Monday, November 29, 2010

Blog Carnival

Fer of My Little Gardern In Japan has started this Blog Carnival to showcase bloggers from all over the world, their favourite plants, flowers, trees, moss, veggies, fruits, etc etc etc....Its just like GBBD started by May Dreams Garden or some other special activities created by other bloggers. I think the idea is simply good fun, at the same time learning about each other's garden activities, their favourite things or just keeping in touch no matter in which part of the world we start the Carnival rolling!!!!

my mulberry fruits from my mulberry bushes....

ripe mulberry fruits turn black or dark purple..very sweet

the beginning....mulberry seedlings propagated using mature stems planted in sand

It started off in 2007 when I embarked on a small private project with my friend, Prof Dr Abdul Wahab Arbain and 2 of his students to work on 2 plots of his land in Jeram, near Kuala Selangor, cultivating temperate plants and fruits like mulberry, pear, kiwi, apple, grapes, blackberry, olive and loquat. He thought me how to propagate mulberry seedlings from mature stems and from there, I planted 6 outside my fence. Since then they have grown so tall, lush and healthy and given me an abundance of sweet fruits after each pruning!

the flowers turning to little fruits after monthly pruning

ripe mulberry on the tree, at this stage, it will drop by itself to the ground
if you dont pick them

lots of fruits after each pruning...unripe fruits are red, sourish
taste almost like strawberries

Mulberry is the common name of Morus Moraceae with 3 main species : White mulberry (Morus alba L.), Black mulberry (Morus nigra L.) and Red mulberry or American mulberry (Morus rubra L.) Im not sure which is mine, probably Red mulberry or could it be Black mulberry? White mulberry is the native of China where they are grown mainly for feeding the leaves to silk worms. The Red or American mulberry is native of United States. While the Black mulberry is native to Western Asia and has been grown for its fruits in Europe since before the Roman times.

catching the morning sun....

I have shared the fruits and seedlings with family, friends and neighbours who have never seen a mulberry tree before and equally amazed at the amount of fruits on the trees each time they pass by my house. I made known to my neightbours that anybody is free to pick the fruits whenever they are in season. Usually I will pick the fruits in the morning while doing my gardening, sort of my quickie breakfast...:-)

mulberry bush outside the fence as tall as my garage roof

All 3 types of Mulberry trees are deciduous and can grow to great heights. I have to prune the trees at least once a month to keep them low and bushy which will in turn spur them to start flowering. They need full sunlight and adequate space to grow with well-drained soil although they thrive with minimum fertilisation. As far as I remembered, I only fertilised the plants once at the beginning, when I spread chicken manure on each hole when planting the seedlings in 2007. I only watered them once a day for about a month and thereafter, left them to nature...but looking back, how they have grown since! tall as my pondok too...thats why I have to keep pruning them

At one glance, the dark green, shiny mulberry leaves looking very much alike the leaves of the hibiscus. My neighbours thought they were hibiscus trees but was wondering why they were only leaves no flowers? Until they saw me with a red plastic strainer picking something at the trees and I showed and let them taste the sweet dark fruits! Usually I eat the fruits raw or will blend them to make fruit juice. They can also be made into jam used in fruit tarts, pies or puddings.
Why the mulberry trees are my all time favourite? Besides giving me lots of fruits to my family, friends and neighbours, they are sort of a novelty when I first introduced the tree to them, especially telling them about feeding the silkworms! Everybody is clamouring for the stems to plant them in their garden though I was told, most of them are unsuccessful! I guess I have greener fingers than them or just plain lucky! All you have to do is soak the stem in 2" of water overnight, push it into ordinary sand (or plant it directly at any place you want it to grow), water them everyday until it starts rooting and transplant it. They are great for hedges or as wind breaker.

Visit Fer's blog : and join his Blog Carnival. Have Fun!

Friday, November 26, 2010

What can it be?

