Monday, April 29, 2013

April2013 Harvest Monday

 It has been just a few days since I returned and the garden has given many nice surprises. Mulberry trees that were just starting to fruit when I left them has provided sweet fruits which Rayyan really enjoyed as his snack while waiting for the parents to prepare lunch. I am relief to see that the butterfly pea plants keeps on providing pretty blooms everyday. Did not noticed a volunteer snake bean plant growing on one of the raised bed and suddenly found long tangling beans on the cage. Bird-eyed chillies and some juice from calamansi limes for our traditional 'sambal belacan' dipping, very nice pounded together with the fresh shrimp paste (belacan) that I brought back from my recent trip. So happy looking at our cucumber tree (tree sorrel) starting to bear fruits.
 Two of our veggie patch got invaded with volunteer Javanese ginseng plants also known as Surinam Spinach. So I pulled out most of the Javanese ginseng plants to grow other edibles. I won't be surprised if many volunteer Javanese ginseng seedlings sprouted in a couple of weeks. In a month, I will probably be pulling them out again. We harvested the roots from the Javanese Ginseng plants. The Javanese ginseng root is as potent as Korean/Chinese ginseng. Boiled Javanese Ginseng roots for my hubby almost everyday so he can work hard on the garden clearing up all the weeds to atone for his neglect.
 Like the bird-eye chillies that birds helped distributed the seeds in our garden, this pea size eggplants also grow wild in our garden. In the Malay language this eggplant is known as 'Terung pipit'. Terung in Malay is eggplant while pipit is sparrow. Therefore literal translation will be sparrow eggplant. This is due to birds that also helped distributed this eggplant. We have hundreds and hundreds of wild pea eggplant seedlings sprouting everywhere in the garden. One of the turmeric plant produce a bloom for us to enjoy in salad (chopped finely and mixed together other traditional herbs) dipping with sambal belacan. We also harvest a few lemons. Each time my mother returned she will bring back some lemons to where she reside now at Borneo Island.
 This week nam nam fruits is in season in our garden , this time is not just squirrels enjoying them but ants too. Nice Nam Nam fruit harvest week, many of the fruits were sweet. I wrote about nam nam plant life-cycle a couple weeks ago.

 A few passion fruits were also salvage under the mango tree. I did not realised a passion fruit plant is growing up on the bushy mango tree. I was very surprise when I saw many fruits under the mango tree and some were already chomped. We made passion fruit juice with this harvest.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Antelope" Dendrobium

 After I returned back from my stay with my parents at Borneo Island, I got very upset seeing how the edible garden became like when I left it on my husband to look after it. I can't say my blood pressure when up since I never had problem with my blood pressure. But the colour red was very significant. So I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me when I saw this orchid/dendrobium species blooming at first. Why are the orchid flower petals has horns? Is it because I was getting really mad and growing a pair of invisible horns myself made me started to imagine things. So I got closer to the blooming orchids and inspected. I have never knew that there were orchids species with a horn-like African Antelope petal flowers before.
 Sean owner of Half A Pound Of Treacle helped me again to identify this dendrobium. I think this flower is so cute like some animation characters. It does really look like an African Antelope face.
 I think I will have to put a tag on the plant, it might be easy to get it mixed up with other orchids in my mother collection. I don't think she even remember what type of orchids she has and which is which. This is the tree that my mother has train the "Antelope" Dendrobium plant at. I don't think there are only one type of orchid but several variety on the same tree. 
 One of the reason, I have not started getting any new orchids is that I might bought several plants that is already in our garden just waiting for its turn to bloom. At the moment, I think it is best if I just record the orchids we already have in the garden collection for future reference. I also need to increase my knowledge in the Dendrobium world.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Peace Lily

