Sunday, December 23, 2012

Karnival Si Jantung Hati

If you have time today do join in this HeartKids Charity Carnival held at Dewan Annexe, UITM Shah Alam. Lots of great stuff to get there, spend and donate for good cause. I will be helping out Supermom Nadia at the gardening booth so hope to see you there.
Sneak Previews of stuff donated for the gardening booth by kind souls:
 Supermom Brenda Ang ~ cute cactus and herb seedling plants.
Supermom Herny Yusnizar ~ 20 packs of Vermicompost (RM3)
Supermom Hebatullah Kamilah ~ 20 varieties of seeds (10 pack each) :
  1. Red Bangladesh Amaranth
  2. Local Semi Red Rounded Leaf Amaranth
  3. Late Flower White Stalk Choy Sum
  4. Local Green Rounded Leaf Amaranth
  5. Oily Green Long Bean
  6. American Coriander
  7. Aromatic Basil
  8. Golden Yellow Round Leaf Amaranth
  9. F1 Hybrid Five Star Lady's Finger
  10. F1 Hybrid Pearl Gold Sweet Corn
  11. F1 Hybrid Extreme Yield Red Chilli
  12. F1 Hybrid Golden Thousand Super Sweet Corn
  13. F1 Hybrid New Green Eagle Chilli
  14. F1 Hybrid Market Wonder Cucumber
  15. Red Flower French Bean
  16. Fu Chew Brinjal
  17. F1 Hybrid GF Special Feet Brinjal
  18. GE Grade A Water Convulvulus (kangkung)
  19. F1 Hybrid Star-8 Cucumber
  20. Type B Curly Leaf Chinese Kale

 Gardening booth in progress yesterday setting up.
Supermom Nadia and her mother Salehaton hard at work.

Some of the plants that will be available:
Suriram spinach, Rambutan fruit seedlings, Mango fruit seedlings, Water hyacinth, Walking Iris seedlings, Snake plants, White anthirium plants, Spider plants.
Some fresh fruits and vegetables are also available:
Lemons, Green Papaya, old coconut for coconut milk, rambutan, NamNam, Passionfruits, Chillies, Pandan leaves, Curry leaves.

Hope to see you there!

More items not listed yet!

Thank you very much for the donation received from all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ceri Terengganu

 I would like to introduce a fruit plant that I have discovered on our backyard while cleaning up some space for planting food and came into my view. Oh what is that glossy smooth dark red skin fruit looks like a cherry fruit but growing in clusters like grape? So I asked on experts local medicinal plant in facebook group and many gurus said that it might be a plant called 'Ceri Terengganu'. Well ceri in our national language is an English borrowed word so 'Cherry' and Terengganu is one of Malaysia state. It is more seen in the Terengganu state or Johor state as well. Hence the plant is commonly known as 'Ceri Terengganu'. It does have other name known as 'Perupuk' or 'Kelelek' and the scientific name is Lepisanthes alata which belongs to tha Spindaceae family. This distribution of this plant is South-East Asia and it seem the plant does not have an English name yet. New leave shoots are interestingly in purplish colour. The plant fruits are edible but this plant is more used as ornamental plant for landscape by the council or providing some sheltered from the sun. The ripe fruit is said to be sweet (I have not tried it, I might pick some and let the turkey and geese have a taste of it first) with a little bit of  green raw fruit taste-like (I actually don't know how to describe the word 'kelat', may be other gardeners can help a bit). To enjoy the fruit sweetness and lessen the rawishhh taste, it is advice to rub the fruits  between your hand first. Make it a bit mushy. The fruits can also be roasted. The Ceri Terengganu ripe fruits attract bird and bats and they help dispersed the fruit seeds. The Ceri Terengganu tree fruits all year round, it does not have a specific flower or fruiting season.
 Our Ceri Terengganu tree is growing under our very tall tamarind plant at the moment so it is receiving filtered sunlight due to the tamarind plant big canopy. Not much known about this plant and only little scientific research has been done to understand the medicinal or nutritional value of its fruit. Traditionally it is said boiled water with this root plant can reduce itchiness or fever. The dark red colour of the skin fruit is said to contain anthocyanin that also aids as anti-oxidant. The fruit might also be used as natural colouring. 
 If you visit Malaysia, hope you can enjoy our local cherry plant :).

