Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Edible plants’ Category

Meyer Lemon

20160103_081246sApparently the Meyer lemon is the lemon of choice for many. I once bought what I thought were Meyers but they weren’t. What a letdown; especially when the bag was misleadingly tagged as such.

I continued to keep a lookout for them, but could only find regular ones.

Fast forward a few years ….

I was in Vegas a few weeks ago when I was told that my cousin had a lemon tree. You can pretty much guess the exchange that took place …

20160102_124213_s“Are there lemons on the tree? May I pick a few?” My cousin assured me I could but said they were not 100% lemon. “They’re a cross between a lemon and an orange,” he said.

Ding! … Ding!

I’m not a casino-goer but this must be how it feels to hit the jackpot. My cousin had the Meyer lemon!

I arrived at my cousin’s to see the Meyer. It looked like a massive cocoon, covered to protect the tender tree from the frost. “We’ve already picked most of the lemons but there are some left,” he said.

I peeled the covers off the swaddled tree. It seemed almost as momentous as the unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

20160102_132926bI gawked at the big juicy baubles before swaddling the tree once again for the night. I’d have a better look the next morning.

If the lemons had been enticing the day before, they were even more irresistible the next morning. My cousin handed me a pair of secateurs and I selected and cut a number of lemons and cuttings. Oh, joy, joy!

20160103_081246_b

So, how do the lemons compare? I find the Meyer lemon from my cousin’s tree bigger, juicier and less acidic than regular lemons. And while I always struggle to squeeze the juice from a lemon, I had no trouble at all with the Meyer lemon.

Would I grow a Meyer lemon tree? If I could, yes, without a doubt.

.

Care and propagation: Morning sun, well-drained soil, water regularly. Best grafted, it is possible to propagate using seeds or cuttings

20160203_061506b

Meyer lemon on the left, regular lemon on the right

page1

page2

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 

20151122_112142sI’ve never given much thought to the black jelly drink the locals call ‘xian chao’ or ‘cincau’ – up until recently anyway. That was when I discovered that it originates from a plant; … which is, I now realise, why some people call it ‘grass jelly’!

My interest was piqued when I found out that there was also a green grass jelly. A friend who was given a bunch of Cyclea Barbata leaves, lost no time in making some green jelly.

“Was it good?” I asked.

He was hesitated for a split second. “Tasted of chlorophyll,” he said. “… and it was a murky green,” obviously not overly impressed either by its taste or appearance.

800px-GrassJellyBlocks

Image taken from wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass_jelly#

 Yet when the chance came for me to get a plant, I didn’t need to think twice. Mine, however, is the Platostoma palustre which yields the black jelly.

20151122_112450s The plant has been growing well in its pot and appears to be fuss-free – so far at least.

I hope it won’t be long before I start harvesting some Platostoma palustre leaves for the kitchen. For now, the plan is for the plant to grow a bit more since more leaves mean more jelly.

In the meantime I’m reading up on the plant, as well as on the preparation of the jelly. Something tells me that it’s going to be fun experimenting with all the possibilities!

Care and propagation: Full sun, garden soil, water moderately. Propagate using cuttings or seeds.

20151122_112057b

the Platostoma Palustre when I first got it

Read Full Post »

20140806_183145sMore minty than peppermint and spearmint, the Menthe Arvensis is an instant breath-freshener. All my friends who sampled the leaves hesitantly were amazed at how minty it really is.

The Menthe Arvensis has the trademark square stem which is characteristic of the mint family, and small, nondescript white flowers.IMG_9412s

It grows easily and spreads through its network of roots. 20140824_104622sWhile mints have a reputation for being invasive but mine is nowhere as invasive as I’d like it to be.

I thought I’d lost the Menthe Arvensis on more than one occasion but this trouper bounced back each time. I’d cover the bare stems with more soil and wait for them to spring up again. They’ve never failed me before, but I  should try to make more use of it while I can.

I’ve used it as a garnish and will probably brew some mint tea next. But, what else? Someone said she used it to flavour her chocolate mint cake. Tempting indeed. I wonder if I dare …

Care and propagation: Partial sun to full sun, humus rich soil, water generously. Propagate using runners or cuttings.

20140824_104455b

20140824_104449b

Read Full Post »

20150531_173124sGarlic chives can go into just about anything … omelette, pancakes, fritters, soups … And what’s great about this versatile herb is that it keeps coming back so you have a constant supply. I’ve been enjoying my chives for many years now, nipping out to snip them whenever I felt like adding some to a dish.

So in my list of ‘Got-to-have herbs’, I had confidently ticked off this herb.

20140603_154659s

what I saw up in the highlands

Then on one of my trips to the highlands, I saw the broadleaf flowering Chinese chives which I was told yielded garlic chive buds popular in stir-fries. My eyes widened at the information, I had thought the chives I had produced these chive buds … no wonder mine were a poor shadow of those I find in the market.