 The peace lily is a plant that really thrive at our garden without any care. It is also a plant that blooms all year round when the clump of plants is well-established. This peace lily plant white spathe has a greyish stripe mark when closely observe. The photo was taken during wet season, so some soil has jumped onto the spathe indicating very heavy rain. But what fascinated me the most regarding this plant that the blooming flower of the peace lily specifically on the spike (spadix) are surrounded by this insects as shown in the picture. Actually before I got really close to the plant to take some photos, not only 3 insects but the whole spadix was covered with this insect. Can anyone help me give a name to this insect? somehow today the name does not pop out from my head. It is not just this one day that I have seen the whole spadix covered by this insect but quite frequent. So I guess this insect must be really attracted to what is oozing out from the bloom. It made me think whether the peace lily plants will be a good companion plant attracting this insect, not sure why I think this insect will make good-pollinators. Just a theory will be nice to see how the result will be.
 The white bloom will turn to green as its get older. The spike or actual flower is more apparent when they are old. I found many peace lily plants on places it should not suppose to be growing. The white anthurium plant must have been able to produce viable seeds which the reason we found many volunteer plants, many thanks to its pollinators.
 Peace lily plants are able to live happily as long as they received plenty of moistures, 70% humidity is very ideal for this plant. Warm, moisture and humidity the plants grows really well here in the tropics all year round. The peace lily plant can develop aerial-root, as pointed with white arrow on the picture above. The aerial-root of the peace lily plant is capable of catching moisture, they can also somehow found their own spot growing on solid stone or even on a tree bark instead of soil. For light growing condition, the peace lily plant ain't picky, they seem to do just fine either on full light, partial light or shade here in the tropics. For example, peace lily plants from picture above are growing under pergola and not receiving any direct sunlight, they are in shade or the most they get is filtered light.
The peace lily plant seems to multiply much faster growing in full sun compared to other location. For example, I have to transplant some of peace lily plants in this area to other location as it looks like it  is starting to choke other plants.  A small space but so many different plants are doing their best to mark their presence ~ rangoon creeper plants, hippeastrum bulbs, self-seeded bird-eyes chllis, balsams, papaya and others.
 These peace lily plants are growing in partial shades circling a roof climbing bougainvillea plant. More needed to transplant away from these area getting too dense. Pointed white arrow shows seeds found on the spathe.The peace lily plant can also be grown by divisions.
 The white spathe is not really the favourite colour that beckon pollinators to drop by like bright orange or yellow colour. However, I remembered my gardening friend Sean mentioned to me about the uniqueness of some white colour flower method of attracting pollinators attention is by the flower fragrance. Yes, the peace lily plant does have a fragrance of its own. I remembered when I snipped some peace lily flower stalk early in the morning for last year heart charity event display , on the way in the car suddenly fill like some  kind of a perfume smell. After awhile, I realised the perfume like smell came from the peace lily flower. No wonder, especially in the early morning , the sighting of insects on the peace lily spike is one of the usual activity in our garden. Peace lily plant is also a good air-purifying plant which probably be a good indoor plant as well.

At first, I wrongly ID this plant as white anthurium. Thank you for blogger friends for pointing out my mistake that this is peace lily plant.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tamu Tamparuli

