Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Egging my seeds on

I bought dwarf and big sunflower seeds. So far, I have tried the big ones. All but 3 didn't succeed. And the the 3 that did? One died because of all the rain (not enough sunlight coming into the balcony). So when I tried the new batch, I planted them in egg shells.

Some marigold and one solitary sunflower seedling (keeping fingers crossed)

So far the egg shell one (you see the one in the foto? top right eggshell) is doing well despite my lousy transplanting skill. I cracked the egg shell, ok? So I was frantically trying to bury it, seedling and egg shell into the soil and hoping no one would see my mistake. Other than my portulaca with the tiny red flowers. I only have yellow chrysanthemums and am now raising sunflowers and marigolds (I am having better luck with them). I am toying with the idea of buying more plants from the nursery but I feel like it is kind of like cheating.
feathered perpetrator - "your <s>base</s> leaves are now belong to us"
This morning, I was on leave. Walking around the L-shape, I thought to myself that Mr Lime (the taller one) looks kind of miserable. I had thrown a green net on the two lime plants to dissuade the naughty black birds (we call them mynahs here) from plucking their leaves for their nests. However the strong wind accompanying the rain seemed to choke the poor things with the net despite my efforts.

So I decided to take the net off. Less than 10 minutes later, I came out of the apartment to see the bloody black birds doing window shopping at the lime plants. zzzzz.

Back went the net again. Sigh.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Butterfly on my Portulaca

I have two kinds of portulaca, I think one is grandiflora. I am not sure what is the other one which has small tiny flower petals. I will take a photo of that soon. I love portulaca and how it is so cute as to open its petals only for a few hours per day.

If you look closely at the photo, there is a butterfly or moth resting on one of the portulaca flowers.

Vater maintains that if the insect has its wings together, then it is probably a butterfly. Mr Bear thinks it is a moth. I don't care, as long as the damn thing pollinates the rest of my plants, which will take a miracle because I live so damn high up. I am almost tempted to have my own bee hive at one point (just kidding, I had a nasty bee bite when I was in Salzburg).

Anyway I will be running around the housing estates looking at different plants grown by high rise residents. I hope I don't get scolded. I am very interested to know what plants people have success in growing in Singapore, especially those living in high rise apartments. Say for example, last week, I forgot to take something from the apartment, and got off at the 13th floor. I saw an auntie planting two radish bodies into the soil. It is quite a funny sight because the radishes are only 1/3 in the soil. I asked her what she was doing, she said she is growing them for their leaves. Again, not understanding the fascination with white radish leaves...but it piqued my interest, high-rise gardening.

Friday, February 22, 2013

That *%#^ rain

You know that it's been raining like mad these few days. Because I try to water in the morning so that it has enough time to be absorbed by the plant (and avoid root rot), it is super difficult for me to gauge how much to water because I never know whether it is going to rain or how much is it going to rain that day.

So after almost drowning my container plants in the L-shape (killed one of my zinnias again), I decided to save water and let the rain help me water the plants. Just now my colleagues came with me to see my garten before a company event (held in my neighborhood), and I tell you it is bloody embarrassing because IT DID NOT RAIN TODAY. In fact, it was blazing hot.

You could see the plants were visibly parched, because the last time they had water was yesterday afternoon... *ashamed*  Even my aloe vera flower looked like it was going to up lorry. 

"I am so sorry baby, I will water you..." I rushed back after the event to water them. And then it rained.... WTF.

Mutters Garten III

I always like posting fotos of my Mutters garten, because it is an ever evolving mash-up of vegetables and other edibles. Vater likes to call them weeds, because Mutter and friends only go there once a week, and the poor plants have to fend for themselves for the rest of the week. So they often don't get enough water as the default sprinkler system provided by the landlord is pretty CRAP, and grow up spindly and defeated. Makes an interesting mouthful, I'd tell you.

Anyway, you can check out the first and second series if you are interested. This is the third series. I only got one of her garten because it was the weekend that we were going to the nursery to buy plants for Chinese New Year.

