Friday, May 29, 2009

Susan's Enchanting Garden

My neighbour, Susan, invited us over to her house for Melaka Satay Celup Steamboat. It was a fun lunch gathering for friends. Her lovely garden was a comfortable place for us to hang out over a cup of coffee and tea. It is such a cosy garden that displays Susan's creativity and love for gardening.

Have fun walking through Susan's cozy garden, my friends!

A sign welcoming visitors to her garden.

My friends having a chill-out session under the cozy porch area.

A friendly face greeting visitors.

A beautiful pink bloom swaying away under the glorious sunshine.

I don't know the name of this plant.
Seems to me like a kind of bird of paradise or heliconia.

A water feature with some cute decorative ornaments.

More photos of Susan's garden will be shared with all of you in the next two postings. There are so many nice things to photograph in her garden, that's why I have a lot to share with all of you!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Making Compost at Home

I have embarked on making my own compost. After starting this blog, I have been reading many gardening blogs. Many of them champion the making of compost from our kitchen waste and stressed that compost helps to improve soil condition for healthy plant growth.

To help me on making my compost, I do a lot of reading on various blogs.

I started off by using a black plastic trash can as the container for my compost. The trash can has been in my garden for awhile and not used. So it's timely to put it into good use now.

Kitchen waste went into my compost trash can.

Cover the vegie with soil. Keep the soil moist. If too much water is added, add more soil.
You don't want your compost waste to be drowning in too much of water. Then close the lid of the can. Prevent flies from rearing eggs on your compost or else you will find many maggots in it.

The finished product shall be brown in colour and crumby in texture. It will take 3-6 months to be completed. So the latest by Nov I should have a big can of compost!!

For tips, I refer to: an article posted on Gardening with Wilson: How to do Compost?

The composting method that was introduced in the second article (pls go to the link to view the article) by my colleagues working in HortPark was one that uses aerobic conditions. Aerobic composting is normally faster and produces less odour compared to anaerobic composting. Aerobic composting entails the use of a container with holes or gaps on the side that allow air to permeate into the compost heap.

Anaerobic composting, on the other hand, takes place inside a sealed container. Normally, a container is first charged with compostable waste to its brim and then shut tight to allow breakdown to take place. Fermentation then occurs and rather strong odour can be released from the container. The product that result is usually more acidic and wet to touch.

In contrast, aerobic composting usually results in a drier and more pH neutral product. But it requires ’turning’ (mixing) of the compost heap’s contents on a regular basis to introduce air into the mixture. The usage of a container with holes can be problematic because pests such as ants and other critters would be attracted and have access to the heap’s contents.

To prevent pests from being attracted to the compost heap, individuals who are high-rise apartment dwllers prefer to use a closed container to do composting at home. Their approach is like a hybrid between the two mentioned above.

My fellow members from the Green Culture Singapore discussion forum used large ceramic jars for this purpose. They covered the mouth of the jar with a lid that seals it shut. After they added fresh kitchen waste into the heap, they turned the heap to introduce air into it, which also helps to mix its contents evenly.

Because kitchen waste is generated and added to the container everyday, this turning procedure is done on a daily basis. Turning is necessary even after the container is filled to its brim to allow air to get into the heap. Depending on the ratio of green and brown waste in the heap and prevailing environmental conditions, usable compost can be ready for use in one month!

It is important to cut up the organic waste into fine bits before adding them to the heap! When cut up, they break down much easily and faster.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Red Plumeria

This is the red plumeria that I recently added to my garden. Yup, it's my 3rd plumeria plant.

The nursery that I frequented in USJ1 is moving out and the owner, Magdalene, offered me this plumeria (with blooms) at RM10 per pot. Without any hesitation, I purchased it.

My earlier purchase of plumerias was also made this nursery. I was offered the plumeria without blooms at RM10 per pot. Till today, I still don't have any blooms yet. So, I do not know what colours are the bloom of my earlier purchased 2 pots of plumeria.

During my past visits to this nursery, the plumerias with blooms were priced at RM25 each. So my recent purchase is considered a good bargain!


I found this interesting video on urban indoor gardening the Patrick Blanc Living Wall style:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Indian Borage

My friend, Rox, has given me an Indian Borage (she mistakenly called it "Apple Mint) stem cut to grow my own. Like Rox, many has mistaken the Indian Borage plant with mint as it smells like one, but with stronger smell. The leaf also look similar to mint, only that it's bigger and have some fine hair on it.

