Saturday, June 30, 2012

Arum Green Goddess (Zantedeschia aethiopica)

I have been growing this plant nearly 2 years and did not know that I have Arum Green Goddess plants growing in my garden until this week when I was browsing through gardening winter catalog. This was plants received from a friend who went back to Malaysia. Two years ago, I was only interested with growing edibles for the family. But it was hard not to accept some homeless ornamental-looking plant in pots. Originally the plant was in a pot and we divided the rhizomes since the original plant look cramp in the pot. I did not have any knowledge about this plant and I was not sure either whether it produces flowers or not so I just followed my instinct.  The foliage look like some plant which will appreciated some shade from hot sun.    So I located the divisions to places that have dappled light. After a bit of researching regarding this plant today, it does well in dappled light with hot summers and it is a loving moisture plant, like damp places. I think I failed in the 'moisture' aspect because the plants foliage dries to the ground in our summer garden. However, this plant is very hardy, it comes back again in autumn and start to be lush again. This plant is good to grow near ponds. It is supposed to be summer flowering plant but ours strangely bloom in winter. I think because we have more rain and moisture now which made the plants more happy in winter perhaps.
This is one of the corners near our shed that previously have nothing growing on here and look depressing because it does not receive much light. So we thought, we located 2 Arum Green Goddess plants here and add in other free plants too in spring year 2010. As you can see the plants here are very slow-growing and the photo was taken last winter June 2011. Finally after almost 2 years of growing them, finally we have some Arum Green Goddess bloom in the garden and help me identify what kind of plant this is.
This is Arum Green Goddess plants growing in pots beside our bedroom window. The flowers are a bit smaller in size compare with the ones growing on the ground.
Now, plants at this dark corner in our shed has grown bigger and starts to fill in the space and look much better and cheerful. An almost 2 years project! One Arum Green Goddess is missing because when the dormant rhizome just newly shoot up, I dig out the plant and shipped it to my parent garden in Malaysia to see how it goes last autumn. This remind me that I have to check with them in which location they are growing it and perhaps ask them to transfer the plant near to the pond.
Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cherrytime Capsicum Life-Cycle

The cherrytime capsicum has been the most reliable and prolific capsicum this year together with banana capsicum compare to the other varieties we planted last warm season. The cherrytime capsicum produces small size capsicum fruit with average of 5cm. The ripen fruits is sweet and have a roundish shape with a pointed end which looks like a cute heart-shape sometime. This capsicum become more sweeter when grill or roasted which I found out this year experimenting in the kitchen. It goes nicely with grill yakitori/kebab alternating between meat and cherrytime capsicum which our family enjoy.
The cherrytime capsicum can be left over winter (frost-free area) in the patch. The photo below are 2 plants of cherrytime capsicum which still have some unripen fruit left living through last winter (photo taken early winter last year 2011). Snails or Slugs sometime munch on the capsicum leaves during winter.  As you can see, no protection is provided for this cherrytime capsicum plants during winter.
This is one of the same plants above with some fruits ripening earlier this month of June (early winter). This plant is going through its 2nd winter now.
When I tried growing this cherrytime capsicum the first time with the seeds I bought from Eden Seeds company I have trouble germinating the seeds. The germination rate was really poor about 20%. However, we saved some seeds last year.
Last warm season I sowed the left-over seeds I bought from Eden seeds and our own home-saved cherrytime capsicum at the same week. The left-over seeds only give me one plant. Amazingly, the seeds that we saved, germination was very good. Since we had many seeds, I simply sprinkled home-saved cherrytime capsicum seeds in one straight line about 40 cm long. I was not expecting a good germination rate that time because it was just the first generation of seeds we saved. But suddenly in a few days I have so many seedlings sprouted closely together with hardly any gap. I guess that the home-saved seeds has adapt ed well with our garden micro-climate here. This is one of the main reason saving seeds is fun and give a sense of a small achivement from the garden.
The cherrytime capsicum grows well in container too. In this cold weather, this cherry capsicum plant is growing along with carrots in the same container saving space and makes it productive. In summer, the cherry capsicum plant was growing along with a different plant but I can't remember which at the moment (I think it was watermelon plants).
Now, we are in Royal Children Hospital in Melbourne since last week Wednesday because Rayyan needed his 3rd cardiac surgery. He had his surgery last Friday and he is really recovering well. He had an open heart surgery but this is the first time the medical staff did not stop the heart while they did the surgery. Amazingly from experience this time he does recovery very fast and will soon be a troublemaker again. He made the nurses busy by pulling out his wires and putting it on his teddy which makes his heart monitor alarms beeping continuously. Many of the nurses and medical staffs remember Rayyan from his previous cardiac surgeries and was surprised Rayyan a boy now and not a baby like before. I have limited access with internet as I am using the hospital resource centre computer at the moment. Hopefully next week, we will back home.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Early winter harvest