I couldn’t ask my host for a plant as it was a recent acquisition, so I mentally added the herb to my wishlist.

20150531_173047sThen quite recently, I saw it for sale at a floral fest. There were only two pots so I grabbed one and persuaded my aunt to get the other.

20150829_082000s

regular and broadleaf juxtaposed

The broadleaf chives which have settled in next to the regular chives, put their more common cousin in the shade.

It surpasses the regular chives in terms of size with leaves about 4 times wider, and its plump buds are definitely bigger too.

What about taste?

It’s said that the leaves can be used in the same way as regular garlic chives but I’ve yet to try them. But it’s about time I did. After all, the more I harvest them, the more they’re supposed to grow.

Hopefully that means I will not have to wait too long for a plate of stir-fried homegrown garlic chive buds.

 

Care and propagation: Full sun; regular garden soil; water normally. Propagate by division.

page3

20150531_173303b

20150829_082111b

Read Full Post »

20150501_100106s2‘The seeds fell on rocky places… and sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow,’ … so it goes in the parable.

Which was precisely what happened to the neighbour’s Basella seeds; these dropped into cracks on our side of the wall and quickly took root in the shallow soil.

The fleshy Basella leaves make a good soup so we nurtured the
plants as best we could. Before the plants faded away, they 20150524_092202sproduced plump purple berries which we planted in compost-rich medium.

The seeds responded to the more favourable conditions and germinated readily. They grew upwards, and twined all over the neighbouring plants.


20150524_092407bI rigged up a simple support using stakes and a nylon garden trellis, untangled the mess and trained the purplish Basella vines. The Basella now grows in some semblance of order and yields enough for a pot of soup every fortnight.

A common vegetable in tropical Asia, the Basella thrives with minimal care in the backyard and grows easily either from stems or from seed.20150509_082821_s

But despite feeding them regularly with fertilisers, our Basella can’t hold a candle to those sold in the market. The latter are such whoppers I suspect they’re on steroids. Sour grapes? Sigh … I guess you could say that.

 

Care and propagation: Partial shade to full sun, humus rich garden soil; water generously. Plant using seeds or stem cuttings.

 

20150501_100216b

20150524_092500b

 

Read Full Post »

20150330_091234sAren’t berries supposed to be plump, juicy and inviting?

Most are, but not the white shahtoot. What I have looked more like big anaemic caterpillars. However, instead of being gobblers, these end up being gobbled by others. Squirrels, birds and ants compete with me for the shahtoot and more often than not, I end up being the loser.20150307_081755s

The shahtoots are nectar-sweet and are not as widely grown or as prolific as the regular morus alba. So I’m not about to concede without a fight. I’ve resorted to tying a double layer of netting around the white shahtoot; anything to deter my competition.

20140916_180101s Is it working?

So far neither the squirrels nor the birds have spotted the berries. Once the squirrels do, they’d gnaw right through the netting and the berries wouldn’t stand a chance. Neither would I … so I’d better enjoy them while I can.

.

Care and propagation: Full sun, water moderately, most soils. Propagate by using cuttings (I’ve not succeeded yet) or by grafting   20150322_180802b 20150328_083443b 20140921_111354b

Read Full Post »

20141006_094527sThey are like hundreds of purple bubblegum balls clustered on a stem, only much smaller, and exactly the same colour as the grape-flavoured gum balls I had loved and bought from the school canteen.20140901_080240s

The berries were every bit as inviting as the gum balls but I had to find out if they were edible or toxic before I planted it. I was more than a little suspicious of the enticing, vivid berries.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Callicarpa berries are edible – at least that’s what Google Search and a TV documentary told me.

I finally bought the plant a couple of months ago and couldn’t wait to do a taste test. Would be as delicious as it looked? I picked a small purple sphere and popped it into my mouth.

The verdict? It was dismally flat and insipid. Tastewise, it would never make it to the hall of fame.

20140918_072336-horz

20140920_123502sBut hey, it’s totally off the charts in the looks department. What it lacks in taste, the Callicarpa makes up for it through its aesthetically pleasing berries. Whoever gave the plant its common name chose that name well.

But there is more to the Callicarpa than its gorgeous berries. Even the buds and flowers appeal visually. Neat clusters
of pinhead grey-green buds blush slightly before revealing a delicate froth of pink flowers.

The Callicarpa has bloomed more than a few times so I had expected more berries. But strangely, these have not been forthcoming. Apparently, fruiting is a lot easier when a few shrubs are grown together and there’s cross-pollination.

20140913_170313-horz

So it looks as though I need to get another plant … or two. In the meantime, I’ll get a brush ready and give Nature a helping hand. Who knows, that may just work.

Care and propagation: Full sun, partial shade; well-drained, moist soil; water moderately. Propagate using cuttings or seeds.

20140913_170259b

20140920_123302b

20140920_122909

20140927_090910b

20141006_094705

20140920_123050b

20140919_174853b

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »