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!






ALL FOR NOW! THANK YOU FOR READING THIS! BYE!



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 ...



AT MY BACKYARD PLANTER, ...



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.




( FROM MY OBSERVATIONS .... )



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. 





AT MY FRONT YARD PLANTER, ...



( FROM MY OBSERVATIONS .... )



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!





A Letter To My Sister's White Bitter Gourd Plant ( Momordica charantia )




Dear Momordica,

It was not long ago ....
.... since I last saw you.
A BIG BABY you were then.
Oh, how very fast you have grown!
Could not quite believe my eyes!
You are now ....
.... everywhere ....
.... on the trellis which I have specially constructed for you.

I know how DIFFICULT life is to you these days ....
.... on this seventh floor's balcony ....
That have little daily sun exposure to enjoy ....
.... PLUS .....
.... occasional harsh weathers to battle with ....
.... TORRENTIAL RAINS ....
.... and HIGH WINDS.
I am most grateful that ....
.... despite so ....
.... INCREDIBLY, ....
.... you are thriving!
And are now flowering ....
.... profusely.

I PRAY THAT somehow, some kind insects ....
.... would find your pollens.
And would happily transport them to your stigmas.
So that beautiful, delicious PEARL WHITE GOURDS could form.
And put smiles on my face!

Though ALREADY you have actually ....
.... put them ( smiles ) on my face.
RIGHT NOW. 
With your many cheery, tender yellow blooms ....
.. . everywhere.
And your lush healthy leaves ....
.... that send out heavenly bitter sweet scent ....
.... every time I brush past you.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, oh dear Momordica!
For growing so happily and healthily ....
.... DESPITE all difficulties.
And let me SOAK UP all YOUR GOODNESS ( HAPPINESS )!


Sincerely,
JADE


When you have A CURIOUS VISITOR in the garden...


We were back to Ipoh on September the sixth, and had stayed for about a week or so before we came back to Kuala Lumpur on the twelfth. It had rained almost every day while we were there. Apparently, the plants in my small garden had enjoyed those thorough, natural showers. Every morning, even at a glance, I could tell how very much they had grown, compared to the previous day.

Finally, towards the end of our stay, there were plenty for harvest. Both at my back and front yards. Plenty. But not after Jane, my curious younger sister, had most of them harvested.

Pictures taken after the harvests.


I was still in bed when she did all the harvests. Right before the sun was up. I should have asked her to wait for me before she decides to do anything in the garden. Some edibles were just too new to her. That she inevitably made mistakes.

Out of curiosity, she lifted up my immature Turmeric plant. Only to find that there were no turmerics yet. She planted it back at another spot on the planter. When Fourth Sis found that out sometime later, she was a little upset. The plant was still struggling and yet to recover from the shock caused by the lift before we left for Kuala Lumpur.

The SHOCKED turmeric plant after the lift and relocation.


Having visited a small farm owned and managed by an old Portuguese couple back in the Wales, United Kingdom not long before while she was studying there, Jane had had the taste of fresh peas. Which she had picked and eaten off the plants. So, when she saw my Butterfly Pea vines with lots of pea pods everywhere on them that morning, she was curious what they taste like. Unhesitatingly she picked one, split it open and popped its peas into her mouth right away. The same way she had enjoyed the peas back then.

Gosh! How could she be so unhesitating? What if the peas were inedible or poisonous? Why had she not thought of that possibility? Luckily, they were known to be edible to me. Though no one I knew ever tasted them before, whether cooked or fresh. ( She said the peas tasted just like any fresh peas. Only that they were not sweet. Unlike the ones she had tasted before )

Pictures of the peas and flowers of the Butterfly Pea vines.


There were some right things however, which Jane had done. Like harvesting the Red Stem Malabar Ceylon Spinach, Thai Basil and Sweet Potato greens. ( Though they were all, almost ' bald ' after that. ) And having left my Allamanda, Ginger, Gynura and Radish plants untouched, at least. Thank goodness that she had not mistaken them for some leafy vegetables!

The Radish plants were untouched and not mistaken for some leafy vegetables, at least. What a RELIEF!


I told myself that the next time I have new visitors in the garden, I would give them some briefings first. Before things go wrong!



