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Great moments in horticulture


'Tis the time of year in the sub tropics when the Sweet Leaf/Katuk bushes [Sauropus androgynus-- mani cai (马尼菜), in Malay it is called cekur manis or sayur manis] loose their leaves and bare out.I make sure I strip every leaf on mine before that happens and ferry them inside. As I have been advised by my Malaysian gardening mentors, I've cut the bushes back and taken cuttings for striking.


But I miss 'em so...my sweet sweet leaves. I have only about 20 leaves left and I won't waste one of them.

I love Katuk with a gourmandising passion.So I'm planning to up my supply...and maybe I should look at trying to extend the harvest season next year somehow.

The good thing is, as the Katuk struggles to flesh up, the Kale kicks in...and I have planted a lot of Warrigal Greens to supplement.

Katuk, Kale, Warrigal Greens..seems all very exotic, doesn't it? But they all very easily grown this far north on grumpy soils. Kale is supermarket expensive ($5/bunch) and not the green veg norm. The rest are rare.

Also in Winter the Kantong -- water spinach -- dies back but sweet potato leaves make a good substitute . There is always plenty of leaves in sweet potato patches. Indeed, it is said, that if you cull back the leaves, you'll get bigger tubers.
Here we have folk chasing the hard to grow, bug prone, and often expensive supermarket veg like broccoli and such, when there are these more self reliant substitutes

From my POV the produce larder essentials starts with veg like this --and core fresh herbs like rosemary, parsley,garlic, coriander,chilli and basil -- all of which I tend to pile into a dish -- and the root vegetables: carrot, beetroot, turnip...Add the main starches -- white and sweet potatoes -- and you're cooking up a storm. The 'glue' for all this, for me, are spring onions and leeks. Indispensable. I haven't peeled a regular onion in almost a year. And while I use fresh (or frozen) ginger a lot I prefer to grate Turmeric -- and I even have the bench top stains to prove my preference.

I use tomatoes, of course, even 'dry' them -- but my keen addiction is to one  sweet pepper type : Cubanelle/Italian long sweet pepper.

The day I master the cultivation of these delights will be a great horticultural moment.

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