Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Harvest Monday 2013

 Yesterday, I decided to do a last posting for Harvest Monday 2013 since it has been a while we joined in at Daphne's Dandelions. Usually it is raining on the afternoon here as we are in the Monsoon season. Therefore limited time to get a lot of the 'task to do' be ticked off on the list. We rarely get to take pictures of the harvest now as it has always been a rush or me harvesting while cooking dashing in and out from the kitchen to the kebun. Here is an overview of some goods that we were able to harvest yesterday. Malabar spinaches, winged bean, various long-yard beans, and lemons. We also have cotton bolls to harvest from the garden. Instead of using tissues we can used organic cotton bolls as wipers.
 Sapodilla (ciku), and canistel fruit trees are always so generous producing all year round. In the land below the wind, Sabah state, there are many fans of canistel fruit which makes the market price at the moment according to our mother surveys RM8.00 per-kilogram (If you are interested you are welcome to contact us, too many for our small family). Occasionally we get pamelo or guava fruits from the backyard. The tree that produce tangerine-like fruit which my mother sowed from seeds from her hometown has also started it fruiting season.
 The native fruit tree called nam nam (fruit looks like brain), also never stopped producing. Many first-timers told us that the ripe ones tasted a bit like pear when we shared some.
 The passion fruit are ripening on the tree. 
 November and December months are rambutan season every year in our place. This year most of the rambutan trees bear fruits a lot. We have more than 5 rambutan trees fruiting happily.
 Cempedak is also very generous this month. 'Cempedak' is a relative to jackfruit but a smaller version of it. People like to make cempedak fritters like banana fritters from the yellow flesh that covers the seeds, a popular tea snack.
 We also have some Pulasan fruits to enjoy (a squirrel left a mark on the pulasan fruit in above photo). Pulasan is a relative to 'Rambutan'. Can you notice the difference of the hairstyle between 'Pulasan' and 'Rambutan'. 'Rambut' in Malay Language is 'hair', while 'Pulas' in Malay Language is 'twist'.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and King Tut in a Merry Mood

 Wishing that everyone is having a wonderful time creating beautiful memories with their love ones during this festive season from us here in Kebun Malay-Kadazan Girls/Boys. A beautiful memory was made in our kebun (garden) this week, it was the first time that King Tut sweet pea bestowed the first bloom for us in this tropical lowland garden of ours. Well, for beginners in spring colder region it is easy to grow sweet peas. However, not in this hot humid garden of us, very rare to get them survive and blooming unlike the Butterfly pea which grows out of control here. I was not planning of having a trial growing sweet pea this year with juggling a lot of priorities. However, I can't resist when I can get my hands on the legendary King Tut Pea (Lathyrus sativus) seeds due to my deep interest to any related with archaeology especially ancient civilisation. The fact/myth that this strain of sweet pea seeds is said to be found in Tutankhamun's pharoah tomb was enough to tantalize me to grow them. Of course I am still daydreaming of one day to step on the ground where once those pharoah spend their lives. Surprisingly our 4 and 6 years old boys showing much interest in Egypt ancient civilisation as well. It is really interesting to listen to their conversation interpreting the hieroglyphics, usually 4 years old Rayyan is the storyteller to his 6 years old brother. The mother receiving difficult question to think of an answer suitable for their age. The brothers are even trying to save money so they can visit Egypt as soon as possible by keeping all the money gifts from festive season given by their elder relatives. Then asking frequently to the mother, do we have enough now??? Dear boys, the land is so faraway compare to Adelaide.
I thought my eyes was playing trick on me when I suddenly saw a flower bud.
