Thursday, January 26, 2012

One Sunday Morning Harvest from Mama's Garden

A bit late but I would like to wish Happy Chinese New Year.
May the dragon year brings good health, fortune and luck.
I have been back in Adelaide for 10 days now after my trip back to Malaysia. But I feel very exhausted at the end of the day in this first month of the year 2012. Hopefully I will regain some energy and leave this lethargic phase soon. It was a very short and busy trip to Malaysia about 5 days. I did get to help prepared small veggie patches at mama's place and sowed seeds on them. This is what my youngest sister and I managed to harvest from my parents garden on the morning of my departure day to Adelaide. I was in charge of picking roselle flowers while my sister harvested the chillies. It was no easy task picking them as this part of the garden looks like a mini jungle and might have imagined some slithering creatures that can be encountered. I don't even pick all of them. It was too difficult to reach as the roselle plants were taller than me and no entry from the opposite side of the plant.
This is how one of the corner of the veggie patch look like. At the front of the photo are chilli plants which has noticeable red fruits dangling on it. Roselle plants are on the background of this photo. I probably step onto many turmeric plants on my way there. Chilli plants thrive on my mama's garden. They provide so many volunteers as well. On average, my sister harvest at least a bucket full of chillies every month. Most of them are bird eyes chillies.
Chillies harvested by my youngest sister. She harvested them by plucking it with bare hands. 
Some lady fingers, citrus, passionfruits and papaya were also available to harvest from their garden. There are lots of waste of over-ripe papaya and citrus not taken and simply drop from the tree to become compost.
Plenty of passionfruits to share with squirrels and birds when they ripen all around the front garden pergola which can fit one big car.
Home-made Roselle juice and Home-grown young coconut water to enjoy.
Ate a lot of tropical fruist and sambal belacan from those home-grown chillies.
Happy Holiday Australian Day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

40 degree Celsius Baked Veggie Harvest

From the previous post, we mentioned that we lost many plants due to the 40 degree Celsius hot weather that we had at the closing of year 2011 and starting of 2012. Almost all of our pumpkin/squash plants died and we only managed to get a pumpkin each from the spagetthi squash and small sugar pumpkin plants that we were growing. The thelma sanders sweet potato pumpkin plants gave us a second one before it also died due to the hot weather. I am not sure whether we will be able to get any more pumpkin for this year, although I did sow some pumpkin seeds last weekend.
Many of the root vegetable top were burn and some don't even have a trace so I had to dig blindly to harvest those root. This is how some of those harvested roots look like before they got a scrub. Some chilli fruit were also scorched by the heat.
Above harvest after some scrubbing...
Many of the root top parts have to be cut because blackish and dehydrated.
Pak choi leaves were also scorched but I have taken out the dried leaves. Tomato fruit skin also turn brownish at the side that facing the sun.
Carrots harvested from containers because they have no more top leaves.

It will be awhile before I can blog visit again because something suddenly came up and I have to go to Malaysia for a very short trip today. It has been 3 years since I have not been back. I will drop by and reply any question if any after everything settles down.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Damage is Done

During end of last year till New Year we experienced hot extreme weather about 40 degree Celsius. This has caused a lot of damage with our plants. Well we lost many plants and I don't feel like we have any summer garden at the moment. Pictures that we are showing are only a part of of the garden and only taken from the back of our backyard fence. Surprisingly, chives are very hardy plants. However, in front of those chives used to be alpine strawberries that I transplanted end of winter last year. It cannot be seen in this photo but these chives and alpine strawberry is actually a row with a length of more than 3 metres. I am not sure how many alpine strawberry plants I lost but roughly it should be more than 30 plants including the dead ones in the container. Lucky that we don't spent fortune on them because there were from volunteers or divisions from the original parents that we grown from seeds almost 3 years ago. Fortunately, their parents survive in partial shade and hope provide some babies for next planting.

Where did all the green plants when?
We can't even see much of bare soil before surrounded by foliage.
However, now all perished.
We used to have 4 potato plants and 3 spagetthi squash plants, inter-planted with sweet corn on this patch. I should dug died potato plants out to see whether there are some spuds. But I really don't have the motivation to do that and on top of that I don't even know where the plants were because hardly no trace of those plants. Cherry tomato plants patch next to this patch also look really bad. Not sure whether I can save it or not.

Vietnamese mint/laksa leaves herb plants were also burned badly by the scorching sun. The right Vietnamese mint plants look very crisp isn't it. Five plants at least damaged like that. Lucky again before the hot weather I took some cuttings in our kitchen to propagate new ones.

Farewell our carrot and parsnip plants.
Many of the carrot and parsnip plants top were burned to crisp.
I had to dig blindly to harvest the roots.
Because there were no trace of the tops.
Harvested roots were not juicy but they were still very sweet.
Our kids enjoyed them in Fish soup.

From the front row: Lebanese zucchini not sure if they bounce back; Red capsicum bell some died and some of them lack of growth since germinated; Purple top turnip leaves wilting: Bonica eggplant has bloom but it won't set fruit and young lemon grass plants hanging tough.

Somehow one of the volunteer Evening Sun Sunflower managed to bloom the next day after the 40 degree Celsius day. Sigh, not much left to look forward in this summer garden this year.

The weather has cool down.
We even have some shower today.
Hopefully will help some of the plants to stay alive.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Growing shallots in container

We tried to grow shallot the first time this year and planted the shallot sets in May. The shallot sets that we ordered came in between medium to very small size sets. To get bigger shallots it is important to plant big size sets to ensure you get good size of shallot harvest. So when you harvest them remember to keep the big ones for next planting and use the rest for your cooking. Other than growing them in the ground soil, we also tried to grow them in container and see whether it grows well or not. We don't find any difference in growing them in container or on the ground soil. It is all much depend on the size of the sets were planted. Big sets bigger bulbs and small sets will resulted on small bulbs. So if you don't have much space, you can try growing them in containers since it takes almost 9 months to harvest them depending on your climate and location. The shallot variety we grow is matador.
Push in the shallot sets roughly this much into the soil and waited for it to sprout.
They sprout easily when the weather has cool down in fall.
Maybe leaving it in the fridge for few days can help it sprout?