Its officially winter here and we are still lucky to harvest some warm-loving vegetables at this early week of winter. The warm-loving vegetables does take such a long time ripening but the vegetables taste excellent. I guess things that have to wait for, sometime worth the wait. Its fun to see other gardeners harvest basket around the world, so come and join in Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday.
We had some eggplants and enjoy it as eggplant fritters. I grew several variety of eggplants each year as I found that each year some does well and some does not, most importantly the weather effects the flavour of certain variety. This year the best performer in our garden was Bonica eggplant. I did not like the flavour of Bonica eggplant very much last year but this year it tasted much better and was the most prolific as well. The bonica eggplant is growing in partial shade and the fruit is protected from the harsh sun. The bonica eggplant tasted good not bitter at all and the flesh was nicely soft. This is the 3rd year we grow eggplants, the first year our eggplant award goes to Early Long Purple, 2nd year best performer was Lebanese eggplants and this year Bonica. This year I grow Early Long Purple and Lebanese eggplants in a location which they received full sun almost the whole day, so the fruit could not grow well and it tasted somewhat bitter when previous years it tasted good. We also harvested some rainbow chards, carrots, golden calwonder capsicum and a yellow crookneck squash.
Snail and slugs are getting active at night now and attacking our Da Cheong Chae green leaves as seen in the photo. Harvest the first biggest watermelon radish in our garden. I wanted to let it grow bigger but was worried that it will become hotter. But surprisingly, it was sweet and no hotness like other radish sometime if you let them grow older. The watermelon radish goes into the chicken tom yum my husband made. Fresh chillies and cherrytime capsicums freshly available in the garden at the moment for picking. We finally cleaned up and disposed end of season cucumber plants today. Only a few cucumbers were left on the plant to harvest. I will sorely miss cucumbers until the next season come again for us.
We harvested our first broccoli for cool season this year, rather small head. Its the first time we managed to harvest broccoli this early, we usually start to harvest broccoli for cool season at the end of July. After 3 times re-sowing 'Jack Be Little' pumpkin seeds because the heat wave kill the plants, we finally harvested  2 pumpkins today. The first sowing was mid-spring, second sowing early summer and the third desperate attempt was end summer. There was no problem with seeds germination. The problem was that the adult plants from the first and second adult plant batch were not able to survive the extreme heat. By the time the female pumpkin flower from the third sowing start to bloom, the weather was getting to cold. The first week when the female pumpkin flower bud bloom it managed to open and be manually pollinated. However, the week after that because of the cold weather none of the female flower bud bloom. It was risky sowing the seeds at the end of summer and we were just lucky to get some pumpkins. For the cucurbits family perhaps the last sowing batch will probably be mid-summer in our garden. I was trying to extend the cucurbit family season this year but I think I extend it too much by sowing seeds until end summer.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June Container Garden