 Today Wednesday morning is Tamu  (market) at Tamparuli which I went with my mother and sister to buy groceries. Tamu Tamparuli is very special to us because this is the town or main place where we usually shopped our groceries (supplies) went we stayed at mama village before we rode on the public transport and head for mama village. Of course, mama had many memories here in her young days and she feels very much at home here happily chatting away with her native tongue. Although, she was tired today as she just returned here from Kuala Lumpur (also home) late last night, I think she looks happy and radiant today when we were in Tamu Tamparuli. Yup, I knew it once she went back to Kuala Lumpur after her returned, there will be lots of complaint regarding the housekeeping in Kuala Lumpur non-stop today. At least, Tamu Tamparuli provided some distraction and my ears can have some rest. If you are lucky, early in the morning occasionally you can hear the traditional instrument 'gong' sound welcoming you to Tamu Tamparuli.
 Compared to Tamu Tuaran, almost of the plant produce stall here at Tamu Tamparuli are directly from farmers and not middlemen. So, you really have to come early because some of the produce from the farmers will be bought by middlemen to sell at other market near city. My mother was looking for jicama (Yam bean) and carrots but none of the stall have them anymore because it was apparently hot item of the day all bought by middleman according to the farmers. Although the Kundasang region in Sabah is popular with growing vegetables like Cameron Highland at Peninsular Malaysia, the locals now not preferring to buy Kundasang vegetables anymore due several cases of vomitting or food poisoning suspecting of high usage of pesticide being sprayed at vegetables growing at Kundasang. Therefore, people prefer to buy vegetables from other places came from small farmers as they usually grow organic food. Because local people is not interested in buying Kudasang vegetables, middlemen will come to Tamu like this as early as possible in the morning to buy from small farmers that came from rural areas. 
  Not all Tamu produce is the same, you might not find some produce in another Tamu. To me, different Tamu in Sabah is unique especially Sabah is well-known to live harmoniously with different ethnics. As you can see Tamparuli Tamu is rather simple, mostly all the wares are just line up on a simple mat on the floor. Some farmers travel very far from the rural area using public transportation, so they can't bring that many item with them so just a mat will suffice.
 My aunt/mama younger sister too sometime when she has some excess harvest from her garden, she will also come here and sells her harvest. For example, photo above is actually two farmers, on the right a lady selling bananas and on the right a couple selling pineapples,  gingers, lemon grasses, pumpkins and ect. My mother purchased two heirloom pumpkins for Abby and two pineapples for Abby grandfather. See how fresh the pineapples look. 
 I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a familiar face I have not seen for more than 4 years. My eldest son Ilhan first babysitter Nancy was there in the Tamu Tamparuli and selling some harvest from her garden. She stayed with us when I was working in Johor, helping me look after Ilhan when he was from 3 months old until before we left for Australia. Nancy was about 18 years old when she stayed with us. Now she has one daughter and a rubber tapper. For Ilhan, I took Nancy photo together with my mother carrying Abby.
 Tamparuli is not only famous for its Tamu but Tamparuli hanging bridge is also well-known in Malaysia. It is one of the most famous hanging bridge in Sabah. Please make sure your visit Sabah travel itinerary to Tamparuli bridge is on Wednesday morning so you can also spend a little time at Tamu Tamparuli. 
 Some of the items that we bought this morning at Tamu Tamparuli (this is only 20%).  The brown fruit and black mushroom is something new to me today. The reason I like spending my time in Tamu is that there is always something new to learn each visit. 
 This is Sabah heirloom pepper, in my mother native language it is known as Cili Tapurak (did I spell or hear it correctly?), common at Tamu here. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kitaran Hidup Pokok Katak Puru

 Before I went off to Borneo island, our Nam Nam tree fruit season has returned and this was the last edibles I harvested. At least, I got to satisfy my craving for nam nam fruit before my flight to Sabah. I hope the boys at home will continuously pick butterfly pea flowers so that the plants will not get old by producing seed pods. No one going to remember to harvest sponge luffa fruits, and I think I will find some old fruits when I returned. Nevermind, I can used them as sponge if the fruits did not get rotten with the frequent rain.
 Nam nam can be grown easily from fresh seeds. Nam nam seedlings just sprouted from seeds. Nam nam tree is native to Peninsular Malaysia. However, it is not a plant native to Borneo island. Not many people from Borneo island will recognise this fruit. On the other hand, Borneo island also have many native fruit plants which only distribution is on the island and not growing wild here in Peninsular Malaysia.
 Nam nam seedlings must be handle with care when transplanting, they have really long taproot. Even the older seedlings, have very strong long taproot and hardly any small tiny hairy hair attached to the main taproot. I fell back on my butt several times to pull out nam nam seedlings which grows like weed in our garden.
Nam nam flowers.
 For a tropical fruit tree, Nam nam tree is categorized as small. It is suitable for terrace house if you regular prune the tree. My grandfather which lives in a single storey terrace house grows Nam Nam tree outside of his front gate. Underneath this canopy...
 Nam nam tree fruits all year round. They don't seem to have a specific fruiting season. Although, usually it is eaten raw, I have cook Nam nam fruit in Curry, yellow curry and Assam Pedas dishes and my family likes it (gambar makanan lawat sini).
 Squirrels also like nam nam fruit and here is a fruit that has been munched by squirrel. Nam nam fruit does not have tiny seeds but one big seeds.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gaya Street Tamu

