Thursday, 30 August 2012

Finally Getting to It!

After a delay of a few days, I was finally able to get down and dirty in the garden last Saturday 25 August. Perhaps calling it a garden is stretching the truth a bit. There is no symmetry, nor organised beauty in my haphazard planting, raising new beds nor placing of various differently-shaped styrofoam boxes. Suits the name Homely Chaos, indeed. Letting go of my inner Miss Perfectionist means more fun experimenting, learning and exploring.

My parcel from Kebun Bahagia Bersama arrived on Wednesday after Eid, sadly I was not home during attempted delivery by PosLaju. On Thursday morning I managed to pick it up from the post office. It contained seeds, bulbs and some cuttings of tree dahlia. The bulbs especially, really should be planted ASAP. Various errands and engagements made me plan to garden that Thursday night, when I have replaced the light bulbs so that I can work in the dark. Disappointingly the lights did not work despite changing the bulbs, so that plan was postponed to the next morning.

Then early Friday morning, we received the shocking news that my dear cousin passed away, a jovial, healthy male of 38, at the prime of his life. We dropped everything and made for the funeral, which was to take place the same day. Meeting his family was heartbreaking, but they bore their loss well, with fortitude and acceptance. I passed the day trying to keep busy, but it is only today that I really grieved.

So the gardening helped make me feel thankful to be alive, and chased away the clouds of sadness.

I managed to plant:
  • 1 Tulbaghia bulb
  • 2 Agapanthus bulbs
  • 6 Gladioli bulbs
  • 1 Oriental lily bulb
  • 1 Oriental lilium bulb
  • 3 Asiatic lilium bulbs
Agapanthus bulbs in a styrofoam box. What? Because I ran out of pots and it is too hot to prepare a bed. I don't want to put this off any longer.

Asiatic Lilium. This pot formerly held some Tigerella plants, which didn't do well. In the background is my weed-like kangkong, aiming for world domination.

I also sowed:
  • White carrots
  • Guernsey parsnips
  • Cherokee butter beans
  • Purple bush beans
  • Mixed heirloom beetroot
  • Sweet peas
I also repotted:
  • Black pepper plant
  • Green zebra tomatoes into recycled tyres, with bamboo stakes

Black pepper plant in pot near a pole. Er, 2 poles. Oh well.

Yellow pear cherry tomatoes. I wondered if these were twin mutant tomatoes until a few days later I realised these are the gourd-shaped cherry toms. Haha.

My neighbour Aunty Kan who also got bit by the 'grow your food' bug, invited me to her garden to see the changes so far. She grew these gorgeous looking leafy veggies from the Mixed Lettuce seeds, originally from Pun Pun Organic Farm.

Pretty mixed lettuces from Pun Pun Organic Farm, grown by Aunty Kan.

Aunty Kan also grew some Rainbow Chard from some seed I gave her, but strangely enough hers are all white or green, whereas mine were all pink or red-stemmed.

Pretty rainbow chard.

I feel a Rainbow Swap coming up soon-ish...

Friday, 17 August 2012

Ramadan's Twilight

Seeds manifesting the cycle of life..

Another soul passed on the 23rd of Ramadan, this time the dear mother of a friend. I met this wonderful lady for the first and only time during a tahlil at her daughter's house a week before Ramadan. She was a gentle, smiling, laughing lady and had many stories to tell. Her positive vibe was infectious indeed and I left the house with a happy heart and a spring in my step. Little did I know that the next time I crossed the threshold of that house would be to attend a tahlil for her yesterday. May Allah accept her deeds, fill her grave with light and grant a place in Jannah with our Master, Rasul Allah sallallahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam.

Just before Ramadan, a friend of ours in his early thirties, passed away due to a sudden heart attack, leaving behind a wife and 4 young children. He was a young man with his future ahead of him, having just completed his studies abroad and had taken up a lecturing post. While I pray that Allah will lighten the burden of the family he left behind, I know that he is fortunate indeed to have forged many friendships with so many people, all of whom have nothing but good things to say about him. Fortunate indeed he is who has children to pray for him, a good wife to raise his children to remember him, and parents who are content and whom have forgiven him.

And yet there is also joy. A gardening friend had a baby recently, and another relative also welcomed a baby into this world on the night of the 27th of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah. May these children be the light of their parents' eyes, amiin!

And so does the cycle of life continue, even in our humble little garden, where plants are seeded, poke their heads out to bask in the sunlight, grow, bear fruit and pass on, leaving a legacy of seed to continue on the same path.

I did manage to muck about in the garden a bit before leaving to do errands. I moved some purple kohlrabi seedlings onto a bed, total of 8 little seedlings. By afternoon some of them looked a bit burnt by the sun, so I watered them and they seemed fine.
Purple Vienna Kohlrabi babies. About 2 weeks old? I tend to move my seedlings a bit late.

Then I uprooted the Clemson Spineless Okra from their sowing pot, and put them at the other end of the same bed:
2 of the 5 okra babies. I hope they are happy here,

Then I remembered I had 2 roselle seedlings, grown from seed originating from Pun Pun, a kind gift from doyouthinkitspossible:
Roselle seedling by the chain-link fence, flanked by some tiny neglected hedges.

