Goodbye, oh, POOR White Bitter Gourd vines!

Fourth Sis suddenly came to notice the army of ants marching on and about her White Bitter Gourd ( Momordica charantia ) vines  last week, while she was sorting her piles of dirty laundry on her balcony. She was so shocked that she phoned me right away, to tell me about her discovery, which to her, was a most dreadful one. She asked me to go over to her apartment and help her have the vines removed soonest possible. In order to get rid of the ants.

I was most reluctant to do so. Thus, I tried my very best to make her change her mind. I spent quite some time persuading and making her understand ( which she eventually did ), that they are friends and not foes. That they are pollinators that could possibly help her get her first, much longed for fruit. I also assured her that they were there for the flowers on the vines only, and not likely would they care to find their ways to the foods in her kitchen, something which I knew she was most afraid would happen. 

But still, eventually, after all the persuasions and reasoning, she was adamant about her initial decision. She wanted to have her White Bitter Gourd vines gone. So that the creepy-crawlies ( ants ) would go too, and make their living elsewhere, away from her balcony. She said she could not tolerate their presence. No matter what. ( long sighs ).

So, with a heavy heart, I had them ( the White Bitter Gourd vines ) killed ( cut at the base ), cut into small parts and removed from her balcony yesterday. 

Goodbye, oh, POOR White Bitter Gourd vines! ( sobs )

Love me, WHY CAN'T YOU?

Dear Gardener,

I have always have a WISHFUL dream.
That is, to become your ' official ' PET.
INSTEAD of your ' detested ' PEST.
To be LOVED and PROTECTED by you.
From the KILLER pellets and kind.

But a wishful dream is EVER a wishful dream.
You will never love me.
In your heart, I am forever a pest that will ruin your plants.
If, to the extent you must get rid of me, 
Send me off to the wild instead.

THOUGH I do think I could make a GOOD pet.
As ALL I ask is just a GARDEN to roam in.
And a PORTION of your PLANTS to fill my tummy.
MOREOVER, if you would seriously look at me,
you would find that I am actually quite LOVELY in a way!

Love Me,
the Garden Snail

Some notes on my recent harvests...

Finally, last week, it was harvest time again for most of my edibles. 

There were the Butterfly Pea ( Clitoria ternatea ) flowers, the Gynura bicolor leaves, the Radishes ( Raphanus sativus ) and their greens, the Red Stem Malabar Ceylon Spinach ( Basella alba ), the Sweet Potato ( Ipomoea batatas ) leaves and the Thai Basil ( Ocimum basilicum ). 

A beautiful and bountiful lot. 

Which I had evenly distributed among my brothers and sisters.

Nothing was left for myself other than the smallest of the Radishes and its attached greens. Which I had very simply cooked ( the vegetarian way ) and eaten or enjoyed with a small bowl of white rice. SIMPLE, yet DELICIOUS and WONDERFUL!

Just in case someone would like to know...

For the Radish ...

Ingredients that I had used: 

radish ( cleaned, cut and sliced ), star anise ( 1 piece, cleaned ), ginger ( half thumb size, skin removed, cleaned and sliced ), organic soy sauce ( amount added according to my taste preference ), grape seed oil ( a few drops ) and filtered water ( just enough to cover the radish slices inside the pot )

Here is how I had it cooked:

1) At first, I had ALL the ingredients put into a small stainless steel pot.
2) Then, I had the pot covered, put on the stove and cooked over low heat.
3) When the sliced radish had finally soften, I had the pot removed from the stove.
4) Finally, I had the dish served in a small, white porcelain bowl.

How did this dish tasted? 

Fragrant, sweet and wonderful!

For the Radish greens ...

Ingredients that I had used: 

radish greens ( cleaned and cut to bite size ), garlic ( 1 clove, skin removed, cleaned and sliced ), rock salt ( amount added according to my taste preference ), grape seed oil ( 1 tablespoon ) and filtered water ( just enough to wet the radish greens during cooking ).

