Monday, May 31, 2010

sunflowers: peek over seeds

The first attempt last year, ended with the sunflower standing on its leggy stem, with everything turning brown. It was cut and the seeds collected by rubbing the finger across the flower head. But this season is different, because the five sunflowers are big and well exposed. I cant stop myself from keep going back to the flower and peek at seeds. The natural drying process seems to be too gradual..

The sunflower heads remain steady on its stout stems. The yellow petals  had dried up and ready to fall off. The seeds are forming well and very much visible with their black and white stripes. This time round, I wish to cut the flower head early and dry them indoor. Occasional rainfall seem to disturb the natural drying process of the flower heads. The white aphids are trying to establish home within the outer calyx of the flower. Cut them them early and dry them indoor away from the rainfall and the disturbing pests would be a better option.

I am waiting for the right moment to cut the sunflower head.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Composting banana leaves

composting banana leaves is easy. They are big and dont get blown away by wind. Organically healthy, but i am not too sure if neighbours are happy about it. I never ask and they never complain. Is that enough as a measure of social acceptance. So composting is still part of our gardening feature.

Cucumber: The growth, leaves and stems

They are now coming to the 6th leaves. Three plants grow at different rate, each is distinct and different. They love the morning light, therefore there is a general tendency for the shoots to lean towards the east. The third seedlings died. I don't know why, possibly injury at transplanting. I am placing a cover acting as sunblock to these poor little seedlings. And now they showing real zest to continue growing.

the curl is ready to cling to anything.
(an older photo )

 cucumber 1

 cucumber 2
grasshoppers are testing their teeth with the earlier leaves.

banana stem used as edging

 today's photo of cucumber

I am really surprised at the ability of cucumber to reach out and hold the trellis. An acrobatic move indeed shown by the tendrils...

putrajaya malaysia

Stages of cabbage growth

  1. What are the growth stages of cabbage
  • Cotyledons
  • Seedling
  • 6-8 true leaf
  • 9-12 true leaf
  • Precupping
  • Cupping
  • Early Head Formation
  • Head Fill
  • Mature

sweet peas

1. sweet pea

2. sweet pea

3. sweet pea

Another attempt at growing sweet peas. The earlier ones died early.

Kakdah's hanging garden

a potted plant, hanging.

This is the most fascinating plant. The plant shoot a little stem outwards and soon after little plants appear and roots develop. I have been taking the baby plants out and put them in new pots. That is our regular giveaway.

putrajaya malaysia

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cabbage: updates on growth stage.

cabbage 1

cabbage 2

cabbage 3

cabbage 4

cabbages in a row.

Earlier posts: 
Wed, Mar 10, 2010 ~ Playing with cabbage.
Tues, April 06, 2010 ~ Cabbage after a month 
Frid , April 23, 2010 ~ Our cabbages at stage 4 
Mon, May 03, 2010 ~The progress of 4 cabbages.

At this stage I really find it difficult to count the number of leaves on each. A rough estimate will point the stage of growth at number 6 or cupping. A little cabbage head is about to form in the middle. I have been trying hard to refrain my inquisitive childhood mind from disturbing the inner leaves to ensure it is really the cabbage head, each plant is crowning at the center.  Now the earliest pair  leaves had dried. It is fascinating to see the drying process of cabbage leaves. The change is so gradual that we dont realise it, until we lift the leaves up, to see the underneath. The leaves just dry off and shrink to a thin material, almost like light brown tissue paper.

Cabbage growth stages
Stage 1: Cotyledon (seed leaves). No true leaves present.
Stage 2: Seedling, up to 5 true leaves
Stage 3: 6-8 true leaves
Stage 4: 9-12 true leaves. Base of stem is still visible from above.
Stage 5: Precupping (approximately 13 - 19 leaves).
By the end of this stage, the base of the stem and the bases of all leaves are concealed when  the plant is viewed from above. The innermost  heart leaves are growing in an upright fashion and are visible without moving any of the leaves. 
Stage 6: Cupping (approximately 20 - 26 leaves)
The innermost heart leaves which are still growing in an upright fashion are concealed by the larger, older leaves surrounding them. All visible leaves will later become the frame leaves (leaves not touching the mature head) of the mature plant.
Stage 7: Early Head Formation 2.5 - 4" diameter head
Stage 8: Head Fill 3 - 8" diameter head 
Stage 9: Mature 6 -12" diameter head 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Waiting for radishes to flower.

pictures of radishes getting old but with no flowers

We let a few of them grow and grow and hope one day they will flower. The bulbs are getting so big and ugly, the stems are forming but where are the flowers? Radishes are not giving any hint at all. Then I remember about salmons. Born in the river upstream, mature downstream, but will make a long journey back to lay eggs. May be radishes want to fly home to the place they were born ,Sweden,  to bloom and produce seeds.

