Monday, July 15, 2013

Mango in the Compost

Sometimes magic happens. I've been making a new bucket of compost and a couple of weeks ago right in the centre, I couldn't have placed it better myself, a small seedling with long soft purple-bronze leaves grew.

I couldn't for the life of me think what it could be. I racked my brains trying to remember what I'd put into the compost; there'd been cut flowers, fruit and vegetable peelings and so on and so on. I scoured my books and images in Google. The problem is that there aren't so many photos of seedlings. Finally, a picture that looked just like my little plant came up - it was a mango, and I had been eating a mango a few weeks back.
The leaves are still soft with a bronze tinge.
The leaves are greener than they were at the beginning.

I'm glad I persevered as it's beginnings are quite different to what it looks like now. Now, it looks like many green seedlings, but in the beginning its three long leaves dark-coloured leaves were very soft and could have you believing that it didn't have enough water. I knew that there was plenty of water, so I thought I'd wait and see.

Sure enough, the seedling's leaves are now sturdy and sticking up as normal leaves do. They've also changed colour to a rich green. Very nice. However, I have to find my little plant a new home in due course as it will grow far too big for my balcony and apparently it likes a deep place to send it's main roots down.

But for now, it's looking very beautiful in my compost.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lisianthus in the Tropics

One of my readers finally gave me the name of the 'Paper Rose' that I bought a few years back,  Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), thank you Tramadol, and I can now research it and find out more about it.

The first thing I found is that it's from the warm regions in the Americas and so is definitely suited to our tropical climate here in Malaysia and South-east Asia. Secondly it is an biennial, so it will die off, but it can give you a couple of years, or seasons, of flowers.

Apparently it's drought resistant, but likes regular watering with good drainage. It likes the sun a lot, but a very wind-sheltered sunny spot might be too hot. To promote flowering you can cut the long stems which are great show flowers and can last 2-3 weeks in a vase.

So, if you are out in Sungai Buloh and you find these flowers, you can rest assured that you can grow them in a sunny spot in your home. I'll put some links below to sites I looked up if you want to know more. However, I mention the main care needs above, and will mention one more word of caution - that they don't like their roots disturbed too much. So either keep them in the pot they came in, or put them into a bigger pot without trying to separate or loosen them.

Have fun with them. They are such beautiful flowers.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The difference between Tree Tomatos and Tamarillos


This wonderful sweet and tart fruit apparently originates from the western South American countries including Peru and Chile. People from Naga in Sri Lanka also claim that it comes from there, but as it's part of the nightshade family that originated in South America I'll put my bets on there.

Home Grown

As you can see it's aptly known as tree tomato. It grows into a shrub of about 1.5m tall and will fruit all year round in a warm climate. In New Zealand, it's known as tamarillo. A blend of the Spanish word 'Amarillo' for yellow and the Maori word 'tama' for leadership, tamarillo helps to distinguish it from it's more savory cousin, the tomato, yet it still has a similar sounding name.

Growing up in Gisborne on the East Coast of New Zealand, I got to try a lot of exotic types of fruit as it's got a warm, dry micro-climate to the East of the Raukumara ranges. Feijoa, jack-fruit, paw-paw and so many more. My two favourites were feijoa and tamarillo. Of the two tamarillo was harder to find as it wasn't grown commercially in a big way until the late 80s when they began to grow it for export. I was working for my friend's father in the kiwifruit orchards when we were asked to help with planting out the new tamarillo orchards. I remember the leaves were quite smelly as I had to put my head against them each time I planted one.

I've heard that you can get them here in Malaysia, but only in the highlands as it's a sub-tropical plant rather than a tropical plant. If I'd known that before I went to Cameron Highlands a few years back I'd have been more diligent in looking for a tamarillo plant - or at least the fruit. I miss them so much. I love their slightly sour tart flavour. You can put sugar on them of course and the yellow ones are supposed to be sweeter, but for me it also makes the taste blander.

A link to recipes

If you know of where I can get my hands on a plant. Please let me know.
Resources and Recipes
Berry Bounty: How to Grow Traditional & Unusual Berries
Seeds from Overseas

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Lesster's Beekeeping Journal in Malaysia (Kelantan stingless bees)

For some reason I can't find the link to the first of Lesster's Beekeeping videos that I found when I tried to link it to my page - I'll put the link below. However, I found lots of other videos of his and they're all set here in Malaysia.
Lesster's Beekeeping and Honey tasting is in Malay (which I don't speak well - Saya becakap siket bahasa Melayu), but being a video, I could understand what they were chatting about. :)