 The King Tut seeds germinate easily and fast in par with radish seeds germination rate which was unexpected because I just sow the seeds in the soil and did nothing. The nature did all the work. All I did was observe and learn. The first time I sowed the seeds in partial shade under the durian tree canopy on a raised bed. I have a hunched that the monsoon heavy downpour will not make the pea happy.  So I was kind of thought that the canopy will somehow protect the seedlings and the raised bed will be well-drained in this wet season because peas relative don't like wet feet that much. Well there was one week when the downpour was heavy and made the stems here and there broke under the heavy ran. Moreover, I suspect not enough light to satisfy King Tut on that location. Ok now is just to troubleshoot the 'light' aspect. So I decided the second attempt was to sow the seed close to a sunny location next to the arch brought back from Adelaide once upon a time happened to be the reliable trellis for sweet peas flowering profusely. The arch looks familiar right? The garden arch must have brought us luck with the sweet pea, the spirit is there. Actually it was growing with neglect I totally forgot about it until one fine day I was collecting cypress vine seeds on the other side of the garden arch, I finally noticed that the plant is actually still growing on the spot full of weeds.
  In colder region, the King Tut pea must have been bluer compare to warmer region. Hopefully the second bud close behind to the blooming one will also show itself soon. Wonder if it will develop seed pod, that will make be very joyous, a chance to get a strain which will be more adaptable in our 'kebun' climate.
 Some of the ducks and geese at our backyard.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Vagina Bulbophyllum

 Hope the first word in this plant name will kind of alert that after a long break from this blog that I have finally write a posting after almost 6 months. Sean the author of 'Half a pound of treacle' helped me identified this orchid species when he visited our place last Wednesday with Bob who came all the way from South Australia. The flower picture is not clear because it was drizzling when I noticed that some weird looking thing pop out from the bark of my mother favourite red bottlebrush tree when the rain season started again in Klang valley.
 I will leave it to your imagination why this orchid is called 'Vagina bulbophyllum'. Before it flowered, with the leaves condition or physical attributes I thought it was some kind of a parasitic plants. Lucky, I did not get rid of it. According to my mother, the plants were taken back from her hometown (forest) in Borneo island. When Sean visited these plants were not flowering, but he is really an orchid expert, he knew exactly what kind of species it is by just looking at the plants without its flower.
 One of the main reason, Sean and Bob came to visit us was to give a home for 2 fig plants (Double Happiness never thought of receiving 2 plants). Surprised me they did and we are very happy. Especially that these plant cuttings came all the way from Adelaide giving more a special feeling because I gave birth to 2 babies in Adelaide. I did not expect the plants were already this big after looking at the pictures in Sean ' A Long Figgy Tale'.  Furthermore, after I came back did not realised that 'Growing Fig' has a become boom in Malaysia. If you a newbie in the fig world and want to grow fig in Malaysia I would advise reading Sean thorough review first.
 At the moment I am thinking of planting one of the fig plant between the Murraya paniculata and the outdoor chair (What do you think Sean, Bob?)
 I kept on forgetting that my husband had brought me a White Genoa fig from his business trip to Japan last month. I planted the White Genoa fig near a night blooming jasmine plant. Then I realised those 2 fig plants will be facing each other, planned unconsciously. 
 The main reason I had a long break from this blog is that I could not make myself open my email account which is the same with this blog until today. I still have problem with panic attacks connected with my 'PhD' related things. I stop contacting my supervisor since last June and lost the courage to reply his last email to me. A few days ago, I was sorting some mail, I found one mail for me got mixed up with my parents, posted all the way from Bulgaria. The seeds and the wonderful hand-drawings from Annie and her family made me so happy that almost made me drop tears of happiness. So sweet of you Annie. It gave me the courage to finally get in contact with my supervisor again today. Reminded me to keep pursuing my childhood dream. Thank you to Liz at also has kindly shared some of my favourite seeds that I used to grow in Adelaide. This year I was also happy that seeds that the Aquilegia we grown before bloom in Mark's Veg Plot. When I opened my working email, I had email from Sue 'Our Plot at Green Lane Allotment' giving me more support to try my best to get in contact with my supervisor again.
 So after I replied Sue email. I tried my best the overcome that not nice feeling of having panic attack, feeling the red flush on my face, labor breathing and so on. Took me almost an hour to write just a few sentences to my supervisor and clicked send. Then I had my dinner. Checked my email again, yes my supervisor has replied :) . 