I not too sure if it is worthwhile to wait for much longer.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Understanding companions of tomato

caged tomato plant.
(an old photo)
with coleus, marigolds, ulam raja, radishes, and sunflower around it.
Tomato shoot still well within the cage.

the recent photo
Tomato shoot has emerged out of the cage.
The sunflower leaves at the far end had turned brown .
Coleus was trimmed down.

I really have a chance to look into the meaning of companion planting here. A caged tomato plant will enjoy the space rightfully belong to it. No other  plant  will get into it's space. Most plants shy away with obstacles and look for other possibilities and space. But these plants will learn to live with one another. The presence of each will affect the other.  It is said that marigolds encourage growth if planted near tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, beans, and roses. And repel many insects like beetles and harmful nematodes in the ground.

Are they going to be really friendly with one another?


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Asin-asin ready to go

asin-asin or cekur manis.

Plants put a halt when weather is too hot and unbearable. Shoots are not coming out. Plants somehow quicken the stage of blooming and bearing fruits. I can really understand that, because excessive heat is a stress to them. That will  trigger a signal to the plants to produce babies by flowering and fruiting

I remember how trees are trained to bear fruits. Nangka is the easiest. There are time when trees  keep growing, and  enjoy the growing period so much that they are not keen in fruiting. Father used to take out his parang and slashed the bark a few times. The old way is someone would slash with parang, and shout "Are you going to bear fruits?, otherwise I will do it again tomorrow.." Then someone else will answer "yes, yes, I will bear fruits" on behalf of the tree. In most cases, the tree bear fruits the next season.

It's about inducing stress, giving signal to the tree that are sick and therefore must produce babies. Trees don't seem to talk and walk, but they are methodical, following a standard operating procedure while growing on one particular spot.

Asin-asin is a plant growing well these few years. The shoots are cut off as vegetables, which will end up as masak lemak asin-asin, my favourite. There will be sweet potatoes, asin-asin , shoots, and shrimps, cooked in coconut milk. The plant doesn't seem to grow old, because they are constantly in a renewed stage after regular pruning. They have tiny flowers and I don't know if they end up as seeds. Propagation is always with cuttings.

A few months ago  I just put several stems into the ground, very close, 3 to 4 inches apart. Yes they grow.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Cucumber; differentiating the leaves

There were three cucumber seedlings to start with, now left with two. The third decided to wilt and die a week ago. I am getting at how leaves take its true form at the second pair, while the baby leaves, the one emerging from the cotyledon remains cute, tough and thick.

Cucumber seems to be cousin of bitter gourd, judging by the leaves, and their very familiar yellow flower.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Natural height for climbers

Winged bean plant, standing up refusing to bend and rest
(that man squatting is a municipal worker, looking after the landscape)

That brings us to a very important point. Does plants like winged beans which love climbing has its own natural height.  If i let the plant climb up a 100 ft coconut tree, I am not too sure if the plant is courageous enough to climb the whole height. It may just keep climbing and flowering and fruiting and die off before the maximun height is reached. Or it may just decides to reach a reasonable height and make it dense by growing around that height, branching, flowering and fruiting within the dense foliage.

The way that shoot in the picture trying to stand up on its tiny stem does give some indication of what is  the natural height. But the plant decides that it has gone enough, bends at the tip and ready to fall slowly and rests on top of the trellis.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

New tomato plants: new concept

the cage and the tomato plant 
viewed from the top

the stem is gaining strength

the plant within the cage

A view from the porch.

A new set, six of them.., the new tomato plants to replace those just pulled out on the other vegetable bed. This plot is very close to the walkway, and a little bit to the right of the porch. I have prepared the cage months ago. Now it is placed right on the bed, protecting the tomato plant, giving it a room to grow and at the same time controlling the growth of marigolds nearby. The other 5 are not caged yet. They have to wait for their turn I guess, because my hands are tight and my time is limited.  Little flower buds are emerging already.

My little vegetable garden thrives 
within that constraints;  my hands and my time.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The four new ulam raja spreading leaves.

the four ulam raja.

