I hit upon this effective remedy by sheer chance. My pot of Rodent Tuber (Typhonium flagelliforme Lodd.) became distressed with slimy rotting tubers. It was apparent to me that the plant was dying and it seemed that I was going to lose my pot of precious Rodent Tubers. Fellow gardeners will know the hollow feeling in the gut.
Apparently the bulbs’ soft rots are caused by several types of bacteria, but most commonly by species of gram-negative bacteria, Erwinia, Pectobacterium, and Pseudomonas. The soft rot decay is generally odorless but becomes foul and slimy when other secondary bacteria invade the infected tissues.
Meanwhile, I have a large stock of homemade “garbage enzyme”. This garbage enzyme has tons of uses, ranging from natural floor cleaner, kitchen cleaner, dishwashing liquid, air purifier, insect repellent, pesticide, and fertilizer.
I wondered what would happen if I were to soak the diseased bulbs in a small container of garbage enzyme and I did just that. I soaked (immersed) the bulbs in the garbage enzyme for about 30 minutes and then re-potted the bulbs in a pot of fresh soil. The bulbs didn’t die and after a few days, there were new fresh leaves! It worked! So if you have a diseased rotting slimy bulb or tuber…immerse in garbage enzyme for about 30 minutes or more before re-potting in fresh soil. You can save the bulb or tuber.
When I was a kid, I don’t think I ever really looked at a papaya flower. We had a couple of papaya trees in our garden and it seemed like we always had papaya to eat. My mom just scattered the seeds in the ground and without fail, the seeds would germinate, grow to be fruiting trees in no time at all. And the papaya fruits back then were all huge which we could hardly finish eating.
So just imagine now in my adulthood , when I tried to grow the “simple” papaya, I am baffled why I am faced with some challenges.
The first one bore fruits but they kept dropping off before maturity . The tree was quite skinny and sickly. Maybe I didn’t fertilise it enough.
The next three plants bore lots of flowers but they were male and couldn’t bear fruits!
It is very frustrating, to say the least, that after nuturing a papaya plant for many months only to find that it is a MALE papaya plant. Here’s a close-up of the male flower.
Finally I have a possible successful papaya tree… the female flower is already fertilised and the young fruit is forming nicely. Here’s how a proper female papaya fruiting-flower looks like.
I learnt that even though you may have a female papaya plant, the flowers may drop if they are not fertilised. While some papaya trees may self-fertilised, others may require cross fertilisation. So pray that there are other papaya trees around your neighbourhood.
As a footnote, I grow all my papaya trees in large pots, not in the ground. So actually there is a different challenge growing it in a pot compared to directly in the ground.
Here’s a quick and easy way to grow celery. It’s like recycling your celery for an endless supply of garden-fresh crunchy celery.
How To Have An Endless Supply Of Crunchy Celery
1. Carefully cut off the mature stalks at the base, making sure you do not cut too deep into the remaining layers of young shoots. However, you will need to nick the base of the young shoots…. see step 2.
2. Special tip! Carefully nick ( shallow small cut ) the bottom of the young shoots. This will accelerate the formation of roots at the nicks. Picture shows roots growing from the small cuts after 1-2 weeks.
3. Stand the remaining young shoots in some water taking care not to soak the leaf stems. Wet leaf stems may rot. Place the stems in a sheltered place with bright diffused sunlight, such as on a window sill.
4. Within 3-4 days, the pale young shoots will turn a healthy green. Change the water daily. Thereafter, the young shoots will grow bigger steadily.
5. After a week or two, there should little roots growing out of the small cuts in the stems. When you have sufficient roots (make your own judgement!), transplant the young shoots in a suitable pot, and cover the base lightly with potting soil up to the roots level.
6. Here are my first 3 pots of Australian Celery, USA Celery and Dole Celery (USA) after about a month. They appear somewhat stunted and I’m not sure whether they will eventually grow to their parents’ original market-size, considering that I’m in the hot/humid tropics. But if you live in a temperate zone, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to harvest your full-grown celery within a couple of months. Enjoy!
Bonus: Have you ever wondered how long do carrots last? Click here for an interesting article on some of the ways to tell if a carrot has spoiled, as well as ways to extend its shelf life.
“Next to jazz music, there is nothing that lifts the spirit and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chili.”
Ah, chillies (plural of chilli), the epitome of all things spicy.
I love to grow chillies for many reasons. See if you can relate to any of the reasons cited below:
Easy. There are few plants that germinate so easily. Just sprinkle the seeds (each chilli….be it one of the numerous chilli peppers or one of the capsicums…they all have abundant seeds in each pod) on some good soil mixture, water them generously and before you know it, the seeds have germinated; much more than you need.
