Musings in Chinese on gardening

Snow Pea Flower
Pink Snow Pea Flower

Well, I don’t exactly have zucchinis coming out of my ears, but this year I took care to spray the plants with a 1:10 hydrogen peroxide solution at the first appearance of powdery mildew, and we have enough zucchinis to enjoy and share with our 100-year-old neighbor.

我喜欢园艺, 尤其是种蔬菜.
Wǒ xǐhuān yuányì, yóuqí shì zhòng shūcài.
I enjoy gardening, especially growing vegetables.

看着幼小的植物逐渐长大, 心中无比高兴。
Kànzhe yòuxiǎo de zhíwù zhújiàn zhǎng dà, xīnzhōng wúbǐ gāoxìng.
It gives me immense pleasure to watch the young plants grow up gradually.

能为家人提供新鲜的蔬菜, 令我引以为豪.
Néng wéi jiārén tígōng xīnxiān de shūcài, lìng wǒ yǐn yǐ wéi háo.
It makes me proud to be able to provide my family with fresh vegetables.

此外, 园艺还给了我许多人生道理的启示.
Cǐwài, yuányì hái gěi le wǒ xǔduō rénshēng dàolǐ de qǐshì.
Besides, gardening has also given me many revelations about life.

俗话说: “春耕,夏耘,秋收,冬藏.”
Súhuà shuō: “Chūn gēng, xià yún, qiū shōu, dōng cáng.”
As the adage goes, “Plough in spring, weed in summer, harvest in autumn, store in winter.”

种适合在您的地区生长植物, 而不是您梦想可以种植的植物.
Zhòng shìhé zài nín de dìqū shēngzhǎng de zhíwù, ér bùshì nín mèngxiǎng kěyǐ zhòngzhí de zhíwù.
Plant what will grow in your region, not what you dream would grow.

我们做事不也要看天时, 地利, 人和吗?
Wǒmen zuòshì bù yě yào kàn tiānshí, dìlì, rén hé ma?
When we do a project, don’t we also need to consider the right timing, the right place, and the right team?

一颗小种子可以长成一棵大树。
Yī kē xiǎo zhǒngzǐ kěyǐ zhǎng chéngyī kē dà shù.
A tiny seed could grow into a large tree.

我认为每个人也都有很大的潜力。
Wǒ rènwéi měi gèrén yě dōu yǒu hěn dà de qiánlì.
I think there is also great potential in each person.

植物需要肥料, 就像人体需要营养一样。
Zhíwù xūyào féiliào, jiù xiàng réntǐ xūyào yíngyǎng yīyàng.
Plants need fertilizers just like a human body needs nourishment.

人们也需要教育和修养来滋养他们的心灵。
Rénmen yě xūyào jiàoyù hé xiūyǎng lái zīyǎng tāmen de xīnlíng.
People also need education and cultivation to nourish their minds.

种瓜得瓜, 种豆得豆.
Zhòngguādéguā, zhòngdòudédòu.
You get what you sow.

但是,我们必须付出努力并且要有耐心。
Dànshì, wǒmen bìxū fùchū nǔlì bìng qiě yào yǒu nàixīn.
However, we must put in the effort and have patience.

当然, 我们不应该试图揠苗助长.
Of course, we should not try to help the shoots grow by pulling them upward (i.e. spoil things by excessive enthusiasm).

坏习惯就像杂草;它们阻碍我们的发展。
Huài xíguàn jiù xiàng zá cǎo; tāmen zǔ’ài wǒmen de fǎzhǎn.
Bad habits are like weeds; they hinder our development.

就像去芜存菁, 我们可以保留我们的优良人品并消除缺点.
Jiù xiàng qù wú cún jīng, wǒmen kěyǐ bǎoliú wǒmen de yōuliáng rénpǐn bìng xiāochú quēdiǎn.
Like culling the plants, we could keep our good qualities and elminate the shortcomings.

行行出状元; 我们应该虚心向有经验的人学习.
Háng háng chū zhuàngyuán; wǒmen yīnggāi xūxīn xiàng yǒu jīngyàn de rén xuéxí.
There are masters in every profession; we should learn humbly from experienced people.

如果您失败了, 不要气馁. 明年再试试.
Rúguǒ nín shībàile, bùyào qìněi. Míngnián zài shì shì.
If you fail, don’t lose heart. Try again next year.

找出问题所在, 对症下药.
Zhǎo chū wèntí suǒzài, duìzhèngxiàyào.
Find out where the problem is and apply the proper remedy.

