Saturday, April 28, 2012

3 Blind Mice Lovin' Sweet Potatoes

I found sweet potatoes are very easy to grow here in Adelaide plain as we have mild winters. Easier to grow than potato as you can simply leave sweet potatoes growing all year round. I usually have one spare plants growing in winter so I can cut some young shoots to propagate several new sweet potato plants when spring comes. Cut the shoots and put them in water by the window and roots grow from the veins very quick. Sweet potatoes are now weeds in our garden. If I buried the plants after harvesting, thinking in will be composted in winter, I have new plants popping out when the weather warm- can be invasive.
So I planned to plant more sweet potatoes in containers last spring as it grow without care and isolated it with other summer crops because of its invasive characteristic. To make the garden more productive I planted fast crop like Asian greens together with the young sweet potato plants. The one without Asian greens were already completely harvested. You can still have another round of fast crop with it like radish or bean and top up with compost later.
Grow without care...
But this situation welcome small critters to take shelter from the heat.
We did got some decent harvest from it, although we harvested it earlier than usual.
However, mice enjoyed them first.
Those pest even enjoyed the big ones until all left were only skin.
The ones that were save for us is the young tubers growing under the polystyrene in the ground soil. None harvest from the container for us.
Those polystyrene container were badly chewed on by mice to make bigger holes.
What we also found?
3 blind mice.
Still blind and unable to run.
The mice parents were not in time to take their babies out.
There were actually 4 babies, one of them, one of the parents tried to get it away.
But with all the confusion, squealing, hubby did not realised there were a baby mice under his boot as it was covered with sweet potato veins.
The parents were a bit agitated as it keeps running around as we put the babies in a pot near us while we clean up the area. Rayyan even named the babies- Mickey, Totoro and Ponyo. Told Rayyan we can't keep them as a pet. He was a bit upset followed his father to allocate them far away in the garden at the back of the reserve land.
Thats the story of 3 blind mice.
Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Annual Walk For Autism Event in Bangsar

If you have time this Saturday, you are welcome to join in the Annual Walk For Autism 2012.

Date: 28 April 2012
Time: 07.30am-12.00pm
Venue: Bangkung Park, Jalan Jejawi, Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar
Admission: RM25 (free for children below 12years)

for more info please visit or

Just a short notice.
Time for me to revise my first chapter again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Summer Veggies Continue...

Oppss...who was lazy leaving the eggplant at the partial shade corner not stake?
I did.

So when I finally attempt to stake the branches that were on the ground last weekend, I found 2 bonica eggplants hiding beneath foxglove foliage. One of the eggplants were bigger than my palm and very heavy for an eggplant. We had very warm days a few days ago which causes our eggplants that were growing in sunny position has wrinkle skin and not growing much. So I have to harvest them when the fruits are tiny or they stop production/flowering. Lebanese and early long eggplants are not usually bitter but due to the weather causes them to be bitter. There were many angled luffa female flower last week but not a single male around for successful fruit.

Some alpine strawberry fruits ripening in the garden this month.
The only photo taken.
They are fresh snack in the garden so photos of them are very rare.

Our first soy bean harvest from a plant.
This is my second year attempt trying to grow them.
Not easy to grow here because of dry hot weather in summer.
Soy bean like heat and humidity I think.
I tried growing them in different season and location in the garden with not much success.
How did I get them to produce this time?
I sowed soy bean seeds in the container which I prepared for a sweet potato plant.
I think the sweet potato plant crawling veins help keep the soil moist and act as a natural mulch.
Boiled the beans in salted water for snacking.

Sweet potato shoots.
Cleared up sweet potato plants that were growing in one corner in our garden.
It has been mice sanctuary.
Most of the sweet potatoes were eaten not much left for us.

We harvested spaghetti squashes before the rain comes. Left them curing naturally outside for a long time until the whole plant has actually dried off. A very tiny watermelon and cucumber were also harvested last weekend.