On Saturday, I can feel a sore throat ws coming down on me. My friends and I had a feast of 'keropok lekor' the night before at our cell group meeting. I remembered Rox told me that the Indian Borage works wonders as remedy for cough and sore throat. Though I am afraid of taking herbs raw (especially bitter ones), I put a piece of freshly plucked Indian Borage leaf into my mouth and chew on it.

The minty smell was strong, then there was a tinge of bitterness, followed by a sweet flavour at the end of the throat as the leaf was swallowed. Miraculously, the symptom of sore throat vanished! You can give the Indian Borage a try too if you have a sore throat and cough.

It is said that Indian Borage can be used for culinary purpose too. However, I have not find out in what dishes can it be used yet.

I hope to propagate more Indian Borage and share it with my friends. I just gave one to my neighbour, Letchumi and she was so glad to receive it. I hope I could spread more joy through my garden to friends and neighbours.

Growing the Indian Borage at Home

Marlene_OntheWall shared this information on how to grow Indian Borage:

The easiest way to propagate the Indian Borage is to use stem cuttings (Seeds can also be used, where available).

Cut a length of the central stem. Each segment should be approximately 5-8 inches and have several nodes. Remove the leaves from the bottom two to three nodes and insert into the soil.

It's important to make sure your pot has good drainage. Ideally, the soil should be moist. Take care not to overwater as this plant does not like wet conditions.

If you live in the tropical or subtropical areas, place the plant in semi-shade. If the amount of sun is right, the leaves should be a nice jade-green. If it is getting too much sun, the leaves turn yellow and start curling; not enough sun, and the leaves turn a dark shade of green.

In cooler regions, the plant can be placed in full sun. As it is susceptible to frost, you may want to grow it in a pot which can be moved indoors or to more sheltered areas during winter.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Blooming Wild Orchid

My wild orchid showed a bloom yesterday! I am extremely overjoyed. This is the third time that it has bloom for me.

I got this wild orchid from Genting Highlands. While driving around, we came across a field of wild orchid near to the Mushroom farm. We were not certain if this plant would survive the tropical heat of our lowland. So, we plucked some and brought them home. I gave some to my neighbour and kept some for myself. I plant them in a pot of soil with good drainage system. Similar to the media where I saw it grew in Genting Highlands.

Amazingly, the plant is able to survive the scorching heat of our weather. The blooms are beautiful, however they won't last. The longest that I remember is only 3 days. Whereas the blooms from local orchids can last over a month or some even two.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Barbados Cherry

Barbados Cherry is native to northern part of South America. It is also known as West Indies Cherry. It was the first time that I saw the fruit of Barbados Cherry at the nursery in USJ1. The vibrant red fruit hanging from the tree was really attractive. So I decided promptly to get a pot of the plant with the hope that I could have cherries straight from the tree every day! LOL!

The tree is a shrub-sized plant. It is suitable for our tropical climate. The pink flowers look attractive. Both the attractive pink flowers and deep crimson fruits make it a beautiful ornamental plant for my garden.

The fruit of Barbados Cherry is green in colour and will trun deep crimson when ripe. I enjoy plucking the ripe crimson colour fruits off the plants and eat the fresh fruit instantly. It's rather sour but I have a sour tastebud. So it's just perfect for me. The fruit has extremely high Vitamin C.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Offering of Jasmine

I love to buy jasmine flowers garland as offering to the Buddha at my altar. The fragrant is so sweet and the flowers beautiful.

Sometimes I will pluck the jasmine blossoms from my garden and offer them in a plate to the Buddha.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beautiful Leaves of Calladium

This is the Calladium that my friend, Poh, gave to me together with another beautiful fern that I have posted earlier.

The first photo was taken when I first received the plant. You can see that the leaves are greener and fresh. But after 3 weeks, the plant has more white colour on it. I put the Calladium in the porch area, away from direct sun. Warmth and moisture are considered two of the Caladiums best friends. They need both to flourish. I tried to incorporate both. Sometimes I would bring the pot outside when there is sunshine, but usually they would be placed under bigger plants. Not direct sun, but just for it to get some heat. However, I realized they are not getting any better than when I first receive this plant. I am crossing my fingers that they would grow well. I love this Calladium. They have such attractive leaves!!

Aren't they beautiful?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tips on Growing Jasmine

I have been planting jasmine without knowing clearly the tips for successful growth of my plant. It was by trial and error that I discovered regular pruning of the plant after its blooms drop off will result in more blooms.

Recently, while surfing on the Green Culture Singapore website, I found answers by Mr. Wilson Wong, founder of Green Culture Singapore, a website for plant lovers, to a question by reader whose jasmine plant does not flower.