Mungkin mana tahu next MAHA kita dapat rasai jus ceri Terengganu pula (klik sini untuk info).
Sokong produk tempatan kita.

Mmmm...nak rajinkan diri ke petik buahnya buat jus.

I think I have to make an inventory what plants we have in my parents garden. So clueless at the moment. So that we siblings and our children will know what treasures our parents has grown for us and now we are the ones who really enjoy their fruit of labour.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Selamat Datang (Cordyline Fruticosa)

 If you visit Malaysia you will be welcome by the word 'Selamat Datang' in the national language of Malaysia. If you are visiting our home this plant flower will greet you 'Selamat Datang' first as it is growing next to our front gate greeting our visitors. I thought this plant has only showy reddish and green leaves, surprised me it did when I opened the gate and saw the plant pretty flowers near the front gate this week. The weather in the Klang Valley at the moment is rain every afternoon. We don't have to water the plants at all since we came back.
I am not sure what this plant name is, any tropical plant expert know the name of this plant? I thought it was a croton type plant but when I was googling the croton plant flowers it looks totally different. So perhaps not.
Standing tall in front of our house front gate.
One very tall blooming plant, almost reaching the cable wires.
 This flower stems shows the different stages of how the bloom look like from bud to spent flowers going to seed perhaps (From left to right). I wonder how this plant seeds look like if they are not sterile flowers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Touchstone Gold Beetroot

 I bought Touchstone Gold beetroot seeds last year spring but planted the seeds this year autumn and harvested the roots early spring ago. This is just an observation note of this beetroot variety for future reference as I still have several varieties of beetroot seeds waiting to be sowed stashed in my seed box. The name does make me think that it is a yellow golden root beetroot that we anticipated to harvest. The globe storage root skins is lighter shade of red, though with yellow-green leave stalks.
It is easy to differentiate the Touchstone gold beetroot seedling plants compared to other more common red beetroot that are available in the market. Although it might get mistaken as yellow coloured leave stems Swiss Chard.
Always forever forgetting to thin the seedlings (laziness is more honest), thinnings have already started to form roots but if you have plenty of space to grow edibles, you can still transplant them somewhere in the garden. Beetroot can be merciful in transplanting and not as fragile/tricky as carrot or parsnip seedlings.
  I found that Touchstone Gold beetroot does not grow much during Adelaide winter but does pick up growth again when the weather becomes warmer in spring. Does not flower quickly like rainbow chard if over-wintered.
 This is the reason why the name is attached with the 'gold' word, as can be seen the root flesh is golden yellow and some rings can be seen in the beetroot. This beetroot does not bleed like the red ones. The taste is mild and you might prefer this one if you don't have a sweet tooth.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hen and Chicks

 It took more than 3 years after I have adopted 3 hens and chicks plants at the same time that they decided to bloom for us. It was really sad to leave them since it took so long to finally enjoy their lovely bloom. Now these plants have been safely adopted by other gardeners in Adelaide.
 Hen and Chick plant is very easy to grow and can live with neglect at our previous dry Adelaide garden. This succulent plant is easy to propagate and does not need much soil to grow big. A very drought-hardy plant. It needs well-drained soil to live happy. The plant leaves form a rosette which resembles more like a flower itself.
 The flower bud jutting out from the leave rosette centre.
How the flower stalk form from this angle. I waited so long for the flower bud to finally open and bloom. I was even very worried that I will miss the chance to watch the bloom before I have to part with it.
 Alert alert when you found black ants exploring your hen and chicks plant, make sure to get rid of them. Those black ants will only cause problems to the plant as it usually a sign that it has bring some pest along with them and give shelter to unwanted pest. The presence of many ants on the flower bud can damaged the buds from being able to open and bloom.
Not just me, but bees were also enjoying themselves with the blooming flower of hen and chicks plants.
I think those gave-away plants must have more blooming flowers now. 
Sigh, wish I still enjoy looking at them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea)