Cleared up the neglected patches along our driveway shared with neighbours, got some spring onions. Some capsicum were also harvested last weekend.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dahlia Cinderella

This is the first dahlia we ever grown. Bought a punnet of Dahlia "Cinderella" seedlings in 2010 at our local nursery. Some were grown in pots and some on the garden ground soil. They are easy to grow. However, have to watch out when they are young seedlings as snail or slugs like to munch on them. Dahlia "Cinderella" is a mini size dahlia it grows less than 30cm.
Dahlia (2)

I was not planning on collecting seeds or dahlia tubers at that time. The plant got completely dried and died in autumn when the weather cools down. The first blooming season  we had with this dahlia in 2010 was late spring. I wanted to use the pots that were growing dahlia cinderella for other plants and found some dahlia tubers inside the pot. 

So I kept those dahlia tubers in a paperbag and brought them inside to see how they grow when spring comes. I tried to see whether there are any tubers from dahlia plants that we grow on the garden ground soil. However, there were none tubers from the plants there. Did it get rotten with all the watering because before I realised we can get tubers from them I planted other cool season plants at that site. The pots that were grown dahlia was not water after all the plants dried. It is interesting that the garden teaches you lots of things and you find so many new things discover unintentionally. Lesson to learn: don't water the plants when you intend to collect tubers or bulbs from it. Let it dried of naturally when the blooming season has past. My excuse is I was not planning to collect any tubers at that time.

Spring came in year 2011 , the weather gets warmer and I check how the tubers are doing. They are some rhizomes (correct me if I use the wrong term) sprouting from the tubers. I gave some dahlia tubers to my mother, but I am usually worried that she over-water them. Only a few were left for my fun experiment in our garden.

Planted the tubers and several weeks later some shoots poke out from the soil.

It is really interesting to see how different the blooming season of dahlia can be when you bought it from nursery or grow your own from seeds or bulbs. I don't used any fertilizer for our plants during any of their growth stages.
When did the dahlia "Cinderella" bloom this time around?
Looks like a tree dahlia young shoot at this stage.

The first bloom was in autumn.
Not like its parent.
But I think this is normal from growing your own from tubers or seeds.
Its the correct dahlia cycle following the season and expose outdoors.
Its not from a greenhouse and boost by fertiliser.
To judge how big is the bloom size, compare with the portulaca flower that bloom near it.

Of course we cannot resist collecting the seeds too.
We collected some seeds in 2011 from the original parents but by the time I remember about them sitting in my seed box its was probably too late to sow them. Growing from seeds will be this 2012 end of the year project. Plants that are grown from tubers will be the exact copy or clone of its parents. Wonder how the dahlia will look from seeds? Will it be only one colour or multi-colours.

We finally have some rain today after very warm weather.
Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Native Plants and Bulb Crazy (Tawaran Benih Bunga Sukar diperolehi)

For the first time we went to our local ABC market which is held twice a year last Saturday. I have been in Adelaide for almost 4 years and this is the first time I bought Australia native plants. I reckon I got a reasonable price AUD$5.00 perplant. It will be very good for the birds and other little creature maybe. I still don't remember those plant names:
(1) Melalueca decussata
(2) Eremophila polyclada x divaricata (summertime blue)
(3) Bracelet Honey Myrtle
(4) Acacia floribunda (gossamer wattle)
(5) Callistemon (violaceus)

I appreciate any advice since this is not plants that I am familiar with. All the labels wrote that it is drought-tolerant plant.
What I have been daydreaming lately? Flower Bulb!!! 
My head is filled with flower grown from bulbs which hopefully be blooming right after I gave birth to the little one which constantly move so much at night I have trouble sleeping. What to do when you can't sleep? Dream of colourful blooming flowers. This is the first time I bought so many different varieties of flower bulbs.  Some of the ordered bulbs has arrived today like the flower above. Expecting mother should crave for certain taste of food. But I crave for flower bulbs this month. The month of May will be busy with planting flower bulbs. With food, I can't get it here to satisfy my cravings. So the flower will do.

Sesiapa yang ingin mendapatkan benih bunga seperti di gambar atas atau jenis lain, Sila klik gambar di atas untuk ke laman lain bagi penerangan lanjut. Stok adalah terhad, siapa cepat dia dapat ;-).