Question: I have a jasmine plant that refuses to flower. Instead, it grows tall and lanky. I've added fertiliser but to no avail.

The symptoms you described seems to suggest that your plant is not receiving enough sunshine for growth.

Jasmine are flowering shrubs that need direct sunshine to grow well and flower. Otherwise they will produce lanky growth and no flowers.

In a highrise environment, it is preferable to grow jasmine in a location where they can get at least 4 to 6 hours direct sunshine. Adding flowering plant food does not promote flowering if there is insufficient sunshine.

Fertilizers that can be used to promote the flowering of plants should have a higher ratio of potassium to nitrogen and phosphorous. The ratio is often found on the label.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Selasih (Basil) Seed

After a short drizzle, I went out to the garden to check my plants. I found a basil seed on the dried flowers. And that's a selasih seed. I love drinking air bandung with selasih seed. But I didn't know those selasih seed actually comes from the basil plant! Do you know this?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Heliconia (Blooms from My Garden Series)

In the Blooms from My Garden series, I will share photos of flowers that I have taken from my garden.

This is a Heliconia Rostrata, with the flowers in red, yellow and a tinge of green facing downwards. When this photo was taken, it was planted in a big pot. But after sometime, it outgrew the pot and I had to transplant it. I put it into our planter box and it continue to grow very well together with my Birds of Paradise. It would bloom from time to time and usually the blooms last for 3-4 weeks. The blooms remind me of firecrackers that we burn during Chinese New Year.
I love seeing my Heliconia blooms. Isn't it beautiful?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bandar Harapan Organic Farm

I was glad during the long weekend of Labour Day holiday I was able to spend time on my own enjoying things that I like. For instance, I visited the Sg. Buluh Nursery, went for photo shoot at the Subang Jaya uncompleted flyover and last visited the Bandar Harapan Organic Farm. I wanna share with all of you my outing to Bandar Harapan Organic Farm.

The Bandar Harapan Organic Farm (BH) is located in Ara Damansara. It's the first time I have been there even though I have heard so much about it. It is not difficult to find the location. Based on the map that I found on its website, I drove out to search for the farm. It wasn't difficult to find. Amazingly, the farm is located behind the area of posh bungalows within Ara Damansara residential houses.

Map 1: Direction to BH from Subang Airport

Map 2: Direction to BH from Kelana Jaya

My friend, Seong Mooi, who is a school teacher has adopted a piece of land within BH (about 200 square feet) to do organic farming. She would bring her school students there on Sundays to teach them about nature, plants and carry out environmental education with them. She said the owner of BH, Ivan Ho, actually taught them how to do organic farming on Sundays and on weekdays, the BH team will help to maintain the plants for them. She pays RM200 monthly for the maintenance of her plot of land in BH.

I think this is a rather interesting concept for urban people like us, who would love to try out organic farming and yet is lack of land in our usual linked houses.

I reached BH a bit late. My friend, Seong Mooi and her students have left the farm. Ivan has also left the farm with the harvest of the day. He sometimes sell his farm's produces in the Subang Jaya Buddhist Association. Fortunately, Ivan's assistant, Siti was around to let me in.

I had a great time exploring the farm and shooting away with my camera. These are what I saw at the farm. For one who grows up in town, I really enjoy exploring the farm and checking out the fruits and flowers there.

A papaya tree growing among the little choy sum.

Brinjals hanging from their stems.

Red ladyfingers? I don't know why they are red.
(Added 29 May 2009: I was told by a friend that this red lady fingers are from Taiwan.
Bandar Harapan is trying to propagate more of this red lady fingers.)

A beautiful orange colour ladybird on a plant

This is a big pineapple. There are a few growing by the side of the fence.

The mulberries in this farm produce many fruits.

Turmeric (kunyit) growing healthily

A type of sugar cane.
We usually boil it with rock sugar and it helps to reduce heatiness in the body.

Misai Kuching

Morning Glory (Seri Pagi)

A water catchment pond, surrounded by Morning Glory.

A busy rooster

Tapioca shoots
(Corrected on 29 May 2009, thanks to blogger Jenny for highlighting my mistake of tagging it
as Sweet Potato shoots)

Rows of lemon grass

Curry leaves

A Hindu temple is found in the compound of BH.

Young choy sum

Lush green spinach

Flower of Lady Fingers

Lady fingers

For those of you who have not been to a farm, do give it a try. It's really fun exploring the place and checking out the vegies and plants growing!


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