Thursday, March 28, 2013

"A"ing coffee grounds from my Kollege

Today Mr Bear came back from his other office. Hadn't seen him in a while, so we had a lovely chat about our gardening efforts. He and Ms Bear are very into gardening in the office, and I started to move some plants there to stamp out the insect population in my home garten. 
I offered him some saltwater taffy which I got from my reddit snack exchange parcel, and he showed me this coffee grounds he got from Dr Cafe Coffee. He apparently went to two outlets and scored all their free coffee grounds. 

He told me that this was very useful for vegetables, because vegetables love slightly acidic soil. He also advised against dumping them on baby seedlings, because they would burn. He said that for himself, he likes to add a thick layer of coffee grounds for the bigger plants. 

Best of all, Mr Bear gave me the bag of coffee grounds. However he said I must use it within 7 days of him getting it from the shop, as advised on the packaging.

Coming home, I googled what edible plants flourish with acidic soil. According to gardeningweb, it seems that coffee grounds have a PH of 6.9 (almost neutral), because most of the acid is already boiled out of the ground coffee while brewing.

As a general guide, these are the vegetables and fruits that do well in acidic soil (even well down to pH 5.5):
Sweet potatoes
Tomatoes (more than PH 6) 
Limes (don't grow together with blueberries).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Peace Lily

I was at the zoo a while back and chanced upon this lovely lady standing by herself in a dress of green.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What Bobo got from the internet

On the same day that I received my reddit present, Bobo showed me the stuff he bought off the internet. He had shopped at this Dunecraft which sells gardening products in a very scientific representation.

The box on the left contain seed bombs, which you supposedly throw anywhere and herbs will eventually emerge. Good luck especially since my herbs are dying from the heat (so am I). The middle box is a coffee house, which you can grow your coffee plants. Bobo was annoyed when he realized that it would take three years for any bloody coffee beans to appear.

The third box is a special chili plant called Trindad Scorpion Pepper which supposedly has1.4M shu. I interpret that as it is very spicy. Finally on the right is the Dinosaur plant, which according to the box can live for a super long time. Don't water it, it will shrink back into a ball.

So far, only Bobo had tried the Dinosaur, which hasn't done anything outstanding like grow an actual dinosaur. Snorez.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Flower Bed

I was outside mourning the death of my baby tomato plant. I think it suffered from nermatodes (and lack of watering), based on the little swollen bits on the roots. I think that pot of soil is jinxed. Every plant that was transplanted there has died horrible deaths. Let me see, potato (though that was more because I didn't know I was supposed to hill the soil), then the chilli, and now the tomato. I also realized that it was dumb of me to separate the tomato plants. Cluster f*ck was the way to go if I wanted to pollinate multiple flowers at a go.
Well, part of the learning process. But as I was sourly saying to the lady next door, if I were a farmer, I would have starved to death already. So many weeks and my other tomato plant only yielded one tomato which is taking forever to ripen. My edible garden is not working out too great.

On the other hand, my lantana and Anagallis are doing pretty well. Thank god, because there was one day I didn't water (I am switching to a two day water once habit, unfortunately with the heat nowadays I sometimes need to water at least once a day, especially for the sweet potato leaves), and I hadn't watered the day before, so everything drooped. Lost the tomato plant because of that...

I wanted to do a container bed arrangement, but everything looks a bit sparse huh? I think I need to fertilize them somewhat to get them to bloom better. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

A ladder to climb on

I have a ladder from the double decker bed left by the previous owner. We threw the bed away but I kept the ladder, ostensibly to refurbish it as a towel hanger. Instead it languished in the storeroom as I couldn't bear the thought of using a towel that was hung on a rung that used to be stepped on by strange feet. 

So it was an easy idea to move it out to the garden, where I could have my grape plants and Anagallis climb all over the rungs.
Climbing the ladder to sunshine...
I have to admit that my garden is getting on my nerves because it is not aesthetically pleasing enough.  This is the reason why I started growing flowers to have a bit of color. I also understand now why did my former neighbor chose to stick fake flowers among her greenery.

