Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The scientific name for bitter melon is Momordica charantia. Climbing plant resembles a cucumber vine, with a sprawling growth habit, curly tendrils, and bright yellow flowers. The fruit is white color and can grow up to 20-25 cm long. It is less bitter than normal green bitter gourd.
How to grow
Bitter gourd is a fast-growing fruiting vine that grows well in hot, humid climates with daytime temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers well drain soil and full sunlight location. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting. Sow two to three seeds together at a depth of 1/2-inch deep. Water the planting area immediately after sowing. Bitter gourd seeds will germinate in two to three days. Manually pollinate the plants if insects are not available in the area. Flowers will appear on the plant five to six weeks after planting. Touch the male flowers to the female flowers to transfer pollen. A successful pollination will result in large portion of the flower growing into a fruit.
Tips: The fruits are often protected and covered using paper sleeves, by closing the top end but keeping the bottom end open, to block the sunlight exposure and to minimize skin scratch during the fruit growth, to obtain beautiful fruits.
Maturity & Harvest
Days to maturity is 80-90 days.
Rich in Beta Carotene, Calcium, Potassium, Vitamins A, C, B1 to B3, Phosphorus and good dietary fiber
Health benefit and Uses
Lowering blood sugar levels, effective herbal remedy against diabetes.
Stir fried with egg, broiled with soup, Stew with chicken meat or stuffed with meat.
Monday, March 22, 2010
This showy bush rapidly colonises wastelands as their seeds are dispersed by birds. As such, the Straits Rhododendron is often considered a weed. The beautiful flowers last only one day, opening after sunrise, closing the same day, with the petals falling off on the a few days later. The flower has two different kinds of stamens.
The seeds are tasteless and can be eaten, but stains the tongue black. In fact, the word melastoma is Greek for "black mouth".
How to grow:
This flowering shrub is not fussy about soil type and M. malabathricum can also be grown in areas with clayey soil but it definitely does better in soil that is fertile and friable. It should be noted that its roots should be consistently moist and plants should not be allowed to dry out between watering. It is a suitable candidate as a marginal plant for bogs and water gardens.
The young leaves are eaten raw or cooked and taste sour. The pulp around the seeds can also be eaten (Indonesia). The seeds are used to produce a black dye, the roots, a pink dye. In some places, the leaves are fed to silkworms. Leaves are used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery (Malaysia, Indonesia); wash for ulcers, to prevent scarring from smallpox; and to treat piles.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
botanical name: Samanea saman
Other name: Rain Tree, Saman, French Tamarind, Ohai Tree, Mimosa.
The money pod tree is originated in Central and South America, but is now common throughout the tropics as a shade tree and are so beautiful. Monkey Pod tree produces a large, dome-shaped canopy and can grow to 50-80 feet tall with a trunk 5 feet in diameter. It has low spreading branches with evergreen oval leaflets. The leaflets are light sensitive and fold together on the approach of rain, or on cloudy days. The tree produces thousands of "powder puff" type flowers that have long, bicolor pink and white stamens that are grouped in dense heads, with multiple flowers per head.
How to grow
This tree is easy to grow; it does best in full sun or very light shade, planted in rich well-drained soil, acidic to slightly alkaline like its natural environments. This is an excellent container plant for the cooler climates and for the tropical regions a beautiful landscape plant. Monkey Pod will not tolerate shade, frost, or low temperatures. Zones 10-11, Minimum Temp 35 F degrees
Great wood for carving. The fruits are woody pods which contain several seeds and a pulp that is supposedly sugar sweet and edible.
How to sprout the Monkey Pod Tree seeds:
Clean the seed well of all fruit by scrubbing it lightly under lukewarm running water. Make sure that you remove all of the pulp.
Fill a small bowl with hot water, at least 175 degrees F. Botanists with the Bishop Museum suggest using water volume five times the seed volume.
Place the seed in the bowl of hot water, allow to sit for two minutes, stir, then remove them and place them in a bowl of lukewarm water, 86 to 104 degrees F, for 24 hours.
Combine three parts potting soil, one part sand and one part compost. Fill the planting pot with the mixture and water it well, allowing the excess water to drain from the bottom of the pot.
Plant the monkey pod seed 1/2 inch into the soil, cover lightly and place the pot in a warm area, such as on top of the refrigerator. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Germination should occur within 10 days.
Allow your seedling to grow to a height of 8 inches prior to planting it outdoors. This may take from three to five months.
Plant the seedling in a location that receives sun all day. The monkey pod seedling will die in the shade. Pull any weeds around the seedling as soon as they appear, so that the seedling doesn't have to compete for sunlight and moisture.