 Hello everyone its been awhile. November has been a really busy month and it is almost a month I have not done any postings. The reason being is we moved house. We are now officially not gardening in a dry Mediterranean climate garden but a wet tropical garden. Yes we have safely returned back to Malaysia since 15th of November. We were so exhausted the last week we were in Adelaide so busy with packing and cleaning our rented house. Moreover, a lot of other things needed to be organised and we have a 2 months old baby to care between me and my husband. The garden needed to be cleared and the agent wanted us to get rid most of the plants. So I decided to save or transport the plants that can be easily brought along back with me to Malaysia. It was another separate task we had to do because it will be heartbreaking to chuck the plants into the green compost bin. Most of my container garden polystyrene boxes were given away to friends, made me happy that they have an "instant garden" and a good way to spark gardening interest to friends. We managed to bring back 2 big boxes full of bare-rooted plants safely back . Well actually more than 2 boxes since I add in some plants into our luggage as well. We only brought back plants and Abbiyana stuff back with us by flight, the rest will be sent by sea shipment. I am one very crazy gardener, took me more than a week to transplant all the plants we transported back from our once upon a time Adelaide garden.
 I bought 8 bare-rooted society garlic from online and it was really cheap than buying a pot of plant from the nursery. I was also very satisfied as it was a very healthy bulbous root. The bulbous roots that I bought online came only wrap in a wet newspaper. Society garlic can tolerate a wide range of soil and it is also a drought and frost tolerant plant. The main purpose of me buying this plant is to deter unwanted creature to a certain area as many animals don't like the strong smell of this plant. An organic safe repellent plant. I was reading a forum that even big animal like deer dislike very much to come closer to this plant. If you bruised the leaves, a very nasty stinky smell will waft through your nose so be prepared. I think this work much better to repel vampire compare to garlic. Society garlic flowers are dainty star-shaped mauve in colour .
 The leaves of society garlic are edible so you can use them in cooking- stir-fry or soup or as a garnish whichever dishes you are fond of. Because I bought the bare-rooted bulbous society garlic 3 weeks before we depart, re-potted them until the day before we say farewell to Adelaide.
 I wrapped them bare-rooted again in wet tissues and it stayed more than 7 days in box before I had time to plant them. By that time new roots were growing in the wet tissues and surprise surprise some were producing flower bud! Very cool plant not temperamental plant, they are very hardy.
The plants are about 30cm tall when flowering. Society garlic has a long blooming season. When I planted one bare-rooted society garlic on this site, there were many ants around. After a few days, ants has disappeared from that spot. Hopefully this plant will multiply quickly so I can make new division of plants and allocate to other spots in the garden especially the new veggie patch project not being trampled by turkey and his friends at the backyard. The reason why we have wires around this spot to prevent turkey  or chicken from digging the newly made small veggie patch. We are living at my parents house now near Malaysia capital city as caretakers because my parents at the moment are staying in Borneo island due to my father new working place. We have at least half an acre now to grow food, plenty of space compared to our very very very small Adelaide garden. I have not been reunited yet with my 2 boys Ilhan and Rayyan hopefully early next month. Now that 5 years old Ilhan knew we are back, he wants to fly back here with us but it was so cute hearing him on Skype said "I can't board the aeroplane because I have no money and ticket". I have not finished my studies, hopefully I can focus on finishing up my thesis writing soon.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Flowering Harvest

 Many of the autumn-sown veggies are starting to flower so its a chase to harvest all those veggies ASAP. We harvested all of our Florence Fennel bulbs and carrots last week. Our pea season are ending this month. From self-sowed autumn tomato plants we get to harvest some ripe cherry tomatoes.
 The warm weather this week has hastened tatsoi to flower and got to harvest them. We harvested a few left overs chiogga beetroots.
Our only surviving chamomile plant is still producing flowers which we welcome very much.
 We also harvested boltardy beetroot last week. The last edible purple vienna kohlrabi was harvested. This kohlrabi has very long-ish thick stem but still edible.
 Golden nugget cape gooseberry and alpine strawberry fruits are still in season here in our small garden. We had volunteer garlic small bulbs sprouted in container last autumn and I pull them out all for immediate use in the kitchen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ubi Kentang 'Royal Blue"