Variety. There so so many different types of chilli peppers and capsicums that it has become a pastime of mine to keep a lookout for any new chilli pepper that I may not have yet, to add to my collection. From very tiny ones to large ones. From the cute Mexican Jalapeno to decorative round ones. And the Traffic Lights capsicums, Red, Yellow, Green. I want to grow them all!
Now comes the crunch!
Chilli plants are VERY susceptible to attacks by white powdery aphids and mealy bugs on the underside of the leaves. The problem may be hard to detect because the foliage may look very healthy and strong from the top while the infestation is growing and spreading at the undersides of the leaves. Early signs of trouble include some dropped leaves and twisted or deformed leaves.
And here is my punch line: Why I love to grow chillies in POTS.
You can easily lift up and turn the plant upside down to check for the aphids and mealy bugs attack. Just remember to wet the top soil first, so that nothing falls out when you turn the plant (turn the pot) upside down.
You can easily take remedial action by spraying the underside of the affected leaves to get rid of the aphids and mealy bugs. Dilute dishwasher soapy suds make a common safe spray, but I personally use enzyme which I make myself. Learn to make “garbage enzyme” here. You need to
experiment with the dilution factor yourself as your enzyme may differ in concentration from my enzyme. The bonus is that the enzyme spray and drips from the sprayed leaves also act as fertilizer for the plants.
I notice that some of my chilli plants tend to flower when they are very young. So you can get the chilli fruits very early even when the plants are very young and small when grown in pots.
And that’s why I love to grow chillies in pots!
“Chilli”, “Chillies” : British spelling
“Chili”, “Chilis” : US spelling
After this, you will love the weeds in your garden. Here is a roundup of common weeds and wild plants with medicinal curative properties for natural remedies that you may find in your own garden or around your neighbourhood. These 10 plants are all found in my own garden; all photos are mine.
We have all, at one time or another, heard about some miracle plant that has natural medicinal curative properties but often we wonder about its efficacy and whether it has any adverse side effect. To help allay such concerns, I have compiled first person reports in my other website, www.free2cure.com If any of these medicinal weeds work for you, please send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) for me to add to the first-person reports in Free2Cure.
Healing Herbs of Malaysia – SIRIM
Herbs of Malaysia – J. Samy, M. Sugumaran and Kate Lee
Wonder of Herbs – G G Enterprise
Various other websites
1. Rat Ear (Pepper Elder, Ketumpang Air, Peperomia pellucida L.)
Most Malaysian gardens will have this small succulent medicinal weed growing profusely among the other plants especially in damp shady areas. Although it usually grows wild and is seldom cultivated, it can be eaten raw as “ulam”.
The plant eaten raw or blanched can treat gout, arthritis, rheumatism, kidney stone and gastro-intestinal problems. It is used as a paste to treat boils, pimples and burns. The juice is used to relieve cough, fever, common cold, headache, sore throat, diarrhoea, prostate problems and reduce high blood pressure.
a. Translation from Noraida Arifin’s Herba:
“Drink the fresh juice drink to avoid infection of the eyes, diarrhea, cough, flu and infections bladder as well as for lowering high blood pressure. The leaves contain antibacterial properties that can treat skin diseases such as boils, acne and sunburn. It also can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and it is also a remedy for joint pain and abdominal pain. The fluid of the stem is used to cure fever and headache.”
“Medicinal Uses: Infusion and decoction of leaves and stems are used for gout and arthritis. Externally, as a facial rinse for complexion problems. Pounded whole plant used as warm poultice for boils, pustules and pimples.
New uses Belongs to the “preferred list” of Philippine medicinal plants, being studied for its use in the treatment of arthritis and gout. For arthritis: Leaves and stems of the fresh plant may be eaten as salad. Or, as an infusion, put a 20-cm plant in 2 glasses of boiling water; and 1/2 cup of this infusion is taken morning and evening.”
Ingredients: Use the whole plant (4-5 mature plants). Use Chinese Wolfberry (3 table spoons). Use brown sugar (1 table spoon). Method : Put 4 bowls of water in a pot. Put peperomia plants, Chinese wolfberry and brown sugar into the pot. Boil up the pot and reduce to slow fire. Boil in slow fire till 8/10 of a bowl. Drink the tea when cool. Indication : Drink every two days. There should be improvement after a week. Continue until cure. During the course, you could be expected to get watery eyes.”
