Monday, June 30, 2008

My Papaya Seeds are Sprouting!


I am so excited! I am getting more and more confident about gardening. My spirit is really high now and I am full of motivation.

Because today I saw another successful attempt at growing trees. After learning here and there about planting papayas, I finally sow some seeds from a delicious ripe fruit and today I see some sprouts coming out from the pot! Yaaay...!

But my question now is, is that really papaya sprouting...?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Exercise

Late this afternoon, I was feeling a little lethargic. I supposed I spent too much time in front of my PC, and suddenly I felt like doing some workout. That's good, coz my last exercise was last week at yoga, and I missed my line dancing class again this week.

Initially I wanted to walk around the neighbourhood, then I remembered the bicycle! So I took the bicycle out and started cycling. It was nice and breezy, and I was enjoying the ride until halfway up the hill, when I started panting. Wow, I didn't realise that cycling is quite a task! I just had to stop, my lung felt like its ready to burst and my leg muscle is feeling some pain. I was contemplating to turn back and go downhill again. It wasn't even that steep. Somehow, pride won't let me turn back, so I forced myself to continue upward until I turn downhill at the left junction. Then the ride levelled off and uphill again to my house.

Once I reached home, I was really exhausted. I didn't realise that bicycling could be so draining. I immediately set the bike aside and rest before keeping it, when I realised, that I have been cycling on one flat tyre! Urghh.....no wonder! I wonder if anyone noticed....

Ok, that's my 'adventure' for today. Now, previously I mentioned the two plants that I had successfully planted and 'live' and I discovered that I had 'green thumb' afterall. I still don't know the names, but here are the pictures!









As for the third picture, just ignore it for now. That's just a futile attempt to save a broken branch from my new 'weeping willow' tree in the fourth pix, so I just stick the branch at my empty herbal garden half hoping that it will grow just like the two 'successful' plants earlier, which I cut and sticked to the ground....hahaha!









Actually I doubt the name of the tree is 'Weeping Willow', as the man at the nursery called it, because I happen to have another 2 trees infront by that name and it was different. I will take some shots later and compare these two.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Planting Papayas

Yes, I've started to plant a fruit tree from a nursery for the first time, and its Papaya!

Papayas are found to be an anti-ageing fruit, as one article remarked which I uploaded in my blog on Beautiful Skin. Therefore I am making a point to have a few servings weekly of this wonderful fruit. Apart from being juicy and tasty, it is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant great for the skin.



So, after enjoying a slice of delicious 'solo papaya', a small sized species about the size of an Indian Mango, I saved some of the seeds, and try to follow the instructions I copied from a website on how to plant a papaya from seed. Fellow friend blogger, Jaflam also gave some similiar tips, but this one include a comprehensive step by step instruction for those who are actually interested to plant it too.

Ok, don't laugh at my nusery pot, as I ran out of nursery bags. My papaya seed is planted in this recycled flower pot.


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Growing Papayas
Source: ARC of Tropical and Sub-tropical Crops, South Africa

The fruit of papayas is high in vitamin C. You can also pick the fruit when it is green and cook it like a marrow.

Female and male flowers do not grow on the same tree, so you must have male and female trees in the garden.

Climate
Papayas grow best in hot areas.
They can tolerate mild frost if they are protected from cold winds.
Soil requirements
They can grow in most kinds of soil, but it must be well drained.
The roots can get diseases if the soil stays too wet.
Loamy soils are best.
Planting date. Papayas can be planted at any time of the year, but preferably in late summer.

Spacing
Plant papayas 1,5 metres between plants and
3 to 4 metres between rows.

Growing papayas from seeds
It is easy to grow the ordinary papaya tree from seed.

Wash the seeds from a ripe papaya.
Squeeze the seeds from the jelly bag that covers each seed. The seeds will only grow if you remove the bag.
Dry them in a shady place.
Store in a tightly closed container and keep them until December.
Plant the seeds in December. Put 5 seeds to a hole. Do not put any compost or manure into the holes.
Keep the small plants moist.
You can only tell which trees are female and which are male when the trees start to flower. Therefore, you should always have more than one tree per hole, because then you can select the female trees.

Female flowers
bigger, closer to the branch than the male flowers

Male flowers
very small, there are many flowers which grow on long branches of the stem.

Only female trees give fruit but they need male flowers to pollinate them. Leave 1 male tree for 10 female trees.

Planting
Dig a hole about twice the size of the bag in which the young tree is growing.
Remove the soil from the hole and add some compost and manure. Mix this with some of the soil that has been dug out.
Take the plant out of the container. If it is a plastic container you just cut it open at the side.
Do not disturb the roots.
Place the tree in the centre of the hole. When you fill up the hole hold the tree so that its base is level with the surrounding ground.

Raise the soil around the tree to dam the water (rain or irrigation).
Do not plant the tree deeper than it was in the container.
Do not cover the stem with soil because it will rot.

Water
Papayas need little water.
They will, however, give more and bigger fruit if they are watered every 2 weeks in the dry season. The flowers will drop if they do not get enough water.
If they are planted in clay soils, make sure that the soil does not stay too wet.
To avoid waterlogging in clay soil, make a ridge and plant the papayas on the ridge.

Fertilisation
Compost or manure
Give the tree:
1 bucketful in September,
1 bucketful in November
another bucketful in January.
Sprinkle a few handfuls of manure evenly around the tree each month from September to the end of March.
NB: Do not apply chicken manure on trees younger than 2 years as it can burn the young papaya trees.

Artificial fertiliser
Give the trees 4 tablespoonfuls (115 g) of 2:3:2 in September, November and January.
Sprinkle evenly around the tree, not against the stem.
Keep the trees mulched all the time (use grass, leaves, etc).
Do not grow other plants next to the trunk because it is quite soft. If the trunk is damaged the papaya tree can get diseases.
If the fruit shows humps the tree may be short of boron. Sprinkle 2 tablespoonfuls of borax around the tree.