Before living in Australia, I never knew that there are so many types of potatoes. Furthermore,different variety of potatoes also have different texture when cook and are put in categories like salad potato, waxy or floury. Some variety of potato are all purpose use, or good only for boiling or roasting. I am going to admit I am still not good at remembering which type of potatoes is good for boiling/roasting and so on. I still don't know much how to differentiate or understand the term  'waxy' or 'floury' potato. Maybe you can  give me some tips?

 Last year end of winter, I tried growing 'Royal Blue' potatoes which is an all purpose potato with purple skin and yellow golden flesh. See how different the 'Royal Blue' potato skins compared with other potato variety in the top basket.
Sprouted 'Royal Blue' potato  ready for planting.
'Royal Blue' potato seedlings.
 Instead growing the sprouted spuds in the same patch last year at the end of winter, I planted them in different location because I wanted to see how they grow in different spot around our house. This plant that was growing next to a row of bush beans and tomato plant grow very fast. But I suspect the heat from the brick drive pathway help a bit during the unpredictable weather in spring season. I usually stop dreaming planting potato in our scorching summer unless growing them in partial shade  with much lesser yield. So for summer, we swap growing potato with sweet potatoes.
The first heat wave visited early as always at the end of spring and some potato plants could not withstand the heat and few of the potato plant died earlier than I would like to start harvesting those potatoes. The almost 4 months old 'Blue Royal' potato did gave us a decent harvest size of baby potatoes in such an early stage compared to other potato varieties that we planted last year.
 The 'Blue Royal' potato can also be grown in our garden well at early autumn for winter fresh harvest. It is a reliable potato for us to grow twice a year in our micro-climate. So far, 'Blue Royal' potatoes gave the most yield per-plant in our garden compared to others in terms of quantities or production. Another all purpose potato that does well in our garden is Desiree.

Have a lovely weekend!

Selamat Hari Raya Haji.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Purple Top Turnip

 I had so much fun growing purple top turnip this year after more than a year trying to grow them successfully but did not get much of a root to enjoy. But this year I got it right and the best thing was that I don't even took care of them, never water and feed them. The turnip plant grows only with rain water. What I did was only sowing the seeds. It was only the matter of sowing the seeds on the right time and season. To grow them easily will be early-mid autumn which is March and April. Later than that the turnip might not give me much root but will probably produce flower much earlier. Thank you to Mr. H owner of Subsistence Pattern for introducing me this beautiful root vegetable.
Purple Top Turnip Seedlings.
Sowing turnip seeds in spring for me is a bit tricky if it get stress out due to lack of water will bolt easily. We really have dry weather by end of spring so it hard to make sure the soil does not dry out quickly.
Its time to thin those plants.
Sometime I got confuse whether these are turnips or radish plants if the label gone missing. Yes, the small hands in our home love to collect these labels. I always wonder how in other gardens all round the corner of this humble earth their turnip roots develop rather quickly and some I read harvested the roots in two months. Ours turnip roots does take long time to develop in good size. Although I sow them early autumn, it usually in spring seasons that I can enjoy harvesting the root. The root starts develop in spring and not much in winter except for the leafy top.
Turnips rubbing shoulders because the gardener did not bother to thin them was on sick leave :P.
Can be grown in container.
Oh my that turnip is squashing a volunteer celery I see.
Slugs/Snails must have been having a taste of that turnip looking at those scratches.
The container I have been using is only about 20cm deep.
Yup yup yup had so much fun growing them this year.
Or should I said not taking care of them this year at all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back to School and Harvesting