  I managed to persuade my sister yesterday morning, to visit the Gaya Street Tamu held every Sunday Morning, knocked on her bedroom door and told her little Abby all dress up to go out. Gaya Street Tamu is in the middle of the Kota Kinabalu city, just a few metres away walking distance very close to the sea. We barely made it before all the stalls are ready to pack up.  I just wanted to do a little bit of surveying as my stay here still permits me to have a visit again. The sellers are more willing to give a discounted price depending on their total sales for the day before they close shop, so  I preferred this hour but it will be very rush from one stall to another unless you have a specific items you are looking for. One of Sabah popular souvenirs is seashells or decoration made from seashells.
 If you are an antique item collector, you have to come earlier browsing several stalls. It was also interesting to note that I found one stall selling stamps for stamp hobbyist.
 The main reason, I wanted to visit the Gaya Street Tamu was actually plant hunting. This stall was selling orchids but only this in the basket were not safely pack up yet for the day. Lucky for me, my wallet was save. Another stall had one type of orchid that almost tempted me to empty my wallet but I managed just looking at it and not even asked how much for the plant. The orchids in Sabah is a heaven for Orchid lovers. I don't want to buy my first orchid yet. Because once I started, it is difficult not to start making one own collection. So for now, no orchids.
 One of the stall selling fruit plants. A very good incentive of providing a rubbish bin so people won't simply throw rubbish around. Several stalls selling fruit plants are from nearby nursery. There was one fruit stall that has my wish plant and I asked him if he will be at Tamparuli Tamu on Wednesday, please bring some along as I don't have a free hand carrying Abby and stuffs. Since my mother will also be there, it will be easier to ask what fruit plants I can buy for her as well. I wanted to buy some flower plants for her today but most of the plants that were on sale that day is already in her garden which I am supposedly looking after.
 A stall selling traditional medicines. I don't know what type of plant it is. But I found it interesting because some looks like it came from wood bark or chips. The stall owner were busy with other customers so I did not have the chance to ask.
 Chicks! Wish I can bring back some with me at least 10 chicks. If I had the chance before, I would have love to buy some ducklings for my late-grandmother. It was hard to find a stall selling so many chicks, ducklings before in Tamu as it is always sold out quickly if you don't come early in the morning. So easy to get them now. 
 I can't believe it when I see koi for sale at Gaya Street Tamu for a very good price. Two months ago, one of my mother pond which has some very big tame koi in it died because no one remembered that night to switch on the pond filter suis. So the next day, koi's were floating on the pond breathless. No one dared to report to my mother about the incident until she came back and found out by herself that her koi's are not swimming around in the pond.  The pond still remained empty, according to my mother she had to put in special order for her koi's before. The ones gred as 'AA' on the middle left side really attract my attention. I probably dream of koi tonight. Thinking is there a way for them to be on flight with me.
 You can also shop for pet stuff at Gaya Street Tamu. First time today I observed different kind of kittens and puppies pedigree for sale at Tamu.
 After a long walk, you can pamper your tired feet with reflexology and foot massage service.  Each Tamu in Sabah is unique has different type of atmosphere. Gaya Street Tamu is more like a modern bazaar, a bit here and there that summarise Sabah if you have only a short stay.  Tuaran Tamu is more for the local need and you will experience another feeling of Sabah more closer as you observed the everyday life of the local people. On Wednesday, hopefully we will be going to Tamparuli Tamu.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tamu Tuaran

