Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I found this Redback spider when I lifted a flower pot in my backyard this morning. Usually I leave it alone but I quickly trapped it in a glass jar, since I remembered a newly arrived Singaporean family living in a nearby suburb has requested me to show them a live Redback if I come across one. I quickly rushed it to their house but I could not persuade the Mrs of the house to take a closer look even I was holding it in a glass jar in my hand. She then rushed into her house and came back holding a can of insect spray. No way, I will allow this beautiful Australian icon from being killed although the female red-back is certainly not adversed to making a meal out of the hapless, smaller male of the species after mating. I can't help but to think that our Singaporean mum must have grown up watching Mortein advertisements and now took it as her maternal duty to eradicate every flying and crawling insects in the world. I can understand her fear, as the Redback spider (Latrodectus hasseltii) is one of Australia's most venomous spiders. It's found across Australia including Tasmania. The redback spider is closely related to the black widow spider of the United States and the katipo of New Zealand
It is often found in outdoor dunnys, letter boxes, under logs and rocks and other dark areas. The Redback spider is most active at dusk and during the night as the weather gets warmer. It is easy to spot a Redback because the female red-back is black with a distinctive "hour glass" red or orange marking on its back, hence its name. Only the female bite is dangerous. They can cause serious illness and have caused deaths. However, since Redback Spiders rarely leave their webs, humans are not likely to be bitten unless a body part such as a hand is put directly into the web, and because of their small jaws many bites are ineffective. Please be careful and wear a pair gloves when doing your gardening chores.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I have received five similar messages asking me on how to grow and care for orchids since I posted these exotic neon bright Dendrobium Nobiles in our FB page. Like many of you, I have always been fascinated by these elegant and exotic plants which have hypnotised gardeners for ages. Many orchid blooms look so glamorous you might suppose that only experts could produce such a beautiful specimen. To be honest, these dazzling stunning beauty of orchids initially makes me orchid-shy because the thought of growing and nurturing orchids seems a difficult and mysterious chore for me to pursue.

Beginning orchid growers find themselves seduced by the gorgeous beauty with showy blossoms could not help but to spend their weekends to look for them in speciality orchid nurseries, botanical gardens or mail order catalogues. Before you put them in your cart and swipe your credit card, the most important is to realise that raising these orchids may call for you to explore some of the technical aspects of orchid growing in same climate zone you are now living in, perhaps the first thing is imitating the orchids natural climate and diet will encourage them to prosper. Remember how difficult you survived and experienced your first winter living outside Singapore and the homesickness of longing for your comfort food of home. Growing orchid in your home means you must provide temperatures within the range that the plant comfortably grows. However with a bit of TLC, the list of requirements is much the same as any plants, and with practice and armed with a few basic cultivation rules of providing the right amount of water, humility, temperature, light level, potting mix and light level, your orchids will reward you with blooming successes.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spring has sprung...

Spring has sprung and we have been rewarded with abundance of nature gifts. What better place could there be to place a chair and to sit and enjoy the peaceful productivity of our garden? Surrounded by our plants and trees, we take springtime to sit in our garden and observe the play of sunlight and wind on the plants and vegetation. Watch how the insects interact with our plants, and consider what we are going to harvest next ...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year!

We love to hear the purr of the postman’s motorcycle engine on their daily round to deliver letters and Christmas cards to our post-box, especially at this time of the year. We are surprised by the numerous Christmas greeting cards we still received from our friends although we must admit that they are getting fewer each year.
In this age of the festive ecards, sending a Christmas card might seem a bizarre and mystical concept to some. With electronic communication dominating many people's lives, "letter writing is increasingly a dying art", laments many older people like us. "But while it is old fashioned, Christmas card-writing is a strong part of the festive tradition - and the one part of letter-writing that looks to be living on." After all, isn't tradition what Christmas is all about?

Likewise, one of the real joys of the Holiday Season is the opportunity to say thank you and to wish you the very best for the new year. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy Birthday to my wife Jo.

What a birthday surprise!!! I am supposed to hide this birthday present from our son to Jo until tomorrow... it was taken from the garage and displayed at the bay window with Jo saying " it won't last until my birthday without me watering it since last week"
Sometimes it seems that I don't see all the special things you do to make our home such a special place to live. But, I want you to know I couldn't ask for a better wife and a better mother for our family. Happy Birthday to the most special person in my life! 
Since you have opened your birthday present from our son a week ago, it is difficult to keep surprises from you.. I bet ya' you did n't know this is coming... We are going to the Alaskan Cruise and visit our god-son Toshi and his family in Vancouver in April next year.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lest we forget...

Today, Australians celebrate Anzac Day.
Lest we forget the lives and loves lost in all conflicts around the world as today Australians respect and honour the tradition of Anzac Day. Let us Singaporeans living and working here remember and embrace, too, what the  Australians have extended the spirit of Anzac beyond their shore into the hearts of all those who have known or know someone just like them who has sacrificed for his and her country.
Traditionally, Anzac has become synonymous with humble, selfless and self deprecating service whatever field of occupation or profession to help your mates. Lets us embrace what Australians have embraced since the first world war and beyond has been the humour and selflessness applied to helping others in otherwise trying circumstances. These can be their military, natural disaster, personal tragedy or simply in advocating and defence of the vulnerable.
Most of all lets us honour Australian and Allied Servicemen and women past and present.
Lest we forget.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Air layering was practised in China centuries ago...

Air layering in its original form was practised in China centuries ago and here I am with all the inherited genetic make-up from my farming ancestors, could only produce a single successful result from my past numerous propagation attempts. Motivated by the recent success of my air layering propagation of my calamansi plant, I could n’t wait to have a go at it again, this morning.
I was told many times that this method was the easy and sure way of propagating a number of flowering and fruiting plants to ensure that they are the same as the parent plants. Layering occurs naturally in many plants such as the “runners” of strawberries and the tip rooting of loganberry and blackberry are the well known examples and is the term used to describe the rooting of a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant.

 Let me briefly described what I have done this morning. I chose a one year old stem and partly severed by making an upward cut from just below a joint and afterwards a toothpick had been inserted to keep the cut open. I brushed and treated the cut surface with a root hormone powder before peat moss was wrapped around the cut with a freezer bag and binding the lower end of the freezer bag with a wire twist. The top of the bag was sealed after more peat moss was packed into the wrap. It was again wrapped with aluminium foil to strengthen it into a ball and to reduce necessity for constant damping. But I still have to make sure regular attention is given to syringing and watering to keep the ball moist until roots eventually grow out into it. Keeping my “green” fingers crossed.
A one-year old stem is chosen.
Making an upward cut
A toothpick is inserted to keep cut open.

Treating the cut surface with hormone  powder.
Peat moss is wrapped around the stem .

Aluminium foil is wrapped around to strengthen  the ball.
The top of the ball is sealed.