 I have returned to school from maternity leave almost 2 weeks now and Abby is 2 months old. Hence, disappearing for a short while again from the blogsphere. I have not come in early to school yet probably around noon as it is hard to leave Abby. But then I stay at least until 7PM. I think that is an excuse I am never a morning person (another excuse low blood pressure). The Medela freestyle breastpump has been a savior as I can do 3 things at a time breastfeed, expressing and browsing the net. 
I missed Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday last week so these are the harvest summaries for the first half month of October.
 The month of October will be continuously harvesting Western Red Carrot, Boltardy Beetroot and Golden Nugget Cape Gooseberry.
 We still have some fresh lemon grass stalks to harvest after the plants stayed dormant during cold season. Peas are reducing as the weather gets warm. Harvest the last black round Spanish radish last week. Need to start harvesting Florence Fennel regularly before they flower. We kept on finding some potatoes whenever we do some weeding in the garden.
We harvested our first small red cabbage last week. No more Bloomsdale spinach in the garden as I harvested them all as some of the plants starts to form flower stalk. The last 2 touchstone gold beetroot were harvested and I left one to flower to collect seeds.
 The harvest in the photo above were growing at the back of our backyard fence on reserve land. They got trampled by the council cleaning team. My husband was shocked when one morning he wanted to harvest some veggies at the back all the veggies were almost gone and even big plants were mowed. We managed to harvest leeks that had hair cuts because the stem were planted deep into the ground and only the top were mowed.Same with the florence fennel were severed from its roots and the leaves cut , lucky that the bulb stayed intact. For 3 years, I grew veggies back there but this is the first time happened. The spring onion flowers were left drying on the plant but it got chopped so brought them in to dry.
The previous post I mentioned that I am giving-away Australian Brown Onion and Spring Onion seeds.
Winners, please send me your address so I can post it to you (

Aussie Brown Onion and Spring Onion Seeds Winners:

> Gardenglut author of Glut: a year in my patch

> KitsapFG (Laura) author of The Modern Victory Garden

>Joyfulhomemaker author of Fhat Farmer Chick

>Ummuaidan author of Our Simple Garden

>Malar author of My Little Garden

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lesson from Onion (Seeds Give-Away)

 The Australian Brown onion and spring onion plant in our garden taught us something new about them this spring. Onions are biennial plants which flowers/seeds on their second year. After the plant has produce seeds, it will leave us as the plant has spent it last energy producing seeds for new progenies. Same goes for biennial flower like foxglove or hollyhock. Last spring, we left one plant growing in a polystyrene box after cutting out all the dried seed pods. I sowed some water spinach seeds in the same box after adding new compost, thinking while the onion plant spend it last days will helped deter some pest away from the young water spinach seedlings. Another spring came again for the onion plants, those water spinach plants long gone since autumn as they don't do well in cold season but those onion plants remain evergreen and produces seeds again this spring. I was really amazed that those onions kept on growing and produces new buds each time we cut the drying pods. These onion plants can be short live perennial with our mild winter. 
I discovered that growing Australian brown onion and spring onion for seeds once well-established in the garden:
~Require minimal care.
~Good companion for young plants.
~Does not require much space to keep as you can plant some plants in between.
~Require minimal watering
~Withstand scorching summer heat.
~One plant each is enough to give plenty of seeds or share for next season planting and save money from buying seeds.

 We have very small space to grow plants but I don't think saving seeds from these plants will take much space. Australian Brown Onion is a long-day variety and a long keeper. Sometime you find it in catalogue sometime you don't. I don't find the seeds available from the seeds company I got it first now this year, Digger has it in its catalogue at the moment.  I have experience several times of heirloom seeds that I like to obtain once again is not readily available anymore. Therefore, saving seeds of rare varieties are the only way to ensure I can continue growing the variety I like and suits my garden.

 I am giving-away Spring Onion and Aussie Brown Onion seeds for 3 seeds sowers of this post. The winner will be pick by the old-fashioned way of writing the name in the piece of paper, roll, shake and let see which paper will be pick randomly. I will announce the lucky recipients on my next posting perhaps tomorrow.
 Abby first passport photo. It was not easy to take as she keeps on turning the head side-ways rather than looking up at me. The photos were taken outside in the garden as I like to use natural light.