Saturday, April 30, 2011

55 pots of Pak Choy.

I counted with kakdah, so there we are, Pak Choy in 55 pots! Not long from now we are going to have Pak Choy bonanza: a fiesta of sorts, breakfast to dinner with pak choy.., and of course giveaways in the form of pak choy.

They are now in 4 inch diameter pots 
(picture taken on 25 April 2010)

pak choy in pots: the left verandah

pak choy in pots: quite a view!

double row of pak choy: the right verandah

 a few black pots for pak choy.

bangchik and kakdah
tanah merah home

Friday, April 29, 2011

Growing cabbage in Tanah Merah

Cabbage seeds were soaked for a day on the 8th of April this year. They were wrapped in wet kitchen tissue for a couple of days. Once the roots started to appear they were placed one each in little pots. Four seedlings were of the same size coming to the fourth leaves, very heathy. The other three are somewhat dwarfed, therefore I don't expect much from them... So I am concentrating on the four young cabbage seedlings now.

Young cabbage seedling in  4 in pot, coming to the fourth leaves

This is the second attempt. The first in Putrajaya home, saw the whole stages through ending with four lovely cabbage heads (normal term to describe the round cabbage). Now I am trying to find the best site around the house: cool, no direct sunlight.

Has anyone tried cabbage to add fun to home vegetable gardening in Malaysia?

bangchik and kakdah
tanah merah garden

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rooftop gardening: they rope me in

No one does or sells chili centil  (the little red hot chili) seedlings around here. So for the rooftop vegetable gardening (here: Roof Top vegetable gardening)   I posted about a few days ago, with the ambitious 800 chili plants, they rope me into germination laboratory. They supply chili seeds, peat soils and hands to put everything ready, potting soil in trays and seeds in place.  I, on the other hand, put up the laboratory. .... I have to employ all the skills that I have to put woods together, nail them for a crude germination rack. I manage to put up an awkward looking netting to ward off hot sunlight. Within days, seeds popped up, one after another. Both of us (bangchik and kakdah) took turn to spray them.....

Germinating 1000 Chili Centil

picture: 24th April 2011

chili seedlings
chili seedlings

chili seedlings

picture 25th April 2011

 A view of the my germination laboratory .

Old woods lying around the construction site nearby, were left more or less to decompose, or to be collected at the end of the project for bonfire. Of course I ask permission from the project manager, out of courtesy. I spent a good weekend to complete it. Two open shelf wooden cabinet, 3 feet high and 4 and a half feet long. One of the cabinet comes with 3 shelves, the other one with only two. Netting at the back, top and sides. They are very sturdy!

chili centil, the eagerness to grow
chili centil: taking up seed coats high.

Chili centil: this particular tray manage to get  100% germination.

picture 26th April 2011

upper rack
upper rack

Lower rack: most chili seeds had germinated
Germination Laboratory

Yeap, they rope me into germination laboratory, but what an experience. That surely will not be the last. There will be more and more. Big scale germination will meander onto other plants, I am sure....

bangchik and kakdah
Projek tanaman atas bumbung

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

assessing the lawn: 5 months after

No trace of spot turfing.., it's all full , every square inch.
Mowing done three times already, twice with my dependable electrical Bosch combitrim. The only time I get Rusli to help was when it rained the whole week, the grass was long. Bringing the electrical grass cutter in the rain is almost like committing suicide. Rusli has petrol powered grass cutter, so he came and did it.

It is not exactly all cowgrass, There is always some other types of grass, or weeds or creepers within the little lawn. We do weeding from time to time, the obvious would be pulling out thorny mimosa and lalang. But overall, it is still alright to call the lawn "cowgrass lawn", all done within 5 months, well ahead of the kpi (key performance indicator) which is 6 months.

Lawn, after 5 months.
Four papaya plants getting stronger, and  7 roselle plants getting older at  far right. When lawn is green and full, we can just spread picnic mat, and bask for extra tan... aha!

bangchik and kakdah
Tanah Merah home.

