Earth Hour 2010

Remember to make your stand against climate change this weekend, March 27th, 2010.

Switch off your lights for an hour at 8.30pm local time, and if you can, try to adopt more energy-saving techniques in your life. We are responsible for shaping our future on this world. Let’s make it a sustainable one.

The Keng Hwa flower that blooms only at night. Considered an auspicious flower in local culture, the flower blossoms between 9pm and midnight, and has wilted away by morning.

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Propagating mint

Green and gorgeous mint

I’ve tried propagating many plants from cuttings and had different levels of success. Of course there are so many factors to consider – resilience of the plant, type of potting media used, how much to water, etc. I recently read on the GCS forum that it’s fairly easy to propagate mint cuttings in water. Since this was something I’d not tried before, I just had to experiment.

I made a few cuttings from my pot of mint and stripped the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the stems. It was my plan to keep them in a small glass vase so that I could observe how long it would take the roots to emerge.

My mint cuttings

After fitting everything in, it occurred to me to use a bit of rooting hormone to help the cuttings along. Using one of the now wet stems, I dipped it into the powdered hormone then stirred the powder-covered stem in the water in the vase. I replaced all the stems in the hormone slurry and sat back to wait and watch (metaphorically speaking, of course).

The hormone powder settled at the bottom of the vase, and I stirred it up a couple of times a day by swirling the bottle gently. Every second day, when the powder was settled at the bottom of the vase, I’d change the water, because I didn’t want mosquitoes to think of that as a possible breeding ground. There was more than enough of the hormone left after I changed the water, so that was all good.

Progress of the rooting after almost a week in rooting hormone solution. Notice the stems growing from the previous leaf nodules. Hint: click on the picture for a bigger view!

On the third day, I saw the first tip of a root start to grow out at one of the leaf nodules in the water. By the following day, all the stems had sprouted some amount of root, and boy did they grow rapidly!

So now that the roots were out, I thought I would pot them. Well, one of my biggest faults is that I procrastinate …often. Because of that, the cuttings stayed in their little glass vase for another 3 to 4 days, and this allowed me to make another unexpected discovery — new stems had begun to sprout, also from the old leaf nodules! As always, I was fascinated with this new development and had to document and share it with you.

It’s fairly safe to say that these babies will be potted very soon and will be made welcome in the nursery. Shh, just don’t let them know they’ll go into a different kind of (cooking) pot somewhere in the future! ;)

© 2010 All rights reserved.


The beauty of the rain

I know I’ve been but one among many who were complaining in early March about the hot, dry weather we had in Singapore. Now that the winds have changed and the rain has come, we’re gleefully enjoying it. Before the novelty wears off, I thought I’d share some of the beauty I see around me, courtesy of the rain that slakes the thirst of the land.

What a downpour!

Heavy droplets cause quite a splash!

Splish, splash! I love how the water seems to be dancing!

And when the rain lightened, the drops caused ripples in the puddles that remained for a while

The fern was reviving happily

The aloe vera looked refreshed too

A big drop just waiting to roll downhill. If you stare hard enough at the big droplet, it seems as if it's moving downward almost imperceptibly. Seriously!

Even the windmill needed to dry out

Hope your plants are as happy as mine are now!

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Growing sweet potatoes from a sweet potato

I have an insatiable urge to try growing new plants all the time. When I visited a friend and saw an old (and sprouting!) sweet potato in her kitchen, I casually observed that it was sprouting. She agreed and said they were probably going to throw it away. Of course I didn’t waste any time and asked if I could have it. Knowing my penchant for growing things, she indulgently handed it over.

Prior to this, I had read on the Net about how easy it is to grow sweet potatoes, and was eager to try growing them. There are different methods to do this, and I intended to use two: firstly, to plant the sweet potato in earth and allow it to start growing, and secondly, to use the leaves it sprouted to grow more plants. We’re going to discuss the first method in this post.

Actually, we’re not going to discuss it, but I want to share the experience in pictures. I just have to apologise in advance for not taking a photo of the sweet potato before I planted it, because I was just too eager to get it into the ground and see what happened. Heh heh. :)

So since I have no photo, let me just describe that the sweet potato (orange variety) was around 20cm long with a diameter of 6-7cm. The sprouting was pretty advanced, with the biggest growth almost 4cm long. The stems were whitish, with the tip looking somewhat like a hand, palm up, with pink Barney-the-dinosaur-like fingers reaching upwards.

This was planted in a hole in a semi-shaded spot. I laid it horizontally because I wanted to allow the stems to keep growing in the direction they were already growing in. When I covered it with soil, it was about 10cm underground. I placed a couple of bricks around the spot, as well as a flowerpot stand over it to stop the dogs from trampling the site. If there’s ever a spot I don’t want them to run all over, you can bet they’ll step right on it! And I mean with unerring accuracy. So I took no chances.

A week later, I noticed a shiny, pink leaf that had just broken through the earth. Again, I was reminded of Barney, because that leaf looked uncannily like a pink, webbed creature’s foot to me!

The first leaf emerges

By the next day, more leaves were fighting their way out. The older leaves turned a light shade of greenish-yellow, retaining a rim of pink along the edges and on the veins.

More leaves sprout...

When the leaves unfurled completely, they were heart-shaped.

Aerial view of the leaves

Close-up of the 1-2 day old leaves. Notice how vigorously they’ve pushed their way out of the earth – the soil has simply erupted to make way for the leaves!

We want out! The leaves reaching hungrily from the ground.

Day 5, and more leaves are sprouting up from the rest of the underground tuber! The older leaves darkened to a solid green, losing the pink tinges.

Oh, they're popping up everywhere!

Growth on Day 6. I was amazed at how prolifically it’s growing. Should I be afraid? :D

About a foot high now.

It won’t be long before I can harvest some of those stems for propagation, and hopefully get a good sweet potato patch going. Look for that in a future post!

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