Sunday, December 28, 2008

Summer - Warming up... ...

The pot of lavender bee pretty seems to have grown but are attacked by whiteflies. I used the yellow sticky trap which was quite good but no good with controlling them. So I did a pyrethrum spray and the flies were gone. The new flower buds have grown.
Mint given by a friend standing in jar of water (Christmas Day) waiting to root. Roots appeared 5 Jan 09)
I have harvested lots of plums. They turn from green to yellow to deep red. Taste sweet in terms of pulp but have sourish bitter skin.
The sunflowers are 0.5m tall for the tallest! Growing fantastically. Waiting for giant sunflowers!
An orange has germinated. However, I cannot remember which type it is. :(
I accidentally pulled out this plant but the smell seems so oregano. I replanted it and it is growing fine again. I hope it turns out to be some yummy wild oregano.
A friend has just given me two twigs of vietnamese/hot mint and I have re-planted them (26 Dec 08) in this pot with a thai basil which rooted while kept in a glass jar of water. The former needs lots of water. This time, I made sure I gave them Seasol to help with any shock. I kept the pot indoors and gave it lots water. So far so good.
I bought these two cheap pots of flowers ($2 each) to attract bees to come and pollinate my melons.
The Mighty Red tomato plant is doing well and have produced more than 10 fruits so far. These are the largest so far.
Clump of melons before thinning out.
Melon yellowing after thinning out.
Surviving melon plant with flowers. Seasol came a bit late on 22 Dec 08 but at least rescued most of them.
In my last blog, I mentioned that my peppers died of shock during re-potting. So, I have since sown some on 14 December after cooking some yellow and red ones. I also thinned out the clump of melons but they too went into shock despite my very careful job. Their leaves were turning yellow and thankfully I got some advice from a fellow blogger to add some fertiliser. So I did, with Seasol and they have survived. Some died but a good number survived. A few of them have flowered and I am so pleased to see bees coming to them one early morning on 27 Dec 08. That means pollination! I wonder if the two little cheap pots of marigolds are doing their job attracting bees on the vege patch. I hope to see melon fruits soon, either rockmelon or honeydew. I am not exactly a fan of them but it is fun just to see them grow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Photo Update of Garden Babies

Pear sprinkled with cornflour which did not help with curbing pear slugs - experiment failed. Manual squashing with a disposable glove works best. Pyrethrum spray works but not so on windy days. Thyme growing taller - hoping to harvest some soon. Peach tree doing pesky aphids due to good work of ladybugs. Green plum turning yellow and then will go red.
Plums on the tree.
My orange seeds have germinated after a long while (Sept to Dec). :)
Rosemary growing taller.
My friend has confirmed these are either chilli or bell peppers. However they soon died after thinning out and repotting. Should have added Seasol fertiliser during that.
Chilli plants are growing at a slow pace since sowing on 4 Nov 08.
Friend has confirmed these are melons (rockmelon or honeydew). Probably have to space them out when the rain goes and soil is soft.
Sunflowers are doing fantastic since sowing 1st & 3rd Nov 08.
Two types of plums harvested - maroon and yellowish-red.

Summer - Beautiful morning!

A day late for this. Yesterday had a beautiful morning! Sun's not exactly out. Not gloomy. Not sunny. Not exactly breezy. Just very beautiful to be out in the yard doing gardening. Checked my herbs - thyme, rosemary, mint, thai basil - checked my tomato plant, sunflower plants, melon, chilli and lavender for signs of pests. Could see the regular white flies. Found a really large ladybug on a blade of grass while feeding my dog in the yard. Brought it to my tomato plant which has grown really well from a small plant. Found a ladybug larva on the peach tree and brought it to my tomato plant too. I have got yellow sticky trap over the tomato plant but the plant has grown so much the trap would probably be a bit out of sight for the existing white flies who love hiding among the leaves below. I am taking all measures to prevent my wonderful tomato plant from being overtaken by pests, excluding pesticides for the time being. The pear and plum trees are not doing exactly very well as their leaves are being fed on my Saw fly larvae - slug-like creatures. I tried to manually squash them to death but they are a lot. I guess I could not do very much especially higher up the trees. Wondering if I would get any pears eventually at the rate they are feeding! They are really pests! Yet to try out the pyrethrum that I have bought. Did some fruit-wrapping work - using plastic bags and stapling them to individual peaches and pears. Hoping that this would help prevent birds from feeding on the ripening fruits. Harvested some plums - sweet and sour at the same time. Since that wonderful morning, it has been raining cats and dogs till now.
Pear slug (Sawfly larvae) on a plum leaf.
A gigantic ladybug on the tomato leaf.
Yellow sticky trap traps a lot of flying insects - unfortunately good & bad - indiscriminate Tomato flowers - flowering in a few areas on the plant
Flourishing tomato plant
The same plant a month!