I chose loads of clay pots to hold my plants, which is a displeasing but uniform dull yellow. I am toying with the idea of painting either the pots or the garden furniture. But my smaller plastic pots are such a pain to paint. How about bright yellow for my ladder? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Flowers in the gardens

I visited Mutter's garten a few weeks ago and wandered with her around the other gardens, while she asked for cuttings from the neighbors. I took some fotos of the pretty flowers I saw...
Can you identify what some of these flowers are?

Anyway the water lily came from the retired teacher's garten. He has another sprawling garden, which was devoted to cucumbers...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

They didn't last very long

One day while watering my oregano, I couldn't help but notice that there was something long and dangling off a fragile stem. Wtf... a giant black caterpillar. zzz. I toyed with the idea of feeding them to those evil birds outside the apartment, but decided that they didn't any more encouragement to hang around my place. 

Besides I was intrigued by the idea of owning my own butterfly. So I decided to keep him in a jar. I poked loads of holes in the paper before I used it as a lid for the insect jar. I fed him sweet potato leaves, since oregano is more precious to me. Surprisingly the caterpillar showed no prejudice towards yellowing leaves, chowing down with no problems (that also answered the question on why the oregano looked a bit naked on one side of the pot).

Guess my surprise when I found another caterpillar on the oregano the next day... Smaller with a white strip down its black back (the one in the foto above). So into the insect jar it went with loads of sweet potato leaves. They chowed them down really quickly. 

I was looking forward to having them build cocoons, when one Saturday morning, I heard the glass shatter. I put it on the makeshift wooden crate, but it wasn't that unstable to fall over for no reason. When I went out, both caterpillars were gone. It wasn't even a windy morning. As I stood there pondering, I realized that the bloody birds did it...(these were the same crazy birds that kept attacking the lime plants, and when I surrounded them with bird nets in a see through fortress, resorted to attacking my orchid leaves).

Couldn't blame them. There wasn't a more filling breakfast than 2 fat caterpillars.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nasturtiums vs Pennywort

I am still trying to develop an edible garden. Let me see: I have 2 lime plants, 2 grape plants, 1 chilli plant, 5 sweet potato leaves, 2 bean plants, 1 oregano, 4 tomato (only 1 has tomato - 1), loads of aloe vera etc. Other inedible plants: portulaca, lantana, chrysanthemum (not the tea making kind, sigh) and blue pimpernel.

However I have more or less stopped buying plants after failed attempts to get nasturtium seeds or plants. But I kinda remembered that nasturtiums have circular leaves, which were edible (so were the flowers).

So what happened was that I was at NTUC(supermarket branch which has its own nursery section) walking around when I saw plants with circular leaves.  Nasturtiums!!! They were only S$1.90 a pot, so I bought 2. Now that I was diversifying my risks a bit (as in isolate my plants from insects by having some in the office), I brought one to the office.

Mr Bear pointed out that they weren't nasturtiums. But I insisted that the stems and leaves looked really edible. So I ran "circular leaves" on google and found ... pennywort, also known as duckweed. Semi-aquatic... edible plant :D

Great for salads. Yum yum! I am toying with the idea of steamed pennywort and sweet potato leaves with some oyster sauce.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Vertical Gardens

I am researching on vertical garden designs because I am seriously running out of space on the balcony window. The egg shells, chilli plant, bean seedling, tomato seedlings. A lot of indoor gardeners rely on natural light from their flourescent lamps to grow their plants indoor. I personally think that flourescent lamps are really fugly, but I think the above idea is not bad, especially because it can double up as a room divider and provide additional lighting in a room. Not sure about the sustainability of the insect population though.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stare what stare?!

This cat was hanging around the plants at Mutter's teacher friend's garten. She was browsing every plant, as if seeking breakfast. She was not very happy to see me stalking her.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Making my own tomato seeds

I was reading You Grow Girl, which was basically a collection of gardening advice and tips from The one tip that arrested my attention was how to make your own tomato seeds from eh.. tomatoes?
So what I did was to scrape off the pulp as much as possible off the seeds and dump them into water. I soaked the seeds for 3 days, pouring off the water and flotsam everyday before replenishing with new water. At the end of three days, all the seeds at the bottom of the jar were the viable seeds.
I dried them on a plate. However B仔 told me that there were a lot of fruit flies flying around the seeds. Frustrated (and thinking the seeds were no longer viable), I threw the whole lot into a peat pot... Guessing what?