All Looking GOOD and HOPEFUL


I had been away for more than a week, joining a Buddhist retreat camp with no Internet or phone access at a Buddhist Society near my holiday home in Ipoh since August eighteenth. When the camp ended and while I was on my way back to Kuala Lumpur last Tuesday, I stopped by my home there to see my small garden and took a few pictures. But, having had to rush quite a number of long pending handmade flower orders, I can only, finally sit down and post them here now... After I have had all the orders completed and shipped out this morning.



I was happy to find that .... 


.... almost all ( over ninety percent ) of the Red Stem Malabar Ceylon Spinach ( Basella alba 'Rubra' ) 



and all the Sweet Potato ( Ipomoea batatas ) vines 



which I had started from leafless stem cuttings had grown well with quite a number of leaves each.



.... and most of the Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus) seeds which I had sown about two to three weeks before had germinated and grown into healthy and strong-looking plants.




Hope they would all continue to grow happily and healthily while I am away. So that by the time I go back to Ipoh again, most probably in a few days time ( with my younger sister, Jane who would be coming back from the UK on Wednesday ), there would be some nice and pleasant, welcoming vegetables in the garden, greeting her as she enters my holiday home for the first time ...



Garden Update - August, 2018


Eldest Sis and Fourth Sis are BIG fans of the Chinese opera, a form of Chinese drama and musical theatre since ancient China. Every year, however busy, they would sacrifice some of their precious time to go back to Ipoh. To watch the once a year shows by Chinese opera performers from Hong Kong. Which are held in conjunction with the Hungry Ghost Festival around the seventh month of the Chinese calendar at the Kuan Tay Temple in Batu Gajah ( a small neighbouring town some 20 minutes drive away ). This year was no exception. They went back this past Saturday. And I followed. Though not for the opera shows. But for my small garden instead.



AT MY BACKYARD....



After MONTHS of hoping for possible harvests of its nutritious leaves, I finally gave up on the Madeira Vine ( Anredera cordifolia ).  I had it removed on Sunday. Though a bit reluctant, it was the wisest decision I had ever made. Or so I thought. It was almost leafless throughout its entire life. All it did was, flower non-stop and tirelessly! Until now, I still do not know what had gone wrong. ( Eldest Sis's one has lots of flowers too. But it has very bushy leaves at the same time. So, she is never short of leaves for harvest. How I envy her! )


The Thai Basil Plants ( Ocimum basilicum ) had grown to be very tall and strong. Their leaves were aged and tough. I gave them all ( three of them ) a good trim so that new, tender ones will form. The trimmed-off stems with leaves were given away to a neighbour who did not mind their tough texture.



I had pulled out all those space-dominating Sweet Potato Vines ( Ipomoea batatas ) that had trailed far out of the planter. And harvested their leaves to make a delicious, stir fried dish for lunch on Sunday. 


After the removal, I had a good-sized space to grow something else.


I had bought some Red Stem Malabar Ceylon Spinach ( Basella alba 'Rubra' ) from the morning wet market as vegetables on Monday. I used their old, fibrous and inedible stems to plant and fill up part of the empty space on the planter. Hope they will all root and grow! So that by the time I go back again, most probably this coming September, I would have some nice leaves to harvest and eat.



The remaining empty space, I had sown with some Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus) seeds. Hope to see their seedlings or plants the next time I go back. They are easy and fast growing root vegetables. So, perhaps radishes above the soil then?


The last time I went back, I had buried two pieces of shrunk Ginger ( Zingiber officinale ) scraps into the soil of the planter. I was happy to find that they had both germinated and grown into healthy and strong looking plants. They would supply me with some nice, spicy gingers in months to come, if everything goes right. Hopefully.



Mum's best-loved plant, Allamanda cathartica which was previously rooted inside a poly bag, was being transplanted onto the planter for the time being. As the poly bag had begun to tear apart. It has to stay there until I have gotten ready a permanent pot planter filled with soil for it. 



I have always hoped that the Butterfly Pea Vines ( Clitoria ternatea ) would grow a bit more bushy so that they could act as a privacy screen for my backyard. But somehow, that just did not happen. Instead, they produced quite a lot of flowers which I welcomed too and did harvest every morning while I was there. Big bowls, FULL every time! 