In my excitement to grow lots of vegetables (my first time), I sow some seeds in 2 planters. But alas, I didnt mark them afterwards. I remembered there were pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, french beans, ladies fingers (okra), eggplants (round and long ones), red chillies, capsicums (red, green, yellow), petola (angled loofah) and timun jepun (Japanese cucumber). Wow! thats a lot seeds! So when the seeds sprouted their first leaves, I didnt know what seeds they were and have to wait further until their 3rd and 4th leaves. Then I could spot, the chillies, capsicums, eggplants, ladies fingers and of course tomatoes.

But this one plant, puzzled me since it was born (I had two but the other one didnt make it after a heavy rain).....So I keep guessing, could it be french bean, angled loofah or the Japanese cucumber? Though its leaves are hairy, it cant be pumpkin because I know they have broader, softer leaves and their stems are thicker too. That means none of my pumpkin seeds germinated, may be the seeds have expired their shelf lives...

So the only thing to do is wait for the flowers...but would I know which flowers belong to which of the three seeds?

Ive moved the plant to a more sunny place in my backyard overlooking Ampang River behind my house and also because of the chain fence there can provide a good climbing place for its tendrils who instinctively entwined themselves by evening to the fence...

But at least here it shows the flowers of the cucumber...

Since this is my first time planting these veggies, I have no idea how the plants will look like. I only have the packet of seeds to guide me. Anyway, I anticipate their development every day and waiting for their flower buds to enlighten me!
Happy Gardening !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vietnamese mint (Persicaria Odorata)

my pot of daun kesum...just love the smell!

The Vietnamese mint or cilantro or Vietnamese coriander is a herb. Though called a mint, it has no relation to the mints or its family Lamiaceae. Vietnamese mint, Persicaria Odorata (Latin name) is in the family of Polygonaceae collectively known as smartweeds or pinkweeds. The herb or the leaves are widely used in South East Asian countries in their cooking. In Malaysia and Singapore it is called daun kesum or daun laksa (laksa leaf).

daun kesum (vietnamese mint)

The leaves have a lemony fragrant and spicy taste, reminiscent of the mint or lemon grass and can be eaten raw added to salad or used as a garnishing ingredient in spicy noodle soup ( laksa), so much so its popularly known here as laksa leaf. Also can be added to cooking asam pedas ikan (spicy fish soup). The herb when added to the cooking, will give the dish a peculiar taste and smell of the leaves. It can be easily grown, needs warm condition and damp or moist soil, and are mostly found in tropical and sub-tropical countries.

I make this today for a side dish.....cucumber and pineapple salad
with mint and daun kesum and kafir lime juice

The herb can be grown easily by putting a bunch of daun kesum stems in water until they sprout white roots at the jointed stems. Then put them in pot with moist soil, fertilise and water them regularly. If you find your pot of daun kesum is drying and dying, most likely you have not given them enough water so the soil become dehydrated! Just take them out, cut all dying stems and leaves and repot with loose soil and water them. They will spring to life in no time!

yesterday I cooked asam pedas ikan with eggplants and tomatoes and
lots of daun kesum

my favourite... asam laksa or penang laksa with
daun kesum, cashew nut shoot and cucumber as garnishing and spicy!

According to Wikipedia, the Vietnamese claim that the herb can treat swellings, acne, indigestion, flatulence and stomach aches.....And they are used to repress sexual urges! It seems that many Buddhist monks grow this Vietnamese mint or daun kesum in their private garden and eat it frequently as a helpful step in their celibate life. There's a saying in Vietnamese, translated to 'if you want to reduce sexual desires, take this mint...but if you want the opposite effect, take bean sprouts'! Anybody want to prove this saying?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lost to nature's fury...

