Tag Archives: Pandan

My Tropical Asian Treasure Trove – Part 2

Apart from those hidden Asian treasures in the micro shady boondocks of my backyard, summer warmth has spurred the growth of aromatic foliage which I need, for home style cooking, dishes which I grew up with, taught by my mother and grandmother, food that makes a house smell like home.

Walking around in the morning, at times with coffee mug in hand, pinching or breaking a leaf or two, inhaling the aroma, makes me appreciate what a little bit of each plant can do to enhance our chemical sensing system of smell and taste.

The very easy-to-propagate Lemongrass, nothing to do with lemons, has a citrus flavor which can make a not-so-appetizing dish smell heavenly. In Asia, it is used in soups, spicy stews, sweet tea, curries, as a basting brush for barbecues, as an air freshener in cars, fragrance for soaps and hair oil, heck! it’s supposed to even attract Honey Bees (which is why Lemongrass essence is placed in swarm boxes).

Lemongrass does not like lemons

It looks like scrawny weeds but has very sharp-edged blades and hibernates to a brown clump in winter. It’s also supposed to repel mosquitoes but that aspect is one I can’t vouch for.

The Curry Leaf Plant (Murraya koenigii) to me is what makes a Curry taste and smell like real Curry!  It is a plant native to India and Sri Lanka … the land of Curries, of course! I grew up with this in my backyard ~ yes, déjà vu.

Curry Leaves do smell like Curry.

Can this be found in all Asia grocery stores? No, only Indian run stores, unfortunately, which is why I need to grow my own. I harvest and dry some when it produces its leaves abundantly, just in case there is a bout of winter frost, that’s when it gets bald.

But … there is so much more that can be concocted with this herb, not just curry,

Just a versatile herb.

and in case you are curious (and brave) enough, you might even like to try making Indian Shepherd’s Pie. 😀

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Is this Recycling or Upcycling?

I, with my simple vocabulary range, will just call it re-using. How about that?
Yes, I have found some of those discarded plastic containers of great use and they can be used multiple times too. Be it the Paris Agreement or Global Warming concerns, it is just my nano contribution to slowing down the flow to the recycling plant.

Watering bottle

Apart from the general hose-watering, I use this method to water slow and deep in areas which do not get rained on – keeps my Daikon & Carrots happy.  🙂

Feeding liquid seaweed fertilizer this way gets it right where it’s needed. No spraying around causing soil-splatter on leaves.

These bottles have been in my possession and used for over 2 years yet they are still in very good condition.

To start seeds in winter, even the not-so-chilly Florida winter, I would still need a greenhouse-of-sort. I don’t have seeding lights, warm mats and other expensive stuff avid gardeners use. I use supermarkets’ salad containers which I call green-boxes.

My seeding “boxes” – (R) is box with lid 4″ high & (L) is box over box 8″ high.

You can start with boxes in their original form – box & lid, but as the seedlings get taller, the lid can be peeled off (for next use, again as lids ) and another box can be used as cover giving the plants growing space. These boxes are 4″ high so with 2 boxes together (see pic above; left item) seedlings can happily stay there longer.

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Pandan Growth Gusto

The Pandanus Amaryllifolius (not any other Screwpine) ~ Pandan for short breaks into a growth gusto when Spring is about to turn to Summer. It must feel like the Tropics to them so ‘babies’ and aerial roots appear at a crazy rate.

This is the time to carefully check between leaves because unless you separate the leaves and inspect, chances are, small young plants will not be seen until too late ~ dehydrated and stunted. Cut the long leaves hiding them if required, be merciless, as the ‘babies’ need light and growth space.

Pandan “babies” just springing up from parent plant and leaves cut off giving them breathing space.

A thick healthy root is about to spring forth.

When that healthy root grows up to 2″, it will be ideal to remove the baby plant from the parent to have more subaerial roots develop in water.

