Bye bye, beans

Well, that was fast. Our snap beans went from this in mid-January:

…to this in late January:

… to this, throughout March:

… to this in early April:


… to this, in late April:


How utterly sad. It took two months or so to reach maturity, and in two weeks, it was all over. The plant is drying up and all flowers that do appear are puny things. It was fun while it lasted.

So now, I guess the cycle begins again, because snap beans are gone… in a snap. Thank goodness our tropical climate allows planting at almost any time of year.

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First loofah flower

The first loofah flower, just about 3cm wide

I was doing my inspection of the floral family this evening and was thrilled to see the first loofah flower beckoning to me. A nice pale yellow, it was just 2 to 3 cm wide.

Since veggie growing is quite new to me, I’ve been doing some reading on the different veggies I have growing. One of the things that kept cropping up was the mention of having to hand pollinate flowers of some veggie plants. This led me to learn about the differences between male and female flowers of cucurbits, e.g. cucumbers, melons and other vine-growers. Very interestingly, the distinction is that the female flowers tend to have a mini-fruit at the back of the flowers. (Visit this thread at the GCS forum to learn how to hand-pollinate the flowers) Of course, if loofah flowers need pollinating in order to fruit then this first flower is just for show, because it’s got no buddies to “play” with.

Flower in profile. Camera refused to focus nicely in the low light >:(

Another thing I learned is that angled loofahs (what I planted) only flower in the late afternoon (smooth loofahs flower in mornings) – so it’s fortunate that I got to see the flower today, even if it’s only ornamental for now. But, looking at the leaf nodes, it looks like the plant is preparing to branch out and flower, so there should be more to report in the near future.

All told, it’s been a little over 5 weeks since I planted the loofah seeds next to our unsightly chain-link fence. The bigger plant is about 60cm high now, with the other trailing it by 10 to 12 cm. Another result of my online research is that I’ve realized that the plants are pretty prolific and need a lot of space, so I’m a little undecided whether to keep both plants or to sacrifice the smaller one. Eh, it’s a tough decision for a compulsive planter/grower. Maybe I’ll just keep them both for a while and see how it all works out…

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Asian Koels

In an earlier post, I mentioned the Asian Koels as some of the avian visitors to our garden. Yes, they’re noisy vocally and when they traverse through trees, but I can overlook that because they do something that makes me happy – as cousins to Cuckoos, they lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and the unsuspecting birds look after the Koels’ offspring with their own until they’re old enough to leave the nest. How they can be so dumb, I can’t fathom, but I’m thrilled that the biggest victims of this scam are crows.

Oh, to get rid of more crows!

Crows and I have a hate-hate relationship that goes back to when they were nesting in the neighbourhood. You may not know it but they get very territorial and defensive when they’re nesting, to the extent that they dive-bomb anybody who simply walks by. And they don’t just swoop over you to threaten – they really do hit and scratch unless they see you keep your eye on them. Just imagine trying to walk down the road with a silly bird following and swooping down at you every step of the way. It’s not fun. So, I take great delight in knowing that they’re getting their comeuppance by looking after Koel babies. *evil laughter*

Male Koels look remarkably like crows. They’re black and have a similar brooding body shape. You only notice the differences when you look more closely – unlike crows, Koels have eerie red eyes and lighter-coloured beaks. In contrast, female Koels have beautiful markings – spots and stripes in dark brown alternating with beige.

The male Asian Koel. Doesn't it look uncannily like a crow?

In our garden, Koels feed on mangoes and the berries on palm and curry leaf trees. Being somewhat large birds, they are confident to assert their territoriality; they take their time eating the fruit even though other birds like the bulbuls, orioles and mynahs are noisily awaiting their turns to eat.

Bottom view of the female Asian Koel. When I see those feathers, I imagine tribesmen in the jungle using them in their headdresses....

Koels normally eat up in trees, but to my surprise, I saw a female on the ground earlier this week, feeding on the last bit of a mango that had fallen from the tree after being half-eaten by the birds. She was complacent enough that I managed to get a fairly decent photo of her before she flew off.

More information at Wikipedia, if you want to learn more about Asian Koels.

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Don’t watch for seeds to germinate…

I knew it! I knew it! They were just waiting for my back to be turned. Didn’t I say my seeds would do that before they’d germinate? And that’s exactly what happened.

The one day I didn’t have time to look in on the nursery is the day the tomato seeds decided to sprout! I guess even seeds have performance anxiety… :D

Nope they're not dying, just leaning towards the light source

Tomato plants, here I come! *knock on wood*

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