Pest Controller At Work

It has been an exceptionally warm and dry summer this year so instead of perpetual watering, I have allowed the veggie-beds’ soil to “bake” itself and hopefully kill some destructive nematodes.

But yesterday it rained … actually it poured!
By sunset, it brought out the bugs and the bug guzzlers (whom I treasure). I have found frog-watching to be a fascinating pastime.

Ventral image of Froggy

Ventral image of Froggy

Has anyone spent time just watching how these carnivorous amphibious pest controllers work?
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Katuk (馬尼菜 pronounced Mani-chai)

This time last year when we visited ECHO nursery in Fort Myers, we actually found they were growing Katuk, so we bought a pot to cultivate.

ECHO

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our purchases

 

Back in Singapore I would call it Cekur Manis or Mani-chai (馬尼菜) but I’ve now learned that it is called Katuk in the U.S.  It’s said to be a perennial but I’ve found that it grows best during warm weather.

They don’t exactly look like Kew Garden’s manicured shrubs but they are forming edible hedges around our oak well and parts of the backyard.

the Katuk hedge

the Katuk hedge

vitamin & mineral-rich greens

vitamin & mineral-rich greens

When I’m in a “can’t be bothered to cook” frame of mind, just cut some leaves up, stir-fry with garlic and then add an egg. That makes a simple, tasty and nutritious sandwich filling. Tastes great too when stir-fried with anchovies, in pasta dishes and of course spicy Asian dishes. *yum yum*

To cultivate, I stick a branch in a tall container of water and just wait for it to form roots.

ready to be planted in soil

ready to be planted in soil

That’s a no brainer … right?:mrgreen:

 

 

 

Hive Five (Feet Fall)

There is a hive which was (still is, somewhat) blowing in the wind, up on a tree which the bees must have felt comfortable with. I call that our Hive No. 2.  It just got bigger and bigger and we simply watched, hoping that the hive engineers knew what they were doing.

They chose the tree & the height.

They chose the tree & the height.

Then came the day of …

The 5ft Fall

The 5ft Fall

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Oh what joy…!!!

Yes, I took a break from social media. I decided to simply “lay low” and do some hardcore reading of good books from the library.

But yesterday evening I experienced so much joy & actually screamed my excitement, which I have not done for a long time, and thank goodness I do not have next-door neighbors.

A young 21 year old Singaporean actually beat the champion swimmer Mark Phelps at the Rio Olympics in the 100m Butterfly event. Yes, Joseph Schooling swam with his idol and actually beat him by nearly 1 second. schooling-phelps-dataIsn’t the above a telling photograph?

Swimming - Men's 100m Butterfly - Heats

Congratulations Joseph Schooling! May you have many, many happy years of competitive swimming ahead and as our Prime Minister saidYou made us very proud today”.

OK, my summer break is over. Children are back in school so it’s time for me to begin blogging again.😉

Pandan Nasi Lemak ~ Made in the USA

With no “hawkers”, which is what we call food vendors in Singapore, when I have a craving, I invent ways of creating what will satiate.

Nasi Lemak is rice dish that is cooked in/mixed with coconut milk. It is commonly sold in any foodcourt, hawker center & even coffee-shops … but alas, not where I live right now. I craved Pandan Nasi Lemak yesterday, so to the garden, then to the kitchen, then the cooking began.

Long, fibrous Pandan leaves were cut up.

Long, fibrous Pandan leaves were cut up.

Put in my little cup blender with coconut cream.

Put in my little cup blender with coconut cream.

Add 1 cup of water or what your “mini” blender allows, then blend away…

Blended concoction poured through sieve.

Blended concoction poured through a tea strainer into rice pot.

Add some salt and more water to your rice – up to the required (usual) level of cooking – then cover and press the “Cook” button. Pandan Nasi Lemak is in the making.

I decided to be really Singaporean and knocked up some dried anchovies and peanuts which usually accompanies this dish.

Dried Anchovies and Salted Peanuts (common snack) out of a bottle

Dried Anchovies and Salted Peanuts

So what did I end up having for dinner?
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Ma Nature’s Pest Controllers

It is often difficult (very, very difficult) not to want to just spray or sprinkle some lethal weapon of pest destruction when you see those vicious bugs munching on your food crops like there’s going to be no tomorrow. I’ve even learned to squash larvae with my bare fingers in rancor!

Painful though it is, I usually grit my teeth and divert my attention to another stint. My consolation is the most recent video of a more experienced Permie (someone practising Permaculture) in a similar situation.

Today I walked around checking to see that with so many destructive squirmies around, has Ma Nature set up her roster and assigned her pest controlling brigade to my garden yet. OK, I can see …

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Been Beezy checking Bees & Combs

Sky was clear and air was still. Lots of bees were out foraging for nectar and pollen and we decided that conditions were ideal to do a special check on our “new” hive, which began with a swarm that visited our Swarm Box in early April and were moved to their new home-hive in mid-April. Our main concern today was mites, which if found, we wanted to get rid of at an early stage.

So, the roof of the Top-Bar Hive got removed & the combs were inspected bar-by-bar.

Looked healthy, mite free.

Looked healthy, mite free.

Walls, base, combs looked "clean".

Walls, base, combs looked “clean”.

Apart from mites, we were also trying to spot the Queen …

Lots of nanny workbees, some drones, capped cells ~ but can't spot the Queen.

Lots of nanny workbees, some drones, capped cells ~ but couldn’t spot the Queen.

8 combs build in about 12 weeks.

8 combs build in about 12 weeks.

They were healthy and happy (except during our short intrusion)

They were healthy and happy (except during our short intrusion)

We now have peace of mind for these “newcomers”.
It is our hope that one day we will be granted audience with their Queen.

 

 

Pandan Wrapped Chicken

Summer heat is on; humidity is high … it’s just like in the tropics.
Pandan plants are happy! In case Pandan growers run out of ideas as to what they can do with them apart from rice and cakes, try wrapping meat then steaming or baking.

Today's tropical vegetable harvest.

Today’s tropical vegetable harvest – Pandan, Chili-Pepper & Water Convolvulus.

I made Pandan Wrapped Chicken (again) and as usual this is when I really do not mind the lingering aroma emitted from the air-oven, of Pandan, hovering around the house for a couple of hours after dinner.

Chicken all wrapped up.

Chicken all wrapped up.

Baked Pandan Chicken

Baked Pandan Chicken

Tiny shredded Pandan pieces added to the marinade.

Tiny shredded Pandan pieces which were added to the marinade.

We had this with white steaming hot Jasmine rice and Spicy Stir-Fried Water Convolvulus, just a simple home style Asian meal.