一粒米, 一滴汗.
Yī lì mǐ, yīdī hàn
A grain of rice, a drop of sweat.

在感激有菜蔬享用之际, 我们应该尽力保护地球和环境.
Zài gǎnjī yǒu càishū xiǎngyòng zhī jì, wǒmen yīnggāi jìnlì bǎohù dìqiú hé huánjìng.
While we appreciate having fresh produce to enjoy, we should do our best to protect the earth and the environment.

Using Chinese idioms in writing

Rufous Hummingbird hovering around     Blueberry Blossoms

Here is an account of my recent encounter with a Rufous hummingbird. I have highlighted the popular four-character Chinese idioms featured in this article. It will also be good for you to look at how some of the adverbs and conjunctives are used in the sentences. are discussed in Chapters 17, 18 and 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

又是大地回春, 万象更新的时节.
Yòu shì dàdì huíchūn wànxiàng gēngxīn de shíjié.
It’s that season again when the earth springs back to life anew.

园里的蓝莓灌木开满了小巧玲珑的白花儿.
Yuán li de lánméi guànmù kāi mǎn le xiǎoqiǎolínglóng de bái huār.
The blueberry bushes in the garden are full of little white blossoms.

蜜蜂穿梭其间采集花蜜及花粉.
Mìfēng chuānsuō qíjiān cǎijí huāmì jí huāfěn.
The bees go from one floweret to another to collect nectar and pollens.

偶尔也有蜂鸟光顾,
ǒu’ěr yě yǒu fēngniǎo guānggù,
Occasionally a hummingbird visits,

但是往往一眨眼就不见了.
dànshì wǎngwǎng yīzhǎyǎn jiù bùjiànle.
but it usually disappears in a blink of the eyes.

我一直希望能够录到蜂鸟的影片,
Wǒ yīzhí xīwàng nénggòu lù dào fēngniǎo de yǐngpiàn,
I’ve always wished to be able to capture a video the hummingbird,

但是没有闲空来守株待兔.
dànshì méiyǒu xiánkòng lái shǒuzhūdàitù
but I don’t have the time to sit there and wait for the bird to appear.

那天我正在为新种的蔬菜拍照,
Nǎtiān wǒ zhèngzài wèi xīn zhòng de shūcài pāizhào,
That day, while taking pictures of the newly planted vegetables,

忽然听到蜂鸟振翅的嗡嗡声.
hūrán tīngdào fēngniǎo zhèn chì de wēngwēng shēng.
I suddenly heard the hum of rapid flapping of wings.

我赶忙切换到录影模式,
Wǒ gǎnmáng qiēhuàn dào lùyǐng móshì,
I quickly switched to the video mode,

竟然录到了小蜂鸟吸允花蜜的景象,
jìngrán lù dào le xiǎo fēngniǎo xīyǔn huāmì de jǐngxiàng,
and actually captured a scene of the little hummer sucking nectar.

令我喜出望外.
lìng xǐchūwàngwài.
I was pleasantly surprised. (This gave me unexpected joy.)

想必你们也会替我高兴能够如愿以偿.
Xiǎngbì nǐmen yě huì tì wǒ gāoxìng nénggòu rúyuànyǐcháng.
I think you will also be happy for me for having had my wish fulfilled.

大地 (dàdì) is the earth or Mother Earth.
回春 (huíchūn) means returning to spring or bringing back to life.
万象 (wànxiàng) refers to all phenomena on earth.
更新 (gēngxīn) is to renew.
花蜜 (huāmì) is nectar.
花粉 (huāfěn) means pollen.
蓝莓 (lán méi) are blueberries.
小巧玲珑 (xiǎoqiǎolínglóng) means tiny and exquisite.
灌木 (guànmù) is a shrub or a bush.
蜜蜂 (mìfēng) are honeybees or bees in general.
穿梭 (chuānsuō) is to shuttle back and forth.
其间 (qíjiān), as used here, means “among them”.
偶尔 (ǒu’ěr) means occasionally.
蜂鸟 (fēngniǎo) are hummingbirds.
光顾 (guānggù) is to patronize.
往往 (wǎngwǎng) means often or frequently.
一眨眼 (yīzhǎyǎn) means in an eyewink.
不见了 (bùjiànle) is to disappear or to be missing.
一直 (yīzhí) as an adverb means all along or all the way.
希望 (xīwàng) is to hope or to expect.
(lù) is to record or to write down.
影片 (yǐngpiàn) is a movie or video clip.
闲空 (xiánkòng ) is spare time or leisure.
守株待兔 (shǒuzhūdàitù) describes a person standing by a tree stump to wait for hares to come and dash themselves against it. It means to wait for windfalls.
那天 (nǎtiān) means that day or a certain day.
蔬菜 (shūcài) are vegetables.
拍照 (pāizhào) is to take a picture.
忽然 (hūrán) means suddenly.
切换 (qiēhuàn) is to switch to a different mode.
录影 (lù yǐng) is to record a video.
模式 (móshì) is a mode or method.
竟然 (jìngrán) is an adverb that means unexpectedly.
吸允 (xī yǔn) is to suck up.
景象 (jǐngxiàng) is a scene or a sight.
喜出望外 (xǐchūwàngwài) is a common expression that means to be overjoyed or pleasantly surprised.
想必 (xiǎngbì) means “I think, most likely…”
如愿以偿 (rúyuànyǐcháng) is a common expression for having one’s wish fulfilled.