The first time I experience planting flower bulb was last year with lots of encouragement (Thank you). I am already addicted to it. I missed our ranunculas and other flower bulbs blooming so brightly in the garden last year.
Now I am admiring spring blooms from gardeners in the Northern Hemisphere.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful bloom and garden.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mid-Autumn pickings

This month harvest is all rather quick process of picking what I needed while cooking so did not taken many photos of our harvest this month. This month available harvest in our kebun (garden) are mainly consist of...
Some of our banana capsicum is ripening at the moment. Banana capsicum is not a hot but sweet variety type so Rayyan can enjoy it as well. He won't eat spicy food yet. Brought in our last batch of home-grown onion that were hanging out at the shed. Cut some Chinese celery stalk. It was growing under the canopy of our tree dahlia plants that I almost forget I have them in the garden. It does not received much direct sunlight at the moment. Harvested our first 'bari' cucumber. Its actually a melon and very mini size type. I did not realised that it is actually a 'heirloom' cucumber that is not available in catalogues. I got it from our local seed-saver group. 
With the warm mild weather, the garden is producing eggplants, cucumbers and okras. I tried to grow several variety of beans in the shade during summer as they still get indirect light. We did get some produce though not as prolific as the ones that are growing in sunny position during spring/autumn. In the basket, bean harvest from shade position.

Pull out some of our summer growing parsnips to see how they are growing under the soil, glad that they are roots to enjoy. But I will leave some for winter harvest. 'Cherokee Wax' and 'Redland Pioneer' bush bean has been the main bean that we harvested this month. I am excited with the 'Redland Pioneer' harvest because it was my first time growing home saved-seeds of this bean. The bush bean 'Redland Pioneer' produces the first batch of bean to harvest the same as the fast growth of Pak chois for fast crop. Everyweek we have some kangkung to harvest.

What amazed me is how tolerant the savoy cabbage and Italian sprouting broccoli withstand our extreme summer weather. I have one neglected happy Italian sprouting broccoli plant and still producing shoots for us at the back of our backyard fence. It only gets water 3-4 times a week during the warm season. It is already a year old.
We caught many bream fish but there are still small (mostly almost 20cm) not legal size. So have to be released back into the water. The only legal size catch that we had is whiting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stir-Fried Kangkung with Garlic, Fish Sauce and Lime

Kangkung (water spinach) has been the most generous one in our garden this mid-autumn. If we don't have anything else to harvest, we will have kangkung. We have been harvesting kangkung weekly in autumn season. With its cut and come again personality, you don't need much space to grow them. Twenty-ish degree Celsius (minimum) and plenty of water (moisture) during their growing season, reward guaranteed from kangkung.
A small corner where most of our kangkung supply came from.

My favourite kangkung dish is to stir-fry it with chillies and shrimp paste (belachan) which is a popular dish in Malaysia which we call 'Kangkung goreng sambal belacan'. Eating out at any of Malaysia local family restaurant and you see this dish on the menu.
But I decided to try something new.
So I was flicking through Gordon's Great Escape Southeast Asia recipe book and saw one of the recipe "stir-fried water spinach with garlic, fish sauce and lime"  at the Vietnam section and decided to try it with some minor changes. The recipe instructed to blanch the kangkung first. But I did not blanched the kangkung as it will wilted rather quickly when stir-fry in a wok from experience. I think you can use this recipe as well for sweet potato young shoots. Liz  (Suburban Tomato) asked me weeks ago how to prepare sweet potato young shoots. Sweet potato young shoot and kangkung plants are related and belong to the same family with morning glory.
Stir-fried kangkung with garlic, fish sauce and lime

1 bunch washed kangkung (cut abouth the length of match)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
juice of 1~2 limes ( 1 lime was more than enough for me)

- Heat vegetable oil
- Saute garlic until fragrant
-Toss in water spinach and stir
-Add fish sauce, oyster sauce and lime. Mix well.
-Stir until kangkung has wilted and quickly transfer to plate.