Earlier post on lawn:


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ulam Raja, will it ever get to London

An email from a Malaysian residing in London, pulled me nearer to the bushy Ulam Raja. She asked for Ulam Raja seeds. I picked  fresh seeds, from the plant itself, packed and posted. I wonder if the marvelous Ulam Raja seeds ever get passed UK custom check. So far no words from her yet, so the seeds might still be on the way. 

This is the cluster of Ulam Raja with balsam and ubi kemili as companions. The rest are all dwarf with the towering Ulam Raja well over 6 feet.  The other day Izmar mentioned about pruning Ulam Raja to give its second lease of life. I haven't tried that with Ulam Raja. All this while, we let ulam raja get old, thin , dry up adn die, once they get to the last bit of blooming fiesta. I may just prune and see what happen, not until I have collected enough seeds.

Ulam Raja seeds

Fresh ulam raja seeds are real winners. I put a few in polybags, and all germinated. I am thinking of having a hedge of ulam raja on the left wing of the fence, squeezing as many as I can...

Ulam Raja seedlings 
ready to be transplanted along the fence

veggie as hedge?

bangchik and kakdah
Tanah Merah

Monday, April 25, 2011

Veggie Updates: lettuce, pak choy, and the rest.

Pak Choy still in tiny pots.
Pak Choy is relatively easy a veggie to grow, that they germinate quick, in chorus, as if the seeds agree among themselve to wake up with preset alarm clock.  Putting two or three granular organic fertiliser help the tiny seedlings to strengthen the stem and roots. Yesterday, all of them were transfered to bigger pots.
Sowing:  10 April 2011 
Germinating: 14th of April 2011   - (first pair of leaves)
Transplanting: 23th of April 2011 - (second pair of leaves)

Pak Choy
a row of pak choy at the verandah

pak choy in red pot
pak choy in black pot

Lettuce in  long container, 4 each

Five lettuce in white pots

Lettuce is an achievement. Luck was not always with me, all this while. Once, they had germinated well, but somewhere along the way dried up and died. Not this time..., extra care was taken to ensure that, they survive to the end....... Not many, just 8 in two long container and 5 in medium size white pots, so 13 altogether. Somehow lettuce has biological clock identical to Pak Choy, they germinated at the same time and the timing of new leaves emerging is identical too.

Sowing:  10 April 2011 
Germinating: 14th of April 2011   - (first pair of leaves)
Transplanting: 23th of April 2011 - (second pair of leaves)

Earlier post:

bangchik and kakdah
Tanah Merah

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kangkong / kangkung / , second lease of life.

Spelling it as Kangkong brings about its exact  sound.  Kangkung which is more widely spelled, is less impactful. But how can I argue with linguists when they talk with form and substance. But I stubbornly keep on using  Kangkong..., just in case I forget to hit the right note with "o"  rather than "u", which  to me is too subtle  a sound.  Fried kangkong is indeed a very mouth watering menu. A little bit of shrimp paste (belacan) will add to the flavour.

A month  ago, Arief , a friend from Kota Bharu fetched me from the Pengkalan Chepa airport. He laughed looking at our little garden upon reaching home. How do you squeeze your time, he asked. I cut off a few kangkong shoots and put in a plastic bag, as giveaway.  However he forgot to take it along. Much later, after realising it, I gave him a call, asking  if it's alright to use what's rightfully his as a fried menu for the night. Oh.., I have to make it up somehow...

kangkong second lease of life, very bushy now.
Kangkong is coming to the second lease of life. Two weeks ago, I harvested all.... for us, for the neighbours and for the EM ( EM: effective microorganism).  Kangkong just get on with life, pushing new shoots through every nodes.... Cut and come again as a harvest technique, nothing can beat Kangkong on its readiness to push and grow. It's best to put fertiliser upon harvest and give ample supply of water, to get Kangkong cracking again and again...

Kangkong: cut and come again with fresh shoots.

Someone said kangkong is poor man's veggie. 
But we are all poor yea, so let's grow kangkong.

bangchik and kakdah
Tanah Merah, Kelantan

Saturday, April 23, 2011

EM effective microorganism.

