(Growing conditions) Shiso


I’m not quite sure why all the websites I researched from on Google claim that the seeds are hard to germinate (or were those just old seeds?), or that people who have grown it have told me so as well.

In fact, the seeds sprouted so readily for me I saw green leaves within two days of sowing!

It’s certainly one of the most fuss-free germination I’ve done.

The plant isn’t terribly fussy as well. I have the green ones in a soil mix of normal black soil with volcanic sand for drainage and the red ones in pure worm poo, and give them about four hours of direct sun, and they grow happily. Even at heights of barely four inches, their stems are already hard and pretty sturdy for their sizes.

The red shiso seedlings are beginning to color up =3

I’m waiting for all the plants to grow to a much greater height before harvesting the leaves to create an enzyme to drink.

Care: Not too fussy about the soil mix, but keep it on the moist side
Fertilizing: Weekly weak fertilizer
Sunlight: Bright shade to full sun
Propagation: By seeds (rumored to be reluctant to germinate if not fresh) or cuttings


(Photography) Hoya carnosa variegated flowers


Shot and processed with iPhone 4

(Worm bin) Experimentation


Have I mentioned how much I absolutely LOVE and feel a little bit cheered up whenever I see a whole mass of my vermicomposting worms in the places where I’d placed food and used cardboard or shredded newspaper to cover it?


Well, I do.

I recently decided to try out some version of flow-through composting, and bought two small baskets with large enough holes. I propped one on top of the other using small little bricks so that there’s about a 3 to 4cm gap between the two bases of the baskets. Then I transferred a handful of worm casting to the top basket, spreading the casting out along the length. Also transferred quite a bit of worms into the basket, and then added chopped up veggie scraps and cardboard shreds over the food.

To the small gap left in the bin, I compiled all the worms there, and also added food scraps and newspaper shreds.

Today (and a few of the days), when I went to disturb the bin and basket with a chopstick to aerate the casting (so it doesn’t become anaerobic and stink), I saw the worms of both sections all huddled and intertwined in crazy masses beneath the food and paper. I just went squeeee. =D It means that I’m doing stuff right, since the worms are attracted to the sections where I placed the rotting food, and not to the empty sections.

One thing which scared me – well, more like startled, really – today was that I opened my bin, and a huge adult black soldier fly flew out. Since my bin’s airholes are way too tiny for the adults to get in to lay their eggs, and I’d also stretched a pantyhose over the lid, the conclusion I have was that the larva was already present when I bought the castings from two different suppliers.

But since neither the larvae nor the adults hurt the worms nor the bin’s ecosystem, and the larvae actually helps to compost food faster and their poop provides food for the worms, I let it go.

I LOVELOVELOVE! my worms and worm bin. =D

(Propogation) Allspice


About half a year ago, when I heard that the nursery at Ang Mo Kio had finally – FINALLY! – released their allspice plants for sale, I rushed down and bought two plants immediately, even though each cost $30. There came a sale of 30% the month following my purchases, but ah well. Done is done.

Notoriously hard to propagate, the allspice comes from the Greater Antilles, Southern Mexico and Central America. The unripe berries are plucked and used. But one would need a separate male and female plant to achieve cross pollination. That was the reason why I bought two plants in the first place – in the hopes that one was male, and the other female.

However, I have no idea when flowers would appear. I suspect only when the plants became huge trees. Not having the space to grow the plants that large, I’ve finally hit down hard on my fears and turned to marcotting this plant.

I’ve read and done a few marcotting, myself, but mostly on plants far less expensive (though no less hard to find in Singapore) than the allspice. Still, I had to gather my guts to do it.

I did two marcotting portions on each plant.

For the first plant, I merely did slanted cuts on a semi-woody stem, smeared rooting hormone in the cuts, and wrapped worm casting around them before sealing them up with cling wrap.

For the second one, and especially the second portion, I tore out the whole layer of outer bark on one portion, smeared rooting hormone up and down the wound, and also used worm casting on it (and on the other).

I decided not to use soil this time because, well…I have excess casting for one, and also I heard that worm casting somehow encourages rooting in plants.

It was a messy affair, as usual, since my hands become like feet whenever I have to handle marcotting processes. But the slightly paste-like texture of the casting helped, so that it didn’t crumble here and there.

I’ve had to strip a few leaves. So…maybe I’ll enjoy some cups of fragrant allspice tisanes today.

Now…let’s see how long roots take to form. I hope ants don’t make nests in them!

(Photography) Hoya flowers


Hoya carnosa variegated flowers.

H. carnosa flower close-up.

H. carnosa flower close-up - I LOVE the fuzz on the flowers!

Hoya obscura flowers close-up

H. obscura - unopened cluster of flowers

(New purchases) Hoyas


I finally decided to let myself go slightly into hoya plants, in preparation for when I finally get my place I don’t know when. I’m planning for the worst case scenario, in which we can’t get a flat with good sunlight directions and hours.

And since the hoya does well with hours of bright shade, and I love some of the genuses of flowers, I decided: go buy a few cheap ones to try out.

Pictures were shot with the iPhone so the quality isn’t the best.

Hoya carnosa variegated

Hoya obscura?

(Gardening happy) Sunbird


There is this mated pair of sunbirds (olive-backed sunbirds, I suspect) which ALWAYS come to my house every morning and evening without fail, to drink nectar from my dad’s bonsai flowers.

I finally managed to remember to be there today evening, and shot some pictures of one of them.

The tiny claws! =3

Picture is noisy because I went into digital zoom on my Canon S5.

Same issue with the noise.

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