This year Mutter's Mr Banana plant is doing really well and has even sprouted some bananas (damn still not the kind I like to eat). She also has a lot of chilli plants, parsley and giant hearts of chicory. Yucks. I hate chicory and it is the one vegetable Mutter has great success with.
Mutter's garten looks hokey pokey as usual because they have three aunties who have different and pretty wild ideas about what is good to grow. Contrast that with that of their retired teacher friend who comes everyday to look after his babies and has three plots (one is even used to grow water lilies *faint*).
The people at the rented gartens usually grow the vegetables for their own consumption, except for one family which operate a market garden out of their four beautifully attended plots. Every Saturday without fail, they will come as a group to harvest the vegetables. The neighbors sometimes buy the organic vegetables from one another especially those who are recovering from cancer (it is quite alarming how many people we know who have had tumors/cancers). Just that weekend I was there, the retired teacher's wife came around again to buy the white radish leaves for her friend's daughter who is recovering from brain tumor removal operation. Not sure about the benefits of radish leaves, perhaps it is a placebo to reassure the worried mother. But when I was in Taipei, we ate noodles made with the crushed sap from white radish leaves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Michelstadt Blumen

I once talked about how if I could choose a place to live, I would want to live in Michelstadt, Deutschland. I love this beautiful town's old buildings, and am in awe of all the effort taken to keep them looking so lovely all these years.
This is a great way to hold your container plants if you don't have a garden!
Anyway I neglected to mention the great Frühstück we had Cafe Siefert (which also has some lovely flowering plants at their outdoor al fresco area), but that's another story which I will talk another day. What I want to mention today were the pretty flowers we saw as we were walking back to the carpark.
I was naughty and reached into someone's garden when Onkel und Tante H und B1 were walking ahead of me, to take this foto of this lovely Camellia Japonica. In a neighbor's garten, I saw white soldiers with hearts of yellow standing at attention together.
Then I saw the little dandelion waving bravely at the wind near the fence, while trellises of green bean promised a decent harvest.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Finally a flower from my edamame

Patience isn't really my thing. I have been very upset that my mom's edamame plants have grown pods and died and my 3 haven't even sprouted flowers. Just loads of leaves. 

Check out the purple flower!!!
Then I saw this little side sprouts that look suspiciously like new leaves (argh) or flower buds. I was holding out against hope that it was a flower bud because  I can't eat the bloody leaves *damnit*. 

Anyway it turns out they were flowers. phew. I am pretty excited, at this point, even if it doesn't translate into flowers I will still be happy.

Just now I went home for dinner. As I was walking out, I look up into Mutter's nightmarish container garden (I will take a photo. I don't mean the one she rents). I was like wtf, that whole mass of green that I have been ignoring was actually all edamame with loads of purple flowers. Some people just have green fingers I guess.

Also note to self: I shouldn't tie my plants so tightly to the stake. Yesterday, grumbling, I was trying to scrape off white fly larvae from my edamame (I have 3) and the poor top snapped off. I thought I was going to have a coronary there and then.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I harvested my spring onions

I soaked the white stems of the spring onions I bought exactly three weeks back, after cutting off the green parts for making kimchi.

So three weeks on, the spring onions have sprouted new green stalks like mad. However due to lack of nutrients, the stalks are spindly and thin. I decided to harvest them all at one go for spring onion pajeon and to garnish my samgyetang. 

Here are my spring onions in full glory on my cutting board.
Looks like a sickly cousin to the original harvest. But what do you expect with just water and sunlight?
You don't see the white stems in this foto because I am restarting them again. This time, I am soaking half of them in water, the other half in water mixed with liquid fertilizer. I had to throw one root out though, because it was starting to rot. I was telling Mr Bear that in the original source for the article, it did say that we could only get like 3-4 regrowths for each white stem.

I thought it was because the white stems would rot from too much water. But Mr Bear deduced that it was because eventually the spring onions will run out of nutrients because they are essentially grown in water now. Which is why this experiment...

Read on for the spring onion pajeon story.

B1 thinks that the spring onions are my most successful plants (I guess so, after I managed to not grow a single potato despite the healthy looking plant, but that was a mistake which I have learnt from). He said unlike my tomatoes, which have grown a miserable 4 (after that awful exodus-like blossom drop), this was at least sufficient for our needs. He said I should give up growing my edible garden because it was much easier to buy our food and the struggles with the white flies are totally not worth the trouble. *roll eyes*

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pollinating the Tomato plants

I have been obsessing with pollinating the Tomato plants. The sub plant is doing really great after I separated it from the main plant, and is flowering pretty well now. The problem is how to pollinate them without a bloody biene or schmetterling? Bruder complains about the same problem at his place.

I read on reddit that I should use a small brush. Brush? No problem. I have tons of brushes from my painting. Used a fan-shaped one? Broke off the blossom. Moron I heart-pained for a very long time. So I got a tinier one. Also broke off the blossom.  This does not bode well for my painting skill.