Express cooking.
Quick to prepare.
Convenient for busy mother.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kitaran Hidup Karot Naga (Life-Cycle of Dragon Carrot)

I did not aim to collect dragon carrot seeds last year, just did not made it on time to harvest all of the carrots in spring before it came woody and starts to flower. We planted different variety of carrots last year and one of them is dragon carrot. I found dragon carrot seems to flower much faster than other carrot varieties when we entered spring season. We were lucky that carrot did very well last year. Dragon carrot top leaves stems closer to the root are purplish in colour.

Dragon carrot fern-like foliage is pretty. If you are aiming to enjoy dragon carrot roots, try to harvest it quickly in early spring. I found that purple carrots are more sensitive to the change of day-length compare to orange carrots. Last sowing month for cool season will be May or it might straight away bolt. However, it is fun to harvest different colour of carrots in the garden.

The carrot central stalk has formed a fat looking stalk.
The carrot root core at this stage will become too woody to enjoy.

Dragon carrot buds.

Dragon carrot just starting to bloom.

Dragon carrot in full bloom.
Very tempting to cut the flower and bring inside it look very cute.

More flowers.
The older flower gradually forming seeds.
Blooming together with our volunteer larkspur flower plant in container.

Dragon carrot seeds.

For us the challenge of collecting carrot seeds is when those seeds are left to dry properly on the plants because that is the time aphids came settle on the seeds. There were no aphids during any time of the carrots life cycle except when the seeds are developing. I am not sure why aphids seems attracted to infest the developing seeds. Because of aphids we did not get to collect as many as we thought we could.
Have a nice weekend! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bunga Gladiolus (Tempahan Benih Ubi Gladioli dibuka)

My brother helped me brought back some gladiolus bulbs and other flower bulbs for our mother from his last visit here in our place. I have seen gladiolus flower growing very well in Malaysia gardening blogs so I really wanted my mother to try grow this flower in her garden. Those gladiolus flower bulbs grow easily in my mother's garden. In fact, her gladiolus bloom earlier and did much better than the ones I grow here in Adelaide about the same time. She was very excited that she post a few pictures of the first gladiolus bloom in her garden to me through her phone (a reason why pictures quality not good).
Many identified gladiolus species originate from Africa which include the tropical Africa (Source from Wikipedia). Probably the reason why gladiolus easily adapted to the tropical climate of Malaysia.
Asiatic Lily bulb also grow without worries in my mother's garden.
I am planning to purchase some gladiolus bulbs again for my mother maybe for Mother's day gift. Not many supplier have gladiolus bulbs in stock at the moment because it is more common at the end of winter on the nursery shelf. But I did managed to find a supplier that have very limited stock. Trying to decide which variety to buy at the moment. Which one you like from these selection?
Kepada sesiapa di Malaysia yang teringin mendapatkan benih ubi bunga ini juga,
Klik gambar di atas yang akan link ke blog lain untuk penerangan lanjut.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Small Sugar Pumpkin

We grow small sugar pumpkin variety for the first time last spring. This pumpkin variety is suitable for small garden. We direct-sowed the seed last August and harvested the first fruit in December. It took less than 4 months to harvest the first pumpkin. This pumpkin variety fruit in diameter average size is about 20cm. The photo shows female flower with a small fruit attached at the back of the bright yellow flower. The pumpkin female flower really beckons or attracts the bees with its big bright yellow petal which is hard to miss when bees flying pass to help her pollinate with its mate. Well, we usually try manually by hand to pollinate the female pumpkin earlier than bees so it won't cross pollinate with different variety of pumpkin/squash. But it was easier this time around to avoid cross-pollination because it was the only cucurbit plant that was already producing flowers. To avoid confusion, the pumpkin veins or leaves is similar with other pumpkin, in the photo  leaves with red veins are beetroot leaves. Moreover, beside the yellow flower you can see beans dangling. You can inter-plant beans with pumpkin.

