Wake Up!!!

I am retired so most of the times there is no strong motivation to wake up early and prepare for the day but one reason that encourages me to get up early is gardening, specially these days when it gets so hot by 10 am. Thanks for the rain last night, it’s a bit cooler this morning but I can already feel the humidity.

My small garden is thriving well! The birds are singing, serenading me while I sit on our back porch drinking coffee. They sing louder when I put their morning seeds in their feeder, so it seems. I noticed that there are actually Chipmonks that share with the birds. I saw the other one coming from our neighbor’s yard run toward the feeder while the other one that lives in our backyard was already feeding.

One of these days I will buy a bird Cam so that I can get a good photograph of birds/Chipmonks that come to our yard. I can’t take good photos of them up close because they are wild and skittish. As long as I sit still they continue to feed but any slight movement will cause them to go away.

I have harvested fruits twice already from my Roma and Red Beefsteak tomatoes. The Roma tomatoes are doing excellent despite the fact that they are planted in a flower pot and only getting 4-5 hours of direct sunlight.

Roma Tomato
Two Roma tomatoes planted next to the wall.

Harvesting Lemon Grass

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Now that the weather is cooler and I know that the temperature will drop at any time to where tropical plants will not tolerate,  I have made a decision to harvest my Lemon Grass and keep them in my fridge to use in my cooking this winter.

Before starting this task, I put on denim pants, long sleeved shirt and gardening gloves to protect my skin from the sharp leaves of these plants.

I would say that harvesting Lemon Grass is labor intensive, at least for me.  I need the physical exertion so I did not mind this rigorous activity.  I planted all my lemon grasses  in big pots this year due to having learned through my friends experience that planting lemon grass in an open field is not such a good idea.  It was almost impossible to dig the whole clump because of the dense sturdy roots it sends down through the soil underneath it.  The photo below shows just how dense the roots are!F1132580-A78F-4C09-860F-ED01FD5A5BE7.jpeg

The technique of getting the root ball out of the pot depends on what kind of pot the Lemon Grass is planted on.  The photo above shows that I used a black nursery pot to plant the Lemon Grass in and it was easy enough to get the whole root ball out.  All I have to do is tap the sides and botton of the pot then shake the plant loose and it came out easy.  If the plant is planted in a pot that has a water reservoir at the bottom of the pot, the water reservoir tray has to be removed first and the roots that extend to the water reservoir tray has to be clipped before I can successfully remove the clump out of the pot.  See photo below.

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Once I cut the roots that extend to the water reservoir tray,  I can tap the sides and bottom of the pot and shake and pull the clump out of the pot just like I did for the one planted in the black flower pot.

Once the clump is out of the pot, I used a shovel to remove the dirt surrounding the plant and at the bottom of the plant.  See photos below.F1132580-A78F-4C09-860F-ED01FD5A5BE7

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Then I separate each plant by pulling each plant apart from the clump until all are separated from each other.  See photo below.

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The next step is to cut the leaves off each plant with the use of sharp scissors and also clip the roots with the use of sharp limb clipper.  Then remove the dead or dried leaves.

Wash the individual plants thoroughly using rubber gloves or disposable gloves to protect hands from cuts as the edge of the leaves and stalks of the plants are sharp.  Spread the cleaned plants on a dry towel.  See photo below.A2DC321E-BA6F-431F-95CA-ED46D8C0796C.jpeg

Once the plants are free of excess water from washing,  put them in a big plastic bag and place inside the fridge.  See photos below.

 

The photo on the left shows young plants which I will use as seedling for next year.  The photo on the right shows mature plants which I will use for cooking and give away to friends.

How To Clean Bitter Melon Seeds

The Video shows how to remove the gelatinous coating of Bitter Melon 
seeds.  

Part of Fall season gardening activities is gathering seeds for next planting 
season.  Some seeds are easier to collect than others as they come out dry but most
of them are coated with some gooey substance that has to be removed from the seeds.  One
of these seeds is the Bitter Melon seed.  Each seed is coated with a brightly red 
gelatinous substance.  I surmise that this substance attracts ants which eat the sweet,
mushy substance but leave the seeds alone and usually some of the seeds will sprout in the 
the coming year but very late in the season so it is best to collect the seeds instead of 
leaving them in the ground.  The seeds need to be cleaned and air dried at room temperature so
so that mildew or fungus will not harm it.  When they are very dry they can be wrapped 
in dry paper towel then placed in a plastic bag.



Lemon Grass

Since I planted Lemon Grass on my back patio, I have not noticed any gnats or mosquitoes hovering over me when I’m outside.    Maybe it’s too early to tell.  I would know more about it when the temperature drops down to a cooler one at the onset of Fall.  I’m really very pleased at how my Lemon Grasses grow so well in containers.  These are started from three single plants last winter, which I bought from an Asian grocery store.  I chose ones that have visible intact bud at the base of the plant and stuck them in a flower base half filled with water.  I kept them under flourescent light in my bathroom winter through spring.  They developed roots and leaves all through these two seasons in my bathroom and even produce pups or young plants around them.

When the weather was consistently warm this year, around May or Jun, I transplanted them to flower pots.  As you can see from the photo above that they almost fill up the pots that they are planted in.  It is very sensitive to cold weather so it has to be placed inside a garage or unused room inside my house.

WARNING:   THE LEAVES HAVE SHARP EDGE AND IT CAN CUT SKIN VERY EASILY.