Fresh juice out of stem and leaves combats eye inflammation. Concoction of leaves are used as treatment for headache, fever, common colds, sore throat, cough, coughing, and diarrhea. Also used to fight against prostate problems. Mixture and decoction of leaves and stems ease gout and arthritis. Concoction of stems and leaves is good against high blood pressure. Concoction of leaves are used for abscesses, conjunctivitis, rheumatic pains, and gout. Externally, as a facial wash for skin problems. Pounded whole plant used as warm poultice for wounds, boils, and pimples.”
2. Seed On The Leaf (Pick-A-Back, Dukung Anak, Phyllanthus amarus (niruri) )
This is considered a ferocious medicinal weed, that does well in high soil moisture, sandy loam soil in full sunlight or partial shade. The stem is usually erect with thin branches that bear two rows of tiny alternating leaves. Both male and female flowers are borne underneath the leaves along the whole length of the branches, hence the name “Seed On The Leaf”.
The plant is also referred to as “stone breaker” as it is used to eliminate gallstones and kidney stones. It is an Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat bronchitis, anaemia, asthma, frequent menstruation and diabetes. It is also a diuretic for genital-urinary infections, urological disorders and kidney ailments, using a decoction of the young leaves and roots. The extracts have been commercialised as tonics to ease digestion, help food assimilation and for toning and improving liver functions. It is also used to treat jaundice, diarrhoea, and STD. The plant gained worldwide recognition in the 1980’s as having anti-viral effect against Hepatitis B. It has similar beneficial effects as green tea to combat stress and pollutants. The plant is now recognised for its anti-tumour ans anti-viral properties.
This grass-like medicinal weed is known as a sedge of the Cyperaceae family. It is quite a tenacious weed that seems to grow in some unlikely places in your garden. It has a characteristic three-sided erect stem about 5-10 cm tall with three thin longish grass-like leaves. Atop this crown of three leaves sits the whitish flower ball.
It is used to treat common colds, bronchitis, malaria, arthritis, joint pains and rheumatism. It is also used as a remedy for diarrhea, dysentery, stomach and intestinial problems.
This medicinal weed appears to be able grow well in any soil or light condition in the wild. In the garden it will take root in pots, on the open ground, under shady plants or in full sunlight. It is sensitive to touch (“thigmotropism”) or sudden movement believed to be a defensive trait to deter herbivores or possibly shake off insects. This stimuli may be transmitted to neighbouring leaves (” seismonastic movements”). The leaves also close during low light or night-time andre-open when bright (“nyctinastic movement”). The young plant may grow erect but soon droop and creep along the ground with age. It is prickly with unique woolly pink flowers.
It has a bitter and astringent taste and in Ayurveda, it is used for diarrhea (athisaara), Amoebic dysentery (raktaatisaara), gynecological disorders, skin diseases, bronchitis, general weakness and impotence. Most commonly used is the root, but leaves, flowers, bark, and fruit can also be used. (ref: http://mahmoodsgarden.com/references/plant-files/mimosa-pudica/ )
There are green and red varieties of this medicinal weed that grow well in damp shady areas. The red one is now quite popular and can be bought from wet markets. It is used to treat the heart and circulatory system. It is also used to nourish the kidneys and liver.
The plant has anti-virus and anti-bacteria properties. It is rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin C and is eaten as ulam. It is used to treat indigestion and fever, to promote bile secretion and induce milk secretion. The leaf poultice is applied on acne, pimples, carbuncle, conjunctivitis, sprains, burns and eczema.
The Tiny-leafed Creeper is a medicinal weed that grows mainly on old concrete walls and stone road surfaces as well as around the crevices of stones and rocks. The Big-leafed Creeper is the more common one found in many gardens among crevices. It belongs to the rubber family and the plant contains milky sap or latex.
Both the Tiny-leafed and Big-leafed Creepers are used to treat skin diseases such as itchiness, eczema, blistered skin, skin infection and shingles. The preparation involves boiling the creeper in water and using the solution to bathe the affected part. A small portion of the plant is crushed for its “milk” to apply on the affected part after washing it with the solution. Use about 15-30 grams of the plant to boil in water to drink. The whole plant is boiled for the tonic to treat bronchitis, asthma, cough and throat spasms. Be careful when extracting the “milk” as it is harmful to the eyes. Be warned too that prolonged and regular contact with the sap is carcinogenic.
This is a fairly common wild creeper found in many gardens. According to Wikipedia, there are over 500 species belonging to the family Passifloraceae. When I researched this ceeper which is growing wild in my garden, I was overwhelmed by the tremendous varieties of this flowery vine. It took a while to find a match and hence identify my flower, but even then there seems to be a few variations in the shape of the leaves. While the literature mentioned that the whole plant has an unpleasant smell, I did not notice any stink from my plant. Even the crushed leaf gave a not-too-unpleasant smell.