A friend Wan Azlan, gave 500ml of EM, effective microorganisms, home made without label. Organic gardeners probably have known about EM, and its benefits. I wish to know more about EM, the contents and the friendly bacteria that has been said to bring about activities in the soil or growing media, creating wonderful space and nutrients to roots, thus plants.

a bottle of 500ml EM and fertiliser sachets in a box
The liquid has to be diluted 1 part to 50 parts water. Last week  the solution was sprayed to the soil and coco peat which is used as growing media in automatic irrigation system / fertigation / fertigasi project. I noticed plants getting healthier, somewhat greener.  Somehow the application of EM coincided with eggplants flowers, forming little fruits. 

 I tried preparing EM my own way. Kangkung, leftover papaya skin and fruit, and some other leftover vegetable in a container in this proportion; 1 part brown sugar, 1 part vegetables/fruits and 10 parts water. Yeast and fermented rice was added too. It's now already a week, I will wait a while longer before spraying it to plants. Readers has to refer to other references before trying making EM. My own is somewhat crude, restricted to what is easily available.

  1. Effective Micro-organisms
  2. effective microorganisms for a sustainable … - Higa
  3. Effective Microorganisms: EM-1, ProEM-1, EM-X, EM Ceramics

bangchik and kakdah
Tanah Merah, Kelantan

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A beautiful colour offered by nature.

For berries that look so black, it is a surprise to see juice appearing so different, so beautiful. Fashion designers could have used the same colour tone for their top models. On beauty, nature has a lot to offer.

The colour of malabar spinach berry juice

 I pinched the berries to get the seed inside.

the juice of  at  lower angle
malabar spinach seeds

malabar spinach berries, so black

What is that beautiful colour?

 click here on earlier post about malabar spinach
bangchik and kakdah
berkebun sayur
Tanah Merah Kelantan

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Roof Top vegetable gardening

Does it matter much where we grow vegetables? I guess it doesn't.  Not far from our place, people grow vegetables alongside the flood plain of Sungai Kelantan. I heard they have been doing that for hundred of years. They understand the weather so well, that they get in, plough and  grow corns, beans, peanuts, and leafy vegetables immediately after the monsoon. The departure of flood is punctuated by the coming of vegetable growers. Flood and vegetable growing take turns to fill up the flood plain along Sungai Kelantan. I heard the plots are leased out by Irrigation Department.

Strawberry Cameron Highland (Credit to: and  Cheryna 27's phtostream)
We can see acres of vegetables in Kundasang Sabah, which is 1600 meter above sea level. Cameron Highlands on the other hand is a little bit lower, at 1500 meter. Growing vegetables at such level is lucrative adventure as they do intensive farming taking full advantage of  the cool climate.

Roof top

Roof Top Tokyo ~ from cityfarmers info

roof top garden Madison ~ from

Roof Top Gardening Japan ~ businessweek

So, growing vegetables on the roof is no big deal. Some had turned roof top into tennis court and swimming pool . Where land is scarce, I dont think vegetables should mind where to grow. Sow seeds, vegetables will grow irrespective of place; flood plain of Sungai Kelantan, Cameron Highland and Kundasang, vegetable bed, containers, car porch, window sill, or roof top.

A reader who works as an interior designer in Kuala Lumpur, recently seek my opinion through email about garden at roof top.  The concept is having a kitchen, a garden and eating place. People can marvel at the vegetables in pots, and can in fact choose what they want. The whole project  should be fun...., and should educate kids about vegetable growing when they come along...

I don't see much problem. As long as there is regular supply of water, as long as there is an effort to reduce the excessive heat  due to large area of concrete surface, vegetables should grow fine. Automatic irrigation system / fertigation / fertigasi will be the most appropriate option.  Grasshoppers would not know about the existence of vegetables up there.
Roof top - Tanah Merah, Kelantan
A group of entrepreneurs would soon do roof top chili growing - Tanah Merah

Presently, there is already an effort to grow vegetables at roof top here in Tanah Merah.  Some 9000 sq ft of flat concrete top floor will be the home of serious vegetable gardening. The project is yet another entrepreneurship adventure but my contribution is very much a CSR - corporate social responsibility. As long as we make the world greener, the earth will be happy.

