Tag Archives: garden

Happy Ants

7 Aug

It is often said whatever that has been planted and cared for without using pesticides will be evident in the harvest; there will be worms enjoying the fruits of the labor.

This round, mostly green ones

Our scotch bonnet pepper plants have been very healthy and we have had non-stop supplies. And sometimes worms included. On and off, I’d find tiny worms in the container holding the basket of peppers. And I’d just wash the icky worms down the sink.

Bumper supply of worms too! Five altogether

One morning, I saw a worm on the kitchen counter top instead! Eeek… it had somehow escaped from the container. Before I could do anything, the ants got to it first! They were quickly maneuvering the worm to their nest for the rest of the colony as food. I didn’t have the heart to thwart them. It would be too vicious.

One, two, three… heave! One, two, three… go!

So I simply took a picture of the action but missed the rest of their journey to their lair when I turned away. Dang! They sure are fast but they sure are happy ants with the unexpected bounty.

Too Spicy to Handle

4 Aug

The Habanero plant in our garden may not be the Habanero that we initially thought. Hubby says what we have is the scotch bonnet peppers instead, which are slightly sweet in the overall taste. If you’re not a pepper expert, it’s hard to tell them apart because these peppers are cousins. The only difference being the Habanero is about an inch bigger.

The spiciness or heat level of all peppers is measured according to the Scoville Scale in Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and both these species are right up there on the chart. But there seem to be contradicting readings I see on the internet.

One site listed our scotch bonnet pepper at 445,000 SHU and the Habanero at 260,000 SHU only while another site says both are on the same level at 100,000–350,000 SHU. Well, it doesn’t matter which exact reading, our scotch bonnet certainly burns the tongue and even fingers if we are not cutting them carefully! Sometimes even the green ones are enough to numb the senses, what more eating the ripe red ones.

Scotch bonnet peppers are an excellent source of phytochemicals and vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), iron, vitamin B, carotenoids, niacin, riboflavin, dietary fiber, flavonoids, and magnesium but I don’t eat them all the time. Too spicy to handle and too much to consume.

Puny green peppers towards the end, so plant #1 had to be cut down.

Hubby had to trim the first plant because it has grown too tall. At more than eight feet, it’s too taxing to produce plump healthy peppers. The puny harvest, evident in its loss in strength. Eventually, the plant was removed.

Plant #2 is out of control, growing tall and wide!

Now we get our supplies from the second and third plants. And the second plant has grown to become such a monstrous blob, it’s rather unsightly. It is now six feet tall, but its yield has been superb. We have had an abundance of scotch bonnet peppers and have been giving them away to friends because they’re too spicy for us to handle.

A Makeover

28 Jul
Chop… chop… and the grass below are no longer shaded!

The two trees in the front garden of the house were pruned a few days ago, together with all the other big trees along our road. Hubby had requested the contractor to do the honors as the trees were getting too tall for his reach.

And in order for them to get the job done, hubby had to remove several of his prized staghorn ferns as a precautionary measure, in case the pruned branches accidentally fell on the ferns and damaged them. Luckily no mishaps occurred.

The ugly gaping hole

But one fern has been permanently damaged by the darn woodpecker, some time back in February. The gaping hole is such a heartache to look at. We don’t think the woodpecker will return to it anymore as it’s rather damaged and unlivable, and most unlikely to provide any comfort. So hubby intends to nurture the fern to a more presentable shape before putting it back on the pruned tree.

Nothing Goes to Waste

2 Jun

Ever since the MCO started, hubby learned how to bake and as such, the eggs in the fridge are used up very quickly. It used to take forever to finish them but now, they are always on the grocery list to be replenished.

The best part of this is recycling the eggshells as fertilizer for the garden instead of just throwing them away. And I seem to enjoy fussing over the eggshells.

I’d remove the membrane first before pounding them up with my mini mortar and pestle. Fine but not too powdery, the eggshells act as a good deterrent for the slimy snails in the garden. They are also a good source of calcium especially for the habanero chilli peppers and it shows with the healthy harvests.

Besides the eggshells, other food waste is also recycled to be natural fertilizer for the garden. Rice water for instance. Whenever I wash rice grains before cooking, the water from the washing is kept a day or two in a container to be fermented before being used.

Occasionally if there are juice pulps from juicing, these are instantly sprinkled around the garden amongst the plants. And banana peels are always fed to the staghorn fern for nutrition. Nothing goes to waste in our home.

A Timely Purchase, Part 2

4 May

I have to admit… the stand mixer was an excellent purchase as hubby has been using it. I have yet to use it though because I don’t really bake from scratch, only from pre-mixes in a box that don’t need a mixer. Heheheh…

The banana loaves and snickerdoodle apple bread
There were two batches of butter cookies

So far he’s baked three loaves of banana bread, butter cookies and a Snickerdoodle apple bread (this was oh-so-good!). There have been attempts too that did not require the stand mixer but just good old kneading and patience for the dough to rise.

All in all, the baking days have kept him busy for there have been many rainy days and he couldn’t go out to the garden. For M2 and me, it was many varieties to savor and I have been upping my exercise routine to counter all the intake.

