Tropenhaus and Green Project 2013…

About a week ago, we went with some good friends to the Tropenhaus in Wolhusen.

What is the Tropenhaus? It is a tropical house; basically a big glasshouse where they can grow tropical plants in a temperate climate.

They had a special highlight on the chocolate/cocoa industry when we visited last week. It was an interesting look at the cocoa plant and smelling the beans (oooh so chocolatey!). The kids had fun running around, looking at the different plants which they would otherwise not be able to see growing here.

Right: Cocoa Bean Pod! Left: Bananas!
Right: Cocoa Bean Pod! Left: Bananas!

Both our families have always tried to help our children understand where their food comes from so they can better appreciate the food they get to eat. And both families also have some sort of green plants growing at home so the kids are already interested in plants. The kids did wonderfully on a little quiz board in the production house.

Right: a cute 'furry' plant which i could not identify, Left: Regular Chili Plant.
Right: a cute ‘furry’ plant which i could not identify, Left: Regular Chili Plant.

At the production house, you could also buy plants to grow at home. They had lots of different types of trees, bushes and baby plants. There were different herbs, lots of bananas, papayas andĀ chillies. They have a special heat exchange program with the nearby hospital which was interesting but way too technical for me to understand. The production house also grows most of the fruits and veggies used by the in-house restaurant.

Right: Papayas!, Left: We found a lovely cat sleeping under a table in the production house, oblivious to all the visitors walking by.
Right: Papayas!, Left: We found a lovely cat sleeping under a table in the production house, oblivious to all the visitors walking by.

We had wanted to eat our lunch there but i read on their website that it is best to make reservations. So i called. It was a good thing too, because they were full! Both for lunch and dinner! Apparently, it is very popular with the locals as well as visitors. We ended up eating at a nearby pizzeria which had a fabulous kids corner. We did get to eat our snack (chili-hot-chocolate and ice cream) at their restaurant. So be warned if you do make a visit there and want to eat there, make reservations!

So it was an enjoyable day with friends at a lovely location which can be visited, even on a gloomy, rainy day (which was what that day was like). We came home with a mini-chili plant which Tobias is very taken with.

We stayed there for only a couple of hours because our parking was up. We would have stayed longer if the cars were closer for us to top-up the parking meter. We had to park at the hospital and walk up to the Tropenhaus (not too far but still a walk). When you do go, remember to ask for the family ticket if you are going as a family. Also they have another Tropenhaus in Frutigen which we have been given a discount coupon for. That one it seems has a large aquaculture area. We might venture there at another time.

So that chili plant is our Green Project 2013.

Right: Our Mini-Chili Plant with its lovely white flowers, Left: Spring Onions and Weeds.
Right: Our Mini-Chili Plant with its lovely white flowers, Left: “Wild” Spring Onions and Weeds.

Confession – this year i have been very lazy about starting a green project with Tobias. i was even too lazy to clear out the “dead” spring onions from last year. Instead, nature took over and last year’s spring onions have sprung again, all on their own! So we have spring onions in one pot and weeds in the other. šŸ˜‰


You can read about green attemps 2010 and 2011.

Unexpected Sights…

i had wanted to blog about these sights last week… but other posts took priority. So here they are – Unexpected Sights which greeted us…

The first one was when we first returned from our summer hols, a couple of weeks ago. You see i had left my Spring Onions unattended the whole time we were gone (yes i know, bad gardener!). Well, i had, of course, expected to see dead plants when we got back. BUT lo-and-behold!

They are such cute little white flowers, all bundled together!

They grew! Or at least one pot of them did and even flowered! i had read that seeing spring onions flower was a rare thing as normally you would harvest them before that happens.

It was indeed a happy sight for me! It goes to show that some things (applicable to peopleĀ as well) can be quite tough and surprise us šŸ˜‰

The second unexpected sight was this:

i snapped this picture quickly with my smart phone.

Yes i know it’s hard to see – but that little person with one hand raised in a sea of red chairs is Tobias. You see, last Wednesday, it was a public holiday here so no school. Now while in Singapore i had lamented about missing out on watching the new Pixar film, Brave. (We love our animated movies and missed the opening by just 2 days.) Then i saw it was on here and i found a cinema showing an afternoon slot in English. So we went.

i had thought since it was a public holiday in all the Cantons (States) surrounding Bern, where we went to watch the movie, the cinema would be peopled (my word for not exactly full, but with people around). We went there early, got our ticket from an automated machine (the counter only opened 30 minutes before screening time). The machine indicated that all seats were free. i did think that was funny but still i thought people would just buy at the counter later.

We walked around a little, looking for Tobias’ house-shoes which he needed for school. Then had a light lunch of sandwiches. We bought our popcorn and went to sit in the theater. There was NO ONE around at all… we only saw a handful of other people but none of them were heading into our theater. So we were the only ones, watching Brave in English, in a cinema in Bern, on a Wednesday, when it was a public holiday in Solothurn!

Now we can tell people we know what it is like to have an entire cinema theater all to ourselves šŸ˜‰ It was a weird feeling. A little scary if you have a wild imagination – hehehee…

There was a small disappointment just before the film started. i heard voices and looked back to see that a couple had joined us, they sat right at the back. So we weren’t all that alone after all šŸ˜‰

Have a lovely weekend. The forecast here is for rain over the weekend. So it will be cooler than the nice sunny full-on summer weather we have been having. Not complaining. The plants need the water and we could use with a bit of cool as well. But i’m still hopeful for some summer sun before Autumn hits.


Spring Onions Spring…

My next green adventure – planting onions…

Before i get into that, i have to sob over the deaths of my beloved tulips… that’s right they died, died even before they had a chance to be anything more than green leaves… SOB!

How did that happen? Well, the cold got to them. Why didn’t i save them? Because i didn’t know that they were suffering from the cold. i’m no green thumb and have killed my share of plants. But still i wanted to grow something, something nice and/or edible. (See previous attempts here, here and here.) This year i researched and decided to go with tulips because i love tulips and they are said to be easy to grow. To cut a long story short, they popped up during unseasonal warm weather in March. Then as it is with unpredictable Swiss Spring weather, the cold set in again. However, i didn’t realise it would affect my tulips. My reasoning – they were planted before the frost and lived through the cold winter (in fact they need the cold before they canĀ germinate) so they should be fine as temps were above freezing. Little me of no green knowledge – sigh! The bulbs needed the cold but once they popped they have to be protected from the cold! i found that out too late.

SO… i have grieved over them the last month and now feel ready to go for another green attempt.

For some strange reason, i had onions which budded while sitting in an open basket in the kitchen. Not all of them budded, just two. It has happened before and i normally just throw them out. But i thought otherwise this time. So i headed to the trusty old internet and found a couple of entries which talked about using the cut-off bottom ends of onions (normally thrown away), and another which said that it was possible to try planting onions which budded in the pantry. So i waited till the rains eased up (it had been raining almost everyday for almost 2 weeks before this past Thursday). And have planted them, hoping for some nice spring onions to eat. (Fingers, toes and eyes all crossed.)

So meet my onion babies:


*happy to have sunshine days*