Archive for January, 2012

Planting Rice

(I hope rice farmers will excuse the ramblings of this over-enthusiastic gardener)

82 grains of rice. What can one do with them?

It’d probably make a great meal … for a bird.

I had found a grain of rice germinating in one of my rose pots; part of the fertilizer mix of grain, husk and crushed shellfish.

I transferred it into a pot and placed that in a nymphaea tub. Then I found a couple more.

“Are you growing weeds?… looks like lalang,” someone remarked.

“Weeds??” I protested. I had visions of a patchwork of rice fields.

the dud

But the first plant turned out to be a dud with grains that looked nothing like rice. It didn’t look like any grain I was familiar with.

The next two plants made it all worthwhile when they formed grains of rice; a translucent green sheathe protected each pearly grain. I counted seventy-four on one plant and eight on the other.

The initially upright stalks started to become pendulous under the weight of the grains. The grains grew in length and changed gradually from green to gold.

Then an aunt dropped in for a visit.

She had hardly walked past the gate when she asked, “Do you know how I can grow some rice? I just saw a documentary and would like to try … just for fun,” she added.

When I told her about the grains on my rice plants, she thought I was joking.

It was a strange but timely coincidence.

Within the next couple of days, ripened grains dropped readily when I touched them.

I planted 18 grains in a pot for my aunt, and 20 in another pot a few days later.

Most of the remaining grains have either dropped into the water and into the mouths of hungry fish or have been pecked off by birds.

Well, at least they made a good meal for some, if not for me.

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Here’s something round, lush and green to usher in the New Year!

No, it’s not the tang-yuen or glutinous rice balls which the Chinese eat on the first day of the winter solstice. Nor is it the mochi, despite its Japanese name.

The Marimo was a Christmas gift from my sis. But how she guessed I wanted a Marimo I don’t know, but there it was; a velvety green ball submerged in a beribboned glass jar, and it was mine.

The Marimo literally means seaweed ball. When friends found out that I was planning to get more, they were taken aback. “But what’s the big deal? It’s just algae!”

The Cladophora ball may be just be algae to some, but it’s nothing short of an icon in Hokkaido, Japan. The Marimo has legions of fans, and I’m one of them.

I’ve changed the housing for Noel, my Marimo, four times in the last 5 days. I’m quite satisfied with the setup for now and I think Bauble is, too.

I devoured the write-up about Marimo care that my sis had included with the gift. Then I went online to find out more.

Here’s what I learnt. The Marimo likes …
– cool water; leave it in the fridge for a day once a week
– bright or shaded light; away from direct sunlight
– minerals in the water
– weekly water change
– weekly cleaning by rubbing off dirt and gently squeezing any dirty water from within
– to be kept away from greedy predators

 Some interesting things I noted:
– apparently Marimo babies form and eventually break away from the mother
– the Marimo grows very slowly at a rate of 5mm a year
– Marimo balls have been known to grow up to 12 inches in diameter
– putting some crystals in the water can speed up Marimo growth
– the Marimo dies from within
– there are fake ones in the market which are essentially algae padded round cotton or Styrofoam balls

Today, I got another Marimo to keep Noel company. Here’s Nova; which is means ‘new’ in Latin. May the New Year abound with blessings and glad tidings.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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