Here is how I had them cooked:

1) At first, I had the stainless steel pot heated on the stove over low heat.
2) Then, I had the tablespoon of grape seed oil added into the pot.
3) When the oil was about to smoke, I had the sliced garlic thrown in.
4) Shortly after that, I had the radish greens and a small pinch of rock salt thrown in too before I had a little filtered water sprinkled onto them.
5) Then I had the radish greens stir-fried for some time inside the pot until cooked.
6) After that I had the pot removed from the stove.
7) Finally, I had the stir-fried radish greens served in a small, white porcelain bowl.

How did this dish tasted?

Quite bitter but most delicious!


Flowering Plants of The Good Old Days in My Garden

Always on the lookout for some fun as kids, me, my siblings ( Fourth Sis and Jane ) and our neighbour ( Lina ) would hop onto our bikes during weekends and on school holidays. To cycle around every nook and cranny of our small town. Most times, not only did we cycle. But we explored. And played as well. Wherever we stopped at or went. Oh, what adventures! And what sheer fun we had had! I guess no kids our age and gender back then ever imagined the extent of our enjoyment every time we were out on one. Else, they would have follow suit. For sure!

We had been to the ' kampong ' ( ' village ' in Malay language ). Picked and ate the best tasting ' wild cherries ' usually eaten only by birds. Initially, Fourth Sis, Jane and I were hesitant if they were even ' cherries ' or edible at all. But Lina somehow assured us they were. So, we enjoyed them nonetheless.

We had been to the jungle. Where we got really close views of the beautiful, vibrant and multi-coloured blooms of those strong-smelled, wild growing Lantanas ( Lantana camara ) for the first time. And it was right there that we had sworn we would grow some of those flowers in our own gardens when we got home. Though we never did as those sparks of interest to grow them happened to die out soon after we left. Until recently. When I had some started in a pot at my backyard ( from stem cuttings taken from the wild ) .

Pictures of Lantana camara taken from the wild. Mine is yet to flower.

We had been to many abandoned housing project sites. Where we got to enjoy our Hide and Seek plays to the fullest, given the space we could use to our hearts' desires. And where we had enjoyed much of our Outdoor Cooking plays too. Using just dried twigs or woods for our fires. Like those used by ancient people in story books we had read. Such were the fun we often had there. Amidst abandoned, unfinished buildings that were overrun by weeds like Air Mata Pengantin ( Bride's Tears ) or Coral Vines or Mexican Creeper or Chain of Love Antigonon leptopus ), being the most common one. Also one that I enjoyed seeing the most back then for its beautiful, cluster pink flowers and being a super pollinator bee magnet. Which I had recently taken on the interest in growing one in a pot at my backyard.

Pictures of Antigonon leptopus taken  from the side of a road near Ipoh. Mine is yet to mature and flower.

And, we had been to the place for the deceased too. The cemetery. But why you may ask. Was there no other more pleasant place to go and have fun? Or play? Well, we did not know why too. Our legs just brought us there. The place was really quiet when we entered. Though being only tens of metres away from where human's activities were at their peak. Our hairs instantly stood on end. Could not quite relax as usual. We were scared. The feeling just came. Involuntarily. We were thinking of sprinting back to our bikes. Which we had earlier parked near to the entrance. When the wind suddenly blew and it rained flowers of white colour from an adjacent, very magical ( to me, at least ) tree that swayed in the wind. And when simultaneous, beautiful, heavenly scents permeated the air around us. Which instantaneously got us into letting go of our initial intention to run away. We were mesmerized by the beauty of the whole thing. " So beautiful and oh, just so fragrant! " We blurted out at the same time. So, there we stayed, for a couple more minutes. Before we picked up a flower or two each, wore it or them behind our ears and off we went on our bikes again.

I did not know the name of that magical tree until years later. A beautiful name, Frangipani ( Plumeria obtusa ),  it has got. Which I am now growing in a pot at my backyard. Though of a different colour and variety.