Its so sad to loose a loved one, whether its your own flesh and blood, your pet cat, chicken and to a gardener, your plants. The plant you nurture from tiny little things to an adult blooming plant, giving you hope that you are going to savour the fruits of your labour finally. But that hope is dashed by a cruel fate, beyond your control that saw your beautiful beloved plants damaged and broken, which render your heart broken too!
On Thursday, prior to a heavy downpour, a storm wreaked havoc near my area which fell my neighbour's 2 banana trees, broke a big chunk of my rambutan and mango branches, topple a few pots in my garden and split into 2 my eggplant. Grandpa of a lightning, jolted me out of my skin and damaged the modem of my internet network! Luckily my eldest son could repair everything last night. The phone company we called to complain, told us that 150 complaints were received after yesterday's thunderstorm around our area!
But the biggest lost I felt was my 2 cherry tomato plants broken half way up the stems and they are flowering profusely, promising a bountiful harvest to come!

I nurture you from these tiny little things...

...into these beautiful plants...

...your beautiful flowers promising bountiful harvest...

into these broken things...

....beyond repair but have to wait for new growth...

I guess its partly my fault, the support poles for my tomato plants were too short for the growing plants, so when the storm lashed out, it broke the stems where there were no support. A valuable lesson to learn and a costly one poor tomato plants!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Put my tired feet up....

Mint in Tea

Today Im going to put up my very tired feet and aching body to rest! So after my morning rituals, feeding the cats, watering the plants, cleaning the house, I make my usual cuppa hot Teh-O (tea without milk) with mint leaves! In fact I need to have 2 cuppa...drinking to the last drop and chew the mint leaves...a very satisfying drink! Ok Im going to take a nap now....

Look up for Life and History of Mint on Gay Gardener Gazette :

Cheer up!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Whats blooming in my garden...GBBD Nov 2010

The Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) is here again for the month of November, first time Im participating. It comes on every 15th of the month, where we show what flowers are blooming in our garden at that particular time.

purple Asters

Asters are perennials and easy to grow. It can be grown by dividing the plants and by seeds. I bought these before the last Hari Raya to add colours to my garden for the festive occasion. They have been blooming ever since. Asters need average soil but will grow well with compost, full sun and water once a day, but no over watering. They come in blues, purples and a variety of pinks and they look like daisies with yellow centres.

white anthuriums

These white anthuriums when I first bought had normal size flowers. But later I noticed their flowers have shrunk to half their original size. Probably because the plant was exposed to full sun, which I was told later, should be in the shade. Anthuriums are usually grown for their attractive looking flower spathes and their ornamental leaves and also they are popular in the tropics because of their long vase life of about 6 weeks, depending on the variety.

pink pentas

white pentas

red pentas

I have three different colours of Pentas Lanceolata, pink, white and red. They are also called Egyptian Starclusters, Star Flower and Star Clusters. They have lush dark green, veined folliage which make them look attractive with their clusters, bloom all year round, need full or partial sunlight. I placed mine under the awning to protect them from the onslaught of rain but still get the full sunlight to bloom. When their flowers fall off, I cut the flower heads so that they can grow new branches and bloom again. Pentas are supposed to attract butterflies and hummingbirds but so far I havent seen any!

If you want to participate in GBBD please go to May Dreams Garden. Here is the link:

Happy Gardening!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Anacardium Occidentale...Cashew tree

I planted the cashew nut tree, scientifically named Anacardium Occidentale, 2 years ago outside the fence near the road. The cashew tree is a native of Brazil and was planted throughout the tropical regions of the world where it is an important economic crop for some countries. My cashew tree, how it has grown since, touching the roof of the pondok in my garden. In my thoughts, I wanted to savour the young shoots as ulam (local herb salad), since Im an avid eater of ulam introduced by my late Grandma since I was a kid.

Here is my cashew tree seedling 2 years ago. The tree can be seed grown, or propagated by bud grafting.

Just look at it tall! And look at those young shoots with pinkish or light brown colour at the tips....I can actually smell the leaves...mmmmm so delicious with sambal belacan (dried prawn paste) or sambal tempoyak (fermented durian)! Or you can slice it thinly and add to asam laksa (rice noodles in spicy soup) replacing the mint leaves.

