Category Archives: Nature

Remedy for Diseased Tuber or Bulb Plant

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.

How to make garbage enzyme.

Rodent Tuber

A True Cat’s Tale

This is all true;   the  events  did happen and the life story is still being played out.

Sylvia, that’s   the name we gave her,  gave birth to five adorable kittens  on 9-Feb-2020.  She wandered into our home  and into our lives,   some  two months earlier. We could tell she was pregnant and was looking for a nest  to deliver her kittens. She had a collar so we tried our best to locate her owner.  We asked in a few  of our neighbourhood Whatsapp groups but no-one claimed her.  My son remarked that she looked like Sylvester the cartoon cat, so we called her Sylvia.

And on an early afternoon  of 9-Feb-2020, Sylvia, the young first-time   mother,   clumsily gave birth to her five kittens in the litter box.   She couldn’t bite and eat the placenta which was covered with the litter material so the kittens were all stuck together still joined to the  placenta. We had to rush them  to the vet  to separate them.  The vet offered to help find adopters when the kittens are bigger. And so the five kittens stayed with Sylvia in our home; a pure white, a  chocolate-coloured , a  tortoiseshell, a grey-and-white and a calico.   We didn’t give them  names as we did not want to get too attached  to them knowing that  they will be given up for adoption.

On 16-Mar, I took the  Pure White for an adopter.  The next day, the mum Sylvia, became very distressed when she realised the kitten was missing. So late at night, she relocated the whole litter elsewhere . It was so sad. All the kittens were relocated and I couldn’t find them. Sylvia still came to see me for her own meals;  breakfast, lunch and dinner…alone.

Over the next few days, Sylvia may have realised her mistake and looked so forlorn that I had to console her. I recalled two cat lovers had told me that cats are telepathic and can understand what we are saying. So I ended up talking  routinely to Sylvia and urged her to bring back the kittens. She looked so sad and so was I. Perhaps, for some reason, Sylvia could not retrieve the kittens.  

Then on 23-Mar-2020,  a big burly ginger-coloured Tom Cat came to the house  and seeing that Sylvia was cosy with him, I guess he  must be her mate. I fed him as well and urged him to help Sylvia to find the kittens.

Then on the blessed morning of 24-Mar-2020, I saw the whole family back in my house with the adorable kittens all looking so happy to be back. But there is a twist to this fairy tale. 

My neighbour told me that her son saw  the Tom cat leading the four kittens  along the road back to the house late at night. The Tom cat led the way and the four kittens followed him back. What a sight that must have been! What a pity that I didn’t get to see it.

The four kittens stayed  with Sylvia contentedly until in early April, the vet called to remind me that the adopters were waiting for the kittens. She  planned to come  to my house to pick up Sylvia  (to be spayed) and the four kittens on 15-April-2020.  On the night of 14-April-2020, I was talking to my neighbour and told her that the vet was coming in the morning to take Sylvia and the kittens. Sylvia must have overheard the conversation, because the next morning the Grey-and-White and Calico were missing and  I couldn’t find them anywhere.  I guess Sylvia must have relocated them and couldn’t move the other two in time, as they were now bigger.  By the time I caged Sylvia and the Tortoiseshell, the Chocolate one  fled and I couldn’t find it even with my neighbour’s help. The vet came and took  Sylvia and Tortoiseshell away at about 11.00am. But in the evening, the Chocolate one came back for food and I managed to cage it as well. The vet picked it up later that evening.

The two  other kittens remained missing since the night of 14-April-2020.   I brought Sylvia home after her surgery on the 17-April-2020. She looked very sad and  I asked her to go and find the kittens.  The Tom cat came and I coaxed them both to go and bring back the kittens.  Early next morning, I was awakened by Sylvia’s loud meowing and when I went out to check,  I saw that Sylvia had brought back the two kittens. Amazing! And  even though Sylvia just had a surgery to spay her, she still breastfed the two kittens lovingly.

 

My wife and I took that as an omen and we decided to keep the two kittens.  I suggested Whisky for the  male Grey-and White and my wife named the female Calico as  Brandy. I decided to call the big burly Tom cat, Vodka. So now we have Sylvia, the bartender, with Vodka, Whisky and Brandy.

 

Simply Papaya

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!

Lots of (male) flowers!

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.

Beautiful clump of non-fruiting MALE flowers

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.

Joy! A fruiting female papaya tree.

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.

How To Make Pomegranate Juice AND Tea

Hello…Happy New Year 2017! Thank you for visiting.

Here’s my own technique for making yummy, healthy pomegranate juice AND tea, without any wastage.

 1. First off, you need the pomegranate seeds, or more correctly called “arils”, and there are various techniques taught on the Internet. I opted for the following method.

1a. Slice a bit off the top and bottom.

 1b. Next, look for the ridges and make shallow cuts all along the ridges where the fruit will break open.  
 1c. Gently pry apart the fruit, which should open along the cuts made earlier.  
 1d. Now gently pry the arils off the peels in a bowl of water. The water helps prevent the arils from bouncing off everywhere. I find this most helpful. The white pith will float in the water for easy removal too.  
 2. Use a large strainer to catch the arils and pour into a container. Now you can store these in the fridge for a fairly long period (I don’t really know how long they will keep) until you are ready to consume them. You can scoop with a spoon and eat straight off as a morning before-breakfast snack, or use for juicing as what we are discussing now.  
 3. For juicing, I use a simple “Shake n Take” blender. Whichever blender you use, I suggest that you use the pulse mode to gently extract the juice from the arils without breaking their inner seeds. I imagine the inner seeds, if crushed, may affect the taste of the juice. But then some say that adds more healthy stuff to the juice. It’s your choice.  
 4. I pour the pure pulpy mixture into the centre strainer of my tea pot and use a pestle to gently coax more juice out of the pulp. The strained juice is then poured out from the teapot into a container to chill for a refreshing healthy drink later.  