Anyway, desperate, I turn to the oracle again. The insightful nana said on  youtube that you can hand pollinate by shaking your tomato plant around noon every day, and not after four pm, to simulate a bee pollinating the flower.

I was almost tempted to use a *censored* on it, after reading the comments. But ok, shaking? no problem. The strong wind in the L-shape would have shaken the hell out of the tomato already, but I can too, so I try to shake the tomato plant. We will see if it works. Can't be any worse than interventing with a paintbrush and killing the blossom instead...

Hmm seems that an electric toothbrush also can work. Time to sneak B1's toothbrush out without him noticing...
It seems my watering has been erratic. That's why the tomato almost split its skin

Friday, February 15, 2013

Kleine Schmetterlingen an meiner Wand

I was trilled to see the glass frame selling at Art Friends for S$3 while out with C and Y so naturally I bought it. It was a massive deal because the frame comes in two pieces of glass so you can suspend your artwork in between. The first I bought had a scratch on the glass which I couldn't see because it was covered in plastic. I only realized it when I was tearing the plastic open while at the restaurant with the two ladies.

Oh Shit. I ran back to the shop where they agreed to let me change the frame. So good, what should I do with it? I thought about buying stickers of butterflies of various sizes (I was thinking of the same color for consistency). However I couldn't find any, which was a pity because the alternative was to draw and cut my own butterflies, which is bad because I do not have a steady hand for cutting.

So in the end, I went to Paper Market and bought a piece of scrapbook paper with pretty butterflies. Good thing was that a blue background with white spots was printed on the other side of this paper, so I could also resort to drawing my own butterflies if the cutouts don't look nice.

Cutting the butterflies was a pain, but I thought they didn't turn out too bad, so in the end, I stuck them between the glass panes. Schön?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Goodbye Chilli plant

Mutter gave me the chilli plant from her balcony. It was one of several chilli plants that she was growing. I put it in the L-shape where it gave me nothing except whiteflies. LOADS of whiteflies. Until I have become extremely obsessive and made my own natural insecticide. But it didn't work, instead new leaves were developing furry white stuff near the veins.
Yet everyday I held out hope that it would give me chillis one day. But recently I observed the leaves starting to curl up more and more towards the veins. Researching online, I found out that the whiteflies had given the chilli plant a bacterial disease. It was either I remove the chilli plant or watch as the whiteflies continue their rampage onto my tomato and sweet potato cuttings (which they have). 

So I made the painful decision of throwing away the chilli plant. I will be growing marigolds and nasturtiums in the garden to combat the white flies and spider mites (I think I have them too. urgh). Ah yes and thrips, which I have found on my edamame plant at the L-shape.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Zinnias - The Perfect Beginner Plant... for some Beginners

Actually the chrysanthemums were not the flowers I intended to put outside my door for Chinese New Year. My initial plan was for the two pretty pots of zinnias that I bought from the nursery. 

However 3-4 days into living at the L-shape, they started to look AWFUL. Dried and miserable. I watered thinking that they were thirsty. Nope, didn't work either. 

I started deadheading the blooms, especially when one of them had like white mold growing on it. I also found a cotton-seed-looking seed at my door. Later Mr Bear would tell me that this was actually the seed of the zinnia plant.  

But that was later, after I had found out what I did wrongly. In the meantime, desperate I turned to the Internet, and posted the fotos on gardening web and reddit. In the meantime, usual tips on zinnias said that they were a really easy annual to plant, sun-loving and somewhat drought-resistant.

Finally someone pointed out that these plants were actually adult bloomers and that the plants were overcrowded and the roots were not drawing enough nutrients. By then, 6 of the 8 zinnias were dead. So I deadheaded all the blooms and replanted three of them that still had some new leaves. One more died later. Sigh.
Since then, the other two recovered. The yellow was going strong in the first place. It was the only bloom in its pot to still have new leaves, while it was almost gone case for the peach zinnia (it didn't have any flowers by then so I couldn't remember what was the color of its flowers). Took a really long time, but here it is, somewhat recovered. Ok, it wasn't my effort. It really was going to die at one point, so I moved it to the wall, where the incessant rain seems to have perked it up.
This is a very painful lesson learnt. I felt really bad for killing the zinnias with my lack of knowledge. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

two balls on a stick

The L shape garden started when we moved to the apartment. You see, when Mutter took over the garden that she rents with her friends from the previous renter, there were loads of aloe veras grown there. Mutter und gang threw out most of them and replanted the rest in pots, which they put at the edges of the garden, neglected.
Unfortunately the apartment has a lot of windows facing the common corridor. So the logical step was to carry some of these unwanted aloe veras and put them outside our windows. We had three pots of them and over time, one of them grew many babies out because there is more sunlight (same corridor but due to the angle of the building, the two that are at the other side of the door don't get direct sunlight at all). So I had more and more aloe veras.

