Monday, January 31, 2011

White Radish

A gardening frenzy caught on me lately. I would sit in the office and day dream ambitiously (often after lunch!) about transforming my subfertile backyard into a lush, verdant patch of edible greens, fruit orchard and flowers oh glorious flowers everywhere!

As I'm new at gardening, needless to say that there will be many 'first time' plants I'm going to write about in this blog - at least for the next several posts. Like my sunflower and chili plants in my first two posts below, this was also my first time growing white radish.

Before I discuss my white radish planting experience, allow me to mention that I've also had my maiden attempt at growing carrots, last year. It was such a joyful experience and something I'd like to repeat again soon. My carrot post (mutated carrots to be exact!) is on my cooking blog. Click HERE if you wanna read about it. The flowers of carrot plants are just beautiful. If you haven't seen it before, do HOP OVER.

Okay, back to my white radish. As many already know, there are several variety of radish - varies by color, shape and sizes. The variety I've always eaten is the elongated white radish which is also commonly known as daikon. I did some reading on the web prior to planting them and most articles said that radishes are the easiest and fastest to grow - all of about 1 month from sowing to harvesting. I was excited at how fast I could reap the rewards. Seeing pictures on blogs and websites of the roots protruding a few centimetres above the soil truly intrigued me and that really added to my excitement. Infact, I've never seen a root plant that protrudes upwards like white radish does. I've also read that they grow so easily in containers, as long as the containers are deep enough.

So, with all the excitement and anticipation of what I could harvest in a month's time, I embarked by sowing four seeds from a packet of white radish seeds I had bought at the gardening section of Jaya Jusco mall. I sowed them in a paint bucket using black fertilised loose soil I had bought from a nearby nursery. And here is my experience (all of NOT in a month)...

Radish seedlings ~ about 1.5 weeks old
Young plants ~ about 3.5 weeks old

Looking promising! Radish leaves can be eaten, normally stir-fried. These are about 1.3 months old. I took a peep at the roots but there was no sign of radish at all during this stage. Hmmm... So I added some organic fertilizer again and let them be.

After about 2 months, the roots started to show. I was elated!! I curiously wondered how long they were growing beneath. "They must be quite huge" ~ I had thought to myself since the top parts protruded well.

I was looking forward to a huge pot of radish soup, boiled with pork ribs!! Slurppp!!

But that was not to be! I got duped!

Coz all I got was three teeny weeny 'dimensionally challenged' radishes after I dug them out. The ballpoint pen by the side gives you a gauge of their sizes. Nevertheless, it was quite a joyful experience along the way. I brought these home on my trip back to my hometown, bought another radish from the supermarket to add to these three cuties and in the soup pot they went. Although these were small in size but they were really sweet and delicious in taste.
I certainly plan to grow more real soon.

Growing these radishes took me about 2.5 months from seed sowing to harvesting - unlike what the articles and information on the seed packet said. But it's okay, the process and experience are quite fun.

I've bought another packet of seeds (different brand) and have sowed 3 seeds which sprouted. Hoping that these future radishes will give me larger yields.

Till then, happy planting!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tiny But Mighty

I've always wanted to grow my own chilies and finally since moving into my new house a year ago, I'm able to do it. It seems that chili plant can be really fussy. Or easy. I figured its mood swings are pretty much dependent on the type of soil, weather and pest-free environment. And of course, with a huge dose of luck on your side, your chili plant will surely grow and thrive.

I have two bird's eye chili plants currently growing in my messy backyard. Few months ago I scattered some seeds on a small corner patch in my backyard and two sprouts survived and grew. I was pleasantly surprised! Despite the fact that my backyard is somewhat of a 'wild country' with all sorts of pesky and gigantic ants, snails, bugs, caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles etc - basically the whole 'insectdom' - I'm lucky that my chili plants are still doing rather well so far. They aren't tall, just a mere 2 feet perhaps. I'm not complaining though, as they've produce so many luscious red little chilies for me. These chilies are quite hot and I love seeing them turning colors. When they're bright red, they're most pretty and cute (as long as you don't bite into one)!

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Chili plants are able to grown on clay soil, need adequate watering like twice a day during dry season. To be honest, I hardly water my chili plants. I just let them be and thankfully, they've been surviving rather fine. I do scatter a tablespoon of organic fertiliser (chicken pooh) once every few weeks.

Interesting facts:
What makes chili hot? The answer is capsaicin - an alkaloid substance which is present in chili seeds and membrane.
How did chili became global? Was used in Mexico as early as 7,000 BC. It reached the rest of the world when Christopher Columbus discovered America (this was what I got from the Internet, but seriously, I think it has already been used in parts of Asia much earlier than that).

Given how much I love my chilies, think I'll sow some more seeds real soon :).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sunny Side Up!

Hi, welcome to my garden blog!

This is my first post and I've decided that it should be a bright, sunny, cheerful one to kick this blog rolling. So here are, my sunflowers!

Sunflowers and I have had great chemistry thus far. The idea of growing sunflowers struck one day while visiting my sister and tailing her making a quick stop at her sister-in-law's house nearby. There in the garden were a few 4 to 5 feet tall sunflower plants, with a bloom or two that were drying out. My sister gave me those blooms and I sun-dried them further so that the seeds do not develop any form of mildew. Once completely dried up, the seeds can be easily picked out. Store in a small sealed plastic bag placed in a dry cool are. In humid countries like Malaysia, I was told that storing seeds in the refrigerator can ensure the seeds' usability for years to come.

The above were my first 2 sunflower plants which successfully sprouted and grew to about 4 feet tall. The first bloom was huge, bright and pretty. However, the second bloom below failed to develop fully.

This plant below was sowed in my teeny weeny tiny ground patch at my porch. It grew to about only 2.5 feet tall and this bloom was much smaller than the above blooms in my backyard.

I'm now waiting for another plant in my front porch to bloom. A flower bud is forming well and till my next post on my joy with sunflowers, I shall share more.