Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sabah Honey Pineapple (Nanas Madu Sabah)

 We enjoyed the pineapple fruit above yesterday and it was very sweet like honey. Much much much sweeter than the pineapple slice syrup liquid in can. So much different than the common variety ones sold in the market to this honey pineapple from Sabah state the original plant came from my aunt. If you visit Sabah, don't forget to ask the farmers whether they are selling Nanas madu or the common one. 'Nanas' is pineapple and 'Madu' is honey in the national language of Malaysia. The Nanas Madu Sabah will be more expensive than the common one but worth it. I asked some middleman in one  of the farmer market I went looking for some pineapple, they said they can't afford to sell them as it is expensive, a luxury item.
Pineapple flower.
 Anticipation for the coming harvest. Ours are actually growing in partial shade and they seem to be doing fine even lack of full sunlight. The fruits takes more than 2 months to ripe from flowering stage. You spent time to peel the skin and take our the 'eyes'. Then finished eating it faster than peeling the skin. However, the sweetness of Sabah Honey Pineapples lingers in the mouth.
 Sideshoot underneath the ripening pineapple fruit can be used to grow a new plant which gives you much faster harvest compared recycling the pineapple fruit crown top.
 One of the funniest Sabah Honey pineapple fruit I found in my aunt's small pineapple farm in front of the house. I planted some Sabah Honey pineapple plant last month before I went to Sabah and they are doing well without any care or watering. Also, planted a few plants this week too.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hazy Harvest

 Haze condition in some of the places in Peninsular Malaysia is really bad. Schools has been closed now until the haze level goes down. The kids are now limited indoors and fortunately has not get bored yet on the activities they focusing on at the moment. The television has not been switched  on at all for more than a week at least. Gardeners too need to avoid not spending too much time outdoors. Hope the plants will be strong and fare well in this kind of predicament. Tuberose plants has been producing flower stalks one by one this month, I think this bulbous plant has respond the need to create offspring in giving flowers due to the drought and hot weather. It nice to get to snip some tuberose flower stalks starting to bloom bringing them inside the house for their strong alluring fragrance. Because we have haze now, harvesting the butterfly pea flowers task came back to the parents instead of the kids. The haze has kind of effected the duck and eggs production in our place too. We also harvested a tiny squash last week. Readily available to harvest last week and this week are also lemons, pea eggplants and chillies.
 Some of the fresh traditional raw salads available in our garden to eat with sambal belacan.
 We also harvested some roselles, Surinam spinaches, and a guava last week.
 Papaya fruits also some of the main harvest last week from our garden. Why are they in the plastic? This is for my next door neighbour portions.
 I just realised that the okras has already started producing yesterday and I harvested all the fruits regardless some are still small because I knew I won't be able to go into the garden in this bad haze condition today or probably tomorrow. I skipped the garden for 2 days locked up after some late night ruckus that is why I did not realised they started flowering. This is the first time I harvested 'Mammoth Spineless' heirloom okra. Quite surprised this variety okra fruit size are fatter than the other varieties that I usually grow. We also harvested some Marjerine fruits. Almost seven year old male cat 'Jack' having a nap. Jack is always a good boy towards me since I'm his adopted mom, so this is not his doing but unfortunately mine. I am sorry I am kind of slow replying comments or visiting as I am still suffering from my postnatal depression from time to time. But it does make me cheer up reading your comments or receiving your emails. I do know I need to seek professional help but I guess I got tired or couldn't be bothered anymore for trying to think how I am going to drag myself there with kids while having some session with the expert. I am still kind of lost as well where to seek the closest help I can. Enough of the rambling today and I try to keep my mind quiet, hush hush hush.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tagal Kampung Poturidong