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Photos of My Garden Babies.

Rosemary after re-potting.
Ladybug on a plum leaf. Thai Basil after planting into soil. Tomato flowers. Wonder what these could be. Wonder what these are.
Possibly rockmelon plants from the seeds and pulp I have buried.
The clump of seedlings in front could possibly be Capsicum seedlings emerging (whose seeds and pulp I had buried end of winter)
Sunflowers seedlings spaced out.
Ladybug on the mint leaf.

My Garden Babies

Chilli seeds germinating.
Lavendar Bee Pretty Mighty Red Tomato plant.
Thyme before re-potting.
Sunflower seeds sprouting and growing.
I have many things in the garden but I have not got time to record most down. Finally!
The thyme in the 10cm pot are growing well..about 6cm tall right now and I already can smell the sweet aroma from it. Just re-potted them this morning. Wow, their roots are a lot compared to how tiny plants they are! I cant wait to harvest them. First, I must find some recipes that use thyme. I started a new batch of thyme on 3 Nov and they are germinating well.
Hope for some sun as it has been a bit gloomy weather recently. With more sun and warmth, my chillies (planted seeds on 4 Nov 08), which just sprouted, can grow better. They took a little while to germinate, probably as the weather was not warm enough. My five sunflowers too (planted 3 Nov 08)! They are just 6cm tall too. Grew them so that I can give some friends cheerful sunflowers!
The rosemary, lavendar and mint are doing well after re-pottinging larger pot. However, the mint are really prone to pests! I have got white flies coming and I know it because when I gently shake the stems, I can see insects flying out. Thanks to the Christian forum on herbs which I have joined recently. I managed to get some good advice on how to handle the pests! Got some good ladybugs adults and larva from the peach and pear trees and left them on the mint. They should be able to eat up the white flies just like how they did to the aphids on the trees. The trees are totally cleared of aphids now. Ladybugs, cute and pretty and good bugs to have! My favourite garden friends!
Well, the mint is also subject to many other problems like rust. I had to manually and regularly inspect the plant and pluck off those affected leaves. This morning, I found a horrifying tiny caterpillar in the midst of the mint - on the shoots. There is web as well. I removed the whole shoot. I also found some spiders on the mint - good things to have - so I left them there. Amazing eco-system in a pot of mint!!! Mint goes great with freshly-brewed Japanese green tea. How refreshing!
The Mighty Red tomato plant is also growing fabulously after being re-planted from the pot to the soil directly. I understand that tomato plants are prone to pests too. Have to take all precauctions! Prevention is always better than cure!
Those yellow sticky traps which I have bought from Bunnings Warehouse are fantastic! Easy to set up, just staple onto a skewer stick and just poke it through into the soil in the pot. They really work to attract nuisance flying pests. The one I bought is called Trappit sticky insect traps from UK. Cost slightly more than $10. You can cut the size you need with scissors and the glue is effective in trapping insects. Insects are very attracted to the bright yellow of the traps. Good distraction from attacking my plants instead!
Oh I may have rockmelon in my garden! I buried some of the rockmelon pulp with seeds in the vegetable patch in winter. Thought of just fertilising the soil but it seems like the seeds have germinated. Well, hope they are some rockmelon plants instead of weeds! Time will reveal.
I read that I had better trim off peaches while they are small. There are so many on the peach tree. So, I removed peaches and left each 5cm away from each other on the branches. This is important to get larger fruits. Information from
The other day I bought some thai basil for cooking. I left a few stems in water to let the roots grow at the same time removing most leaves to stop transpiration. Yeah it worked. After a little bit of the roots came, I dipped the end of the stems in some mild hormone rooting powder (just in case!) and planted them into the soil. Left the pots in the house for a few days near the sunny window so that the plants would not be system-shocked. Today, they are out in the sun. Hope for a prosperous growth! Leaves are already growing!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Spring is here! It's time to grow good healthy greens!