Pruning and thinning
You can cut the tree (remove top) so that it does not grow too tall. This encourages branching. Cut into winter wood, where leaf scars are close together. Paint the cut with a sealant.

Harvesting
You can pick the fruit when the skin starts to become yellow.
The fruit will ripen after you have picked it.
Handle it carefully because it gets bruised easily.

Diseases
Papaya trees easily get black leafspot. Your nearest extension officer or cooperative will be able to tell you how to treat this disease.

Okie, good luck!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm Counting My Blessings

As I stroll around my garden, looking at the grass for any signs of weeds, and once in a while I will find one or two hidden among the greens and I pick them out to the roots. At the same time, I am thanking God while recalling my earlier incident today and a couple of incident a few days ago.

Only two weeks ago, I witnessed an accident happened right before my eyes on the opposite lane. A small lorry hit the road divider on the opposite side of the road so hard that broken glass splinters hit my windscreen. I 'escaped' a head collision and saved only by the road divider. I was a bit shaken by the incident.

Three days ago, I would say I was a bit careless. I was driving along a narrow winding road when I saw an oncoming car driving quite fast and seemed to take up my side of the road. In order to avoid it (head-on), I swerved a little to my left side and unfortunately hit the the roadside cement block. I broke my left running board in the process. The car service center couldn't believe how an aluminiun cast board can be broken. I'd liked to blame the incident for not having my morning coffee earlier, so while waiting for them to dismantle the boards I had two servings of cafe mocha from the coffee dispenser.

Today, as I was heading home at about 3 pm, there was a heavy rain. I had to slow down the car due to poor vision. And good thing I did because right in front of me, a medium sized tree about 20 feet tall fell off uprooted and hit the road. I managed to brake in time, and ended up just hitting the tree branches and got away with a very minor dent on my bonet. Thank god I did not hit the tree trunk or run into the fallen tree. This time I knew I was not careless, in fact, I managed to avoid being crushed under the tree had I driven a few kilometers faster.

My initial reaction was, why? Why? Why is all these happenings suddenly took place in my life? These seldom happen before. The last 'serious' accident I had was years ago when a car hit me from the back. Suddenly these road mishaps happens in matters of days. Is this just a coincidence, or a 'reminder' for me to be more cautious on the road, I don't know. I'm not sure if I want to drive again after this. But I surely thank God and count my blessings for all these narrow escapes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Herbal Garden

I had always find gardening a bit intimidating and that everyone else can grow a tree or plant except me. I believed that I do not have the green thumb. When I was a kid, I used to watch my mother work around her orchids and she even tend a small orchard of rambutans, guava, and some other smaller plants like ferns, roses and cactus around the house. Somehow, I did not inherit that interest. I did climb a lot of trees, though.

Ok, actually I have a confession to make. I hate dirt or soil, and I am scared of worms. The sight of worms makes me squirm... like a worm! That's why I always stay away from gardening. I actually love to plant trees. Clean ones, like an indoor plant. During my student days, I bought some potted plants at the supermarket and buy a stick-like fertilisers that you can just stick in the pot. Water them once or twice a week, and they grow beautifully. Easy. And that's about as close I come to gardening, then. After that I let other people to do it as they please around the house.

But recently I just have the urge to plant some trees. So I started with the easy one. The name, don't ask me (yet). There's this one plant that if you just cut the top where the stalk is brown enough you can just stick it in the ground and it'll just grow easily. That's my first successful attempt, so far. Then I tried another species like a bamboo types, and it worked too! I got motivated! Hey, I did have a green thumb after all, and I don't even have to paint it green...

Now its time to work on my herbal garden, which I dreamt for about some time but never got the urge to start before this. I wanted to have it so much because I want to have all my kitchen and cooking needs handy and fresh whenever I need them. I am tired of finding dried twigs of lemon grass in the refrigerator and had to throw it away, and the next day when I need to use it, there's none left. Urrrgghhh...

My current 'collection' includes pandan, lemon grass, chilies, tumeric, lengkuas, milk thistle, curry and kasturi, among others. All the basic kitchen needs. Next batch would also include some fruits and vegetables and some plants of medicinal values. I still have about 20 more plants listed to be planted. Right now the garden is still so bare, but I am working on it. I'm taking my own sweet time, though. Well you need to enjoy what you're doing rather than rushing it.

I have in preparation a pair of working gloves, an almost full set of garden tools and a big straw hat. So, gardening, here I come..!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Art of Love

A very nice and unique artist's potrayal of love with the use of sand as her medium.

video

Monday, June 2, 2008

Minty,...Someone wants to date you.

History can repeat itself. And sometimes at the most funny twist. But I won't comment on that now.

Just want to brief Minty of 'her' potential life partner. He's a very nice guy, creative and fun. Has very good writing skill and sensible sense of humour. Very knowleable and good command of language. He loves music, and I've seen you stopping by the piano everytime I'm at it, so I know you two can get along.

He's dying to meet you, so I need to arrange a suitable time for you to be together. I'm sure you'll like him. His name is Shah Cakapaje.

But I suppose you can only meet him online. Maybe we can set up a virtual Janda Baik settings and a juicy sate samuri for you to enjoy. He also want to rent your apartment, so I may need to take a shot and upload it in the cyberspace so he can drop by anytime he wants. I'm sure you'll enjoy this visits. Hehehe

As for my friend Shah, Minty is a actually a 'boy', but once I get a gal for him, and he gets an offspring that's a gal, I'll arrange for you to meet. Her name would probably be Honeybun.