 The kids are growing up very fast and made me busy. It has been a year since we came back. Abby had straight hair when in Adelaide, but after we returned her hair slowly became natural curly. I had few strangers approached me and asked which saloon I went to get her hair perm. How time fly fast. Next year Ilhan will start going to primary school.
 Thank you very much for the warm supports. I hope I will be able to push myself to get that 'thing' underway soon and some progress.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sabah Honey Pineapple (Nanas Madu Sabah)

 We enjoyed the pineapple fruit above yesterday and it was very sweet like honey. Much much much sweeter than the pineapple slice syrup liquid in can. So much different than the common variety ones sold in the market to this honey pineapple from Sabah state the original plant came from my aunt. If you visit Sabah, don't forget to ask the farmers whether they are selling Nanas madu or the common one. 'Nanas' is pineapple and 'Madu' is honey in the national language of Malaysia. The Nanas Madu Sabah will be more expensive than the common one but worth it. I asked some middleman in one  of the farmer market I went looking for some pineapple, they said they can't afford to sell them as it is expensive, a luxury item.
Pineapple flower.
 Anticipation for the coming harvest. Ours are actually growing in partial shade and they seem to be doing fine even lack of full sunlight. The fruits takes more than 2 months to ripe from flowering stage. You spent time to peel the skin and take our the 'eyes'. Then finished eating it faster than peeling the skin. However, the sweetness of Sabah Honey Pineapples lingers in the mouth.
 Sideshoot underneath the ripening pineapple fruit can be used to grow a new plant which gives you much faster harvest compared recycling the pineapple fruit crown top.
 One of the funniest Sabah Honey pineapple fruit I found in my aunt's small pineapple farm in front of the house. I planted some Sabah Honey pineapple plant last month before I went to Sabah and they are doing well without any care or watering. Also, planted a few plants this week too.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hazy Harvest

 Haze condition in some of the places in Peninsular Malaysia is really bad. Schools has been closed now until the haze level goes down. The kids are now limited indoors and fortunately has not get bored yet on the activities they focusing on at the moment. The television has not been switched  on at all for more than a week at least. Gardeners too need to avoid not spending too much time outdoors. Hope the plants will be strong and fare well in this kind of predicament. Tuberose plants has been producing flower stalks one by one this month, I think this bulbous plant has respond the need to create offspring in giving flowers due to the drought and hot weather. It nice to get to snip some tuberose flower stalks starting to bloom bringing them inside the house for their strong alluring fragrance. Because we have haze now, harvesting the butterfly pea flowers task came back to the parents instead of the kids. The haze has kind of effected the duck and eggs production in our place too. We also harvested a tiny squash last week. Readily available to harvest last week and this week are also lemons, pea eggplants and chillies.
 Some of the fresh traditional raw salads available in our garden to eat with sambal belacan.
 We also harvested some roselles, Surinam spinaches, and a guava last week.
 Papaya fruits also some of the main harvest last week from our garden. Why are they in the plastic? This is for my next door neighbour portions.
 I just realised that the okras has already started producing yesterday and I harvested all the fruits regardless some are still small because I knew I won't be able to go into the garden in this bad haze condition today or probably tomorrow. I skipped the garden for 2 days locked up after some late night ruckus that is why I did not realised they started flowering. This is the first time I harvested 'Mammoth Spineless' heirloom okra. Quite surprised this variety okra fruit size are fatter than the other varieties that I usually grow. We also harvested some Marjerine fruits. Almost seven year old male cat 'Jack' having a nap. Jack is always a good boy towards me since I'm his adopted mom, so this is not his doing but unfortunately mine. I am sorry I am kind of slow replying comments or visiting as I am still suffering from my postnatal depression from time to time. But it does make me cheer up reading your comments or receiving your emails. I do know I need to seek professional help but I guess I got tired or couldn't be bothered anymore for trying to think how I am going to drag myself there with kids while having some session with the expert. I am still kind of lost as well where to seek the closest help I can. Enough of the rambling today and I try to keep my mind quiet, hush hush hush.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tagal Kampung Poturidong

 One of the highlight on our recent trip to Sabah is visiting a protection site for Mahseer (kelah in Bahasa Malaysia) fish sanctuary. Earlier this year I did watch a documentary regarding this Mahseer fish sanctuary that can be visited and be very friendly with the Mahseer fish on one part region of Malaysia Sabah state. Never did I realised that in my mother own village so close to home we have also Mahseer sanctuary until I went to buy breakfast at Kiulu Tamu and one of my cousins that I met there told me about this special place. Never in my wildest dream I don't have to chase or coax the wild fish to come to us but they came swimming quickly toward us. Only rich people with money can eat Mahseer, I cannot afford to buy this fish. Even at rural market sells at RM20 per-kilogram. Well probably be at least double or triple price for the fish in town. I only get to eat it when my cousins caught some. So delicious simply melt in the mouth.