I am glad that last spring I left many plants go to seeds. Now we have many self-seeding plants that the garden take care of itself while continuously provide us food. Not only edibles, but provide us many volunteer flower seedlings around the garden. The weather has started to get colder, maximum temperature has been below 15 degree Celsius and minimum average 4 degree Celsius this week. The container garden needs weeding but its hard to judge still which one is veggies, flowers or simply weeds. With the mood and mental state I am currently in, I just let it be for awhile since the brain is not functionally as sharp as when I am in good shape. I might make wrong decision. I have just started a low dose of antidepressant medication this morning and feel the moods lifted up a bit with a bit boost of energy but the minds feel like in clouds.
In this section, rainbow chard, tomato and leaf amaranth (bayam) that can be seen here are actually self-seeded plants growing among vegetables which were sowed March-April this year. 
There are some warm-loving vegetables in this container section that I am going to leave it alone and treated as perennials like capsicum inter-planting with cold season plants. We still actually have several sweet potato plants growing in containers that have not been harvested. The last parsnip and leek plants we have in container, saving them from harvest until I can really enjoy them.
We grow sweet potatoes at this section previously, after cleaning it up last month we sowed some Asian greens, spinach, beetroot, radish and florence fennel in this corner. Hopefully by July~August this corner will started to provide us fresh harvest. Lots of weeds there.
The cucumber season is over as seen in the photos and need to be disposed. So that other plants will receive more light from the sun. Behind the trellis, there are some containers as well with plants that now needed some light. It works well in summer to give some shade with the cucumber foliage but not now in winter.
Growing cape gooseberry plants for the first time in containers. I have not harvest any fruits from this plant yet though its fruiting at the moment. Not sure how tolerant is this plant with our winter here. The cape gooseberry plants did not like our dry summer here as it hardly grows at all during that time. The plant pick up growth again early fall. The cape gooseberry is sharing the container with capsicum and carrots. The capsicum plant was taller than the cape gooseberry previously in summer and has already produce fruits. Only a few capsicum fruit left on the plant as it really does take a long time ripen in this cold weather. Now that the cape gooseberry plants has certainly grown tall and bushier, it will helped protect the capsicum plants against cold wind.
This veggie corner needs to be organize a bit. So many different plants self-seeded at the back row containers like nasturtium, flat leaves parsley, chinese spinach, pot marigold, garlic. I can't see our florence fennel seedlings anymore must be suffocated by the nasturtium. Waiting for 'Jack be little' pumpkin ripening (can you see an orange fruit peeking near carrot leaves). Chilli and capsicum ripening as well and I am collecting seeds from this plant. This chilli plant is the second generation grown from seeds we collected and it has been tolerant with our summer heat and winter cold here now. It is a very hot chilli type, I was collecting the seeds without gloves this week and my hand stings for 2 days.
Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

End Autumn Harvest Note Wrap Up

Some of our summer crop season extends longer than previous year for this year. We seems to have longer warm weather this year. Furthermore this year, some of the summer loving plants were re-sown in mid-summer to replace the ones that were damaged by the summer heat. The photos will be like a note reminding me how to make the garden more productive each year. As I discovered earlier that for pumpkin/squash I can plant them twice a year but the rules must be that the first sowing I started them very early around mid-August (end winter). So pumpkin/squash plants will fruit before the extreme heat comes around early summer. Because by mid-summer most of the pumpkin/squash plants will be kill off by the extreme heat. Second sowing will be mid/late-summer and the fruits will hopefully ripen by mid-late autumn. We have many yellow currant cherry tomato volunteers plants fruiting. I am very amazed with this variety as it is very disease resistant, tolerates the extreme heat and our winter; and does well in partial shade. It just simply thrive with neglect in our garden. 
Second half of end-autumn goodies harvested from our garden.
Parsnips grown over summer in container did produce decent root size after about 8 months. I was not expecting much since the parsnip leaves got burn during summer.These parsnips were grown together with leeks and a purple skin sweet potato plant. Strange I found 3 potatoes also in the container, must have been from a volunteer plant that I forgotten. Never did I imagined that parsnip, leek and sweet potatoes grow well together in one container. One of the most productive container, as these 3 plants are plants that grow very slowly so they are a good combination.
Sweet potatoes that were grown in container.
Kangkung, leeks, chilli and white spine cucumber.
The white spine cucumber is our family most favourite cucumber. Its not bitter at all, nice flavour even in dry season. Because of this cucumber variety, Rayyan started to really enjoy eating cucumber. This means my portion will become much lesser or almost none because Rayyan will try to put all the cucumber slices on his plate.
Cherrytime capsicum has been the most prolific capsicum this year grown from our home-saved seeds. I had trouble when growing them first time from the seeds I bought, germination was very low. But germination rate was near 100% when we sowed our home-saved seeds probably the seeds has somehow adapted well with our garden climate. Baby lettuce or thinnings from home-grown seeds are generous now for picking often. Lettuce volunteers are also many living harmoniously together with weeds.
The last bitter gourd harvest for this year. Alpine strawberry has been flowering and fruiting this time around. The strawberry fruits are much bigger and sweeter compare during summer. It took half a year for this mini cabbage 'earliball' to form a 'small' head. I think I found more than 10 snails in the leaves
Our first home-grown Jerusalem artichoke (sunroot) harvest. We had only 2 plants growing in partial shade during summer growing without care. I was not expecting much tubers. I was so surprised of the yield from only 2 plants! The picture don't justify how many tubers were harvest actually because that is a deep basket. so you only see the top part. The Jerusalem artichoke tubers felt much heavier than our recent sweet potato harvest. I don't know what does Jerusalem artichoke taste like or the best way to prepare them. So I roasted some tubers together with marinade chicken for Rayyan lunch since I lack energy these days. The flesh near the skin tasted a bit salty and the inner flesh have mild sweetness. I thought it will be fun if I can think of a Malaysian dish that will go well together with these tubers. Next to the Jerusalem artichoke plant was a volunteer turmeric plants that only produce a thumb size knob of turmeric rhizomes. I don't have any home-grown potatoes in my pantry anymore and I have a craving for Malaysia ' Masak Lemak Cili Api' dish. I really don't know what this dish is usually call in English it is somewhat like yellow curry but the paste does not use any dry spices at all. The basic ingredients for this yellow curry paste are usually fresh tumeric rhizomes, shallots, garlic, onions, hot chillies, lemon grass, and add in shredded turmeric leaves, tamarind peels and coconut milk in one pot stir to mix. I made a veal 'Masak Lemak Cili Api' with Jerusalem artichoke tubers substitute for potatoes. One success experiment, Jerusalem artichoke goes well with this Malaysian traditional dish. Rayyan drop some tears after he stubbornly tasted the dish, he was warned several time but did not heed the warning due to strong curiosity. I did not realised he already dip his finger into the yellow curry. Poor boy his tongue was on fire. I used 5 chillies the one harvested in the photo.
Found some volunteer sweet potato tubers while clearing up one of the corner of our vegetable patch. We tried growing hybrid carrot for the first time (Purple Haze F1) and were disappointed with the result. It was supposed to be a dark purple carrot variety but most of the carrot roots were orange and smallish size after 7 month. Shockingly, some carrot plants did not even produce any roots.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dahlia Imperialis~Bell Tree Dahlia

