How To Recycle Celery For Endless Supply

Here’s a quick and easy way to grow celery. It’s like recycling your celery for an endless supply of garden-fresh crunchy celery.

How To Have An Endless Supply Of  Crunchy Celery


img_46631. Carefully cut off the mature stalks at the base, making sure you do not cut too deep into the remaining layers of young shoots. However, you will need to nick the base of the young shoots…. see step 2.





img_46552.  Special tip! Carefully nick ( shallow small cut ) the bottom of the young shoots. This will accelerate the formation of roots at the nicks. Picture shows roots growing from the small cuts after 1-2 weeks.





img_46763.  Stand the remaining young shoots in some water taking care not to soak the leaf stems. Wet leaf stems may rot. Place the stems in a sheltered place with bright diffused sunlight, such as on a window sill.





4.  Within 3-4 days, the pale young shoots will turn a healthy green. Change the water daily. Thereafter, the young shoots will grow bigger steadily.






img_46555.  After a week or two, there should little roots growing out of the small cuts in the stems. When you have sufficient roots (make your own judgement!), transplant  the young shoots in a suitable pot, and cover the base lightly with potting soil up to the roots level.




img_46826.  Here are my first 3 pots of Australian Celery, USA Celery and Dole Celery (USA) after about a month. They appear somewhat stunted and I’m not sure whether they will eventually grow to their parents’ original market-size, considering that I’m in the hot/humid tropics. But if you live in a temperate zone, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to harvest your full-grown celery within a couple of months. Enjoy!


A Wine Story

Yesterday I had guests  over for dinner. In preparation for the drinks, I checked out my wine collection and I happened to have Merlot, Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon. I decided to conduct a research about them to make for a light drinkers’ conversation piece – a talking point. I discovered these three wines originated from the Bordeaux Region with a fascinating history about them. The Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a cross between two grape varieties found in Bordeaux, the Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc, giving rise to the famous Cabernet Sauvignon while the Merlot is supposedly the most widely grown grape in Bordeaux. To my surprise, a Bordeaux red wine is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. And when you order a Bordeaux red wine, the taste depends on whether the winery is on the Left Bank or the Right Bank of the Gironde estuary which cuts through the center of the Bordeaux region.
If the winery is located on the Left Bank, the blend created will have more Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot. If the winery is instead located on the Right Bank of the river, the wine will have more Merlot in the blend than Cabernet Sauvignon. (ref: )

Now, a disclaimer. Not all my three wines are from Bordeaux, France. My Merlot is a Taylors’ 2007 from Clare Valley, Australia while my Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is from the Santa Rita winery in Chile. Only my Bordeaux 2008 is from Bordeaux, France; hailing from the Chateau De Potiron with an appropriate appellation from Bordeaux.

And the verdict?
All my guests and I thought the Cabernet Sauvignon was the best.

I have not developed my taste buds and palate to be able to describe the wines beyond the simplistic sweet/dry/tannin/smooth language. So here goes:
In terms of sweetness/dryness, the wines are ranked in the order Merlot, Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon, with the Cabernet Sauvignon the driest. The Australian Merlot was a pleasant medium sweet/medium dry wine and the French Bordeaux had a slight tannin taste. But the Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon was really smooth and delightfully dry.

That made me curious about the Santa Rita winery and why do they label their wine “120: Honouring 120 Heroes”. The story I uncovered follows:

(Ref: )

Santa Rita’s internationally popular, best-selling “120” Series of varietal wines recalls the heroes of a pivotal event in Chile’s successful 19th century struggle to overthrow Spanish rule. History relates that in the early 1800s Doña Paula Jaraquemada, then proprietor of the Santa Rita manor house and estate near the Chilean capital of Santiago, famously gave refuge in the cellars of her property to 120 Chilean patriots. When a brigade of Spanish soldiers arrived at the expansive one-story ranch house in search the band of rebels, the feisty matriarch stated she would rather see the Spanish burn the property to the ground, with her inside, then let them step foot within her family home. Thus it was that band of 120 men lived on to fight another day, and the dwelling, now site of Santa Rita’s highly acclaimed Doña Paula Restaurant, occupies a unique place in Chilean national history.