Growing tall and healthy fighting for space with a papaya tree and beetle leaf plant (pokok sireh) and morning glory on its left. The cashew tree can reach up to 30 feet in height.

the young fruit and nut (Wikipedia)

The tree should flower within 3 - 4 months with regular fertilising, the flowers are small, pinkish with a fragrance. But mine is already 2 years and no sign of a flower bud! The ripe fruit can be turned into wine, jellies or refreshing drinks.

ripe cashew fruits (Wikipedia)

The fruit formed by the cashew tree is very unusual because it looks like a small pear with the cashew nut hanging from the bottom of it. The fruit at maturity can be either bright red, orange-red or yellow in colour and is very aromatic. So this is a very aromatic tree, from the leaves, the flowers, and the fruits! I remembered eating the ripen fruit when I was a kid for the first time. That was ages ago, when I went to my uncle's house in Singapore when you dont need a passport to enter back then. The tree was in abundance along the Changi beach near my uncle's house. The ripe fruit is fragrance, has a peculiar taste, sweet, stick to the back of your tongue (dont know the English word for it), locally is kelat.

roasted cashew nuts (Wikipedia)

The edible nut, however, is the most highly prized part of the fruit, and is roasted and packaged to markets all over the world! But you cant eat the nut raw because the caustic oil in it (getah dia), will cause discomfort or irritation to some people. Its no wonder because the cashew tree is a relative of the poison ivy! Like me, when I was eating the fruit, the caustic oil came in contact with my outer lips and cheek, developed into a rash which turned septic or kudis. Why the nut is roasted? It is to render the caustic oil to be less caustic. Now the nuts are packed salted and has become a very popular snack. I prefer unsalted cashew nuts, to be added to dried chillies stir fried chicken, or added to nasi minyak or to some other equally delicious local dishes!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Devil's Fig

Devil's Fig, a.k.a Turkey Berry, Wild Eggplant, Prickly Nightshade, Pea Eggplant and locally known as Terung Tipit (literally translated as sparow's brinjal/eggplant), Terung Belanda or Terung Rembang. Scientific name is Solanum torvum Swartz

terung pipit (devil's fig)

This shrub is found widely in the Tropics including Malaysia. It grows in abandoned lands, in kampungs (villages), wastelands, by the roadsides and open forests. The shrub is about 2 or 3 m high. The stems have spikes, so you have to be careful when you pick the fruits. The fruits are berries that grow in clusters of tiny green spheres about 1cm in diameter resembling green peas. Locally we cook the fruits as ulam (salad) by scalding first, then eaten with sambal belacan (hot chili padi with prawn paste) or fried with ikan bilis (dried anchovies) with blended dried but delicious! But in Negeri Sembilan their trademark recipe is gulai lemak cili api ikan keli, a concoction of coconut milk, chilies and catfish or any freshwater fish.

The flowers are white and tubular and will shed soon after its open

This is the plant of Terung Pipit taken at my son's MIL in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan when I went there for a visit. I saw a lot of seedlings near the surrounding area, probably the fruits are eaten by birds and the seeds are spread out by their droppings. Its a hardy plant and will grow on its own like weeds.
The fruits have many medicinal values. Its taken as appetite enhancer and to lower hypertension. The leaves is believed to be capable of curing headaches, rheumatism, cholera, diarrhoea and to bring down high fever. The roots are pounded to use in poulticing cracked heels.

Friday, November 5, 2010

La petite...

I love small cute pots and fancy containers. I filled them with mini begonias, money plants, spider plants, different varieties of coleus and other house plants that Im not sure of their names as long as they look pretty and cute for indoor and outdoor decorations. Mostly for my own use, but I did give them to friends and family as a birthday or house warming party gift. And I even manage to sell two at a Flea Market a few months back!
Various types of small cute containers n pots,
look good on a coffee table in the garden,
in your living room or on your rack

Dont have to buy those fancy pots and containers, you can always recycle your plastic bottles to make small pots with money plants or other creepers to hang in your bathroom, giving it a refreshing new look. I did that when I was working in a company once, my boss liked it so much he asked me to make a few more for his garden and bathroom!