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Sunday, February 7, 2010

My little Garden of Herbs

Friday, February 12, 2010


My husband and I love gardening especially herbs and fruit trees. The little area in our front yard which we are proud to call 'our little garden', we have a man-made pond (designed and created by my very creative 'DIY' husband and brother in-law) is surrounded by orchids and potted plants. The pond complete with a mini 'waterfall, is about 10 years old now and has about 20 odd carps and parrot fish. If you don't have a pond in your home, maybe you should consider having one! It has a calming effect on ones tired soul!

Have you seen grape tree grow in Malaysia! If you think grapes can only grow in cold climate, well think again. It actually requires the opposite to grow well. It needs direct sunlight! I bought this grape plant when it was only about 3 weeks old and only about 2 feet tall. After about 1 1/2 years later, look at how tall it is but I'm still patiently waiting for it to flower and finally some grapes to eat. I just love the beautiful fragile leaf and it's vines. It also provides shade for the orchids and the pond as well. See my healthy grape tree below.


Ok, now, if you originate from Malacca, you will recognize this fruit/vegetable plant. This is called 'Terung Assam'. The plant has big thorny leaves and it produces small round fruits about the size of cherry tomato. It has velvety texture on the surface of the fruit and is yellowish orange in color when it's ripe. We usually add it into the 'sambal belacan' or add it into Assam Pedas. It's very sour and the flesh is full of very tiny seeds. I've been trying to plant Terung Assam for many years but unfortunately not successful. Then one fine day, I had a wonderful surprise to see one sprouting from my garden and it grew and grew and grew. Now it's about 3 feet high and is flowering. Hopefully will get some fruit soon! I know my neighbor is also eyeing it..yes, he's from Malacca too and knows what the fruit is used for! Hee..hee..don't worry, thy neighbor, I shall share my 'treasure' with you when the 'treasure' grows!

Here's how the plant looks like. You can see the flowers blooming.

Terung Assam Plant


Do you know where the blue comes from in Nyonya kuehs? It's not 'nila' which is used to wash white clothing ok. That's not edible at all. Probably the kuehs you buy from the mall, are made with edible blue coloring. For authentic Nyonya kuehs, we use 'Bunga Telang'. You can extract the color by boiling the flower in water and squeeze the flower. Not many houses plant this and even if you do find one in your neighborhood, most often you will get single petal 'Bunga Telang'. The one that I have in my garden is double petal 'Bunga Telang'. You can pluck the flowers when it's fully bloomed and dry it out in the sun. Store it in the refrigerator and it can last for years. Here's the 'Bunga Telang' in my garden. It's beautiful and since the plant is a creeper, you need to trim it often.

Wonderful wonderful Bunga Telang!


Bunga Kerang Nenas or Oyster Plant.


For this particular plant, you may have seen this being planted along the streets in your neighborhood or in the garden of some houses. This is called 'Bunga Kerang Nenas' or 'Oyster Plant'. Rhoeo Spatachea is the scientific name. The Oyster Plant has long strappy leaves which are green on top and purple to green on the bottom. It bears small white flowers at the base of the leaves. It is often used indoors and outdoors as an ornamental plant. The plant sap can cause skin irritation and various symptoms if large quantities are eaten.

The folklore has it that it has medicinal properties if taken correctly as it can cure cough, cold, coughing phlegm with blood, whooping cough, nose bleed, bacillary dysentery, blood in the stool. When the leaves boiled in water with barley, it is believed to have cooling properties and can relief fever. If you research further in the internet, it claims that in Mexico, Rhoeo Spatachea has been used to treat cancer. A study was done to validate its antitumoral property. It showed a reduction of preneoplastic lesions and justifies continuing further studies for its chemo prevention potential.

Well, since we are blessed with what Nature has to offer, there's no harm in trying out, right? Anyway, there's no preservatives or chemical. So, why not?

My other wonderful, wonderful herbs growing in my garden, are my all time favorite which are the Kaffir Leaves or Daun Limau Perut and Tumeric Leaves. These two leaves are a must in most Nyonya cooking. It adds flavor and aroma to the food.

Mother Nature is just wonderful! That's why we have to work together to preserve what Mother Nature has been offering us.



Kaffir Leaf (Daun Limau Perut) and Tumeric Leaf (Daun Kunyit)


My latest addition, is the Rosemary. This herb is more suitable for western culinary. This is given to me by my sis.

Rosemary.

I do have other plants but it will be too many to add into this blog and probably you'll be bored to tears! So, until my grape tree bears fruit, you can bet that I'll post it in my blog!

Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day is just 2-days away...so, Gong Xi Fa Cai & Happy Valentine's Day to All!

Be Safe!