylvia A. Johnson : TOMATO, POTATOES, CORN AND BEANS~ How the foods of the Americas changed eating around the world. When I came on the section ‘Pineapple’ , I was surprise that this tropical fruit actually originated from the New World. Pineapple was not a native fruit that has been growing thousands years in my birth country but was introduced by people who came to Tanah Melayu for trading. I was very good in history during my early education and I remember we did have to learn a bit about what plant we trade during British imperialism. In Malaysia form 2 secondary school history textbook we were taught that before World War 2, Malaysia was the second biggest canned pineapple exporter in the world. However, the textbook neglected to mention that pineapples are not native to us or did I misunderstood what I was reading back then. I think the next time I talked to my baby sister who is now a form 2 student, I ask her  where she think pineapple originated from. Johor state used to have one of the largest plantations in Malaysia which has a town named after pineapple “Pekan Nenas” (Pineapple town). There is also a Pineapple Museum near the town. I remember when I was working in Johor, on my way to a friend wedding we passed by “Pekan Nenas” and there was a big pineapple replica welcoming people to their town.

A few minutes after reading the book, I suddenly remember I completely forgotten about my pineapple plants. How are they coping with Adelaide winter this year? I was a bit homesick, pregnant and still in the state of denial about Rayyan heart condition during that time I planted the pineapple crown from the pineapple fruit we bought from Adelaide Central Market. I have two pineapple plants now and they are 15 months old. We called them P1 and P2 like Ilhan favourite show Bananas in Pyjamas. Looking at my pineapples today, they don’t look that bad and I have faith they will survive the second cold season. When spring comes, P1 and P2 will pick up growth quickly again. Hopefully they bear fruit before I complete my studies. I grow snow peas between the pineapples now. Take a guess~ How long does a pineapple take to produce fruit in Adelaide?


This information about pineapple is taken from the official website of Malaysian Pineapple Industrial Board

Christoper Columbus is the one who introduces pineapple to the whole world. He discovered the pineapple fruit in the Carribean waters on November 1493 during his second voyage there. Since then, pineapple has been widely known globally and was later introduced to 'Tanah Melayu' in the 16th century by the portuguese. In Portugal during the old days, the price of pineapple is too expensive and can only be enjoyed by the high rank community only and because of that, it is known as Royal Fruit. The first illustration of pineapple was printed in 1535 by Fater Oveido in the ‘Universal of India’. He first witnessed the pineapple tree during his visit to America in the year 1513 and is instantly attracted to the uniqueness of the pineapple fruit and started to sketch it.At one time in Europe, pineapple is regarded as a superior tropical fruit and is a symbol of family and love spirit and as a symbol of welcome to the guests.

Canned pineapple was first introduced in 1901. In 1911, an engineer by the name of Henry Ginaca has invented a machine which is capable of peeling the skin and pith of 100 pineapples in 1 minute. Until now, ‘Mesin Ginaca’ was still used widely.

The 'Hutan Simpan Bukit Nanas' which took its name in commemoration of this pineapple cultivation is situated in the centre of the Kuala Lumpur City and was journalized as a Permanent Forest Reserve in 1906 with an area size of approximately 17.50 hectares. According to history, the name 'Bukit Nanas' existed after the hill area is planted with pineapple trees which acted as a defence wall by the original King.

Pineapple is an authentic crop to Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. Its original name, 'ananas' is a word originating from the 'Tupi' people, which is the original race from Brazil. It means "a very good fruit". Worldwide, there are various local names for pineapple. The Englishmen calles it 'pineapple' due to its shape which resembles a pine tree, ‘pina’ for the Spanish, ‘Na-na’ for the native Americans which means 'fragrant', ‘Anana’ for the French, and ‘Ananaz’ for the Portuguese. Pineapple is the 3rd most important tropical fruit in the world after banana and mango. In Malaysia, pineapple is the most important fruit tree and is given priority.