 This month I am spending most of my days in Borneo island, specifically on the Land Below the Wind which is Sabah, one of the state in Malaysia. The Malaysia Peninsular is popular with night markets or in the National language 'Pasar Malam'. However, here in Sabah local markets are in the morning time and known as 'Tamu'. Compared to Peninsular Malaysia 20 years ago, transportation is limited and electricity are not widespread into the rural areas. I still vividly remembered my childhood when we spent each December at my mother's village, at night for a few hours my uncle will need to  switch on the generator so we can watch the news on TV and have lights.  Fridge and washing machine  was a luxury item those days because instead of cable electricity, petrols were used to generate electricity. So most household does not have these items in the 80's. Raised near the capital city like I was, electrical items were a normal part of day living those days but I can imagined how hard for people in the rural areas which cable electricity has not reached their areas yet especially in this century. So, market in Sabah are commonly in the morning where public transportation is available and instead of middleman, farmers from rural areas can sell their produces directly at Tamu during morning. If you want best produce, you must come early to purchase the best. I am not a morning person, so I am always reminded the night before to make sure to get ready early if we are going to Tamu the next morning. Today, the three of us, me, Abby and my sister went to Tuaran Tamu to buy some edibles for Abby meals and something for us to munch.
 Sweet corn is in season this month as many stalls are selling them and at a very cheap price for someone who lives in the city like me. You can get at least 8 nice corn cobs for RM2.00 (AUD0.60)!  The rejected ones are much cheaper like the one in front of the lady in green RM1.50 perbag about 8 cobs too. Well the rejected ones are still good, it just the kernels have gaps but still full. I bought the cheaper one and I don't think there are any different in taste. Because we are away from our garden so I have to go out to shop for food. Lucky Abby having steamed corn puree with butter alternate days. However, it can't beat the taste of fresh raw home-grown sweet corn.
 Usually at Tamu, the sellers don't weight the veggies but arranged them like this, so you ask how much for a group of these or the bundles ones. This stall is selling RM1 or RM2 per-bundle. So far, I have only seen one variety of eggplants selling at Tuaran Tamu. I was excited to see many different type of sweet potatoes.
There are more varieties of vegetables selling here at Tuaran Tamu compared to our local market near Kuala Lumpur. Can't beat the freshness, volume and price as well. On the right, can you see choko or chayote? I have not been back here for almost 5 years, I felt more confidant picking up the dialect once again after almost 2 weeks so I don't give-away that I am not a native here and get a reasonable price. My cousins usually tease me that I inherited the native face here because I look exactly like one of my grandmother cousin when she was young, but can't speak my mother native tongue much.
 It is very rare to find wild rice seller at Tamu these days, well it is traditional wild rice grown on hill slope rather than the muddy paddy field. Therefore, won't get to purchase it in any hyper supermarket. You only get them from Tamu and look at the beautiful reddish rice grain. When I was looking at the seller small stall space, she was using a recycle small can food instead of weight to pack her produce. One small pack on the right is RM5 and on the left is RM9. I did not buy any as we still have some in the pantry and my sister was whispering at me to wait for mama next time, though I was seriously tempted. The seller reminded me of my late-grandmother who used to sell traditional rice wine at tamu when she still had strength to carry the bottles in a traditional basket (wakit) on her back. I was wondering whether her sales for today would be enough even to pay for her transport fare because it was almost noon already, so I bought the only bundle of purple sweet potato with purple skin and white flesh she had for Abby puree. 
 For today, I did shopped here as well because the lady was the only one selling cekur and I prefer small stall that don't sell assorted veggies like in the supermarket. The bigger stall with so many things to choose from would definitely be buying from farmers as middleman. I rather buy vegetables directly from farmers. I embarrassed myself today due to my lack of knowledge, I thought the ones I labelled as 'Red Ginger (Halia merah) was old turmeric. But the helpful lady, told me it is Halia merah rhizomes. I bought some, not sure what I am going to do with it, but if it starts to shoot I will just plant it and do some researching later. Looking at the yellow chillies and wild mushroom brings fond memories of my childhood when my cousin and I will gather the wild mushroom growing on rubber tree plants. After collecting the mushroom will quickly went home and excitedly waiting for my mama to fry it with chillies.
 Where is the river? I was shocked that the water plants invaded the area so much until you can't even see any water. You only know there is a river underneath all those greens because there is Tuaran hanging bridge above it. What plant can cause this? The pretty invasive Water Hyacinth plant that I recently posted. So make sure we don't simply throw any water hyacinth plant, chuck them in your compost bin. Like this, I don't think the crocodile can also breath well in this river.