The shoots of this medicinal weed can be cooked and eaten, while the fruit is very sweet.
“Passion flower has been used to treat sleep disorders and historically in homeopathic medicine to treat pain, insomnia related to neurasthenia or hysteria, and nervous exhaustion.” (ref: http://www.drugs.com/npp/passion-flower.html)
8. Blue Billy Goat Weed (White Weed, Floss Flower, Rumput Tahi Babi, Ageratum houstonianum L.)
This medicinal weed, on the other hand, deserves its name, Rumput Tahi Babi, as it has a distinctive unpleasant smell. Apparently, this plant’s small flowers have colours ranging from purple to blue to lavender and pink. Mine is light purple. The seeds are small, light with fluffy hairs that are easily dispersed by wind. This weed thrives better in the cooler highlands and seems to be easily diseased in the lowlands, like in my garden.
The leaf poultice is applied and wrapped over cuts, wounds and boils. The juice extracted from the stem is dripped into an inflamed ear to treat the infection. Tea made from dried young shoots and leaves is used as a remedy for malaria, excessive menstrual bleeding, uterine disorder. This plant is also used as a contraceptive.
There is a very good chance that your garden may have at least one fern growing wild in a quiet corner or crack in the wall or on the trunk of one of your trees. I counted seven different types of ferns growing wild in my garden. Ferns are ubiquitous wild plants that spread by spores, since they do not flower and hence do not have seeds. It was quite a task to identify my fern which I at first thought was Goniophlebium percussum but I have now decided it belongs to the Nephrolepidaceae Family, since it exhibits the family’s characteristic of upright (erect) fonds. (When Boston Ferns are grown in hanging pots, the fonds hang down gracefully). The spores are also aligned closer to the edges of the leaves whereas the Goniophlebium’s spores are closer to the mid-rib of the leaf. What I am still uncertain about is whether my fern is Nephrolepis exaltata, Nephrolepis acutifolio, Nephrolepis biserrata, Nephrolepis cordifolio or Nephrolepis hirsutula.
To add to the confusion, “Some authorities place Nephrolepis in the family Davalliaceae (Davallia family), others in the Polypodiaceae (polypody family), and still others in the Oleandraceae (ladder fern family).” (ref: http://www.floridata.com/ref/n/neph_exa.cfm ).
The medicinal weed, Nephrolepis is used to treat general disorder of the liver system (Nephrolepis cordifolio ), general skin disorders such as blisters, boils, abscesses and sores (Nephrolepis cordifolio, Nephrolepis biserrata), renal disorders (Nephrolepis cordifolio) andmenstrual disorders (Nephrolepis exaltata). (ref: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/moorea/ethnopteridology.html ). It is considered Considered antibacterial, antitussive, styptic, antifungal. (ref: http://stuartxchange.com/Bayabang.html ).
10. Congo Jute ( Sar Boh Chau, Pulut-pulut, Urena lobata L.)
I’ve saved the best for last, simply because I have written a “first-person” (on behalf of my mum-in-law) account of this miracle medicinal weed in www.free2cure.com
This wild plant has seeds like tiny prickly hedgehogs that cling to your clothings when you brush against it. It is a very hardy plant that grows well in bright sunlight and poor soil up to about 2 metres. The flowers are either pink or white, although it is believed that plant with white flowers has greater efficacy in the treatment of chronic renal failure.
The stems are cut in small pieces of about 3-4 cm each and dried for easier storage. Use about 5-6 pieces at a time to make soup or tea for the patient to drink. For details, go to www.free2cure.com
This plant is credited with saving my mum-in-law’s life when she was stricken by chronic renal failure at the age of 68, and the doctors had given up on her. We were told to prepare for the inevitable but then a kind soul told us about this plant. In a no-choice situation, we tried it and she recovered and went on to live a healthy life until the ripe old age of 89, when she passed away because of old age and not because of kidney failure.
The extract of the leaves and roots is also claimed to be used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, gonorrhoea and malaria fever. A decoction of the leaves and roots drunk as a tea will relieve body aches caused by over exertion. An infusion of the roots is presecribed for difficult childbirth while a poultice of the leaves is used to treat wounds and skin diseases. In some places, the plant is mashed and and used to treat fractures, wounds and snake bites. The leaves and stems are used as a diuretic ( I guess this is the case of the treatment for my mum-in-law), while a decoction of the seeds is used to treat worms.
OK, there you have it. An overview of 10 medicinal weeds or wild plants commonly found in many gardens. Love ’em, for they may well come in handy to save you or a loved one. And if any of these weeds work for you, please write a first-person testimony in Free2Cure ( www.free2cure.com ) to help others.