In the modern medication, pineapple is used as a digestion agent to decrease the swollen effects after a surgery or also after suffering from physical injuries. Pineapple is also believed to treat cancer, whereby molecules which is extracted by pineapple known as CCS molecule prevents protein known as Ras. Another molecule known as CCZ strenghthes the patient immunity system to fight cancer cells. Pineapple has a high sugar content and also rich with vitamin A, B dan C. In traditional medication, pineapple is an important ingredient which smoothen the menstrual flow, solve digestion and hydration problems, urine, body worms, tiredness, and undigested urine as a result of bromelin enzyme content. Apart from being eaten, pineapple can also be used as a meat softening agent, and wood and metal cleaning agent. Its husk can be produced into textile and string, net, paper, and rope. Its dregs can be processed into animal foods, while its juice can be produces into perfume and cosmetic products.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bellis perennis


Bellis perennis also commonly known as English Daisy.english daisy 2

This is my first time growing Bellis perennis. I bought a punnet of seedling from our local nursery in Adelaide (planted them in April). It is thriving very well in Adelaide winter. Good border flower plant. I planted them in front of my broccoli.


We are collecting seeds from the flower now so that we don’t have to buy them anymore. We also have already sow some seeds from this flower. Several seeds has start to germinate this week.

This flower self-sow easily. This is for me to remember how the small seedling look when they pop up in the veggie patch. Hopefully when I do weeding, I don’t think they are weed. Hmmm…let see how the seedling look when they grow having their own true leaf.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Galangal and the kids


growing galangal

Its a fine sunny weather in Adelaide today. We spent the whole morning outside doing different kind of activities. The galangal rhizome sets that I bought from Green Harvest needed to be planted immediately. According to the leaflet they provide to us is that for short term storage- fridge in the crisper (not applicable to us we have a long time to go through until warm weather comes) or heel in (what I did today).

Heeling-in Dormant plants>

Heeling-in is a method for temporary storage of plants, Some plants prefer to be heeled-in if you cannot plant them out immediately. Choose a shaded position in the garden and either plant directly into the soil or use a styrofoam box as a temporary planting container and cover the plants with either potting mix or coco peat. Keep the plant moist but not saturated, When you are ready to plant the heeled-in plants in thein final position, be careful to not disturb any roots that may have grown. In frost prone areas always wait until after the last frost before planting out.

Plant Description>

Galangal’s native habitat is the Malay Peninsula. The name ‘galangal’ is derived from the Arabic Khalanjan, perhaps a perversion of a chinese word meaning “mild ginger’. It is perennial herb, between one and two metres in height, depending on variety. The leaves are 25-35 cm long, rather narrow blades. The flowers are borne at the top of the plant and are small, white and streaked with a deep-red veining. The rhizome resembles ginger in shape and has a distinctive reddish colouring. The rhizomes are tough and difficult to break. It prefers rich, moist soil in a protected, shady position- such as under trees-and is drought and frost tender. In permaculture system it is a useful understorey plant. suitable for warm temperate to tropical areas.

When you divide the galangal rhizomes for planting make sure they are one or two buds on every rhizome sets (refer above picture if you are not sure). I can only divide 4 sets with the purchased galangal. Last year I planted four galangal sets as well.It still growing well expose to Adelaide winter now. It does not grow as fast or big like galangal planted in the tropics. My mother galangal plant is taller than 2metre back home in Malaysia. Galangal that I planted in Adelaide the tallest growing now is just my knee high (I am only 157cm). However in my experience growing galangal, ginger and turmeric in Adelaide, among these three tropical roots herbs- galangal is the most hardy growing in Adelaide compare with the other two.

galangal (2) .

This is one of the galangal I grown last summer. I was constantly worried that the honeydew that I grown vertically won’t fall on top of my galangal plant. I still have not harvested any of the galangal plants that were planted last spring.

It is a pity in Malaysia many young generation cannot recognise our root herb plant on site such as turmeric, galangal and ginger. My siblings too won’t get some of it right. When mama asked them to harvest some from her garden sometimes they bring back different thing…hahaha…But I myself don’t like to go fishing around galangal root when my mama give that task to me. The galangal root is so hard to cut through.

thinning carrots copy I noticed some of our carrots plant roots are pushed out from the soil because they grow to close from each other . Carrot seeds are small and not easy to sow them.I don’t thin them when the carrot top are small. I let them grow until we could get small baby carrots.  Ilhan helped thinning the carrots. Ilhan got his hand dirty from finger painting in front of me while I planted those galangal sets. 

ilhan mikhail Rayyan is practicing his weeding skill. May be in the future he help mow the lawn.

rayyan My partner went fishing early in the morning and brought back 12 salmon trouts.