Beautiful, fragrant flowers of my potted Frangipani ( Bali Hai or Cendana variety ) at my backyard. ( This plant was started from a stem cutting kindly given by a very generous local Facebook gardening group administrator, Elizabeth Wai Chun Bain some two months back. Many thanks to her! )

Looking back, I shudder at the thought of those places we had been to. How on earth could the word ' DANGER ' not be in our dictionary then? We could have met with nasty animals, people and things or ' the unseen ' that might change our lives forever. And caused our parents to suffer from grief. But thank goodness. That we were really lucky to have skipped them all. And had learnt quite a bit along the way. ABOUT PLANTS, especially! Some of which I am now growing in my small backyard garden.

Garden Update - September 2018

Yesterday, I got to spend about two hours or so in my small garden in Ipoh. It was a rather clear, hot and sunny morning. Much in contrary to the state of the day before. When the sky was cloudy and the weather was cooler. And when there was an indication of a much longed for stuff ( rain ) going to fall down from it. Though before too long ( towards evening time ), as luck would have it, the sky was suddenly, thoroughly cleared. And the sun was felt. Hot. The wind had given the sky a good ' sweep '. The clouds, along with the much longed for RAIN, were swept off to some much luckier places. Showering some much luckier plants.

Oh, how I envy those! My garden had not got to enjoy even the slightest drop of it!

" I can't just wait for it to fall down from the sky. " I told myself, after I had had a quick look around and weeding done at both my back and front yards yesterday morning. " I must not let my plants go thirsty for another day! "

Instantaneously, I reached for the long rubber hose that was waiting to be of service at a corner. I turned the tap on. And gave my whole garden that stuff equivalent that it had missed the day before. I did that for quite a while until I judged it had had enough.

Before the watering ...


I had weeded out all the Green Amaranths ( Amaranthus sp. ) that had invaded part of my planter while I was away. Since they were young and edible, they did not have to go into my compost bin. I made a simple delicious soup out of them for lunch today. 

There were plenty of newly-germinated and healthy, young Thai Basil ( Ocimum basilicum ) plants on the planter. So, I unhesitatingly, had three, year-old and very woody ones removed. Nothing that I grow is to be wasted. Thus, no exception with the young shoots and leaves of these old, unwanted plants. They were harvested, packed and stuffed into my small fridge for later cooking with tomatoes and bean curds ( Tofu ) or eggs.


The Red Stem Malabar Ceylon Spinach ( Basella rubra ) plants must have loved the recent rainy weather. They had grown to be very happy and healthy looking plants again, after Jane had all their leaves harvested sometime back. I will let them grow a few more days before I go back again and harvest their leaves. I am thinking of giving them to my sisters in Kuala Lumpur who love to enjoy them in salted egg soup.

The Gynura bicolor plants must have enjoyed the rainy weather too. Plus less sun exposure during this time of year at my northwest facing backyard. They were all starting to look great again, just like how they used to look towards year end last year.

The ' five-lobed ' Sweet Potato ( Ipomoea batatas ) vines which I had started from kitchen scraps sometime back, had all leafed and showed signs of good growth. 

The ginger ( Zingiber officinale ) plants might already have some gingers down there. Perhaps I should seriously have a look at them when I go back again a few days from now.

The Butterfly Pea ( Clitoria ternatea ) vines were looking great as usual with lots of beautiful, bright indigo blue blooms. Everywhere. 



The Turmeric ( Cucurma longa ) plant seemed to have failed to revive. After it had had the shock of its life when Jane had it pulled out and relocated sometime back. But I was not going to give up on it yet!

The Sweet Potato ( Ipomoea batatas ) vines which Jane had harvested until ' bald ' sometime back had all grown back. Though not really lush yet.

Nine out of eleven Radish Raphanus sativus ) plants already have radishes that were visible above the soil. When I gently dug a bit into the soil around one of them, I found that its size was actually double what I saw of it above the soil. Comparing them with store sold ones, I could tell that they were good enough for harvest anytime. However, I would wait until I go back again a few days from now. Meanwhile, I have to think how I should distribute all these radishes!

All for now. Thank you for reading this. Bye!