Sunday, February 21, 2010
Grow Your Own!
I am finally back in action after a glorious trip around Vietnam and Hong Kong - photos will follow as soon as I get my hands on them. (Long story short, my camera died on me early on in the trip so we had to take all food photos on a friend's camera).
While we wait for those posts, I would like to turn everyone's attention to my backyard. What once used to be a lovely flowering garden was re-designed during our renovation into an all-you-can-eat buffet of fruits and vegetables.
A lot of these plants require patience and TLC all year around. We've refused to use any pesticides on our plants to keep them organic, but it wasn't long before we realised just how much work goes into making sure the babies don't get eaten by insects and animals - after all, birds and insects love fruits too.
The longan tree pictured above has taken the longest to grow. It was given to us at a very heavy discount from the nursery due to its poor form (no joke, it actually looked like a dead plant when we first saw it). Mum claimed that she would be able to nurse it back to good health after some time - turns out she was right. It's taken a few years nevertheless, but it felt so good once we saw the fruits starting to grow on the top of the little tree.
Fruit trees often make a great present too. This star fruit tree was a gift to me from my parents years ago and has since bore several ginormous and delicious babies.
This plant started sprouting out of nowhere one day and I had no choice but to ask my mother what on earth it was. The conversation went something like this:
"Mum, what melons are we sprouting here?"
"What melon do you want it to be?"
"Okay well it will sprout wintermelons"
I took these photos about 2 months ago. Turns out my mother was right, yet again. We've now got giant wintermelons for soup, stir-fried wintermelon and wintermelon tea for dinner. Darn that woman.
For some reason everyone in this neighbourhood seems to be popping mangoes out of nowhere. My neighbour has mangoes, my neighbours' neighbour has mangoes, and I have mangoes dropping on my head everytime I walk to the station (no not really, but there's a couple of giant mango trees on the way). Either way I'm not complaining, because come summer time, we grow enough giant mangoes in our very own backyard to make us all happy...unless I decide to make mango desserts, which, is another story altogether.
Fuyu Fruits (Persimmons)
I luuuuuurve fuyu fruits. Although I generally prefer squishy version of persimmons (astringent), throughout high school fuyu fruit became my apple substitute when it came to my almost non-existent lunch box. Let me take this opportunity to explain that I dislike eating apples, especially big ones. Braces may have had something to do with it, I'm not entirely sure. I love apple juice, apple pies and even apple baby food, but I just hate sinking my teeth into the darn fruit.
But I digress. This was the first batch of fuyu fruits from our plant, and unfortunately they ripened while I was still in Vietnam so I missed out on the tasting. I believe there are still a few left on the tree though. Seconds anyone?
The orange tree is a sad little figure in my garden due to its poor positioning. Note to all, when plant fruit trees, the least you can do is to find them a spot that is suitable for plantation, and not just stuff them anywhere you see fit. My orange tree simply doesn't get enough sunlight to grow sufficiently and I doubt even has enough space to grow. Either way we still give it plenty of TLC in hope that one day it will fruit beautifully.
Always out of herbs when you need them the most? Do you have a typically Asian fridge where herbs are practically non-existent? Why don't you grow you own and have all the freshest and organic herbs right in your garden ready for picking anytime, 24/7.
This was part of my 21st birthday present from JL. He probably got sick of me complaining about how I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO have fresh parsley for my pasta.
And lastly (for now), the Luffa, which is possibly one of the slightly more unique species popping out in our garden. In the Western world, the luffa is more commonly seen in its dried form, or to be more specifically, as a loofah (you know, the stuff you exfoliate your skin with?). However, when chopped up and cooked with soup or stir-fried, they are mildly sweet and juicy and super healthy. They're considered to have a "cooling" effect in the Chinese medicinal world and perfect for hot summers. Oh and another plus is that they're very easy to grow in our climate, and in a short span of a few weeks, we've had about 20 gourds growing out, which meant that there was plenty to go around.
So if you have a bit of space in your backyard, why not grow your own food? Trade seeds and saplings with friends, or in our case, we give away luffas and wintermelons since they're not as abundant in the markets. They don't have to be a lot of work and you can easily start off with a few easy-to-grow vegetables and fruits if you feel like you lack a green thumb, and trial and error doesn't hurt either. It's a learning curve after all.
P.S. Please let me know if you grown taro that has a large, flat, water-unretaining leaf. Either that or you know that the stem from your taro is edible. Oh and that you're happy to share seedlings with. Thanks!