Isn’t that interesting! What was supposed to be a quiet dinner and wine among friends turned out to be a pleasant evening of discovery of some little snippets of history of the wine.

So ends my first (hopefully of many to come) wine story. Cheers!

Where are the bass and treble controls?

First a disclaimer: this is aimed at the newbie to audio “hi fi” systems. Audiophiles stay away; skip this article.

Let me tell this story as my personal experience, while dipping my toes into the pond of High Fidelity to experience the sensation of near-actual live studio/concert hall musical performances.

First, I found a mentor; an audiophile as crazy a perfectionist as you would expect. Someone who won’t blink an eye to put down mega dollars for that little incremental improvement towards perfection. This was to draw my inspiration from and to establish my own realistic (that’s tough!) benchmark against. When he had got me sufficiently excited, it was time to go shopping.

I set myself a budget of RM20,000 ( it was USD 5,800 then) for a reasonably good entry-level system. I settled for the NAIM 5i integrated amp, Marantz K.I. Pearl Lite CD player and a pair of floor-standing Polk Audio RTiA7.  For the interconnects, I use the Kimber Kable PBJ  and for the speaker cables the QED Bi-Wire. Just to be sure, I plonked some dollars down for the Chord power cables. My mentor gave me a pair of UPS to stabilise/clean up the incoming juice to my amp and player. On top of that he gave me some gadgets and additional tips to improve the sound quality; but that’s for a later different story.

I hooked that all up and fired them up and… yes! For a guy used to listening to music on a portable cassete/CD player, it sounded so sweet to my ears. It seemed like every instrument came alive. Then it happened. One day the sound just does not seem “right”. It felt lifeless and flat. Even a friend commented that his Bose integrated system sounds better than my so called Hi-Fi separates system. I invited my mentor to take a look. He suggested I relocate the system and to arrange them elsewhere in the living room and helped me pick a new spot. And he was right! The music came alive again! But not for long….

I enjoyed my system for a few months and then like before, it suddenly didn’t seem as sweet as it should be. It’s like, I suddenly realise the sounds were too bright and thin and there’s just not enough oomph in the low frequencies. Should I change my speakers? Should I change my amplifier? I don’t think it’s my Marantz K.I. Pearl-Lite; that should be good enough. After researching the Internet, I came to the conclusion that a sub-woofer would probably help fill the sound voids. But hey! Isn’t a sub-woofer really just meant for the home theatre? Researching some more turned up some literature that advocated adding a (right-type) sub-woofer to the system. But since the amplifier, unlike an AV Receiver, does not have a LFE sub-woofer output, it means the correct sub-woofer has to be able take high level input, straight from the amplifier’s outputs to speakers.

It took me a while to find a right-type hi-fi sub-woofer, but I found the REL range of subs a possibilty. Off I went to the local distributor’s showroom in Sunway Pyramid and auditioned a REL T5 hooked to a NAIM 5i. And it certainly made an audible difference. Next, I asked for a home demo; if it works just as well in my home on my system, then I will buy it. And what do you know? It works well! For me the acid test will be to see if the system now passes muster with my mentor the next time he visits.

So why did I go to all this trouble? Where are the Bass and Treble controls? Shoot! Just crank up the Bass and turn down the Treble! Can’t you?

Well, the answer to that is still the same reason why the Bass and Treble (and generally the equalisers) all went out of fashion in the 80’s in Hi Fi amplifiers. Apparently the move was started by NAIM and soon all other brands came around to the same notion as well.

And what’s that notion? Well, all equalisers, bass and treble controls are actually filters and they remove portions of the sounds that went into the media (CD, records, etc). And to the purists, that’s subtractive and not true Hi Fi. The controls actually distort the sounds. OK, so what’s the difference with the sub-woofer? The (Hi Fi) sub-woofer takes the actual signal from the amplifier and further amplifies the sounds (from the very low sub-bass 30 Hz to about 120 Hz). The result is that it adds to the overall sounds, very much like suddenly a bass guitarist fires up his instrument, or he turns up his bass guitar (or bass drum) volume. The original sounds from the floor standing speakers do not diminish in any way. When tuned properly, the sub-woofer should feel like an integral part of the overall Hi Fi System.