 One of the highlight on our recent trip to Sabah is visiting a protection site for Mahseer (kelah in Bahasa Malaysia) fish sanctuary. Earlier this year I did watch a documentary regarding this Mahseer fish sanctuary that can be visited and be very friendly with the Mahseer fish on one part region of Malaysia Sabah state. Never did I realised that in my mother own village so close to home we have also Mahseer sanctuary until I went to buy breakfast at Kiulu Tamu and one of my cousins that I met there told me about this special place. Never in my wildest dream I don't have to chase or coax the wild fish to come to us but they came swimming quickly toward us. Only rich people with money can eat Mahseer, I cannot afford to buy this fish. Even at rural market sells at RM20 per-kilogram. Well probably be at least double or triple price for the fish in town. I only get to eat it when my cousins caught some. So delicious simply melt in the mouth.
 In Dusun-Kadazan the 'Tagal' is actually a traditional custom from long time ago where you cannot go fishing a certain area or there is only a certain season you can go fishing. The main reason is that there will be no intensive fishing and giving the chance the fish to mature and give offspring. For example on the board, the red zone is forbidden to fish because there is where the river flows very strong and fast. It is a perfect hotspot for Mahseer fish to lay eggs on the stone. The river next to our house is on the red zone where the kids usually have fun playing with water. My late-grandfather land is actually in between the red zone and yellow zone river. 
 Instead of using the main and only road for vehicles we decided to just walk to the fish sanctuary for the kids to have some adventure and toughen them up a bit. This will also be used as a landmark for the kids to remember the way when they are bigger and like to go on their own. They have to cross this watery spot by walking on the bamboo makeshift bridge. 
Then up you climb the hill be careful if its wet due to the wet season. I don't usually like to use this path when its wet, so slippery when I was a kid. My slippers always got stuck on the muddy soil. There is another way boys but will show you next time walking through the rubber tree farms.When you reached up there, turn left walk until you see a small community hall (church?on the left side) and go down the hill. From up there you can see a kindergarten. But walk not towards the kindergarten but on the left follow the cement pathways straight ahead you will see a hanging bridge.
  If you are unsure there will be a signboard 'Tagal'. Our host was Mr. Juara, very friendly and has been taking care of this visitor spots for a long time. When we came close to the river, the fish wasn't there yet but suddenly swiftly something coming towards us. You can see Abby looking down with an expression what is going on???
  To our surprise and excitement, so many juvenile Mahseer surrounded us asking for food. So tame and trusting. They even suck our feet fingers which feels very ticklish, not painful. It has been raining in the afternoon everyday sometime till night so the water is consider big, usually its shallower and we can go further in the water. Since I can't see the bottom I am a bit hesitant to let the kids to go more deeper. I have been reminded so many time since I am small if I see black cloud further upstream of the river even it is not raining at my side not to play near the river. Because the river can rise and flow so fast which is very dangerous if you are swept away. But if its dry season , don't forget to bring some towels and change clothes and have fun playing in the water. On a sunny day and the rivers are its normal depth, I used to let myself be carried away by the swift river flow. My legs sometime have blue black bruises because I bang my legs on the stones while being taking along by the river flow to a calmer spot. Ouch, but fun. I did several times, just tiring to walk back to the starting point and especially you are going the opposite direction of the swift river flow.
Or you can also pick a spot and sunbath. I used to make my own pool when I was a kid. Make a pool by using the stones as wall. Sometime I would find a red stone, smash them and paint our face. I spend hours playing at the river during end year school holidays. You can also search for prawns underneath the stone close to the riverbed.
 The caretaker would like to get more funds from government to add some more facilities in this fish sanctuary visitor centre. So far, toilet has been built from funds received from the government. The more visitors they received in their log record, it will be easier for them to apply for some funding to make it more comfortable for visitors. This rest house is kept very clean, there are tables and chairs you can have picnic. This place has a wide open space, if you want to organise a Family day for your company this will be a good place. You can also BBQ at this place and the whole family will enjoy this experience while having fun playing with fish and water. It is not faraway from the city Kota Kinabalu which is just less than one hour away. The government relies on the village co-operation for the tourism industry. To me as long as there is tourism and farming goods, hopefully there will be no plan for logging. I have seen areas which is close to logging areas and it was too painful to watch the river eco-system has been destroyed. Once was like the river in our village turn to muddy river, the heart feels very heavy. Sad the children could not play anymore near the river. My kids generation is still lucky and I hope it will always be a spot where children can enjoy the river. So future visitors, please come and visit this Fish Sanctuary you will be helping a lot to ensure this place will be safe.
 It is very easy to go here, just follow the signboard to Kiulu White Water Rafting or Pukak Homestay until you reach Kampung Poturidong which is after the small Kiulu town. You will see a 'Tagal' signboard when you reach Kampung Poturidong and park your care next to the roadside and walk just a few metres away you will see a hanging bridge. This river is very popular for white water rafting (Gred 1) suitable for the whole family.
 The village community representatives has tried to negotiate with tour operators to drop by before they drive further up to the white water rafting starting point. But the tour operators has not been giving much co-operation as their excuse is the time frame. Because after the rafting, they will rush to Klias river cruise for the probiscus monkey sightseeing which is actually not a reasonable excuse.  Klias river cruise starts after 4-5PM in the afternoon the earliest because the probiscus monkey comes out at dusk to search for food. I still think they can make it if they leave at 2PM from the rafting end point. I think the tour operators should add the visit to the Mahseer Fish Santuary visitor centre at Poturidong to their itinerary. Well they will be passing the visitor centre anyway (see photo) so they actually can stop over for awhile. When I told my mama, regarding the discussion result with the tour operators, mama retorted the tour operators is considered very lucky already to use the river without any charge, they only has to invest on the equipment that will be used many time. The river they used is free yet they charge per-head close to RM200 now at least. Why not work together with the villager communities and avoid some friction near the future.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pink Curly Hair