Mr Bear pointed out that my aloe vera "mother" probably get a lot of water from me that's why it is able to proprogate so many babies. He advised that if I want to stop this (it has sprouted 6 babies already), I'd better water it lesser.

Anyway today I was moaning over my sweet potato cuttings, because it has been raining HEAVILY everyday for the last five days. So there hasn't been any sunlight at all, until the strawberry plant has mold in its mulch (despite me watering it only 1 time in 3 days). Then I happened to look sideways, and was stunned!
The "mother" has two weird green knobs growing out. My god, it looks like 2 balls on a stick. What a lovely present for Chinese New Year! :D

According to the internet, the aloe vera flowers look like this:
[source: nicholasalvarado.wordpress.com]
Given the shape of mine, I don't think they will look like that. Stay in tuned and see the development!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tomatoes are worrisome

I am fairly obsessed with my tomatoes. When I bought the plant, it was full of blossoms and had 3 fruit. Since putting it outside in the L-shape, I found it suffering a massive blossom drop, and only 1 more fruit developed. I am not exactly sure but I think it is the extremely high humidity at the apartment, and the insufficient sunlight. But I feel vaguely comforted by a fellow redditor's reassurance that the fact that I am near the equator would mean that the sunlight that the plants get in those few hours would be sufficient. I try to water them in the mornings before I go out, to ensure consistency in the fruit.
My Zinnia which I have barely rescued from my noobishness
The tomato plant I bought came with a smaller "sub-plant" in the pot. A few weeks ago, after the great Zinnia mystery, I decided to split the tomato plants. So using a spade, I mercilessly cut downwards between the plants and pulled out the smaller plant and replanted it in its own pot. It was a good thing I did that because the main plant seems to be developing some bacterial disease. It has some yellow spots on its leaves.
Yellow spots on my tomato leaves
I just found out that my little tomato plant (I call it the "sub-plant") is sprouting 2 flowers. I am very glad, because this means I am doing things correctly. I am waiting for the flowers to come out and then I will invade them with my paintbrush to spread the pollen.
Tomato sub plant on right and Mr Aloe Vera on left. I am super great at aloe vera. It is the only plant I have never killed

What I bought at Daiso today

Popping by my favorite Daiso (a Japanese S$2 shop) today, I found three intriguing buys at its gardening section. Peat pots (which I couldn't find the other time), wind spinners, and slow-releasing vegetable fertilizers. Only S$6.
I tried the peat pots. The instructions said that I should apply 70cc of water and then it will swell to 2 - 2.6 times its size. Oh no it didn't. I waited and waited. In the end, I soaked the whole pot in a jar of water, hoping it will swell a bit. Instead it looks like bits are coming off into the water..zzzz.
I also threw the slow releasing fertilizer, which looks like little blue pills among my sweet potato leaves and edamame plants. The fertilizer ratio is 10-15-10.

Showdown against whiteflies

Mutter gave me her biggest chilli plant out of the 4 she has at our south-facing apartment. Lugging it home, I put it outside in the L-shape, where it proceeded to die because of the massive numbers of white fly babies it had under its leaves.
Please ignore the sweet potato leaves languishing at the bottom. They were just transplanted

I was very annoyed, and asked Mr Bear how to get rid of them. He suggested using meth spirit, just dip a cotton bud and rub it onto the affected leaves. The white flies will die easily, he said. So I happily applied meth to each leaf. I must say while I get a cheap thrill from torturing the white flies, they are very relentless and keep on reproducing. So much so that they flew off from the chilli plant and now attack my tomato leaves and sweet potato leaves *maddening!*

So I am making a chilli-garlic-water concoction, which I put in my fridge. Tomorrow I will give the whiteflies a nasty surprise by spraying this on all the plants. In the meantime, I will also find out where I can buy worm castings and apply that as well. I read that worm castings are very good for discouraging white flies.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chrysanthemum Tea anyone?

Mr Bear is very knowledgeable about growing plants ever since I knew him in uni. As a belated gardening noob, I have been learning a lot from him. 
The transplant activity - erdbeeren runners, chrysanthemums and soaked sweet potato leaves
Last Friday at NTUC (the supermarket has the most accessible, cheapest nursery near us), we were talking about chrysanthemums, because it is very popular to showcase these flowers during Chinese New Year. He wanted to get some "mums", whereas I am turned off because I consider them as flowers you make offerings with to the dead.