The planter looked clean and almost empty when I left for Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. But in no time, it will be full again with plants. For sure!



I had replanted the shade-loving Gynura bicolor from stem cuttings on the other side of the planter which gets shorter, daily sun exposure. Hopefully, there would be some rain every now and then to boost their growth.


As for the compost-making pot ( You can read about when it first started HERE ), I had not added or done anything to it other than watering. Nothing suitable was at hand then.




AT MY FRONT YARD.....



I had dug up the last of the sweet potatoes on Sunday. ( You can read about the previous harvest HERE ) They read a total 1.3+kg when put on the kitchen scale. All of which had been eaten by me and my siblings on Wednesday. Except for ONE. The BIGGEST one. That weighed approximately 500g. Which I had purposely reserved for my one and only younger sister, Jane, who would be coming back from the UK this coming September. After completing her graduate studies at the University of Wales. Hope she would love it!



On Tuesday morning, I restarted quite a number of sweet potato vines with stem cuttings which I had removed from the planter when I dug up the last of the sweet potatoes days before. 


I had also sown some Radish seeds at a corner of the planter. Hope they would all germinate!


There were only three Turmeric Plants ( Cucurma longa ) still thriving on the planter. One good-sized and two retarded ones. More than ten had perished. Not a sign of them ever existed. Wish these three remaining ones ALL THE BEST!!!





All for now. THANK YOU for reading THIS! Till next time... BYE!



Small Garden, BIG Challenges!


I used to pop to Fourth Sis's apartment either for some chats or meals together during the weekends. But since last week, I have been doing so almost every day. Her small balcony container edible garden has progressed pathetically little and in dire need of care. Recently, Fourth Sis has been just TOO BUSY and OVER-OBSESSED with her new postcards and stamps exchange hobby, that she totally neglects it. Obviously, her interest in gardening is ' nil ' at the moment. The previous sparks have died out completely. So, I am taking charge of it now. Until she ( her sparks of interest ) returns one day. HOPEFULLY.

It has been more than six weeks now since ' the garden ' first started. ( You can read about it HERE ). But there are only three round, wide pot planters as yet. With only three types of edibles. One in each planter. Nothing has been harvested so far. I wonder if there would be any at all. As prospect seems just gloomy for now.



The first planted edible, Chayote ( Sechium edule ) has only grown about three feet long over the past few weeks. Extremely slow. The leaves seem to be infested by some suspected, flying, tiny, sap-sucking pests. Which slowly suck out sap from them. Until they eventually wilted. And die. I have trimmed off about five such leaves so far. There are still a few affected ones that may be saved ( See picture below ). Or so I hope. I am not sure where the pests have come from. But I guess, most likely, the fruit seed. The plant's origin.

Now, all I do is spray the leaves with my diluted, homemade eco-friendly enzyme every day or every alternate day. To boost the plant's growth and immunity. And see whether it helps to reduce the severity of the infections. Or deter the pests altogether. Or, at least perhaps, ' push ' the plant a bit to grow faster than the destruction caused by the pests. Hope it does help. Either way. Wish me luck!




The second planted edible, White Bitter Gourd ( Momordica charantia ), seems to be growing rather pathetically slow too. Especially during the initial weeks. It is, however, a lot more lucky than its two neighbours. As it has not ' contracted ' the sap-sucking pests' infections like the poor Chayote, at least. Thanks to its strong-smelled leaves which those pests must have disliked and avoided, I think.

These few days, ever since spraying and watering it with my diluted, homemade eco-friendly enzyme, a ray of new hope seems close and distinct. Its growth seems to have significantly increased by double. Almost incredibly. And it looks much healthier too ( See picture below ). It has now, trailed far up towards the top of the string trellis which I have made for it and the Chayote. Reaching for the beautiful sky above. Hopefully some good news would follow soon. Lots of flowers! And eventually lots of fruits! Wish me luck!