What flower blooming at the end of fall and early winter here in our garden?
Tree Dahlia.
It is facing our kitchen window and such a pleasure to look at during gloomy weather. 
We have mild winter weather which this plant can tolerate.
This year this plants has grown taller and more stems after I pruned it hard early spring.
Some are 3 metres tall.
Our tree dahlia plant caught some disease last end summer with blackish leaves.
I chopped off the parts that were affected.
It grow more stems and recover really quick during the shorter daylight hours.
Bees really adore the tree dahlia bloom.
There are bees constantly around the tree dahlia plant blooming season.
Most of the tree dahlia bloom photo collections that I took has bees on them.
Tree dahlia sometime needs some support.
Some are leaning on our garden arch or other plant support trellis.
At the moment, the plant has block off the garden arch entrance.
I have a small hand, this is how big the tree dahlia bloom is.
The mauve bloom has kind of help me not going over the edge this few weeks.
It has been not easy writing a post not because of time-management.

But my mind is in chaos, I could not focus on anything and have horrible thoughts running on my mind. 2~3 weeks ago, one raining night while everyone sleeping I ran out from the house. I can't control my mind and I was shivering outside not due to the cold because I was very scared that I can't block the strong suicidal thoughts. I was so lost and called the mental health emergencies for professional help. The mental health community team came in immediately early next day and organise everything to help me get through the mental depression I have. Yes, I have been suffering mental depression not weeks for months by myself as professional help said and now it got worse that I start to suffer regular panic anxiety attack as well. So, some event had been a trigger, I broke down mentally and physically after long term stress.  It has been lonely battling the stress and depression alone by myself and sad not even your own family realise the emotional stress going inside me. If I tried to voice aloud my feelings or stress, I will only be reprimanded to stop acting childishly and try to be more mature which ended keeping everything bottle up inside. Otherwise, I usually will just be totally ignored or my family runaway from me when I desperately needed help with the children. I finally exhausted myself trying to please and take care of everybody being the perfect daughter, perfect daughter in-law, perfect wife, perfect sister and perfect student. I gave up fulfilling that expectation, no matter how much I put in, I will constantly be criticise by my parents and my in-laws blame me for what ever happened to my kids and husband anyway.
Sigh, life is so funny, never in my dream I would imagine myself sitting with psychiatrists trying to get my thoughts sorted out. I have been told several times that one of the reason is I lack family emotional support. I have been trying taking lots of responsibilities and taking care of everyone which makes me burn out from discussion with mental staff.
I thank all my blog readers for your support and kind comments.
It has helped me a lot getting myself sorted out and giving some of my self-confidence back.
I still have a long way to go for recovery.
I have not been able to go to school or study for more than a month now as it triggers the panic anxiety attack. I can't decide what to do at the moment. My body can't move held by fear and I am mentally exhausted. This time I let strangers giving me a helping hand which lead me the way I can go back to my sanity when family just turn blind eye towards me.
Sorry for a very depressing story, was just trying to open up and be honest.