things are moving fast in afghanistan: this morning i saw on the news that the taliban had surrounded the capital of kabul. by the time i arrived in belmont, they were already inside the city and taken over the presidential mansion.

first thing i did when i got to my parents' place was to take a quick peek outside. i saw it right away: a ripe bitter melon, its orange skin split open with bright red seeds inside. despite it being so ostentatious, it went unnoticed by my parents because it was growing low to the ground behind the raised bed. we picked it off the vine to harvest the seeds.

my mother made noodles for lunch with i made more flavorful by adding a spoonful of chili oil sauce. my parents also introduced a new creation they made: sour plum marinated peel cherry tomatoes. soaked in sour plum powder, vinegar, and honey, it tasted nothing like tomatoes, more like delicious tiny plums. i mixed a container of ice tea before heading back into the backyard.

unlike yesterday, the weather today was cooler and dry. i could've spent the whole day outside, going from one gardening project to the next. we harvested another tray worth of vegetables: zucchinis, eggplants, chili peppers, ground cherries, tomato, thai basil.



biter melons:

random garden scenes:

most of the cucumbers have succumbed to bacterial wilt, i don't think we'll get anymore cucumbers this season. i would try spraying some kaolin clay but it's a little too late for that now. i'm pretty sure we're not going to grow any cucumbers for next year. my father said we could grow long beans instead, a better use of the trellis space.

i sprayed the orchids for mealybugs then repotted some of them before soaking in fertilizing water. since they're no longer flowering, i can also start the systemic insecticide treatment. it'll be a little difficult since the orchids are growing in wood chip bark instead of actual soil.

i decided to repot the last surviving hydrangea cutting as the soil was too heavily infested with fungus gnats and not very good soil to begin with. i used potting soil this time instead of garden soil, which had a finer consistency. the bottom of the cutting had some rot, but what also what looked like tiny roots. there were also nodules on the stem part that had rooting hormone, those also looked promising.

true to their names, when ground cherries ripen, they fall to the ground. in fact, the ones on the ground are a lot sweeter than the ones collected from the branches. their husks also make pretty skeletons when discarded on the lawn and cured by the elements.

we discovered something unique to the long beans. we've known for a while that a flower stalk would always produce two flowers, followed by 2 long beans (or less, if the flower wasn't pollinated successfully). but the thing we realized is often times, the flower stalk will produce two more flower buds on top of the growing long beans, for a total of 4 beans from a single stalk. so when we harvest we have to be careful, otherwise we might accidentally snip off the emerging new flower buds.

finally the last gardening thing i did today was to sift the dried foxglove flower stalks with a mesh strainer to collect all the tiny seeds. at first i was just shaking them into a tray, but then thought i could use a fine mesh strainer. luckily the holes of the strainer was just the right size for the seeds to pass through, but the debris left behind. in hindsight, maybe an easier way would be to simply shake the flower stalks in a paper bag to release the seeds. even using my strainer method, there was probably still seeds left on the dried seed pods.