With so many leaves cut off today, what do I do with them? Continue reading

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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Pandan roots ~ when to move from water to soil

My routine of cultivating the Pandan plant (Pandanus Amaryllifolius) from matured ones is to carefully clip off the babies which have strong aerial roots and (as in an earlier post) develop more roots in water.

Of late I have been receiving inquiries about what happens thereafter, what containers would be best to use and how to know when the roots are matured enough to be repotted or planted into the ground. This is not professional advice or what nurseries might do ~ it’s strictly my method, OK? (So no finger pointing and lawsuits please, try at your own plant’s risk.)

After sufficient roots have developed in water (in about 3 weeks) I plant them in potting soil with a pinch of epsom salt. I use disposal drinking cups as I find them deep, thin, pliable, light and reusable. I make a small hole in the base for drainage using a hot skewer.

The depth allows roots to grow with gravity ~ downwards.

The depth allows roots to grow with gravity ~ downwards.

And these soft cups allow me to wet the soil, gently press their sides and slide the “baby” plants out to monitor their root growth.

Nice matured roots ...

Nice long matured roots …

When the roots reach the cup’s base and grows in shape of its circumference, then I know it’s ready to leave its nursery-cup to go into a pot.

Pandan ~ It’s Time to Divide & Spread

As the Spring weather warms, Pandan plants will grow staggeringly fast, like in the tropics. As I went around checking what I call the big bunches, like the one below, I realized the “children” were just as big as their mother plants.

Overcrowding stuns growth.

Overcrowding stuns growth.

The young adult plants had matured aerial roots so it was time for them to leave home so that Mama-Pandan can build strength to produce more.

Those are big strong aerial roots!

Those are big & strong aerial roots!

1 even had its own soil roots already, screaming to be repotted.

I hope to get 12-15 young adult Pandan plants “harvested” in the next 2 days & they will be left in pots of water to develop roots as per my usual method. Then, into soil pots for about a month to be stabilized and after that my new project begins ~ a Pandan & Lemongrass hedge along the backyard boundary to hopefully repel those (darn) wild rabbits and raccoons in the area. It will also hopefully be my perennial supply of aromatic kitchen needs.

Developing Pandan Roots in Water

On September 2nd, I clipped my pioneer Pandan plant (the Pandan Amaryllifolius) to propagate ~ yes, I still use the water method, i.e. without soil, to grow nice strong roots before potting them for actual growth of leaves.

Unlike last year when I used some rooting hormone and epsom salt, this summer I decided to do without them because some gardeners have told me they can’t find those items where they live. The growth is slightly slower but there still is growth.

18 days later, see the results.

Every cutting has sprouted new roots

Every cutting has sprouted new roots

Clean water induced root growth

Clean water-induced root growth

Some are sprouting new shoots too!

Some are sprouting new shoots too!

Lots of new growth...

Lots of new growth…

So fellow Pandan growers seeking to propagate and those yearning to grow your own Pandan for aromatic, scrumptious and delectable cooking/baking, no fancy horticultural skills needed … just get a “baby” Pandan cutoff and let it grow some roots in water before potting.

 

 

Never Underestimate the Power of …

a dead looking Pandan plant (pandanus amaryllifolius).

Fellow Pandan growers/lovers, should your Pandan plant for whatever reason (you went on vacation, you forgot to water, the cat ate most of it …) look quite dried and dead, do not yank it out of the pot and dump it in your compost pile. You will be surprised what a tough plant it can be.

left in a corner of pots with soil used for re-growing cuttings.

left in a corner of pots with soil used for re-growing cuttings.

I plead guilty.  😳
I left this poor thing, for almost 3 months, in a pot which I had used for propagating younger Pandan cuttings with roots. It was an “old” parent which I thought had lived its productive potted lifespan and would dry up and turn to compost on its own. It proved me wrong.

Now it is getting worm poop, seaweed juice, 1 hr mild morning sun, grow for mama encouragement, the works!

It is my born-again Pandanette.