The third planted edibles, Radishes ( Raphanus raphanistrum Subsp. sativus ), were seeded a few days back and have since germinated. BUT, unluckily, the sap-sucking pests find their young, tender stems too deliciously tempting to resist. They suck out their sap mercilessly until they bow to them. ( See picture below that shows one such affected, vulnerable,  tender stem ). 

The pests leave me totally at a loss. I do not know what to do to save the poor seedlings. So, I just let them be. And let the hungry pests do whatever they like. I let them suck. Until they are done and satisfied. ( I am sorry Seedlings! For giving up before trying to do something! )

When they have all finally succumbed to the pests' infections, I will start another type of edibles. This time, Coriander ( Coriandrum sativum ) perhaps. As its leaves would have a kind smell that those pests may avoid. And so, they may have a chance to survive and grow till maturity. Or so, I hope. Wish me luck! 




Though extremely small in size, this balcony container edible garden has the biggest of challenges for me to take up. Or so, it seems. Would I be able to not only take them up, but handle them well too?  Only time will tell...


FINALLY, AGAIN, WISH ME LUCK!



Memoir of an Old Rain Tree ( Samanea saman )


The old Rain Tree ( Samanea saman ) - which was trimmed not long before and is seen covered with wild vegetation - Picture taken recently around noon time. 


To the east of my childhood garden, separated by a wire mesh fence, a shallow drain and a narrow, tarmac car lane, there stands an old Rain tree ( Samanea saman ). Ever so mighty and unmoved by the many vegetation that grow wild on and below it. It has been that magnificently big for as long as I can remember. It was under this tree that I was first introduced to and picked Daun Kadok ( Piper sarmentosum ) vegetables. One of the most delicious wild growing vegetables which I still love to pick every time I go back. And it was under this tree that I had had my first encounter with a blood-sucking leech as a child. 

While it is a norm that Rain trees have beautiful, symmetrical, umbrella-shaped crowns, this particular Rain tree somehow differs. It has a crown that surprisingly tends to tower to the west. Overshadowing our east-facing garden. More so during the rainy season. When its growth speed escalated exponentially. Its shape resembles an unfinished, odd-shaped, half-round umbrella. 

" Perhaps it loves human companions, " Mum used to say. " That's why it grows towards our house and garden. And not towards the vast empty space on its other side! " Which seems very likely to me, until now. As I could not find any possible factors or reasons that could have made it behave so.

When Mum was still around, she used to carry out her morning routines; harvesting, sorting and washing vegetables out in the garden. So, she especially loved this Rain tree. She enjoyed its most cooling wide canopy that provided shade to more than half of our over 5000 square feet garden area till around noon time. Though we did have a few mature trees in our own garden back then, they were not as good, or so she thought. And I think so too.

Growing up, I had had many lazy mornings, waking up late - long after the sun had risen. Had it not been for this cooling Rain tree's canopy, I could not possibly have slept so soundly past breakfast. And only waken up prior to lunch during the weekends and on school holidays. The sun would have entered, shone on and burnt me alive through my east-facing bedroom's windows. Not that I underestimated our own garden trees's ability though.

Most people in our neighbourhood know about this Rain tree. Even students from a nearby secondary school know about it. They always come and sit under it after school every day. Along the edge of the shallow drain right outside our fence. Its shade is so comfortable and cooling that they would usually hang around for an hour or two before going back to their own homes. They often make a lot of noises. I dislike them. As I feel they disturb the peaceful silence and privacy of our garden and home. I have to stay indoors whenever they come. Not only that. Some nasty ones ( all boys ) even smoke and fight under it at times. While some playful ones ( also boys ) purposely set fires to the tree. Just for the fun of it. Once, the fire spread so fast that we had to call the Fire Brigade. Poor old Rain tree! It was quite badly burnt. Luckily, before long, it grew back again.

So, though I love this Rain tree for its shade, I also dislike it at the same time. Because of those nasty boys ( trouble makers ) it attracts until these days. More so when I was still a child. When my everyday chore was to sweep the outside of our house. Since our garden was a part of it, I had to also sweep all those ever falling flowers, leaves and twigs from the Rain tree that landed on our garden. It was not easy. I remember always complaining about it. As it did somehow, significantly increase my workloads. Especially on those days after storms. 