 5. I then add about 3/4 pot of hot boiling water to my teapot and then immerse the strainer (which contains the pulp).  I pour the remaining hot water through the top of the pot/strainer. Don’t try to pour a whole pot of hot water through the strainer. The strainer is choked full of the pulp and will surely test your patience if you try that!  

 6. There you have it! The combined large and medium sized fruits give about 500ml of pure juice. The pulp makes one teapot of pomegranate tea. It may be a rather weak tea to some, but hey, no waste!  

 

 Bonus tip:

I was wondering whether to use the peels for my vermicasting or as garden mulch. But I discovered that the peels have many healthy uses. See the links below.

If you do try any of the health tip below and find it works for you, please share for the benefit of others at my other website, Free2Cure ( www.free2cure.com ), which publishes first-person testimonials on natural remedies to eliminate doubt and hear-say.

11 health benefits of pomegranate peel you never knew!

Health Benefits of Pomegranate Peels

Reasons to not waste pomegranate peels

4 Reasons to Drink Pomegranate Peel Tea

Benefits of Pomegranate Peel for Skin, Hair & Health

10 Amazing Benefits Of Pomegranate Peel For Skin, Hair And Health

35 Amazing Benefits And Uses Of Pomegranates

Pomegranate Peel Benefits, Recipes and More

What About Pomegranate Peels is So Special?

Why I Love To Grow Chillies…In Pots

Updated 27-Sept-2015

“Next to jazz music, there is nothing that lifts the spirit and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chili.”
Harry James

jalapeno1
My prized Jalapeno

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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-Healthy-Top
Healthy looking foliage from the top

infestation-closeup
Infestation of aphids and mealy bugs on the underside of leaves

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.

Infestation-Underside
Turn the pot upside down to see the infestation

  1. 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.
  2. 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

    spray1
    Hold the pot upside down and spray at the infestation

    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.

  3. 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!

Footnote:
“Chilli”, “Chillies” : British spelling
“Chili”, “Chilis” : US spelling

The Two Faces of Koel

IMG_1763cIf I were to ask you whether these two birds are related, what would you say?

 

 

 

IMG_1972

 

One of them looks like a Black Crow or Asian Glossy Starling (red eyes) while the other looks like a Spotted-necked Dove or Zebra Dove.  So how can they possibly be related in whatsoever way? But what if I were to tell you that these two birds are one and the same; they represent the two faces of the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus)? Read on…..

 

 

One bright sunny morning, there was a commotion among the branches of the Flame of the Forest tree across the street from my house. I quickly scanned the location of the noise with my camera and saw a black crow-like bird astride another brown-speckled bird like as though they were fighting. The black one had a noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia) in its beak, so it would appear that it had taken the fruit by force from the brown one.  But as I continued snapping away, not daring to lift my eye from the camera sight, it became clear what the black bird was doing to the brown bird.

It seemed to be a ritual of sorts where the black one was offering a fruit (noni fruit) to the brown one. I later discovered the black one was a male Asian Koel, while the brown one was a female Asian Koel !

The female Koel was initially resisting the male’s overture but eventually succumbed to the male’s very persistent (and aggressive) offering. She finally accepted the fruit and the male looked on contentedly. What a show!

A New Visitor: The Red-whiskered Bulbul

This morning I suddenly became aware of a new bird song floating in from somewhere in my neighbour’s Neem Tree. I quickly grabbed my camera but try as I may, I just could not sight the bird. Then just as I was about to put away my camera, the song wafted in overhead; this time from my disused TV antenna. And lo, it was indeed a new visitor to my garden. I managed to shoot a few shots before it flew off just as quickly as it had appeared. That was enough for me to google and discovered it was a Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) as can be seen from its distinguishing red patch near its cheek.

Territorial Dispute Face-off Between Cute vs Angry

Cute Pick-necked Green Pigeon versus Angry Myna

If there is a territorial dispute between an “angry” bird and a “cute” bird, who do you think will win?

I was taking some photos of a family of Pink-necked Green Pigeons feeding on a palm tree in my garden when a drama unfolded. A rather mean-looking Myna quietly crept up and startled the Green Pigeons who understandably flew away terrified. But then the head of the family decided that he was not going to let the Myna get away with it.  And very much like a bullying incident, the bully had no stomach for a fight when the victim decided to fight back.

Watch the dispute between a Myna (“angry”) and a Pink-necked Green Pigeon (“cute”) and see the unexpected outcome… Cute overcomes Angry.

Float Like A Butterfly

On a bright sunny morning, this nippy orange-coloured butterfly Tawny Coster (Acraea violae), flitted among the leaves of a Yellow Turnera or Holy Rose (Turnera ulmifolia) plant. It appeared to be searching for suitable spots to lay its eggs. The Tawny Coster’s dance is captured in the following stills.

Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius)

The tiny Common Tailorbird is more commonly heard than seen. This is because it is a very loud singer for such a tiny bird but it is very difficult to make it out in the foliage overhead. Very often, by the time you finally sight it, you cannot even get the camera focused to shoot it.
So I consider myself extremely fortunate on this Sunday morning to notice it perched on the overhead cable in clear sight, noisily singing its heart out, calling to its mate.

In case you are curious…. it is a 2-note song, sung with gusto repeatedly: “Chu-it! Chu-it! Chu-it!”