Launch of New Site

Today is the launch of this new site for the slow food and slow farming experience. I call this my “Really Slow Cottage” experience.

In the recent issue of Sai Kung Magazine a reader was fretting that there isn’t much written material available in Hong Kong for growing and gardening that takes into consideration of the local climate.

Well, you would have read from my post couple of weeks ago that the weather was really in extreme in Hong Kong and how can one plan for sewing the seeds and growing by reading books and magazine that were written for European or American climate.

Plus, where do you go to find seeds that you are looking for and what soil or medium is best to grow what kind of vegetable. Where can you get your own bag of horse manure? What and how to compost in an urban environment without upsetting you neighbours.

I hope you will find answers to your question here, however, if I haven’t cover what you are looking for yet please feel free to drop me an email. Happy reading!


Cruelty to Caterpillars

This morning, when I was getting ready to go to Macau I went around my garden and say good-bye to the troops. Despite the humid weather and constant rain the green off springs of the butterflies were at work. “Were,” is the correct word to use as when I have spotted them I had to do the right thing for my plants, which is to spray soap-water on them.

I use a Carson soap bar, shave the soap with a potatoe peeler and mix them with water in a water spraying bottle, and spray away with impunity. The green worms curled up and shivered and then lied motionless. I can’t watch as it’s becoming on the edge of cruelty. I simply export them to oblivion. 

Having read Nye’s post today about the organic insecticide she mixed with sadao, I am inclined to try it on my garden. But, where can Ifind sadao in Hong Kong? Besides insecticides for organic growing, I would also suggest growing alternative plants in the patch. For example, I have found that by growing basil among the vegetables butterflies are less likely to visit the patch. May be it because of the strong aroma, I am not sure but it’s worth trying.


Backyard Garden Against Nature

As I was writing about the weather in my last post, the extreme wet humidity in the last week, and then the wetness went away with humidity dropped to 70%, but temperature also dropped from 19C to 12C. What can I do? Nothing! One has to live with nature, that may be why our ancestors consult the Almanac to have an equalization force with nature.

Unfortunately, my zucchini flower died without a chance to be fertilized. Therefore no zucchini fruit from that flower. But, I am not totally discouraged as there are many more on their way. In general, that is why we need to have the weather on our side, preferably with sustained low twenty and mild humidity for the plants to flower and for the worker bees to cross-pollinate the flowers.

Zucchini is a summer squash and is in the Cucurbitaceae family (genre) and their flowers can be cross pollinated. To get a pure breed for future planting one must be very careful not to have other species of the same genre to pollinate the flower, however, pollinating the flower for fruiting purpose it’s alright. I have in my garden now different squash, gourd and pumpkin plants and their flowers can be use for pollination with each other. All I need is a good spell of upper teens temperature and sunshine to enable the bees to work.

Having said that, the other morning I’ve found a bunch of illegal vegetable harvesters on my cauliflower and choi shum. How they got into my cauliflower i have no idea because the pot was fenced off with chicken wire. I will have to investigate that later. In the mean time, they were having a whale of good time at my expense, gorging on my fruits of hard work. So I called in the spade patrol, and the green fellows are promptly catapulted to the nearest domain.

Don’t think that I am not fond of the off springs of the butterflies, as they are beautiful to look at when they are grown up, and they are useful to spinner of silk, but they just eat so much and deprived of my family the fruits of my labour. So if it is between them and my familyof couse I will have to choose my own family.

“Move Earth” Says the Chinese Almanac

The Chinese Almanac, which our agricultural ancestors had use throughout the last two thousand years to give advice about planting, has indicated the last two days would be auspicious days for “moving earth” and “start trading”. It’s so happened that these are the wettest days of the month, up to 95% humidity, and you can almost swim in the air. The plants are surviving the dampness, but they do need the sun to expose itself otherwise they will suffocate and die. This is the time I really believe an indoor garden is better for the growing then the outdoor ones. With my portable growing boxes, this is exactly what I will do and taking some of the plants indoor to the warmer and dryer atmosphere to let them have some air.

Endiveplants grown in different media.

The endive that I have transplanted about 4 weeks ago from seedlings are doing fine. The ones that are growing in perlite (珍珠岩) are growing at least 30% biggest than the ones I have planted in compost alone or half compost and half perlite. For this batch of plants I am growing them in a HypoNex high-grade solution that is diluted 1,000 times. I use the measuring cap supplied and used only half of the small cap and dissolve the nutrient in a 2 litre bottle that was recycled from used orange juice container. The nutrient is changes every week or so and the boxes that contain the nutrient are scrubbed and washed with dishwashing liquid.