I wonder if you can see the Red Romaine Lettuce seedlings in the picture below? This was the same pot that previously housed the Clemson Spineless Okra seedlings.
Grow well, baby lettuces!

I then left the home to do some errands, and managed to drop by a hardware store on my way back. I wanted green wire, but they didn't have any so I settled for these PVC chains instead as a support for my Purple King Climbing Bean plants:
Climb, O King, Climbst Thee upon these Pure Ivory Chains!
(I wonder if they are called Purple King because purple is the colour of royalty?)

After securing the chains for both of my beans, I had a quick look around my garden and noticed that my hybrid carrots had flowered. Whoopsy I didn't plan for this, but maybe the seeds (if I get any!) might be worth germinating as a long-term experiment. We'll see.

There were 2 flower heads from the same carrot. Maybe they bolted because of the unpredictable weather, blazing hot one moment and pouring rain the next.

And the first banana capsicum is out! :-)

So here are some greens I harvested for iftar the other day, a motley collection of rainbow chard, mustard greens and kailan with some basil thrown in for good measure. I didn't eat these, rather, I drank these as a juice.
I was in a hurry so I didn't pick much. Close to iftar time! I ended up with only 1/4 cup of juice in my first juicing attempt.

I thought I'd try giving this juicing thingy a go. I heard about the blades in blenders inactivating enzymes, so I got this little manual juicer baby which grinds and crushes instead of chops. There is definitely some work involved during grinding, but it works just fine for leafy greens, celery, peaches, ginger. But juicing beetroot has given me the workout my upper arms sorely (pun intended!) needed. Haha! Assembly/disassembly was straightforward. It is also quite easy to clean, just needing a quick rinse under the tap.
The manual juicer I got using coupons and RM30.90 from Cosway. That's my cat Chunkey checking out the juicer box. The real juicer is on my kitchen counter air-drying after I used it for iftar this morning.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Some Monkey Business

Was it Lailatul Qadr last night? Everything seems still this morning, the weather quite overcast.

Well, except for some birds, which excited my cats, and caused some of them to do this:

Or have they been training with Spiderman?? Or are they inspired by the loofah gourd reaching up to the sky?
Following up from last week's post, here are how some of my plants are doing this week.

Turkish leopard melon, the smaller plant, is flowering profusely. Well, kind of profuse for such a small plant.

The Turkish leopard melon plant that appeared in an earlier post. It spread almost to 1 metre length, then showed signs of cucumber mosaic virus (crinkly new shoots with yellow spots) Tukang Kebun of Kebun Bahagia Bersama helped diagnosed this for me, arigatou. It broke my heart to have to chop off the diseased parts, but I guess it had to be done.

Clemson spineless okra, seed obtained from Kebun Bahagia Bersama. I sowed this about a week ago, and they now look almost ready to transplant. I am thinking perhaps share space with corn.

Green zebra tomato plants, with some lettuce in the same pot. They are soaked from last night's rainfall.

I think these are the Austrian heirloom lettuce, called forlenschluss. Red speckles.

I think these are yellow pear cherry tomatoes, but the colour hasn't showed up yet.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Perpetual Summer Tomatoes

Tomatoes.. those tart, juicy fruits that are classified as a vegetable. 
The last time I grew tomatoes was by accident, some moldy salsa I tossed unto my compost heap begun life anew as tomato plants. I had no clue what to do with them. Well, to be honest I did have a vague idea of having to stake them or something, but in the end let them sprawl about the compost. They did fruit, and the tomatoes were okay, slightly segmented, but most of them were cracked by the time I found them. So begun my education on growing tomatoes.
Then I fell in love with Diana's heirloom tomato seeds.. and the rest is history. Here are how the plants I grew from seed are doing:

Tigerella tomatoes flanking a tiny stock astral plant in the middle.

Green zebra tomatoes, I like their nice thick stems. At the bottom are heirloom mixed lettuce plants, seed obtained thru a friend who went to Pun Pun Organic Farm, Thailand.

Close-up of this cute mixed lettuce plant, with red speckles. I wonder what species this actually is. The label on the seed packet said 'mixed lettuce' and the Pun Pun Facebook page was mainly in Thai.. so your guess is as good as mine. Unless you read Thai, of course.

Tomato plants I moved earlier into this planter box, and then moved the box to where the plants will get direct sunlight. One is yellow pear cherry tomato and the other (I think!) is sweet red cherry tomato. The plant on the right got it's main stem snapped off by accident, so it looks a bit stocky.

2 yellow pear cherry tomatoes. I didn't have the planter boxes then, so just reused this old pot of mine. Erm, maybe the tomato plants are too close to each other? Sharing space with them is a basil plant and a few sawi menang plants.

See? One of the yellow pear cherry tomatoes have blooms! Actually most of the tomatoes are budding right now, so I am really excited. Amiin ya Allah, please let me have many many tomatoes!

The original sowing pot. In front are tomato plants, in the background are basil plants as companions. I didn't get to move some of them because I don't know where to put them. Poor plant is attacked by mealy bugs. What to do?