 In Dusun-Kadazan the 'Tagal' is actually a traditional custom from long time ago where you cannot go fishing a certain area or there is only a certain season you can go fishing. The main reason is that there will be no intensive fishing and giving the chance the fish to mature and give offspring. For example on the board, the red zone is forbidden to fish because there is where the river flows very strong and fast. It is a perfect hotspot for Mahseer fish to lay eggs on the stone. The river next to our house is on the red zone where the kids usually have fun playing with water. My late-grandfather land is actually in between the red zone and yellow zone river. 
 Instead of using the main and only road for vehicles we decided to just walk to the fish sanctuary for the kids to have some adventure and toughen them up a bit. This will also be used as a landmark for the kids to remember the way when they are bigger and like to go on their own. They have to cross this watery spot by walking on the bamboo makeshift bridge. 
Then up you climb the hill be careful if its wet due to the wet season. I don't usually like to use this path when its wet, so slippery when I was a kid. My slippers always got stuck on the muddy soil. There is another way boys but will show you next time walking through the rubber tree farms.When you reached up there, turn left walk until you see a small community hall (church?on the left side) and go down the hill. From up there you can see a kindergarten. But walk not towards the kindergarten but on the left follow the cement pathways straight ahead you will see a hanging bridge.
  If you are unsure there will be a signboard 'Tagal'. Our host was Mr. Juara, very friendly and has been taking care of this visitor spots for a long time. When we came close to the river, the fish wasn't there yet but suddenly swiftly something coming towards us. You can see Abby looking down with an expression what is going on???
  To our surprise and excitement, so many juvenile Mahseer surrounded us asking for food. So tame and trusting. They even suck our feet fingers which feels very ticklish, not painful. It has been raining in the afternoon everyday sometime till night so the water is consider big, usually its shallower and we can go further in the water. Since I can't see the bottom I am a bit hesitant to let the kids to go more deeper. I have been reminded so many time since I am small if I see black cloud further upstream of the river even it is not raining at my side not to play near the river. Because the river can rise and flow so fast which is very dangerous if you are swept away. But if its dry season , don't forget to bring some towels and change clothes and have fun playing in the water. On a sunny day and the rivers are its normal depth, I used to let myself be carried away by the swift river flow. My legs sometime have blue black bruises because I bang my legs on the stones while being taking along by the river flow to a calmer spot. Ouch, but fun. I did several times, just tiring to walk back to the starting point and especially you are going the opposite direction of the swift river flow.
Or you can also pick a spot and sunbath. I used to make my own pool when I was a kid. Make a pool by using the stones as wall. Sometime I would find a red stone, smash them and paint our face. I spend hours playing at the river during end year school holidays. You can also search for prawns underneath the stone close to the riverbed.