Living outside the urban area is actually more challenging with the growing environment as there are more insects and pests to deal with on a day-to-day basis. This morning I’ve found a couple of fat green caterpillars munching on my Choi Sum leaves. They are promptly deported to our neighbour’s plot. Well, they don’t really grow anything there so it’s no harm for the green friends to have some dust for breakfast.

So, to follow the suggestion of the almanac, I thought I should plant some seeds to mark the wettest days of the month, or the year, who knows?

Sustainable Growing and Consuming of Local Produce

The seed of what is happening has been germinating for quite a while … and I don’t mean for plants. It’s about a resource book for the home gardeners on growing herbs and vegetables for Hong Kong and Macau region.

Bitter Gourd grown from seed harvested from fruit bought in the market.

I have been reseraching for books in the library on topics of vegetible and herbs growing for the local climate and found very few. What I could find was written many years ago and was not useful for the present setting. So I am going to start blogging here about my own effort in building a sustainable organic garden in Hong Kong. I am also going to use simple materials from local hardware stores and notably from the Ikea stores to build a hydroponics growing system on our balcony.

Time premit I will update this blog more frequently (hopefully at least once a week) and whenever I have made major progress in the building of my edible garden.

State of Art Hospitality in Macau

From the image of serene lotus pad to that of a Brazilian daner’s baroque display of feathers and head-gear, these were some of the descriptions used for the shape of Hotel Grand Lisboa’s superstructure.

The Grand Lisboa is the second tallest building in Macau. You can feel the omnipresence of the casino/hotel because the building can be visible from almost every corner of Macau. Starting from the moment you landed at the ferry terminal.

We were treated for a tour on the 31stfloor executive lounge and were instantly mesmerized by the view, overlooking the original Lisboa Hotel and the distance Taipa Island connected by the bridge.

The lounge was tastefully decorated with deep seated light coloured leather chairs and dark wood wall panel that is decorated with contemporary prints.

The executive lounge is the perfect venue for your morning coffee while reading your morning briefings or evening night cap before you return to your state of art, technology filled guest room.

Each of the guest rooms are luxuriously finished, including a 46 inches B&O television that adjusts to the angle you want, when you are watching seated upright or lying in bed.

Guest RoomThe curtain and the roman blinds are separately electronic controlled and lighting has four different programmed setting that is operated with the pressing of a single button.

I am much impressed with the additional TV screens in the toilet and the vanity area, so you can continue to monitor the world news no matter what you are doing in your room. Isn’t this what all highflying executives or gamblers want?

The shower area is also a steam room, which is controlled with a timer and temperature monitor.

Reclining in the Jacuzzi you can continue to monitor the world from the vanity TV screen.

Another nice touch is the room-safe, which opens upward after sliding out the top drawer of the dresser. So you no longer have to bend over when you put away your valuables.

The complementary mini-bar is stocked with water, juices and cold beers, which you can consume as much as you like without worry of extra charges.

“We want our guests to feel like at home therefore we put in the complementary mini-bar, and every fitting in the room are designed with the convenience of the guest in mind,” said Eugenia Ip, PR Manager of the Lisboa Hotel group.

However, technology filled furnishing aside if your visit is to seek serenity rather than the hustle bustle of the action central. Then, Pousada de São Tiago, which is also managed by the Lisboa Hotel group, could be your obvious choice.

A Welcoming Drink in La PalomaSituated about 10 minutes drive from the city center, Pousada de São Tiago was recently re-opened after extensive renovation. The hotel now consist of 12 suites, each decorated with different themes and balcony equipped with incredible sea view.

This is a little secret hideaway that you can mingle with the plants and birds while sipping a Kir Royal intimately with your friend.

The hardware is not the only impressive experience with the Lisboa. When I was checking in and I was opening my bag to get my notebook the hotel steward picked up the pencil that I dropped on the floor before I even noticed I’ve dropped it. The attention to detail is what makes the Lisboa hospitality experience a success.

In the following postings, I will tell you more about the dining experience with Restaurant Eight, Don Alfonso and La Paloma.

Sofitel Macau

I questioned the reasons for planting a hotel at the site of Sofitel, in Ponti 16, of Macau.

There doesn’t seemed to be any major tourist attractions, and it’s hard to get to and to get around.

The service though has been very friendly and it had been the site of the old gambling boat, so there must be some historical attraction to it.

I have visited the area twice on the same day, first in the afternoon was to the wine shop Pouring House, a new wine shop established recently. Then in the evening I went to a wine tasting function for Fritz Haag vineyard of Germany in the Sofitel.

Well, at the end of the day, I guess just like anywhere else in the enclave development will come to this area and property value will rise.

Anybody has any other input?