Because December we don't have many rainy day here so we can be lucky to avoid powdery mildew. I always find that when the pumpkin fruit is getting bigger its better when there is not much rain or humidity is low so the plant don't get disease easily.
Pumpkin growing bigger still immature with green skin.

Make sure to leave a long stalk on the ripe pumpkin when harvesting.
So it will store well for several months.
Cure the pumpkin before storing it on a dry place.
We usually put it beside a sunny window for several days or weeks. 
A ripen small sugar pumpkin.

The pumpkin keep well until we decided to enjoy it after harvesting it for more than 4 months.
If it is cure and store well, perhaps it can stay good for more than 6 months after harvest.

Any ideas on how to enjoy this pumpkin?
I am a bit lazy in the kitchen these days, just slice and roast them.
What pumpkin variety are you growing this year?
We are waiting for our spagetthi squash fruit to ripe this month. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Perch steamed with Lemon Basil and Ginger for Good Friday

We have many lemon basil volunteer plants sprouted from last spring. Sometime when I pruned them to make them bushier, I bring  those pruned stems in the bathroom as they have very strong lemony scent. The lemon basil are flowering and bees really like the flowers.
How was your Good Friday day?
We bought a perch on Thursday and I saw this nice recipe from CikManggis~jom masak, jom makan-makan blog and adapted her recipe with what I have in my garden and pantry. Terima kasih (Thank you) CikManggis, we really enjoyed it, especially Rayyan who was really greedy. It was only 3 of us for dinner on Good Friday, me,hubby and Rayyan. So I thought one medium perch will be enough but next time for greedy Rayyan will have to steam 2 fish. A good protein source and a very healthy dish.
Perch steamed with Lemon Basil & Ginger
(Recipe adapted from CikManggis~jom masak, jom makan-makan blog)
It was really quick dish to prepare if you already have a cleaned fish ready. Took me less than 45 minutes to prepare this dish.
While preparing ingredients you can warm up your steamer.

Ingredient (A):
1 cleaned medium size perch (or any other suitable fish)
3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
3 shallots thinly sliced (or a quarter of red onion)
5cm of ginger - julienne
1 pepper-sliced
2 lemon grass stalk- bruised
a handful of washed lemon basil leaves (or 3 kaffir lime leaves)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 or 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
about 3 spoon of water
(you can season it with white pepper, sugar & salt, but I did not put any seasoning for my toddler)
To make it more spicy add some chillies (did not because of our toddler).

Put the fish and all of the ingredient (A) into a suitable container and steam for 15 minutes.
While waiting prepare ingredients B.

Ingredient (B):
1 tomato-cut
lime or lemon juice from 2 fruits
1 carrot-julienne
can garnish it with coriander, chinese celery and spring onion leaves.

Add ingredients B after ingredients A steamed 15 minutes.
Steam for another 15 minutes and done.

Join in Wendy's Garden To Table Challenge.

We found this video today and was reminded of Rayyan's cardiac surgeries in the past. Rayyan was lucky to have a gifted cardiac surgeon for his first and second surgery with Prof. Igor whom is featured in this video. He has created many miracles for us and hope. We hope that Rayyan will be 3rd lucky to have the same surgeon again for his pending 3rd surgery this coming May.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stock (astral) Life-Cycle

I was really amazed this year that our astral stock flower seems not to mind the hot summer we had and living right through it. We still had a few plants flowering here and there in the garden at the moment that were planted last fall. A good month for sowing astral stock seeds here in Adelaide.
Astral stock newly germinated seeds.

Astral stock seedlings.
Hoping for volunteers this year and picture as a reminder for not weeding it.

End of winter last year, astral stock growing among our Italian sprouting broccoli plants.

Oh! The white cabbage butterfly seems fond of the flower stock.
Got the pest distracted a bit so it won't bother the brassica that much.

Gone are the broccoli plants.
Astral stock seed pods left to dry.
Astral stock seed pods resembles a mini version of stink bean (petai).

Astral stock flower seeds. garden clock indicates that it is a good time to sow larkspur seeds now at Adelaide plain. This week we have so many larkspur volunteers popping in the garden.
Have a nice long weekend holiday!