Saturday, May 11, 2013

Roselle Harvest, Seed Collection & Juice


These are the prolific harvest (at different times) from a single and thriving roselle plant of mine. The other 3 plants which I planted around the same time are not producing even quarter as many roselles as this thriving plant did. The pictures of the harvest below comprised about 75% of the total amount of roselles from this single plant. For this cultivar (there is one other cultivar which is dark maroon and is more fleshy and with curvy long tip petals), please wear a glove when harvesting as there are tiny fury thorns at the base which can get under your skin and annoy you. I was too lazy to make these into jam, which could yield me a few small glass jars, so I basically used all of these for juice. I'm so glad that everyone in my family of 20 plus people got to enjoy my roselles.




To make roselle juice, peel the petals or calyx. These are what we're going to use.

 

Below are the seed pods after peeling off the petals. To collect seeds, choose brownish pods and leave them to dry completely. 


 When fully dried, the pods will easily pop open, giving you many roselle seeds to plant.


Last but not least, to make roselle juice, use a handful of the petals/calyx and boil them in a pot of water for 10-15 minutes. Estimate is one cup of petals to 3-4 cups of water. Add white or brown sugar at your desired amount. Without sugar, it is sour. With sugar it should be sweet sour, just like any berry drink. So do not add too much sugar. Let it cool down and refrigerate. Serve with ice cubes. The soft petals are nice to be eaten. Roselle juice is known to be high in Vitamin C, really delicious and is a great thirst quencher!



Happy gardening!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Roselle Bush


This one particular roselle plant of mine has grown too heavy and the stake couldn't support it anymore. I had to fill a bucket of heavy clay soil to hold it up.

 


It has also grown very large, tall and bushy, leaning towards my passion fruit trellis and blocking the narrow walkway.



This view below is from the other side of the blocked walkway. The lush green leaves in the black old water tank are sweet potato plants. Hopefully lots of tubers are growing inside.

 


With so much rain pounding the earth lately, the soil got too damp and soft and the whole plant toppled over. Harvested lots of rosellas and will post them up next day.


Have a great gardening week! Cheers!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Growing Roselle/Rosella



Roselle or rosella has been making a rousing come back lately. It was a popular household plant in the 70s and 80s. I remember during my childhood days, there was a house near to the seaside which has a couple of roselle plants growing in its garden. Each time I tagged along my Mom to her friend's place, we had to walk pass this house and we would stop for a few seconds to admire the many dark red buds on the stem. My Mom told me it was ribena. Apparently, it is, till today, conveniently referred to as ribena. However, roselle and the store bought ribena syrup are two different things although similar in taste. Roselle is in actual fact, a wild hibiscus cultivar. 




It is easy to grow from seeds. I currently have 4 plants all grown from seeds. The first germinated seed has grown into a really bushy plant and is now producing more than a hundred roselle fruits/buds.The other 3 plants are scrawny but still producing roselle fruits, although lesser in number.

The ideal growing condition for roselle is warm and ample of sunlight. Sow a seed and lightly water it once a day. It will germinate within a few days. When the plant was about a foot in height, I fed it with some fertiliser once every 3 weeks. Stop fertilising once it starts to bear fruit buds. Do not over fertilize as roselle can still grow well in not-so-fertile soil. 

The plant can grow to a height of more than 7 feet tall and send branches out to 3-4 feet wide. The plant can get rather bushy but do not prune it as fruits will grow all along the stem right to the tip of each branch. Tiny buds that appear will first bloom into flowers somewhere along its mid-life cycle before forming the fruits. Each fruit is made up of conjoined calyces with pointed tips which enclose inside it, a pod that contains many black seeds when mature. The calyces can be used for making jam and drinks that is rich in vitamin C. 

A single large plant can yield many many many roselle fruits, could even be enough to yield a few small bottles of jam. Roselle drink itself is already delicious and is a great thirst quencher on a warm day!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Growing Passion Fruit


This is my passion fruit plant in September last year.

 

Here it is around a month ago 



Due to the hard clay soil at my backyard, I decided to grow it in a large rectangular polystyrene pot, with the base cut off. For the next 2.5 months, the vines grew and multiplied quite aggressively with no sign of flowers. I applied some fruiting fertiliser and in its third month, and 3 weeks later, countless number of flowers started to bloom. I was elated!!



I learned from this You Tube video below on how to hand pollinate the flowers if there is an absence of buzzing bees.  Use a small brush or your fingers. The flowers usually bloom only in the afternoon till late evening for a day only, so if you missed this one day chance, you'll missed pollinating it. Good news is, once it flowers, it will normally produce many continuously for 2 weeks or so.




Fruits start to form within the next few days at successful pollination. Within a few weeks, the shiny apple green fruit will grow in size.






However, sadly some suddenly stopped growing and shriveled. About 20 of them!! I have no idea why!!  What a waste!!!

 


So I removed them and in the compost they went. 



Anyway, I'm utterly delighted that the rest, almost 30+ fruits, continue to grow and glisten under the sunshine! <wide happy grin>



Fruit flies and ants started to attack a few of the fruits as I noticed holes on them and so I wrapped each fruit with expandable foam wrapper I collected from a fruit vendor.