Update: 6th of August 2011
Readers may like to run through these posts for a complete view of rooftop gardening adventure

      Bangchik and kakdah
      Tanah Merah, Kelantan

      Monday, April 18, 2011

      Keladi (taro), treating them differently.

      How garden evolved, from a bare patch to lawn and vegetables. Nine ulam raja were there 3 feet apart at the front of  left side balcony. They had flowered and passed their prime so they were taken out. A month ago I squeezed in a row of Keladi  (taro) between Ulam Raja and the fence. Now Ulam has gone, keladi has the whole space for themselves. I am thinking if they can handle themselves, being all alone, minus the shade given by ulam raja. I dont think Keladi will let out tantrums. They will do what the genetic code had in store, SURVIVE!...

      Keladi squeezed in between. (photo 8th April 2011)

      Keladi, without Ulam Raja as companion. (16 April 2011)

      Keladi like selom, thrives in wet areas, 
      I wonder if they have enough water to grow healthy.

      Bangchik and Kakdah
      Tanah Merah, Kelantan

      Sunday, April 17, 2011

      Roselle getting rid of old leaves.

      Old leaves will fall. It is a standard thing with most plants. Our roselle is coming to that stage. Old leaves get brownish with holes every where, probably eaten by grasshoppers or bugs. It is during such time that Red bugs ( red cotton bug, scientific name: Dysdercus cingulatus, thanks to Andrea) will come and colonise the whole place. I am just guessing, they are here for the fruits, or they really are here as the angel of death, for the final kill. I don't think our roselle are ready to die.

      They are now busy with new shoots to replace the dying leaves. Roselle must be thinking.., "Oh well, life must go one. Not yet angel of death!"

      Old leaves, battered badly, about to fall off.

      New shoots, new branches for roselle to continue living.

      roselle, new shoots

      Roselle are coming to a new phase, new branches and new set of leaves. I might cut off some shoots, to allow plants continue growing healthily without unnecessary stresses. I don't think the plant can support too many branches, not only on the weight but the ability to absorb nutrients, manufacture food for every parts to live on.  I am looking through the eyes of a gardener who has 7 plants to look after. Just wonder what farmers with acres of roselle would do....

      This is the phase, roselle will lose most of its charm, on symmetry, balance, and beauty. But I will let them go on for a few harvests more, with deliberate pruning.....

      Earlier posts on Tanah Merah  Roselle

      bangchik and kakdah
      Tanah Merah, Kelantan

      Saturday, April 16, 2011

      Germinating, Lettuce, pak choy, marigold, giant sunflower

      I am off for another round of vegetable growing. Some seeds were bought in February this year, and left idle for two months. Giveaway seeds from gardeners/bloggers still not tried out yet. So last Saturday, I decided to try them out.

      Germination, in trays. Newspaper on top. 

      10 april 2011
      Some seeds emerged first, the rest still taking their own sweet time. After rounds of germination, we appreciate that some seeds are very impatient, to see the light of day, some prefer to continue sleeping and will wake up a lot later.
      Pak Choy

      pak choy seedlings
      14th of April 2011
      pak choy seedlings
       14th of April 2011

      pak choy seedlings
      14th of April 2011
      pak choy seedling - close-up
      14th of April 2011
      lettuce seedlings
       14th of April 2011

      lettuce seedlings
      14th of April 2011

      lettuce seedlings - close-up
      14th of April 2011
      Spinach seedlings
       14th of April 2011

       I would go along with Kakdah suggestion to put them in pots. We bought 50 medium size white pots a few months back. These veggies will look nice in them. They will be placed at front car porch, to ease watering, fertilising and of course harvesting! It wont take long for these vegetables to mature...

      bangchik and kakdah
      Tanah Merah, Kelantan
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