 The caretaker would like to get more funds from government to add some more facilities in this fish sanctuary visitor centre. So far, toilet has been built from funds received from the government. The more visitors they received in their log record, it will be easier for them to apply for some funding to make it more comfortable for visitors. This rest house is kept very clean, there are tables and chairs you can have picnic. This place has a wide open space, if you want to organise a Family day for your company this will be a good place. You can also BBQ at this place and the whole family will enjoy this experience while having fun playing with fish and water. It is not faraway from the city Kota Kinabalu which is just less than one hour away. The government relies on the village co-operation for the tourism industry. To me as long as there is tourism and farming goods, hopefully there will be no plan for logging. I have seen areas which is close to logging areas and it was too painful to watch the river eco-system has been destroyed. Once was like the river in our village turn to muddy river, the heart feels very heavy. Sad the children could not play anymore near the river. My kids generation is still lucky and I hope it will always be a spot where children can enjoy the river. So future visitors, please come and visit this Fish Sanctuary you will be helping a lot to ensure this place will be safe.
 It is very easy to go here, just follow the signboard to Kiulu White Water Rafting or Pukak Homestay until you reach Kampung Poturidong which is after the small Kiulu town. You will see a 'Tagal' signboard when you reach Kampung Poturidong and park your care next to the roadside and walk just a few metres away you will see a hanging bridge. This river is very popular for white water rafting (Gred 1) suitable for the whole family.
 The village community representatives has tried to negotiate with tour operators to drop by before they drive further up to the white water rafting starting point. But the tour operators has not been giving much co-operation as their excuse is the time frame. Because after the rafting, they will rush to Klias river cruise for the probiscus monkey sightseeing which is actually not a reasonable excuse.  Klias river cruise starts after 4-5PM in the afternoon the earliest because the probiscus monkey comes out at dusk to search for food. I still think they can make it if they leave at 2PM from the rafting end point. I think the tour operators should add the visit to the Mahseer Fish Santuary visitor centre at Poturidong to their itinerary. Well they will be passing the visitor centre anyway (see photo) so they actually can stop over for awhile. When I told my mama, regarding the discussion result with the tour operators, mama retorted the tour operators is considered very lucky already to use the river without any charge, they only has to invest on the equipment that will be used many time. The river they used is free yet they charge per-head close to RM200 now at least. Why not work together with the villager communities and avoid some friction near the future.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pink Curly Hair

 This month of June this orchid has been continuously blooming one by one and I find this orchid species very attractive with its curly pink hair and red stripe inside. I don't really know much about orchids, so I lack specific terms to name the parts of the orchids structures. I grew fond of this girl with pink curly hair. Any gardeners can help me identify this type of Orchid?
 This orchid leafy part of the plant look like this. They really like to cuddle onto tree trunks. This type of orchids plants adorned quite a few tree in our garden. I have been wondering how the orchids will look like since I came back last year and now around the garden one by one the flowers starts the bloom. It must have been something that triggers them to bloom, the weather or some kind of other switch mode. I have noticed the flower stalk appears before I went for my first trip to Sabah this year. It took a while before the flower bloom.
 Red ants seems to like wandering around the flower bloom and I wonder what attracts them.
I am tempted to cut some flower stalk and bring it inside.
 At my mother's place in Sabah state, this white orchid is currently blooming. Don't know which category of orchids it belongs to as well. This one is comfortably living high on the coconut trunk since I was still in secondary school. The picture above was taken earlier this month when we were in Kiulu while below photo was taken yesterday by my mother in full bloom.
 This orchid was taken deep in the forest by one of my son ex-babysitter sister. They live very faraway from the closest gravel main road, they had to walk at least 3 hours to the main gravel road. This orchids has a long blooming season. Not sure what is the name. Not the type to multiply quickly.
 Personally I don't think orchids take much space to grow in the tropics and they don't need to be grown in pots unless they participate beauty pageant. So many to choose from which does not need to be grown on soil in pots and can save money from spending to buy pots. It seems that orchid and coconut has a good relationship. Not only the orchids can live together on the coconut trunk but often the coconut husk is also used to grow them. You can even set the orchids to live/grow/bloom at your eye level so you don't need to strain your neck looking up in the hanging pot or look down in pots.
 The orchids can naturally grow by their own on a old wooden plank as well.
This crafty one seems to be making its home on an empty can.