Peaches on the tree Plums Pears
I have been waiting for spring's arrival and have been working on the vege patch even in winter, weeding away and preparing the soil for spring's planting. Some days I was hardworking, somedays I was not really. But slowly and steadily, I got the vege bed ready, at least managed to cover the patch with weed mat to stop the fast growing weeds from returning. Spring is such a wonderful season. Thank God for creating all the seasons! We watched the bare trees sprout crowns of pink and white flowers, and petals falling like snow flakes when the wind blew. Then we watched the young leaves pushing their way out and the trees are now having green crowns. It was such a beautiful sight out of our living room windows! Right now in the garden, I have mint, rosemary, thyme, tomato and lavender growing. They have just been transplanted into larger pots. I have planted another batch of thyme seeds and a batch of chilli and some sunflower seeds. Can't wait for them to grow and flower and fruit. I am discovering that gardening can bring a wonderful sense of achievement. It is good fun watching the plants grow and caring for them. And Samuel has a fine time learning as he watches me do stuff in the garden. He goes around with his toy lawn mower and chasing doggy with it. We also have a few types of fruit trees bearing fruit on this rental property. How exciting! There is peach, plum and pear. Lots of aphids on the young leaves but lots of ladybugs around to clear them out! I did not know ladybug larve look so different from the cute ladybugs interesting!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Flaxseed Oil - The Good Oil.

Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and contains double the amount found in fish. The most important omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed oil is called Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA). This essential fatty acid cannot be synthesized by our body so it must come from our diet. ALA is important because it lowers blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This helps to reduce fatty deposits in the blood stream that can build up and make the walls of the blood vessels narrow and stiff. As vessels narrow and harden, blood pressure increases and blood supply becomes blocked, causing angina, stroke and heart attacks. One way ALA helps to reduce blood pressure is by increasing cell membrane fluidity and flexibility, and improving the elasticity of blood vessels. It also acts as a natural blood thinner, reducing the ability of our blood to form clots. Studies have shown that, even in healthy young men, taking flaxseed oil daily will decrease this tendency for blood platelets to form. Another function of ALA is to improve the body's inflammatory responses. Our body converts fatty acids into substances called prostaglandins - hormone-like chemicals that control inflammation. There are many types of prostaglandins and some are more inflammatory than others. When the body produces a greater amount of stronger, more inflammatory prostaglandins, it results in conditions such as arthrits, gout and joint pain, severe menstrual cramping, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and asthma. Prostaglandins that are made from omega-3 oils are weaker than those made from omega-6 oils, so a diet that includes flaxseed oil can 'down regulate' the inflammatory response and improve these inflammatory conditions. Flaxseed oil is an essential addition to the diet, but it is important for anyone who suffers from cardiovascular disease or inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, period pains or asthma. Many people are concerned about the level of heavy metals found in fish these days. (I have found the best cod liver fish oil on Earth for my toddler though. You can read that in another of my blog entries.) If you are a vegetarian or just don't like the fishy taste of cod liver or fish oil enough to take them, you can achieve your omega-3 fatty acid requirements from flaxseed oil. The only thing is that our body has to work a little more to convert ALA in flaxseed oil to EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and then to DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). With taking cod liver or fish oils, you get EPA and DHA directly. How do we choose the right flaxseed oil?
  • Check the label to make sure the oil is cold pressed, unrefined and GMO-free.
  • Look for organic flaxseed oil because non-organic ones can sometimes carry trace amounts of pesticides and herbicides.
  • A reputable manufacturer will measure the amount of ALA contained in their flaxseed oil, so make sure the one chosen has this displayed on the label. At least 52% ALA is recommended.
  • Look for oil in opaque packaging to reduce oxidation.

Note that flaxseed oil should always be taken with food. It can be used in salads dressing, poured over cereals or mixed in yoghurt or smoothies. However, flaxseed oil is not suitable as a cooking oil.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Magic of JOJOBA!