It takes almost 3 mths from fruit formation right up to ripening when the color of the fruit turns maroon-ish. Once ripened, the fruit will fall off by itself, or they can be also be harvested by hand with a kitchen scissors.

 



Here's my third and most recent harvest. I made them into juice for my family at our Chinese New Year dinner at home. Yummy!!



Some growing points and observations:

Soil - needs fertile soil, best mixed with compost, soil should not be water-logged.

Fertiliser - i used nitrogen rich chicken and goat manure during the early stages of growing, and in the 3rd month, i applied fruiting fertiliser.

Weather - needs warm sunny weather. best to plant it in the east side where morning sun shines.

Diseases - the plant has strong resistance to common diseases. watch out for fruit flies and ants trying to penetrate the fruit.


 Happy gardening!!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Rainy Season - Best Time For Kangkung!


Most of my veggie seeds rotted away in vain due to the rain. The rainy season has persisted for over a month now and this has been dampening seed germination.

So, I decided to grow kangkung instead. Bought a bunch of kangkung with roots. I cooked the leafy and young stem part in a delicious stir-fry and planted the roots.

It's all very easy. Leave about 2 inches of stem from above the roots, trim the roots if they're too long.

Then, plant each stem 2 inches apart. Kangkung needs lots and lots and lots of water and the rainy season did all the work.

I stuck these into the soil on 27 September.



This was on 17 November



And this was taken today, 30 November. Ready for a stir-fry in the wok very very soon! :)



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Self-volunteer Red Leaf Amaranth (Bayam Merah)


These nutritious veggies, red amaranth or also known as Chinese or Asian spinach and bayam in Malaysia, are very easy to grow. The seeds volunteer themselves wherever they land, thanks to birds, wind and rain, that spread them all over my backyard. I had 2 mature tall plants last few months which produced many mini foxtail-like flowers with hundreds of tiny black seeds lodged inside. Red amaranth has been growing here and there and everywhere in and around my plant pots at the front and back of my house for a year now. From time to time, sprouts emerged when I overturned the soil in the pots. The plants do very well in full sun and can grow in any soil condition and they grow fast. If you don't have the seeds to start with, just buy a bunch of this veggie from the market with roots. Plant the roots with 3 inches of stem above the root level, water and watch it grow. From here, you can let the plant mature for seed collection.


Cooked amaranth leaves are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate; they are also a complementing source of other vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin, plus some dietary minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. (source: wikipedia)


Here are some of the 'volunteer' red amaranth vegetable growing in my backyard.









Hundreds of tiny black seeds are lodged inside these mini foxtail-like flowers. Allow one or two plants like this go to wilt and the seeds will give you continuous batch of these veggies.



A bunch which I harvested for stir fry.




Thursday, September 27, 2012

Growing Chives (Koo Chye)


These are my chives, locally known as koo chye, grown in a polystyrene container transplanted since February this year. I started planting them when my neighbor back in my hometown, Melaka, dug out a few of her plants and gave them to me. I was hesitant and advised her against digging them out and I told her to just save some seeds for me. A generous lady with a green thumb and who grows beautiful orchids, she assured me that the plants will survive and the remaining few in her pots will not die even though the roots got disturbed. Well, she was absolutely right and not only did they survive but they kept growing and growing and growing. Chive is a really wonderful cut and grow again herb. Snip some off today and you'll find new shoots growing a few days later. However, according to my sister, the seeds seem to take a long time to germinate. Guess I'm lucky that I did not have to wait! But I guess it's still worth the wait because once the seeds germinate and the plants got established, you can be sure to have an endless supply of these herbs for years to come. I've not sowed any seeds but I've collected hundreds of them. My plants have flowered several times and often, profusely. The blooms consist of tiny white flowers that become seeds when they dry off. From my observation, it seems that chives can grown even in clay soil like my neighbor's plants. Mine are grown in soil for growing vegetable that I purchased in a nearby nursery here. I gave them an occasional feed of organic humus.


Here are my chives in a polystyrene container since February this year



Lots of flowers and seeds



The green pods are newly formed seeds, which will dry off and turn black 
when ready to be picked and stored, or sowed



A flower bud about to unfurl. The whole flower bud stem is tender and 
can be eaten but once the bud starts to open and bloom fully, 
the stem becomes woody



A couple of months ago, my backyard went through a landscape change and I decided to create a low raised bed for vegetables instead of growing them in containers because some garden creepy crawlies seem to love resting under the container and I'm trying to not give them many 'homes' to rest in my garden. So, two weeks ago I dug out each clump and below shows the root system of chives. With a garden shears, I snipped off most of the roots, leaving only about an inch and replanted them on the veggie bed. Few days later, some leaves had turned yellow and I snipped off all my chives as I figured the roots needed some time to re-energize. I had to sacrifice the flowers and young seeds but a collection of flower stems make a really pretty mini bouquet. So, all was not lost.


The root system. Chives can be grown closely together as they like to group up.



Transplanted onto the veggie bed



A delicate and pretty bouquet and seeds




Here they are growing again few days after snipping



Fast grower - here they are two weeks after snipping



Happy gardening!