That’s all dandy, if….and that’s a very big IF, the sound engineers have done their jobs well and IF the CDs are all made very well. Who has not listened to a badly produced CD or track? No, not even the addition of a sub-woofer can make up for the CD that’s badly produced in the first place. Perhaps we should start a rating system for the sound engineers and music producers, like we rate movie directors and producers.

Why I Love To Grow Chillies…In Pots

Updated 27-Sept-2015

“Next to jazz music, there is nothing that lifts the spirit and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chili.”
Harry James

My prized Jalapeno

Ah, chillies (plural of chilli), the epitome of all things spicy.
I love to grow chillies for many reasons. See if you can relate to any of the reasons cited below:

  1. Easy. There are few plants that germinate so easily. Just sprinkle the seeds (each chilli….be it one of the numerous chilli peppers or one of the capsicums…they all have abundant seeds in each pod) on some good soil mixture, water them generously and before you know it, the seeds have germinated; much more than you need.
  2. Variety. There so so many different types of chilli peppers and capsicums that it has become a pastime of mine to keep a lookout for any new chilli pepper that I may not have yet, to add to my collection. From very tiny ones to large ones. From the cute Mexican Jalapeno to decorative round ones. And the Traffic Lights capsicums, Red, Yellow, Green. I want to grow them all!

Now comes the crunch!

Healthy looking foliage from the top
Infestation of aphids and mealy bugs on the underside of leaves

Chilli plants are VERY susceptible to attacks by white powdery aphids and mealy bugs on the underside of the leaves. The problem may be hard to detect because the foliage may look very healthy and strong from the top while the infestation is growing and spreading at the undersides of the leaves. Early signs of trouble include some dropped leaves and twisted or deformed leaves.

And here is my punch line: Why I love to grow chillies in POTS.

Turn the pot upside down to see the infestation
  1. You can easily lift up and turn the plant upside down to check for the aphids and mealy bugs attack. Just remember to wet the top soil first, so that nothing falls out when you turn the plant (turn the pot) upside down.
  2. You can easily take remedial action by spraying the underside of the affected leaves to get rid of the aphids and mealy bugs. Dilute dishwasher soapy suds make a common safe spray, but I personally use enzyme which I make myself. Learn to make “garbage enzyme” here. You need to
    Hold the pot upside down and spray at the infestation

    experiment with the dilution factor yourself as your enzyme may differ in concentration from my enzyme. The bonus is that the enzyme spray and drips from the sprayed leaves also act as fertilizer for the plants.

  3. I notice that some of my chilli plants tend to flower when they are very young. So you can get the chilli fruits  very early even when the plants are very young and small when grown in pots.

And that’s why I love to grow chillies in pots!

“Chilli”, “Chillies” : British spelling
“Chili”, “Chilis” : US spelling

The Brink or The End is Nigh

HBO’s new TV series, “The Brink” shows why you should be very afraid; that World War III is just a sneeze away. Considering that the people who run the affairs of the world are very human after all; they are not infallible, they are not unique, they are very ordinary humans with human weaknesses that can wreck havoc with our world and our lives.

Each episode is only 30 minutes and that is enough as you really need to surface for a breath of air; any longer than that and you many be brain dead.

I was either not paying attention to the run-up advertisements or there was no fanfare, and the series just crept up on me, with the first episode on HBO on 21-June-2015. I was just surfing the Astro channels looking for something interesting to record and saw this new series with its first episode later that night. I recorded it and viewed it later and boy! I was blown away.