However last Samstag at the nursery, I was hunting for portulaca in vain. However, I saw all varieties of chrysanthemums for sale. Then the leaky cogs in my brain started grinding. Why not grow my own chrysanthemums for tea?!

After all, I buy a lot of these flowers for tea as they have cooling properties and has detoxification purposes. Chrysanthemum tea is great for people with diarrhea, sore throats, fevers and swollen joints (translated and summarized from the Chinese explanation below).

So I pored over the flowers, ultimately choosing two cute little pots to bring home. After the great Zinnia scare, I decided to split one pot of flowers into a deeper trough, reusing the one I had been using to regrow sweet potato leaves in.

I lifted the plant out. Looked like they were grown tightly in the pot because their roots were interweaved, collecting at the bottom of the pot. I dipped the entire plant in a bit of water then tried to loosen the roots a bit at the bottom before separating them slowly. I am sorry for the transplant shock! Hope they are resilient enough to withstand it. I watered the plant sparingly after the transplant.
After transplanting the chrysanthemums
The joke is that after all that effort, it turned out that I might have gotten the wrong variety for making tea. Oopz~!




Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tip behind growing sweet potato leaves

I started growing sweet potato leaves from the cuttings Mutter stripped me from her garten. It came to me, as I was systematically tearing the leaves from the stem for cooking. So I planted some stems, out of which about 6 were viable, and 2 were especially successfully, because they were in their own pots. The remaining six are in the various fruit plants' pots to provide some nice foliage at the bottom and stop the stupid wind from blowing the top soil out, and onto my neighbor's area (I caught him sweeping a few times, it was quite embarrassing). 

I told Mutter about it so she passed me even more cuttings last week. But last weeks' were totally non-viable??? I couldn't figure out why.

So yesterday when I was at Mutter's garten, I heard Tante S tell Tante C to soak the sweet potato leaves they got from the neighboring gardener. I asked her why.

"You have to soak the sweet potato roots and stems after taking off the leaves. This way they will gouge enough water to survive." 

Oh. I thought back about the two plantings. The first time, Mutter soaked the cuttings for me, when she passed them to me, to wash out the dirt. I only cleaned the leaves like three hours later. No wonder the roots and stems were viable. Whereas last week, I just tore the leaves off and immediately planted the stems.

So yesterday, I took pains to soak all the cuttings before planting, Hope they are more viable this time. I took out all my little pots and filled them with soil before planting.
My shelf of woebegone cuttings, erdbeeren runners and half murdered zinnia
The leftmost pot on the top shelf and the pretty pot are the ones from two weeks ago. Last week's were all tossed out because they were not viable. The other pots are holding this week's soaked cuttings and my erdberry cuttings (which I should have soaked right? oopz). Which reminds me, I'd better take out the strawberry cutting which has no root ball!

James May's Man Lab and its Bog Garten

I love Man Lab. Yes I am aware it is a bloke show, but damn it is a very interesting one, every episode is even more outrageous and interesting than the previous one.The one I found most intriguing was the Bog Garten, where the Man Lab built an indoor garden in their toilet. B1 was grumbling about how they would do their business now, but I was more about, did they really plant everything, or they just bought everything grown (like I usually do) and stuck the plants in.

The funniest part was when the bunny rabbit ate James May's jeans. But I don't think James May was much wiser either, because he ate the erdbeere growing in a pot (aha!) without removing the stalk completely or washing it. God knows if the bunnies ever touch those erdbeeren before, or wee on them. Hehe.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Growing Veggies from Scraps

You are looking at Day 6 for the spring onions and Day 2 for the leeks. I got this tip from a redditor (you can find the link from nibblezware main blog's Feb 2013 magazine). I am quite excited by the idea of the spring onions because I had a horrible time last Sunday trying to make kimchi on the hottest day of January (stupid idea in itself already). I had to walk 3 supermarkets to find them and the auntie thought I was a nutcase because I was so excited to find them (3rd supermarket after all). 

Now I will never be held ransom by a spring onion again!

I am a bit turned off by the leeks. They have a horrible smell (natural, not rotting) and it keeps attracting little flies. I am just going to see the growth through another week, and see what happens. Maybe I will chuck it out after one week, because I don't think I will eat them and the flies are a massive annoyance. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Because Gardening makes me wanna Dance! Thanx for visiting!!!

Because Gardening makes me wanna Dance! Thanx for visiting!!!