Spring Rolls

These little ones are a bit tricky to make.


Before spring slips away, why not make yourself a few spring rolls, or 春卷 (chūnjuǎn)? These delicious treats are so called because the original spring rolls are chock-full with spring vegetables. Essentially, a spring roll is made by placing 青菜 (qīngcài green vegetables) and (ròu meat) or (xiā shrimp) on a paper-thin sheet of wrapper and then rolling the wrapper up to form a log shape with closed ends.

There are two ways to enjoy spring rolls. You could simply stuff them with a stir-fried filling and eat them as you would a burrito. The Taiwanese love to add 花生粉 (huāshēng fěn powdered roasted peanuts) to the filling just before wrapping it up. Or, you could deep-fry the spring rolls and bite into the incredibly crispy exterior.

What’s so special about the spring rolls is their super thin wrappers. It takes special skills to make these wrappers. The quick way is to purchase a package of frozen “Lumpia” wrappers, or 春卷皮 (chūnjuǎn pí), from an Asian grocery store and let them sit in the 冰箱 (bīngxiāng refrigerator) overnight. As the closely packed wrappers are literally paper-thin, it can be tricky to separate them without tearing them. If you find it difficult to peel off individual wrappers, it may help to put a stack of about 10 wrappers on a microwavable plate, cover them with a piece of moist 纸巾 (zhǐ jīn paper towel) then microwave at 中火 (zhòng huǒ medium high heat) for 三十秒 (sān shí miǎo 30 seconds). After separating the wrappers, stack them up again and keep them covered to prevent them from drying up. Seal the remaining unused wrappers in a large freezer bag and put them back in the freezer for future use.

The main 材料 (cáiliào ingredient) in the filling for deep-fried spring rolls is one or more kinds of firm 青菜丝 (qīngcài sī shredded vegetable). I usually stir-fry shredded 高丽菜 (gāolì cài cabbage) briefly before mixing it with the other ingredients, such as 葱花 (cōnghuā chopped green onions), cooked salad shrimp or a little cooked 绞肉 (jiǎo ròu ground meat), shredded 蛋皮 (dàn pí panfried beaten eggs) and (yán salt) and 胡椒 (hújiāo pepper), to taste. If you use 豆芽菜 (dòuyácài bean sprouts), coarsely chop them up before adding to the other ingredients. Don’t pre-cook the bean sprouts, or they will lose their crunchiness. Keep the filling on the dry side.

馅不要太湿.
Xiàn bùyào tài shī.
The filling should not be too wet.

不然, 春卷皮容易破掉. .
Bùrán chūnjuǎn pí róngyì pò diào.
Otherwise, the spring roll wrappers are apt to break.

If you would like to make a mini version as shown in the above photo, then cut each wrapper into four equal sections by making two perpendicular cuts through the center.

Follow the instructions on the package of the Lumpia wrappers to roll up and (zhà deep-fry) the spring rolls. Drain them on paper towels and wait about 十分钟 (shí fēn zhōng 10 minutes) for them to cool down a little before serving (so they won’t burn your tongue). You could make a dipping sauce for your spring rolls but they will taste good without the help of any sauce. The sauces are usually based on 番茄酱 (fānqié jiàng tomato ketchup), or a mixture of (cù vinegar), (táng sugar) and 酱油 (jiàngyóu soy sauce) .

By the way, this is one (sneaky) way to get your kids to love eating their vegetables. You yourself may be tempted to think or say:

多多益善.
Duōduōyìshàn.
The more the better.

Keep in mind, though, that eating too much of deep-fried foods may give rise to 火气 (huǒqì fire in the vitals).

All right. How would you say this in Chinese?
“I love to eat spring rolls.”

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