 This month of June this orchid has been continuously blooming one by one and I find this orchid species very attractive with its curly pink hair and red stripe inside. I don't really know much about orchids, so I lack specific terms to name the parts of the orchids structures. I grew fond of this girl with pink curly hair. Any gardeners can help me identify this type of Orchid?
 This orchid leafy part of the plant look like this. They really like to cuddle onto tree trunks. This type of orchids plants adorned quite a few tree in our garden. I have been wondering how the orchids will look like since I came back last year and now around the garden one by one the flowers starts the bloom. It must have been something that triggers them to bloom, the weather or some kind of other switch mode. I have noticed the flower stalk appears before I went for my first trip to Sabah this year. It took a while before the flower bloom.
 Red ants seems to like wandering around the flower bloom and I wonder what attracts them.
I am tempted to cut some flower stalk and bring it inside.
 At my mother's place in Sabah state, this white orchid is currently blooming. Don't know which category of orchids it belongs to as well. This one is comfortably living high on the coconut trunk since I was still in secondary school. The picture above was taken earlier this month when we were in Kiulu while below photo was taken yesterday by my mother in full bloom.
 This orchid was taken deep in the forest by one of my son ex-babysitter sister. They live very faraway from the closest gravel main road, they had to walk at least 3 hours to the main gravel road. This orchids has a long blooming season. Not sure what is the name. Not the type to multiply quickly.
 Personally I don't think orchids take much space to grow in the tropics and they don't need to be grown in pots unless they participate beauty pageant. So many to choose from which does not need to be grown on soil in pots and can save money from spending to buy pots. It seems that orchid and coconut has a good relationship. Not only the orchids can live together on the coconut trunk but often the coconut husk is also used to grow them. You can even set the orchids to live/grow/bloom at your eye level so you don't need to strain your neck looking up in the hanging pot or look down in pots.
 The orchids can naturally grow by their own on a old wooden plank as well.
This crafty one seems to be making its home on an empty can. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Drought Fruit Season Harvest June

