Saturday, April 30, 2011

The War in the Garden ...

.. against the birds and insects :-)

We have a number of fruit trees in the garden. Some are still maturing but others are already fruiting. Each morning, it is a battle to get to the fruits first before the birds - like our mulberry and our figs. For the mulberry, it is quite difficult and we have to make sure we picked the fruits as they ripen as once ripened, the fruits do not stay long on the tree - the birds get to them fast. Our figs are different - they ripen over about 3 days. The birds start eating the fruits as soon as they are edible but we need them to be as ripe as possible to get the maximum sweetness. We tried covering with the soft net used for orchid sheds but it cuts down the sunlight too much, stunting growth. 

TK's sister told us of a fruit net available in Australia. As far as we are aware, we have not been able to get such nets in Kuching. When TK went to Melbourne in March, he carted back two such nets and we put one around our fig tree.

Well, the net is doing it's job. The birds cannot get in and we can let the figs ripened properly. We have already harvested a number of the naturally-ripened figs and they are PERFECT!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Most Unwelcome Visitor ....

... to our garden and the strange mysteries of the disappearance of our five cats over the last year or so may have been solved!

On Friday, TK got up early and went to the shed at the back of our garden to get some gardening tools. The grey striped cat was there at the back of the garden. He then looked for the calico that we kept in the cage at the back garden. This calico was 5 months old and from my sister-in-law's mother. We just got it about 3 weeks ago and it was just getting used to us and our garden. TK could not see the calico cat in the cage and then, to his horror, saw this ......

....... a 2-m long reticulated python!

Obviously, the python had eaten our calico cat - judging from the bulge in the middle section of the snake. TK then called all of us (my niece, mum, her maid and I) to look at the snake. My two nephews and sister-in-law also joined us. Looks like the python squeezed through the wire netting, ate the cat but got trapped inside as, with the meal of a cat inside, it cannot leave the cage!


I called 911 and when told of a snake, the call was transferred to the Malaysian Civil Defence Force. They immediately sent a team of four to catch the snake.


It was all over in minutes. I was told that they will release the python at a forest reserve.

Just behind our house is a large bamboo thicket and it is quite common to find snakes living in this type of garden growth. We had previously seen a 60-cm long green grass(?) snake in our garden but it was just like a long thin rope of about 2-3 mm! 

Until we saw the python, we could not understand how five of our cats/kittens had disappeared over the last year or so! This 2-metre long python certainly could have been eating our cats! We are now down to one cat! According to the guys, there may be another snake in the vicinity as usually there may be a pair nesting in the same area. We have been told to watch out for it!

Well, no more wandering near the bamboo thicket at night!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Surinam Cherry

The Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) is a beautiful shrub/tree which can grow up to 8 metres tall and is the most widely known of the edible-fruited Eugenia species.

I cannot remember where I saw this plant but I know that it is a must have for my garden!! It took some 18 months for the plant to grow to 2 metres and it had not been flowering much nor fruiting until recently.. Now it is a sight to behold!

The flowers are very small but very very beautiful ...


The green fruits ....

See the changing colours of the fruits as they ripen - green, yellow and then orange-red.

These are the beautiful ripened fruits.


The surinam cherry shrub...

The fruits are edible but should only be picked when they ripened until they fall off at a touch. Even then, they cannot be eaten immediately as they are still resinous.The fruits should be halved, de-seeded and keep in a fridge for 2 or 3 hours to get rid of the resinous aroma. The fruits can then be eaten sprinkled with some sugar or as fruit topping (like strawberries) with sugar and cream like strawberries, etc.

Each fruit consist of a single seed, from what I have seen of those I sliced opened. Apparently the seeds are only viable for about a month and germination takes place in about 3 week.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Busy busy busy ....

Had been very busy the last week or so .. what with the Sarawak 10th State Elections and also the changeover of our domestic help. It does not help that it is also Income Tax time....

I will continue on with blogging on my garden in the next two days on this beautiful plant ....

Can anyone guess the name of this plant? It produce a really beautiful fruit as well.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Herbal Drinks

The weather in Kuching have been very hot these few weeks ...

My mum complains that she is feeling very "heaty" and asks to drink a herbal drink make from 車前草 (Plantago asiatica, cheqiancao). 

We do have this herb in the garden and one should use the whole plant to make a drink. though I always remove the root - being a bit fastidious about the soil :-) To make the drink, just boil a small bundle of the herb in one litre of water for an hour or so. You can also add pandan leaves. Drink it neat. This herbal drink is to alleviate "heatiness"‘ or "熱氣" in the body and to increase urination.

Another herb we have is 雷公根 (Centella asiatica, leigonggen). 

The herb 雷公根 (Centella asiatica, leigonggen) has the same effect as 車前草 though it is also suppose to make the urine acidic to help remove kidney stones. Again, to make the drink, just boil a bundle of the fresh herbs in a liter of water and drink neat.

Please note that the above herbal drinks are part of our family herbal remedies and while I do enjoy drinking them, I certainly do not vouch for the efficacy of these herbal drinks! The usual applies - if in doubt, do not drink!