Good season for allium



Ilhan, Rayyan and Mik planted some onions that has started sprouting (Onion sets?) while I have to do some work in lab today. Mik said Ilhan planted 4 onions. Then  he keeps saying sejuk sejuk (cold) waiting for Mik to finish planting the rest.DSC07814

We will wait and see if we could get something from these sprouted onions. I am just not sure if these onion can survive next Adelaide summer and heat wave with our so limited water resources. Onion need at least 8 month to produce nice bulbs and that will be next year!



We also sow onion seeds direct on the soil alternating with carrots (companion planting).  Those onion (Aussie brown variety) just started germination 2weeks ago. I will thin the onions when they look like spring onion for miso shiru. Australian brown onion (Allium cepa) seeds were bought from phoenix seeds. Australian brown (brown spanish) is an older style (<1900) storage onion with firm, off-white, pungent flesh. Onions begin to produce bulbs naturally as daytime hours get longer (late spring through summer) which makes the time of sowing rather critical if normal size are to be produced. If sown out of season the plants are likely to grow through more like spring onions. Maximum bulb size is usually reached when the tops start browning off.

When I was studying in Japan, my landlord (oyasan) gave me a bag full of onions (tamanegi) every year. My oyasan like to garden but has a small family so she gave some of her produce to me whenever I drop by to pay my rent. She plant her onions in front one of her apato building she owns. Onions she gave me always last me for a long time. Well I was alone that time and a poor student. Now I am still a poor student again.


red onions

Last May, we bought 1 punnet of red odourless onion. Planted those onion seedlings in containers and patch near broccolies so we get less attack from unwanted creatures. They are the same size as mature spring onions now but we see no bulbs yet. 

I enjoy looking at leek plant in the cold season rather than the warm season. Planted 4 leek varieties this year.Germination is good in cold weather than summer. I wasted lot of my leek seed sowing in summer. Poor seed germination in summer.



garlic (2)We also have garlic in the patch. I would like to plant more but we have another month to spring. I don’t think we have space to plant them anyway.


‘Red Stem Welsh” spring onions- the stem turns to red when its cold. I got to see the stem turn red now. It was not red when I planted them during spring.

‘Red Stem Welsh” spring onions and red odourless onion plants are making us confused. In the veggie patch they look similar now.Sometimes I forget which is which and Mik has to keep on reminding me.

Chives are slowly growing in the veggie patch now.

This is the story of our happy allium family which is one of the members in our veggie patch for now…

Friday, July 23, 2010

Peas everyday


PEAS (5)

We are harvesting snowpeas (mammoth melting) and sugarsnap peas (telephone) almost everyday now.  We sow our first batch of peas in April. They are flowering profusely now.PEAS (6)



We also tried growing peas in hanging basket that has been planted with strawberry before. Is it a good idea or not? No verdict yet.

PEA (2)

Peas sowed in May. Perhaps another month or so it will start producing.

PEA (5)

Peas sowed in June.

Succession sowing to prolong our pea harvest because kids love them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wong bok 1st attempt

wong bok bolting (2)This is the first time we are growing wong bok. I am not really sure whether it is the correct time to grow wong bok in Adelaide or not. The seed packet did instruct that we have to experiment or do trial on which suitable planting time in our area. I did a series of succession sowing from end summer through mid-autumn. The seed germinate almost 100% during this period.Transplant seedling when they are big enough to handle ( I let it be at least more than 5cm tall). We were so looking forward for many harvest with this good start.So far, I have at least 9 plants that is in the process of bolting. Picture above after close up look like it is forming flowers. Mik (my cousin) help with pulling out all the bolted wong bok so we could plant other veggies on that now available space. Space are limited so I decided not to let it flower to keep seed because we still have so many seeds.wong bok (7)

Picture Left: Some of the wong bok that Mik pull out from containers yesterday. I am going to reserve some of the available space in the container for onions ( another 1st attempt).Mik tied recycle stripped cloth to make wong bok look like barrels which they supposed to be look like instead of the leaves lay flat on the ground looking like a green rafflesia. We hope this will prevent more bolting.


This one look promising the leaves has shapen itself like a barrel. I am going to sow wong bok seeds next month and see how it goes again.

If we could keep bunny as a pet. It will be so fat eating wong bok!!!