 I was competing with the squirrel this morning for Sabah's Honey pineapple (Nanas Madu Sabah) fruits. I was weeding one of the section of the veggie patch at the backyard and on my way to the house checking how the kids are doing because Abby was still sleeping before I started weeding. Just when I was heading to the house on the corner of my eyes I thought I saw a tail wiggling on one of our pineapple patch that we have been waiting patiently for the fruits to ripe. I quickly ran towards the pineapple section and one squirrel was running away. I have been checking on the pineapple everyday because the squirrels has already stolen one last month. So this time, as you can see one pineapple has been chomped by the squirrel. I quickly harvest the ones that quarter of it has been shared with the squirrel. I checked the other fruits and luckily it wasn't stolen yet and it is much riper. Because I just had to snap the branch and easily it came off. Collecting side-shoot pineapple top at the moment to increase the number of plants in the garden, one of the aim for this year. Harvest some star gooseberry leaves for tonight dinner.
 Last week the hens and ducks were laying quite a number of eggs, shared some with friends.  I think we collected at least 15 duck eggs last week. Lemons are also readily available last week.
 Butterfly pea blooms never disappoint us. Instead of harvesting the whole plant, we just bandicoot some ginger rhizome when we are out of stock in the kitchen.
Tumeric bandicoot harvest.
 The roselle plants that we sowed in March has now started its fruit season. Roselle plants is doing really well without any help of watering since we transplanted the seedlings. All the roselle plants are more than 5 feets tall and waiting the buds to bloom. We also harvested calamansi limes, bird-eyes chillies, pea eggplants and cucumber tree fruits last week.
 We finally decided to dig up the Mexican Turnip (jicama) that we sowed the seeds last end December which has been left pretty neglected from the start. We did not expected to find one jicama that is over 1kg and it took me more than 20 minutes to carefully dug it out. I think that location we grown jicama is a good soil to grow root crop, rhizome or tuber plants which we will sow some seeds again on that area after the drought season end. I am not planning to water that area which why will wait when the rains come often again. One papaya tree snap so many of the fruits were all over the ground.
 It is drought season now this time of the year, we have not had any rain for almost 2 weeks now. But surprisingly we have been able to harvest a few varieties of fruits last week. Jackfruits are often harvested which has been enjoyed by by squirrels first. Even the fruits look like that, half of it still edible and really sweet.
 Papaya and sapodilla fruits is also harvested from the garden. We managed to harvest several papaya fruits last week because there were plenty to share with the birds and squirrels.
 I am not sure what is the name of this fruits in the weave basket above but we just called it marjerin fruit. Many of the fruits are ripening on the same time. It is more golden in colour but with the lighting it looks paler than it is.

I am trying to make our tropical garden here a sowing schedule like the one I did for our Adelaide garden. I found that sowing the right plant seeds at certain months makes gardening much easier and less effort every year. Recording the harvest by monthly will make it easier to estimate which sow to seeds later on as reference.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Returned after 2 weeks

 Actually we just returned from our trip to Sabah for about 2 weeks last Friday. The whole family went this time leaving the garden to look after itself. I thought that there was a period went without rain looking at the garden surrounding but I might be wrong because the weeds were hiding a lot of plants. Three separate section of veggie patches that I did direct sowed some seeds the day before our departure surprisingly were doing fine and I found many heat-tolerant seedlings. I should be happy looking at many new seedlings that does much better when we are not around. I was so surprised the home-saved angled luffa seeds from Adelaide that I direct-sowed 2 weeks ago, now has grown more than 40cm tall! Today harvest summary is what needed to harvest quick after we returned last Friday. I am not sure what variety this banana that we harvested last Saturday. I am glad that the banana is still there after I returned since I have been waiting to taste the fruit. We were not sure of the harvest timing. But when I did a quick tour at the back, I found some of the bananas the skin has started to split. In contrast to the usual ripe yellow banana in the market, this banana variety when young is brownish red which turns to green when ripe. Not sure how to enjoy this banana yet, still sitting on the kitchen counter top. Maybe try with fritter first?
 We managed to harvest a few papayas to our surprised since we always have many competitors. The long switch period of drought and shower causes a few lemon fruits to crack on the plant. Not only the lemons are effected but other fruits such as Jackfruit as well as we observed in the garden which tells a story about how the weather has been these last 2 weeks in our area.
 These few days, my husband has been clearing up an area at the backyard in the afternoon because we found many group plants of bananas dried up suddenly and a coconut plant dying. In the process of clearing up that area, cassava plants were also taken out. So we had some cassava tubers. Monday main menu was 'cassava', lunch we made cassava fries like the French fries and dinner we boiled the tubers and ate with sambal. Out of curiosity, I added a few butterfly pea flowers into the boiling water and the tubers flesh soaked the blue natural colouring. Instead of white tubers, we got bluish tubers. The area which is in the proses of clearing up, we thought of transplanting snake fruit seedlings which the seeds I have grown from my father-in-law plant end of last year. We already have a big mature male snake fruit plant but not female. I don't think my parents realised before that snake fruit plant has separate male and female plant when they grow them at first. I am thinking of growing the snake fruit some of it along the fence to hinder trespasser from easy access because snake fruit plant is very thorny. In the plan, we also like to grow sugarcane, ginger and pineapple. The ducks starts to lay eggs again.
 Some chicken eggs to collect when we returned. Mulberries for Rayyan. The calamansi lime that I gave some goat manure last month seems to be producing more flowers this week.

