Cabbage family

I haven’t had much luck with growing Brassicaceae (/ˌbræsɪˈkeɪsii/) or Cruciferae (/kruːˈsɪfəri/), commonly known as the cabbage family. (十字花科中文名譯自舊稱Cruciferae

You can imagine how proud I was to see my pakchoy growing so well this time.

A week later, this is what’s left of them.

Finally figured out the culprit, culprits as I think there are two types of worms.

The top three are Cabbage worms I believe. The one on the bottom right of the picture is a different type of work, I guess is cabbage loopers. Unlike cabbageworms, cabbage loopers raise and lower their bodies as they move. Cabbage worms become cabbage white butterflies, which are mostly white with a few black markings. Cabbage white butterflies might seem like a pretty addition to the garden, but they are probably laying eggs on the undersides of leaves.

Mystery bean


I sowed a variety of bean seeds and this one thrives and is now flowering. Wonder what kind of beans will emerge.

My friend Jeremy K said “If the thing keeps growing, wait for Jack and look out for the giant.” which is from a fairy tale Jack and The Beanstalk.

Turns out to be no giant but this, winged beans or four- angled beans (翼豆).翼豆/翼豆.htm

Winged beans seem to be a “must grow” for any survival garden.  They act as a nitrogen fixers and be grown as companion plants. Winged beans can also be grown along the ground as a cover crop to protect the soil and crowd out weeds.

The mature pods can grow up to 20cm long, though they taste better when picked small, no more than 12cm long. When the pods become too ripe, they get stringy and tough, but the flip side is that the seeds inside can be eaten just like your regular garden variety shelling peas.

The tender shoots and white or pale blue flowers can be eaten raw, and add a lot of pizzazz to summer salads.

It’s a common food in Malaysia called Kacang Botol. We eat it raw in a salad or stirfry with chilli paste.

Prairie or lawn?

Visiting Changbin on a mentoring project, we had lunch at this location. A sturdy hut with corrugated iron roof, surrounded by manicured lawn. It’s so much better than dining in the typical road side restaurant.

As we were leaving, right behind this hut is a gorgeous prairie of wild grass, reminds me of Piet Oudolf’s landscaping design. P asked the locals “which is more beautiful?” For them the manicured lawn is beautiful while the prairie is wild and unattractive.

Living in Taitung, I noticed the vast amount of weedkiller used in the country side, as it is the cheapest and least labour intensive way to keep nature from taking over. We engaged people to 打草 but it’s getting harder to find people willing to do the manual labour. We need a creative solution for human to live with nature, be gentle to the earth while preserving indigenous biodiversity.

P.S. My friend Shu Yuan, a landscape architect, pointed out that the plants in my pictures are not indigenous vegetation.

Beekeeping experiment

First harvest from our own bees. I know I am biased but this honey is incredibly good. I tested our own against other brands, one from Tasmania, two from Taiwan. Ours has a hint of sourness, a bit like honey with a few drops of lemon juice. Maybe this is the result of feeding on the flowers of beggarticks 大花咸豐草.

The hazard of beekeeping

On our daily walk to check on the bees, one got too close to Ping, The bee unfortunately didn’t survive the encounter but succeeded in leaving its stinger inside Ping’s temple.

The stinger removed, antiseptic cream applied. But the next day, Ping woke up with a swollen eye lid. The toxin seemed to have travelled down to his eye lid.

Snails and slugs

I hate snails and slugs as they eat the plants in my edible garden, but seeing them dead like this , seems overly cruel, even to my enemies.

The person at the seeds store suggested these pink little things 聚乙醛. This is not the natural way but worth a try. I sprinkled them around the edge of the planter last night. This morning I found a total of 12, all dead.