Orange Jasmine in bloom!

Orange Jasmine in bloom - March 2014

This isn’t exactly a typical dirt-to-dish post since you can’t really eat flowers but who’s keeping tabs?

After a really heavy-hand of pruning (I stripped the entire tree of all its leaves), our orange jasmine is finally blooming and wonderfully at that! For nearly two to three full days, the entire apartment was lightly scented with the perfume from these gorgeous flowers. Also, it now has branches coming out from the base of the main stem. All this thanks to regular watering and fertilising with organic manure, vermicompost as well as epsom salt.

To make the tree look a little neater, I’ve actually trimmed all leaves & stems from the bottom 5 inches of the tree. Hopefully, this will allow the tree to focus on giving out more leaves and flowers from the top instead of the bottom. Another reason for this pruning is because there isn’t much space on the balcony; I had to move my other jasmine tree to the landing area to make room for this one since it’s doing oh-so-well (it is now taller than my soon-to-be 5 year old!).

I was tempted to harvest this round of buds for an oil infusion but seeing that the tree had just gone through a rather dry spell last month (and especially more so when I was away for a week), I decided to leave the buds intact and on the tree. I might harvest the upcoming round of buds but it all depends on if the tree will give me a huge amount to begin with.

Orange Jasmine in bloom - March 2014

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Baby bok choy harvest

Veg planter Box 1 and 2

About a month ago, I sowed some Hong Kong choy sum and baby bok choy seeds in two new planters boxes that I bought – they were smaller than my usual but could still hold a sizeable amount of vegetables. Germination was fast and furious due to two factors: 1) organic fertiliser mixed into the soil with vermicompost and 2) epsom salt solution every two weeks.

We didn’t have much rain in the last month so I’ve had to watch the water level rates. The plastic bottle you see there was a recent addition to test how long each 375ml would last before it ran out. But the vegetables were already due for harvest so I might have to give this a miss for now.

I’m glad to report that I found earthworms – baby and average sized ones in three of the planter boxes (I have four) – and this is a good thing as earthworms makes the soil somewhat more fertile. As usual, no pesticides or synthetic fertiliser. Once in a while I’ll use what I call as “fish water” which is just fish innards washed with water. The solution which is rich in nutrients makes for a fantastic organic fertiliser. Rice water works well although I’ve never tried it (I know people who swear by it).

Below the planter boxes is my screwpine bush which has grown from one plant to 3.5 now with three shoots coming off from the main plant (this is when you start to see aerial roots). The pot is getting a little small for the size so it’s time to go get a new one and repot the entire plant. I’m not sure if I want to separate the suckers – it’ll just be seeing some repotting action for now.

Here are the kids showing off the harvest for today. Dinner was punctuated every so often with “WAHHHHH” and “Mum mum” from Noah – they finished every single bite of veg! Happiness! Tehehehe.

Full harvest

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Our 2nd choy sum harvest!

2nd choy sum harvest

That’s our second choy sum harvest and boy o’ boy were the kids ultra excited about this! Yes, even Noah. One of the plants had already pushed out flowers so the kids got a stalk of yellow flowers to hold onto and Noah instantly demolished it. He plucked it, he pulled it…well, basically he had fun with it. After five minutes, there was nothing left but a short 2.5 cm green stalk in his tiny hand.

I cleaned this, separated it into 4cm long portions and then stir-fried this with garlic and some sea salt before serving it with steamed pork ribs and rice. The kids finished EVERY SINGLE thing! One thing that has reaffirmed my choice to grow my own vegetables and get the kids involved is that they get excited, they get curious and more importantly, they want to try food that they helped to grow!

As I’m sharing this, I have another planter box with choy sum, Hong Kong choy sum and bok choy seedlings. Am keeping my fingers crossed for a bountiful harvest next year! Tehehehe.

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Updates: Choy sum

Choy sum three days after germination (Sept 2013)

That’s a look at the seedlings three days after germination.

I used organic soil purchased from a seller at Bayan Baru and added hummus fertiliser. The seedlings were watered every three days but growth appeared to be very slow. The pic below shows the growth one month later. Not much difference.

Choy sum, a month after germination

Later I found out that because my veg isn’t grown on the ground but in boxes, I’ll have to fertiliser the vegetables more frequently – at least once every two weeks – and water them nearly every day. Some folks at the gardening forum on Facebook were helpful too. So after a few doses of goat manure, vermicompost, hummus fertiliser and Epsom salt, these babies started looking pretty substantial. I’d say that they started bulking up after the Epsom salt treatment (I basically watered the plants with 1 tsp of organic epsom salt diluted in 1 full can of water). Here’s a look at them now.

My choy sum - two months after germination

They are not quite ready for the table yet although I must admint, they are looking pretty yummy now!

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My balcony garden

Dirt-to-Dish concept isn’t a new one. It’s basically growing your own produce and later cooking with it. I have been intrigued by the idea of growing my own vegetables and having a little balcony garden and thus, decided to document it…on Facebook. I had totally forgotten about sharing my experiences on this blog…until now.

Anyway, the balcony garden has the following plants:

  • Orange Jessmine
  • Jasmine
  • Curry leaf tree
  • Pandanus
  • Lavender
  • Ginger

It has two planter boxes which contain some choy sum and angled petola seeds as well as mint cuttings. I also got myself a Japanese Rose plant as well as a Dianthus to help give it some colour.

Am hoping that with some care, this little corner will grow to be a green one soon!

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