Jojoba oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the crushed bean of the jojoba shrub. Its botanical name is Simmondsia chinenis. The jojoba shrub is native to the Sonoran Desert of Mexico and regions in Arizona and southern California.
Native Americans have used jojoba for hundreds of years - for treatment of sores, cuts, bruises and burns - as a diet supplement and an appetite suppressant when food was not available - as a skin conditioner for soothing wind/sunburn - as hair and scalp treatments. Jojoba appears to be a very diverse plant indeed.
The chemical structure of jojoba oil is different from that of other vegetable oils. Rather than being an oil, it is actually a polyunsaturated liquid wax that is similar to sperm whale oil, though without the fishy odour. Jojoba has a nutty smell and is pleasant to apply on the face. Jojoba oil is liquid at room temperature because of its unsaturated fatty acids. It does not oxidize or become rancid and does not break down under high temperatures or pressures. The stablility shown by jojoba oil makes it especially useful for cosmetic applications.
Jojoba is completely miscible with the natural sebum of the skin, and when used on the skin, it forms a very thin, non-greasy lipoid layer. This layer is partially porous and provides exceptional trans-epidermal respiration and moisture control. This affinity jojoba has with our own natural sebum means that we can apply it even on oily skin, as it will assist in balancing the oily activity and help with blocked pores. It is even anti-bacterial. Compare the chemical structure of our skin's sebum with that of jojoba oil's :
Skin sebum : CH3(CH2)14COO(CH2)24CH3
Jojoba oil : CH3(CH2)18COO(CH2)20CH3
Sebum is secreted by our human sebaceaous glands to protect our skin and hair. When sebum production decreases due to age, pollutants, or environmental stresses, jojoba oil can be used to replicate sebum oil.
Unlike greasy occlusive materials such as petrolatum, mineral oils and some lanolin products, jojoba oil provides an absolutely non-tacky, non-oily and non-greasy softening to the skin. It also significantly reduces tran-epidermal water loss, without totally blocking the transpiration of gases and water vapour. So, it prevents dehydration and therefore is anti-wrinkle and anti-aging!
When we use powerful astringents to rid the over activity of oiliness that our skin produces we are in fact making the situation worse. We take away the natural sebum and can interfere with the acid mantle of our skin. We need sebum - a thin sheen of oil on our skin to nourish and protect it from the elements. Without this our skin will become dry, flaky and blemishes will also result. Jojoba can help you create a balance of your own skin's production of nautral sebum.
The potential therapeutic uses of jojoba oil include the treatment of acne, cold sores and is wonderful for people who suffer from sensitive skin condtions, including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, dandruff (scalp treatment).

The Safest and Most Natural Conditioner on Earth!

We all need some kind of conditioners to give our hair some glow and softness. Shampoos clean our hair of grime but at the same time, they also strip off the natural sebum that gives our hair that healthy glow and silky softness. Most conditioners contain artificial conditioning agents such as dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane. One brand which is made in Japan and specially created for Asian hair has the following ingredients :
Water, stearyl alcohol, dipropylene glycol, dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, lactic acid,stearoxypropyl dimethylamine, benzyl glycol, fragrance, hydroxyethylcellulose, behenamidopropyl dimethylamine, amodimethicone, bis-isobutyl PEG-15/amodimethicone copolymer, glycolic acid, phenoxyethanol, alcohol, bis-methoxypropylamido isodocosane, dicocodimonium chloride, butylene glycol, toluene sulfonic acid, malic acid, steartrimonium chloride, camellia japonica seed oil, hydrolyzed conchiolin protein, panax ginseng root extract, glycine soja (soya bean) protein, eucalyptus globulus leaf extract, caramel.
Note that the few ingredients which are natural and probably beneficial are found right at the end of the ingredient list. This means that their amounts are pathetically small. The synthetic chemical ingredients are a whole truckload! That is probably why this conditioner is selling cheap! Another big brand has the following list of ingredients : Water, cetearyl alcohol, cyclomethicone, cetrimomium chloride, glycerin, dimethiconol, ceteardimonium chloride, propylene glycol, hydroxyethylcellulose, lysine HCL, hydrolyzed silk, borago officinalis seed oil, tea-dodecylbenzenesulfonate, potassium chloride, disodium EDTA, DMDM hydantoin, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, fragrance. One natural ingredient found.
I have found the safest and most natural conditioner on earth! These are the ingredients :
Myroxylon pereirae (balsam peru) oil, certified organic pelargonium graveolens (geranium) essential oil, certified organic pogostemon cablin (patchouli) essential oil, moringa oleifera seed oil, certified organic arctium lappa (burdock) extract, certified organic equisetum arvense (horsetail) extract, certified organic urtica dioica (nettle) extract, certified organic rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, certified organic salvia officinalis (sage) leaf extract, certified organic aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, certified organic apple cider vinegar, certified organic citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) fruit extract, non-gmo lecithin sorbitan olivate, cetearyl olivate, panthenol (pro-vitamin b5), aqua (purified water)
This conditioner hydrates, conditions and protects the hair with nourishing and emollient moringa seed oil from Tanzania. Pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol) and organic herbs in it promote lustre and body. It naturally balances the pH of your hair with organic apple cider vinegar.
All natural ingredients for your hair and no artificial silcones used. It is a wonderful and safe alternative from the normal conditioners you can find. I have used it and will stay with it definitely!
"All that mankind needs for good health and healing is provided by God in nature...the challenge of Science is to find it." - Paracelcus, the father of Pharmcology, 1493 - 1541