The series is a dark comedy featuring a geopolitical crisis somewhere in the world and how the main characters react to it or caused it. The first season will focus on Pakistan. The main characters (at least in Episode 1) are a womanising, alcoholic Secretary of State, Walter Larson (Tim Robbins), a low-level Foreign Services officer based in the US Embassy in Pakistan, Alex Talbot (Jack Black) and Navy fighter pilot Zeke Tilson (Pablo Schreiber) who pops pills. Episode 1 ended with POTUS (President of the United States) ordering a pre-emptive strike on a Pakistani nuclear site and a Navy jet streaking in to bomb the site.  May God save us all!

Episode 2 has just aired. Catch the two episodes before it gets too far into the season.

The Two Faces of Koel

IMG_1763cIf I were to ask you whether these two birds are related, what would you say?






One of them looks like a Black Crow or Asian Glossy Starling (red eyes) while the other looks like a Spotted-necked Dove or Zebra Dove.  So how can they possibly be related in whatsoever way? But what if I were to tell you that these two birds are one and the same; they represent the two faces of the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus)? Read on…..



One bright sunny morning, there was a commotion among the branches of the Flame of the Forest tree across the street from my house. I quickly scanned the location of the noise with my camera and saw a black crow-like bird astride another brown-speckled bird like as though they were fighting. The black one had a noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia) in its beak, so it would appear that it had taken the fruit by force from the brown one.  But as I continued snapping away, not daring to lift my eye from the camera sight, it became clear what the black bird was doing to the brown bird.

It seemed to be a ritual of sorts where the black one was offering a fruit (noni fruit) to the brown one. I later discovered the black one was a male Asian Koel, while the brown one was a female Asian Koel !

The female Koel was initially resisting the male’s overture but eventually succumbed to the male’s very persistent (and aggressive) offering. She finally accepted the fruit and the male looked on contentedly. What a show!

A New Visitor: The Red-whiskered Bulbul

This morning I suddenly became aware of a new bird song floating in from somewhere in my neighbour’s Neem Tree. I quickly grabbed my camera but try as I may, I just could not sight the bird. Then just as I was about to put away my camera, the song wafted in overhead; this time from my disused TV antenna. And lo, it was indeed a new visitor to my garden. I managed to shoot a few shots before it flew off just as quickly as it had appeared. That was enough for me to google and discovered it was a Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) as can be seen from its distinguishing red patch near its cheek.

Heart Sutra for the “Philosophical Buddhist”

HeartSutraCoverI know of many people who are mistaken thinking that Buddhism is a ritualistic religion steeped in idolatry. And that unfortunately has caused them to miss the deep philosophy in Buddhism. Buddha did not claim to be a god and neither did he set out to create a religion. But the philosophy in Buddhism transcends religions such that I consider all my good friends of other faiths or religions as “Buddhists”, as much as I consider myself a Philosophical Buddhist.

Bro Teoh Kian Koon conducts regular Dhamma (teachings of Buddha) classes with meditation. From his regular classes, he has compiled the Heart Sutra (aphorisms) to share the essence of the Philosophy of Buddhism. Download a free copy here.

About Bro Teoh Kian Koon

Bro. Teoh Kian Koon graduated from University of Malaya in Civil Engineering in 1979. He has been a spiritual practitioner cum ‘Meditator’ since 1971. Since his retirement in 2001 from his engineering career, he has been sharing his understanding and experiences with all who are keen in the search for true happiness, peace and liberation from birth and death and all mental suffering to become a more virtuous, noble and wiser human being. He gives talks and hold meditation and Dhamma classes at various meditation centres.

Territorial Dispute Face-off Between Cute vs Angry

Cute Pick-necked Green Pigeon versus Angry Myna

If there is a territorial dispute between an “angry” bird and a “cute” bird, who do you think will win?

I was taking some photos of a family of Pink-necked Green Pigeons feeding on a palm tree in my garden when a drama unfolded. A rather mean-looking Myna quietly crept up and startled the Green Pigeons who understandably flew away terrified. But then the head of the family decided that he was not going to let the Myna get away with it.  And very much like a bullying incident, the bully had no stomach for a fight when the victim decided to fight back.

Watch the dispute between a Myna (“angry”) and a Pink-necked Green Pigeon (“cute”) and see the unexpected outcome… Cute overcomes Angry.

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. – The Buddha