What a Nasty Woodpecker

24 Apr

Hubby is not pleased. The woodpecker squatting in the staghorn fern in front of the house has certainly made itself unwelcomed. He attacked another staghorn fern to make another home!

The first home in the staghorn must have become unsuitable or unlivable because of the peeling and holes in the shield fronds. So the Rufous Woodpecker must have decided to relocate.

The first home, riddled with holes and peeling

The second staghorn is a beautiful lush and dense pride of hubby’s, and the nasty woodpecker helped himself to it to make a second home. And in the process, damaged the beautiful plant. Grr…

The damage to the second staghorn

Hubby then decided to put a stop literally to this by plugging the entrance of the second hole on the staghorn with a stalk of cut-off plant. Let’s hope this works. We will have to monitor.

Putting a stop literally to the damage

MCO, Day 6

23 Mar

It is Day Six of our partial lockdown and I must say, it’s been surreal. Everyday felt like a Saturday until we lost track of the days. But we have not been bored which is good.

This month alone, I completed four, one in progress and more to come!

Everyday I carved and cooked two meals whilst hubby tended to the garden. And every now and then, house chores were thrown in and the days passed by albeit slowly.

For someone who has not cooked for the last 12 years because we had a lived-in maid to do this, I find myself still quite adept in the kitchen. Thank goodness because eating out is not an option. For the record, our maid went back for good this year in mid-January and so we’ve been “help-less” for the past two months. But we’ve managed well.

And so far, the lockdown menu has been impressive and varied because I have more time now to plan than the last two months. And mind you, it’s none of the easy way out of opening a can of whatever and just warming up. I must admit, this cooking task is rather enjoyable. A nice change from carving, keeping me occupied to pass the time quickly.

As for our movement, it’s been controlled. The last five days, we went out only two times each. Briefly on all occasions – once together to the office to copy some work files home, then only hubby to the pharmacy for some supplements and just myself to replenish some groceries.

When I was out to the nearby grocery store, I was early. So I stood in line, far apart, with the rest of the shoppers waiting for the shutters to open. Senior citizens, allowed to go in half an hour earlier before the crowd, certainly took advantage of their allotted shopping time without stress.

The half hour wait outside felt rather long and when it was time to go in, I took merely three minutes to get in and out, picking up only what I needed. I was second in queue, so it was a fast turnaround.

People were more disciplined and I noticed less panic buying. Most just picked up what they needed. I guess by now, most people know what to do compared to the initial days when there was so much confusion and some level of fear.

We have another eight days to go until this Movement Control Order is lifted and this is if the public continues to be disciplined in following orders. However the situation keeps changing and staying put is best and for our own good.

MCO, Day 3

20 Mar

We have been under Movement Control Order (MCO) as instructed by the government and today is Day 3. I must say it has been good so far. I wake up when I am done sleeping. Then I have my tea at a leisurely pace because I don’t have to get ready for work to face the challenges ahead.

The number one worry-free plus point from this experience: no stress over the car next to our reserved parking lot at the office. The lady driver always, without fail, parks her car very close to our lot (and not in the center of hers) whenever she arrives before us, thus giving me very little room to get out of my car. A two weeks’ break from this daily annoyance is certainly welcomed.

We’ve been enjoying the comforts of home as I spent most of my time carving whilst hubby would be out in the garden tending to his plants. In between, I have been preparing meals and doing some light chores around the house. So domesticated. Hahaha…

My daily routine now: carving Whales

After lunch, I carved. And carved and carved. Then I would get dinner ready. The best part, we have been having pre- and post-dinner drinks more often than before. Whiskey, gin, wine and beer… we’re doing it all.

Then it’s Netflix all the way until bedtime. And this routine will be repeated day in, day out until the end of the month.

The downside from this partial lockdown: no golf until the end of the month as well! We contemplated taking walks in the evenings to address the exercise portion of our lives. Hmm… then again, doing house chores is exercising too.

The upcoming weekend may see a break in pattern or most likely not. Everyday feels like a weekend now. And so far so good, we are still sane.

Borderless Love, Part 2

13 Mar

It was drizzling and gloomy when we got home. And I had dinner to prepare in the kitchen, so I got things going. Hubby went to the garden and our adopted pet, the Golden Retriever from next door heard him somehow.

The adorable fluff ball dashed out of his house for a quick love pet and exchange.

However the fleeting moment was interrupted. His mom called out to him and reprimanded him for the sudden escape into the drizzling condition. I guess she doesn’t know he’s sneaking out for love pets from us. Heheh… So the poor fella had no choice but to go back indoors. Awww…

But he got his happy love exchange, hubby did too and I didn’t. Shucks.

It’s a Rufous!

6 Mar

Last week, as we were getting ready to go out, I thought I’d checked the hole in the staghorn for no apparent reason. Suddenly, a little brown head popped out from it and scared the daylights out of me! I think likewise, the bird had a scare too.

I managed to have a good look at the bird as it flew away and can vouch it’s a Rufous Woodpecker. I saw enough pictures of the species on the internet when I was googling up the possibilities upon discovery of the woodpecker. So it’s good our feathered friend did not abandon the hole that he made.

Maybe in due course, there will be a family? We have to be cautious when approaching the staghorn especially when raking the leaves in order not to scare the woodpecker or ourselves in the future.