Talking about storms, I really feared them whenever they struck in the past. Not only that they left me with a lot more work. But they made me ( us ) fearful on most days when they struck. They caused the Rain tree to sway. So furiously that it hit at and resulted the adjacent electrical wires to brush against each other and send out sparks. A series of explosions actually! The explosions were so massive at times that we were afraid the sparks from them would touch our house and burn it down. But luckily what we feared never did happen. Every time we complain to the local authority, they would just come and trim off a few nearby branches. They never resorted to do a bit more. Like making sure that the electrical wires would not get to touch each other again. 

Nowadays, Big Bro ( my eldest brother who is still staying there ) would make a complain long before a tree branch gets near the electrical wires. I wonder why we never do just that in the past. Before the problems came. That would have saved us from all those unnecessary fears! Though we have less hours of shade now, it is very worth it. At least we are fear and worry-free! And we have much less debris on our garden and so, less work! If only the boys who come for its cooling shade are more well-behaved, I guess we would have nothing more to complain or worry.... 

And the old Rain tree, I suppose, would be much happier to be of service to us too!



Some Harvests and My First Compost-making Attempt


My neighbour who stays a few houses away from mine came and greeted me when I started to do some harvests for Fourth Sis, at my backyard in Ipoh on Wednesday morning. She told me that she has been harvesting my Butterfly Pea or Clitoria ternatea flowers all the while, while I was not around. She thought it is necessary to be honest with and inform me about her deed. I said I am fine with that as long as she would only do so whenever I am not around. As I may need them myself. Either for making tea or giving colours to my food. Though most of the time, I just love to leave them on the vines for the eyes to feast on and to beautify the dull fence. She said she understands and thanked me before leaving for her morning walk.


There were quite a lot of Butterfly Pea flowers for harvest this time but I only harvested some - just enough for Fourth Sis to use in her dessert-making this coming weekend.



The Basil plants were very strong and healthy. But the leaves were quite aged and tough. However, Fourth Sis did not seem to mind that. She insisted that I harvest some and bring back to Kuala Lumpur for her to cook.



The sweet potato leaves were aged and tough too. But still Fourth Sis wanted them. She said they would still taste good if stir fry with a bit more oil and water. And so, I harvested some for her.




After doing all the harvests, I began my first compost-making attempt - which I hope would eventually, become my long term project. ( Making my own compost has become very necessary and urgent nowadays, considering the fact that there is very little supply of coffee grounds by Eldest Sis's neighbour recently, and that I am not someone who would go around and ask for some! ) 

I had bought five quite big but rejected ( with a little bit of manufacturing defects here and there ) clay pots ( glazed on the outside ) from a nearby pot-making factory the day before with a good bargain price. I used the one that has a good depth and with a wide opening to pile all my compost material. I collected a lot of dried leaves, twigs, fruit peels and some long-expired food stuffs like grains, seaweeds, baking yeasts and mushrooms from my kitchen in Kuala Lumpur - and dumped them all into the pot. I had read about people putting in egg cartons to speed up the composting process. I have no idea how good is that and whether there would be any chemical leeching from them into my compost. But I tried anyway and see what happens next. 

The pot was only partially filled-up this time. I did not have any more to put in. So, I just watered and covered it with a more shallow glazed, clay pot for the time being until I go back again next time and put in some more material.

I wonder how long it would take for the compost to set and be ready for use. I have no idea at all. But I think I would find that out somehow! Someday!





All for now. Thank you for reading this! Till next time. Bye!


My Sweet Potatoes ' Have Come A Long Way ', Nobody Knows It But Me!


The sweet potatoes that I had dug up yesterday. 


A neighbour of mine looked on in awe as I dug up some sweet potatoes from my front yard planter yesterday morning ( when I happened to be at my home in Ipoh for a short two hours ). She was amazed at the quantity and size of the sweet potatoes that I had dug up.

" You know, I've planted sweet potato vines many times since years ago but they've never had any sweet potatoes. " she told me. 

Just then, as she was telling me this, another neighbour ( whose house is on the left of hers ) came out of her house. She called out to her and asked her to come over and see my sweet potato harvest. 