After a few weeks later...
For more productivity in the garden since shallot will fill in that precious spot for sometime, don't forget to inter-plant with quick crop. For example we sowed some small globe radish type around the shallot and sowed some carrot seeds near the edge of the container. This vegetables is said to be good companion . Can you see some tiny carrot seedlings and some has not sprouted when the photo were taken.

How deep was our containers for growing shallot?
About 20cm deep.
Dragon carrots growing nicely together with shallot in the same container.
Shallots just starting to produce some bulbs.

Producing more shallot bulbs.
All the photos are from the same container to follow the shallot growing progress.

The right shallot plants are almost ready to be harvested and cured.

I am quite satisfied with my first time growing shallots. If I live in a suitable place to grow them I will certainly make sure I plant them every year. Big shallots harvest were from the right side shallot plants from photo above. There are more than 10 bulbs harvested from that plant. The small shallots were from small shallot sets planted on the ground soil. South-East Asian cooking uses shallots most frequently and that amount will probably only last me for 2~3weeks.

Shallots are commonly thinly sliced and fried crisply for garnishing dishes in Malaysia. You can easily find the ready-made fried shallots sold in shops in Malaysia. Shallot is one of the ingredient commonly use to make sambal belachan or dipping sauces for grilled fish. Shallot has very little calories that make it good for a person in diet by making his or her meal more appetising by using it as marinade. From my childhood memories, we rarely eat outside so it will be a special treat when we did that so satay was usually served accompanied with peanut sauce, rice cakes, cucumber slices and raw shallot slices.
What is your favourite shallot variety?

Kitaran Hidup Daikon (Daikon Life-Cycle)

In the radish families, for us daikon is the easiest and suitable radish for us to grow. We also like daikon because its flavour does not turn hot quickly and do not need to be harvested quickly like other radishes when the flesh can become woody if not harvest quickly. Can be left for months on  the soil. But have to be cautious that when spring comes it may start to flower. Although sometime it is said that daikon can be grown all year round. In our case, spring-sown daikon tends to bolt quickly before producing much of a root. I am not sure what factor causes this. Can it be the day length or other environment stress factor, I am not certain. Water was still enough in spring so we can eliminate that factor. But we have tried 2 spring season consecutively and yielded same results. However, we have no such problem when we sowed daikon seeds from end summer through fall here. Daikon grows very well through that period.
Newly germinated daikon seeds.
Although daikon grows very big and long root, it grows really fast compared to other root vegetables. From front row to back row; daikon, carrot and parsnip. If you have not grown daikon before, you will be surprise how much daikon root can grown in 6 weeks in good environment. So it can also be a good inter-cropping plant.
Daikon is a good soil breaker plant.
If I am not mistaken, daikon leave is edible.
Well caterpillars and slugs do like to munch on daikon leaves.
Moreover, daikon is related to Asian greens and broccoli, the brassicas.
Daikon plants that is starting to flower. 
At this stage, the daikon root is still edible.
Daikon flower and seed pods.
Daikon flower resembles kailan (Chinese broccoli) flower.
However, daikon seed pods shapes is different from kailan or other leafy brassicas seed pods which can be differentiated easily. Our flowering daikon plants grows for at least 5 feet tall.
Daikon seeds.
Lenay harvested the seeds and I have not sorted it properly.
How do you like to prepare your daikon?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Harvest during Christmas week till before New Year

I had to decide to harvest many of our vegetables the day before we have extreme weather so that it won't be much a waste especially the leafy green ones. Well the fruits can be affected as well if left hanging on the plants. For example, it does not surprise me to see burn tomatoes or dehydrated wrinkled chillies on the plant. Sadly many of our tomatoes has been dropping from the stem before it turns red in this hot weather. Even the carrot root top that is exposed are all wrinkly and dehydrated. Not as juicy as the ones we grow in our cool season. Our Lebanese zucchini has started to produce male and female flower nicely but with this hot weather it won't set fruit well. Fortunately, the bonica eggplant that we grow in partial shade has managed to produce some fruit. We harvested our first medium size Challenger tomato before Christmas, although some were effected by the scorching sun. We also harvested several varieties of cherry tomatoes these past week.
Harvested all of our hon tsai tai greens.
Had to harvest some of the leek which is still 'baby' cause they are showing the tell-tale sign of forming the flower stalk. The environment stress has probably cause those leeks to produce flower quickly to reproduce. After the extreme weather passed, we probably have to pull out many baby leek. At the moment, I am keeping cool in the house and will access the damage after the weather cools down a bit. I am being pampered at the moment cause dear hubby waters the plants in the evening.
There were several potato plants that had dried long time, so harvested some potatoes.
I just remembered that I planted some 'Ruby Lou' or was it called 'Ruby Red' potatoes a few months ago after I dug out those potatoes.
Surprisingly, our last Italian Sprouting Broccoli  plant still produce some broccoli shoots to harvest in warm weather. Pick the largest Pak choi to harvest before their leaves were burned. The younger Pak Choi leaves growing in the garden has been burned now. Don't know whether pruning them later is worth the try but there are always hope.
On Christmas day, we went fishing at Moonta and the weather was very windy. Not a very calm day, we left early but hubby caught some crabs to bring back.
I wonder whether we have anything to harvest this week after extreme hot weather.