Please send me your address details for the seeds at this email address ( .

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Butterfly Pea (Seeds Give-Away)

 The butterfly pea or Clitorea ternatea is named by some taxonomist as having the shape of 'ahem' women private part. The butterfly pea flower is a plant easily grown in the tropical region all year round. This is a wonderful plant not only providing us continuous beautiful blue bloom but also helps nourishes the soil. A plant that thrives in any type of soil and will bloom more profusely in poor soil. A low maintenance plant that does not require the gardeners to feed the plant but generously makes the soil become more fertile and also provide food. In abandoned mining area in Australia to make the soil healthy again, butterfly pea plants are planted for re-vegetation. 
 Buttterfly pea seedlings. I think it will also grow in temperate region if there are four months in the year of hot/warm season. I would imagined if I live in Adelaide, I can sow some seeds in August-September (spring) indoors and planted the seedling out by October (late spring), I would have some flowers to harvest in summer till autumn. But don't worry if you fail first time before the flower bloom. You can make high quality pea straw/hay from the butterfly pea plants. To make high quality pea straw from the butterfly pea plants, cut down the plant before they start to flower  or produce seed pods and dry them. You can have your own home-grown mulch to protect your plants during the dry season from becoming thirsty easily or warm the soil during cold season. Butterfly pea grows very fast, it can starts to produce flowers in 10 weeks if weather is preferable to them. Said to withstand minimum of 15 degree Celsius and grows robustly in weather above 25 degree Celsius.
 The butterfly pea plants is a vigorous climber. Plants can climb at least more than 2 metres high and can help you cover up old rustic fence. Butterfly pea plants self-seeded readily. It has now become a weed in our kebun (garden). Can be use for livestock food.
 You can pick the butterfly pea bloom and eat them raw or as a salad. Will definitely make a nice colour mix in salad. Rayyan likes to eat the bloom raw. Sometime I also give our 9 months old Abby some butterfly bloom to munch while we harvest them. Abby has a blue lipstick on her lips.
 Butterfly pea flowers and seed pods. You can dry butterfly pea flowers and save them for tea. Will be nice to have some dried butterfly pea flowers in the pantry for warm tea in raining or cold season with cakes for tea times. Butterfly pea is said to be good for the eyes. 
 In this corner, they are actually 2 sets of bamboo stick tepee. But the tepee has become the leaning Tower of Pisa week by week. This is the corner which we usually harvest the flower since it is closer to the house compare to other butterfly pea plants at the backyard.
 You can make fritters with butterfly pea flower or Japanese kakiage.
 Or magic smurf drink which slowly turns to pink if added lime/lemon (citrus) juice into the drink.
Almost everyday, Ilhan after he returns from Kindergarten will help harvest the butterfly pea blooms and also helps to take out the sepals from the flower before boiling the flower with water for their own smurf drink. The picture above is our usual morning scene in the weekends where our children have fun making their own smurf drink still in their PJs. As a parent, I hope this is not only imprinted in pictures but also in their mind when they grew up, this way of life making their own drink is imprinted in their mind and living a healthy life. 
 There is not only a single layer petal of butterfly pea flower. But there is also a double/multiple layer bloom type of butterfly pea flower. I received this double/multiple butterfly pea flower seeds from a generous Sabahan Sister. The multiple layers petal butterfly pea flowers has just started to bloom profusely in our garden and add some more blooms to harvest into our basket. There are actually several colours too of butterfly pea flowers like white and lilac which I have received from a Doctor that has a herbal garden in Langkawi Island.

 This week we would like to share some single layer blue butterfly pea flower seeds with five gardeners which will randomly pick from the comment box. The boys will write the names on the paper and fold. Then randomly from there the give-away winners will be selected. Will announce the Butterfly pea flower seeds winner in the next post.

Have a lovely weekend.