" A lot of people have said that you've got to plant the vines on raised beds in order to get some tubers ( sweet potatoes ). But as you can see, she didn't! Yet, she managed to get some - some quite big ones! How's that possible? " she asked her next door neighbour, pointing at my newly-dug up sweet potatoes.

Not really expecting an answer, she continued, " Moreover, her planter is so small and she is seldom around to look after the vines, what more, water them! Oh, I just can't figure out how she can easily get those tubers! And I must admit that I'm actually quite envious of her! " ( Little did she know that I have actually put in a lot of time and effort in nurturing the vines and weeding the planter they are planted in whenever I got to be around! )

Funnily, her next door neighbour never seemed to get her news right. She suddenly shot these questions or remarks at her as she got nearer, " I thought it's the pumpkin!!? What're all these? Oh, yes you were saying sweet potatoes! Weren't you? How silly I am! That pumpkin thing has long since been a history! Well, what a wonderful harvest all these are! "

All the while ( while they were busy discussing and talking about my sweet potato harvest ), I just maintained an all smiling face. Only when they had finally finished with all the talking and turned to me that I started to speak...

" I'm just lucky and patient! " I said, with a wide smile on my face. " Lucky that nature has ( most of the time ) been kind to me. Lucky that I've got some good soils to work with. And lucky that I've got some coffee grounds and homemade eco-friendly enzymes to feed them, and to boost their energy. Finally and most importantly, I've got an inborn patience. Growing sweet potatoes could take about four months or more. That is probably too long a time for those who lack patience! " I continued, hinting her that ' impatience ' could be the reason she is not getting any sweet potatoes all these years.


........... I have only harvested a few sweet potatoes ( tubers ) ( total weight = 1.2 kg ) this time, but already, it has initiated a discussion among my curious neighbours. The story of my previous one and only precious pumpkin has been ( and still is ) one of the many topics of conversation among my neighbours since three months back ( whenever they meet - while walking their dogs around the neighbourhood in the evenings )! I think if I were to harvest a couple more sweet potatoes when I go back to Ipoh again next week, they would remember and talk about them for years!


My sweet potato vines on the planter before the digging up of the sweet potatoes.


Would You Be Interested In SNACKING On SEA ALMONDS?


Part picture of the Ketapang or Sea Almond or Terminalia catappa tree ( with fruit clusters ) - taken adjacent to A'king Jetty, Dungun, Terengganu, Malaysia.


Once, my Singaporean friend was hesitant, when I extracted a tiny nut from a small fruit which I had picked up from under a big tree at the East Coast Park and handed it over to him to taste, " Are you sure this is edible, and not POISONOUS??? "

Seeing my serious gesture, he popped it into his mouth anyway. Not without a doubtful look on his face though. His eyebrows raised questioningly and that made me laughed out aloud.

He chewed on it for a few seconds. Then, he blurted out, " Oh, this tastes just like almond! " 

" It is one, " I smilingly said. " An almond... - well, a sea almond to be exact! " I told him, happily. 

" We had lots of these fruits landed on our garden - dispersed by fruit bats and squirrels from an adjacent tree - when I was still a child. Our parents told us that their kernels are edible. Growing up, I have had eaten lots of them - especially whenever I feel bored. And as you can see, I am still around today! " I continued, laughingly.



While the trees are most commonly found growing on our coasts or in our jungles and parks or along our roadsides, the Sea Almond or Ketapang or Terminalia catappa fruit kernels ( nuts ) edibility is rarely known to a lot of people. It is not surprising though - considering the fact that they are extremely difficult and not worthwhile to extract. Thus, making them uninteresting to people and so, words about them, not widespread too. Only a FEW like me, I suppose and some wild animals like fruit bats and squirrels know about and appreciate them, it seems.

To me, they make really great snacks on a boring day. The fun is all about having to really ' work hard in extracting them ' - in order to enjoy just a tiny bit of them - which I find most challenging and interesting! 


What about you? Would you be interested in SNACKING on SEA ALMONDS too?



An old Ketapang or Sea Almond or Terminalia catappa tree - Picture taken at Tenggol Coral Beach Resort, Tenggol Island, Terengganu, Malaysia.



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