The seeds were saved from  the last group of plants.
Sometime middle of April the four little plants were transplanted on the ground. The space is a little bit limited, squeezed between radishes and the drain. Experience indicates that ulam raja will survive even in  tiny space and worst soil. After about a month, they are picking up height and foliage. Kakdah hasn't pick the shoots for salads yet. They have to grow a little bit higher and stronger for dinner table. Fertilizer is goat's dung pellets. I still pamper them with comfort of coconut husks.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Winged beans: at four locations

Winged beans or kacang kelisa  are growing at four different locations in our little garden. Two of them are allowed to grow with trellis to climb on. The other two are left on the ground to fend themselves. It does sound cruel and mean not to provide that two with trellis. It the wild, nature never provide trellis in front of their eyes or shoots rather. They crawl and crawl until they find something to climb on. It is nice to see winged beans going through life in different surroundings, a domesticated version and almost wild version.

 Trellis 1
winged bean
At the vegetable bed in place of the old tomato plants recently pulled out. Currently neighboring the aging sunflowers with bending neck

each stalk holds 3 leaves.

Trellis 2
winged bean 
at the front of the house with painted bamboo trellis

On the ground 1
winged bean
on the bed with banana on one end 
and pineapple on the other

On the ground 2
 winged bean
just a tiny one, guarded by old coconut husks.

Winged beans will take quite some time before they start flowering. So very long, that one could just about to give up. The plant will wait until the foliage becomes so dense, that fruits or beans will develop within the shade of its foliage. Winged beans understand it well....


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bitter gourds crawling up

Bitter gourds are growing steadily now. The weather is getting hot these few days. But the plants cope with the increasing temperature well.  Few inches higher with more leaves, the plants should be ready to reach to the bamboo and climb up any time.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pineapple: rooting

pineapple crown rooting.

I am not too sure if there are more leaves now, but both of us agree that the plant is a lot bigger that the little crown we took home weeks ago.  I fall victim to the inquisitive mind of a child too, because the other day I poked the soil a little bit to see the root. Yes!.., the crown is really rooting.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Cucumber: on beds and trellis

I have to admit, growing new plants always comes with enthusiasm and anxiety. I don't think I ever see real cucumber plants growing. Then I search through, to get a fair idea how to handle cucumber. The notes are placed at the bottom of the post, and my adventure is in italic.

 that trellis is meant for cucumber. Photograph was taken 
immediately after the bamboos were staked down 
on the 12th of May 2010.
Lilies at the front end, and kadok or Piper sarmentosum
at the side. And containers alongside the house

Vegetable bed: soil and moisture
I spend an hour or two to get the bed ready. The spot was formerly filled up by ulam raja, and bitter gourd before that. While working out the soil to a depth of about 8 inches, I notice roots belonging to the nearby papaya and banana. Growing plants, digging and fluffing the soil allow us to recognize roots. I put the size of bed as 3x6 feet. The soil is healthy looking with lots of worms, creating tunnels and leaving their poo on the surface. I added goat's poo as fertilizer. It is said, that cucumbers can be grown on any soil type that has a high water-holding capacity and good drainage with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0. The garden soil has good proportion of humus and clay, therefore water holding shouldn't be a problem. Being raised by about 5 inches, drainage is taken cared, but I don't know about the soil pH. I have asking around, about getting a suitable equipment to measure pH. So far, pH is basically my own visual estimate.. haha.

Nearby plants
Big plants nearby are papaya, banana and senduduk. Little plants at the edge of the bed are lilies, kadok and one ulam raja. As edging, I placed banana stem on one side. Bricks for potted plants will form the edge at another side. And the other sides, more or less served by kadok and lilies as edgings. It does look funny for a simple vegetable bed for cucumber to be guarded by many plants and material.

Pest and disease
As far as pest is concerned, I am wary of grasshoppers which have been feasting our leafy vegetables. Through readings, the common pest problem would be damping-off, nematodes, powdery mildew, and mosaic viruses. Damping-off and nematodes can be controlled by planting in clean soil or treating the soil with captan-terrachlor for damping-off and with nematicide for n ematodes. Powdery mildew can be controlled by using maneb, zineb, or copper fungicides. Watermelon mosaic virus may be a problem in certain areas at various times of the year. Lehua hybrid is highly resistant to this virus and should be grown where it is a problem.

Most cucumber varieties will produce fruit ready for harvest in 50 to 60 days. Frequency of harvest will depend on the vigor of the plant, the location, and the time of year. Usually every other day or daily harvest is necessary when the plants are growing vigorously at the lower elevations during the hot weather. Removing fruits as they mature will aid in maintaining the plant vigor and productive capacity.

bangchik and kakdah
putrajaya malaysia

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Teachers Day, Hari Guru.

A gift from the garden :
pegaga, forever green 
recognizing the contributions 
of teachers countrywide.

Children Learn What They Live
 By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and
in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in
which to live.

Happy Teacher's Day to all Malaysian Teachers, 16th of May 2010 

Another gift from the garden:
lilies always blooming adding colours 
to many gardens and souls

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