Alas, off you go in the compost wong bok…

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rayyan tasted cauliflower & broccoli for the 1st time


DSC07665Our first cauliflower harvest for this season. This is the first time Rayyan tasted cauliflower and broccoli. Well almost all cool season crop is his first anyway like peas. He was still in my tummy same month last year.

 We have cut some of our broccoli (Italian sprouting) plants central head. But we can still have some broccoli produce from side shoots like picture above. Unlike, cauliflower where it only produce one head and you have no more produce from them anymore. We wonder how long we could continue harvesting our broccoli plants


seeds (2)

Ordered some seed packets online for spring planting from Green Harvest last week and arrived yesterday morning together with galangal, turmeric and ginger rhizomes. It is still too early to plant the rhizomes yet so I am keeping them in dry place. I am thinking what should I do with the galangal as it need immediate planting. I ordered the rhizome earlier this year because last year I could not get my hand on ginger because they sold out. I could buy ginger at the market but I noticed that during spring/summer the ginger price is most expensive compare with other season in Adelaide. It is more than AUD20perkg for ginger in spring-summer!!!

seeds (4)

My theory is that ginger is harvest in the cool month (ginger takes about 8 month to mature and have many big fat roots). For example, if a farmer plant ginger in September  that means it is ready to harvest in May or June.  So when the weather is warming up, farmers are busy planting new ginger plants.So, only limited supply of ginger to shops or markets in spring and summer. Up goes the price!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chili still fruiting in winter???

Our chilies did not fruit or flower at all last winter. But this winter it does not stop fruiting at all. Not few fruit but abundantly. I don't even give them protection at all from the weather. It has to defend itself from the cold strong wind. What I had in mind is that if a few chili plant could survive until spring comes, we don't have to wait for new plant to start producing to enjoy chili harvest again. Maybe in spring they start fruiting again this almost year old chilies I thought. Wow, they surprise me this year producing through winter.Another good thing about this chili plants of ours is that they don't even use lot of space...some squash between broccoli plants.

Last autumn, I had freeze some chilies and preserve chilies in vinegar for our stock for winter. However, I have not yet use them. We still have to many chilies for our use and friends are happy with out chilies giveaway.
We are trying to dry the chilies but it is a bit of a challenge in this cold weather. I aiming that we don't need to buy any dry chili anymore. No more in our grocery list we hope starting from now.

Winter chili>
1)Ripening takes longer
2)Red color a bit pale not fiery

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our first cauliflower produce for this year, will it be snowball or all year round variety first?


We planted 2 varieties of cauliflower this year: snowball (from phoenix seed) and all year round. We started to plant cauliflower end of April last year and our first harvest was in August. I without any knowledge of planting cauliflower last year simply choose the all year round variety seed pack in Bunning last year. On that same day, I also bought a cauliflower seedling. However, the cauliflower seedling bolt to seed (I did not even realised it was bolting that time) several weeks after. Cauliflower was our first brassicas that we grow for our first time. Although caterpillars are happily munching those leaves, all of the cauliflower produces good firm head. Not even one bolt to seed. Moreover, no pesticides were used. The only mistake we had was sowing too many seed at a time, actually only once. Succession sowing was not in my gardening notes yet that time. We had to give away lots of cauliflower to friends and neighbours. Yes, blanching and freezing are still not a familiar term with me back then too. Above picture is our last year cauliflower produce. From last year experience how to grow cauliflower all year round that I am applying this year will be:

1) Succession sowing (Result: I can prolong harvest cauliflower this year)

2) I can start sowing cauliflower in Adelaide by end of March (start harvest Mid-July)

3) For all year round variety, use the leaves to shade the cauliflower head for blemish free white head.

Picture above is our first time growing all year round cauliflower.



This is snowball variety. I have to pull away the leaves to snap picture because the leaves fold around the head. Naturally, shielding the head from direct sunlight so the head is not blemish. Looks like this will be our first cauliflower harvest for this year. The biggest in our patch right now. When I was walking around the veggie patch yesterday morning only 2 cauliflower heads I could find. The other plant is all year round but still a golf ball size.



Broccoli also is developing head in our patch.

Harvesting turmeric


I had to harvest some of my turmeric plants yesterday. Most of them are so sad looking. Plant leaves turn all brown and began to rotten. Some plants still manage to survive the Adelaide winter.



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