I had 11 seedlings. Ok, 4 died so far, but at least we know that this method works!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Growing "Picture"

Art Friends had this frame + canvas offer last year. I bought three, but didn't use any of the frames to surround my completed paintings. I think one of them became the duckie I sent to Germany for Tante H, another became the Mr Bear. So I had them hanging around, taking up space. I wanted to recycle them for decorative purposes but wasn't sure what to.

I suddenly had an idea. Why not put a little flower pot on each of the frame so it looks like I am framing a growing flower. I tried to find rectangular pots so that I can fit it perfectly on the frame, with nothing protruding. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any, so I bought little flower pots instead.

What you need is the following:
A leftover wooden frame, a little flower pot, 2 screws, acrylic paint, sandpaper (realized belatedly, as you can see, it was missing from the foto below) and portulaca. 
First I measured the distance between 2 of the drainage holes, then used a rule to find the middle of one inner side, 9.5cm, so I measured 1.1cm from the middle, and then I tested screwing the screws into the wood, so that I would have an easier time later when I screw the flower pot on.

So I painted the frame a metallic blue, the painted the flowerpot a hot pink. Had a hard time making the color stay, then realized that I should have sandpapered the surface. You'd think I remember after all that nightmare painting of the chandelier
Then I screwed the little pot onto the wood, and then put a little bit of the gingham cloth to filter the drainage holes. I put in some of the remaining peat and plucked a bit of my portulaca to fit into the pot. That's when I realized the other portulaca variety I had had been attacked by aphids. Sh*t. I was wondering why it was doing poorly, and now I know. I have a little bit of it left in another pot, so probably will transplant it into the pot when I chuck out the old plant, aphids, soil and all. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My heart is broken

I hadn't posted in a while because my new camera had a lens error (which made me very sad) and while I was at work on Monday, my little town experienced strong winds so much so that my little sunflower seedlings which I had been cultivating, bent over in defeat.

I put them outside in the L-shape because they get better sunlight there. Unfortunately when the chilli plant was thrown out, there was no more natural wind break standing in front of the smaller plants in the corridor. So they were extremely vulnerable to the insane sudden wind.

Depressing is not sad enough a word to describe how I feel. Especially since it had been bloody hot in Singapore since last week, and I was totally feeling it because our air-con went kaput.


Blumen @ Mittenwald, Deutschland

I have been borrowing books on container gardens, and was vaguely confused but impressed on why so many different types of plants were arranged into a pot, sort of like a ever growing arrangement. How in the world do they know how to water them, esp since different plants have different watering needs?

Then I recalled this foto I took in Mittenwald while travelling around the Füssen area. Mittenwald used to be a place where violin makers congregated for their art. There was a giant wooden violin sculpture to commemorate this.
I don't know what flower this was, but it's really pretty isn't it? It's a close-up on the container flowers.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sunflower in the Bathroom

I bought this window mosaic kit a long time ago when the art shop at Harborfront was having its closing down sale. So one day while enjoying my favorite Korean drama (sobs! it ended!), I started sticking everything together. Luckily I kept the original sticky sheet that stuck the mosaic pad, so when I was done, I just covered it over the tiles, to make sure nothing drops out. 
When I was done, I stuck it to the bathroom wall. Not bad right?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mr Bunny Ears Cactus

This little guy was rescued from the corner of Mutters garten. Yes, he was one of the aloe vera + cactus grown by the predecessor who rented the garden, and was very lucky not to be chucked out by Mutter and gang when they took over. He, together with the crazy aloe veras, were hauled home by me. 

When he was sitting in time-out at a corner of Mutters garden, he seemed to stop growing. So I was shocked when he started sprouting a new green growth at the top of his head after being put by me at the balcony. At first I was sure it was a flower, but slightly disappointingly, it was a new ear(?).
After living me with for about 1 year (I moved into the apartment around the same time, even though I bought it 2 years ago), he started to grow another two more ears. And now I have a bunny eared cactus.

Recently looking at it carefully, one of the ears seemed to be growing a new growth again. This is quite alarming because he is starting to be too tall for his pot already. Mutter said I should just break off the ears and replant them. She also said to chuck him outside at the L-shape because it is apparently bad fengshui to have a cactus in the house. Mr Bear also agreed about this.
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Because Gardening makes me wanna Dance! Thanx for visiting!!!

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