(Growing conditions) Lemon verbena; addendum


Just to add on to my previous post on growing lemon verbena, propagation can also be done with growing tips, preferably no more than three or four leaf nodes down from the tip, placed in pure perlite, and then bagged up, allowing a small opening for some air circulation.

Roots formed in about two to three weeks; this picture shows the stalk in my fish tank, after I'd transferred it there

(Growing conditions) White sage


My various attempts to germinate the white sage seeds spanned more than a year, from some time in 2009 until now.

To date, I have tried a few methods, all of which did not produce any results until my latest attempt:
1. I have tried my traditional method of heating/warming the seeds up in a metal container filled with vermiculite, and placed on top of an aromatherapy burner, but the seeds didn’t germinate;

The pink paper is the seed primer, filled with the chemicals found after wildfires, which helps with wild plants' germination

2. I have sowed the seeds into transparent containers filled with pure vermiculite and maintained the humidity of the container at a level suitable for most other germination of seeds; this method sometimes made the white sage seeds sprout, but they always rotted within a day or two after that if not quickly transplanted; and even if they were transplanted at this stage, sometimes the seeds dried up in their new environment anyway;

3. I have bought seed primers and soaked the seeds in the chemically-infused water, to no avail;

4. This is the method which has finally worked, and I came upon it through laziness and a mistake: I soaked the seeds in water which came up to about twice their height, and I left the seeds for 36 hours. For the first time, because of my laziness (I’d originally intended to soak them only for 24 hours), the water level evaporated until the seeds were only moistened, but out of the six I’d soaked, two had sprouted. I sowed all of them, and another seed sprouted a few days later.

The rightmost seedling is the one which looks like it has a rotting stem

A few days ago, I tried this method again. I soaked all the seeds for two days, and then sowed them into a well-draining soil mix, and then covered the mouth of the pot up with clear plastic bag. For now, one out of six seeds have sprouted.

Since the white sage is a desert plant, I mix soil with a lot of volcanic sand, and water the seedlings sparingly every day. I’m still experimenting with the amount of water to give, since there is one seedling which, though growing, seems like it has a rotting stem close to the soil’s surface, while the other two are more or less fine.

Once the plants grow to larger sizes, I intend to treat them like I’m treating my sole white sage plant now, by giving them the full morning sun, and watering only twice a week.

(Fertilizing) Envizymes’s Gondwana Fertilizer experiment


Note to say: This update will be the last update on the experiment. My dad forgot to water the plants and they died.

The first update for this experiment was on July 31, 2010. Today is October 7, 2010. So approximately 10 weeks have passed.

As usual, the pot fertilized with Envizyme is the one on the right of the pictures.

Now the plants in both pots show marked differences (plants on right are fertilized with Envizyme).

Bigger plants in each pot.

Smaller plants in each pot.

The marked stalk differences of the smaller plants.

The marked leaf sizes and small stalk differences of the larger plants.

Overall view.

(Misc.) Sage smudge sticks in Singapore

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A call out to the person/persons who did a search for ‘stores selling sage smudge sticks in Singapore,’ and for any others who are looking for smudge sticks, you can try these holistic stores:

1. Sacred Space at Peninsula Shopping Center 4th level;
2. Spellboundz at Peninsula Shopping Center 4th level;
3. Basic Essence at Cluny Court 4th level.

These places should sell white sage smudge, or a combination of herbs like dragonblood and sage, lavender, sweetgrass braids, cedar, desert sage etc. Loose leaves of white sage are usually also sold, although you might want to use an abalone shell or other shells to hold them while they’re burning.

Alternatively, I have one spare desert sage smudge for sale at about $12. It’s the smaller one, if anyone is interested.

Let me know if any of you need help. Just leave a comment on any post.


(Fungus) Kombucha


I’ve been wondering if I should write a post on this, and decided I might as well, since the kombucha culture is a combination of bacteria and yeast, which are kind of like plants and growing plants as well.

I was introduced to the kombucha culture some time in late 2009 by a friend, who gave me a mother culture. At that time, I was quite leery about it, and kept in in my fridge without touching it. It wasn’t only until recently that I had a sudden flash of desire to do some research into this ‘herbal’ remedy which has been reputed to have been around for thousands of years, and which people drink supposedly to improve the body’s general health.

Of course, there have been no scientific experiments or evidences so far but many anecdotal ones. Like any other health supplements or products which do not fall into the traditional Western products section, there are contrasting comments on whether kombucha works positively, or not.

Up till now, it seems as if the negative comments and rare hospitalization cases came from people who have either 1) taken kombucha too fast and too much in a very short period of time; 2) people who had used lead-glazed ceramic pots in the past to store their culture and tea; 3) improper cleaning of tools when handling the kombucha culture.

I was brought up to believe (and it has become a staunch personal belief) that our bodies should not consume things which are totally germ free or too sterilized, because that lowers our immune system by a lot. As long as we keep our body healthy and the immune system up, no matter how much (typical, day-to-day) germs enter us, no matter what we touch etc., we’ll not fall sick easily. So I don’t like those scientific claims that fermenting kombucha at home means that germs can get in easily and that the end result is a lot less healthy than something which is produced in a factory or a lab.

Of course, that is not to say that an over-collection of germs and lack of adequate sanitary procedures are good; but I think too much has been emphasized on factories and labs and “science” these days. But anyway.

I’ve been brewing my third batch of kombucha to date, and have taken three tablespoonfuls worth of kombucha tea after lunch everyday. I stop for a few days at a time to let my body get rid of whatever excess, and plan to get a full body check-up in about six month’s time, to see how my body’s health is as compared with my last check. But for now, my body has reacted in the way that I poop (sorry for the word!) more frequently, sometimes up to twice a day. My bowels feel a lot cleaner and clearer. In the past, I poop maybe once a day or once every two days, and sometimes feel a little bit constipated.

Of course, it might be all psychosomatic. But then, since I love to see things grow, and just one culture alone, if healthy, can produce baby after baby, it’s a little bit like growing plants, and that brings me joy and makes me hyper. And other than that, I love the tangy apple cider vinegarish taste of the tea.

Now…to add squashed blueberries into my current batch which is being fermented…

For more information, read the book Kombucha: The Miracle Fungus by Harald Tietze.

The baby culture forming at the top of the tea.

The mother culture.

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