Keep your green thumbs happy with home gardening.
1. Space issues?
More like, space is no issue! Try building a sturdy vertical wall that allows you to hang pots and create pocket planters (find DIY guides on gardening websites via a quick Google search) or use a novel tiered gardening system, like the Aerospring aeroponic gardening system to grow your produce.
2. Starter plants
Despite Singapore’s hot and humid weather, there are many options to choose from.
Start with long beans and brinjals, then, once you have some experience, have a go at tropical plants such as pandan (screwpine), lemongrass, cherry tomatoes or Thai basil. For easy-grow leafy greens, opt for kangkong (water spinach), kailan (Chinese kale) and chye sim (Chinese flowering cabbage).
Mediterranean herbs and edible figs may be increasingly popular, they require some know-how to grow well.
3. Fancy a quickie?
Quick-to-grow greens, that is. Microgreens – seedlings of edible vegetables – are quick to grow and harvest, and are packed with nutrients and have complex flavour profiles. All you’ll need is a shallow container, potting mix and suitable seeds such as sunflower, broccoli and buckwheat.
4. Soak up the sun
Edible plants need about four to six hours of direct sunlight. However, if your plants will be in an area that receives unfiltered sunlight, especially from the afternoon sun, “use a fabric that shields the plants from at least half of the sunlight,” advises Cynthea Lam, founder of urban-gardening company Super Farmers.
If your condo doesn’t have any sunny spots, use an artificial grow light instead.
5. Tools you’ll need
A beginner’s starter kit involves a few pots or a planter box (Cynthea recommends a deep rectangular trough that has drainage holes punched into its bottom), seeds and soil. Also, get about 10 litres of potting soil and 10 litres of compost mix. You’ll also need gardening tools such as a rake and spade, gardening scissors and a watering can.
6. Know your lifestyle
Namely, can you commit the time and effort involved in maintaining your budding crops?
Edible gardens need to be watered, pruned and checked for diseases and pests such as aphids and mealy bugs, and much more. Additionally, garden upkeep involves transplanting seedlings. And you will need to remove weeds and place stakes in the soil, especially if you are growing climbers.
7. Everything in moderation
According to a Far East Flora spokesman, gardeners who are keen to fertilise their plants often overdo it. Many think it will lead to faster plant growth, but is actually akin to force-feeding the plant an excessive amount.
If possible, use an organic fertiliser such as compost, which you can make in your own home. Alternatively, buy it from a reputable nursery or organic compost specialist GreenBack Singapore.
Overwatering is also an issue. Touch the soil to feel if it is still damp from the previous time it was watered. If it is, skip one watering session so as not to drown the plant.
8. Don’t give up!
It sounds simple enough, but inexperienced or first-time gardeners often worry about their lack of a green thumb, and, Cynthea says, most of her clients give up after just one failed attempt.
Her advice? “The key is to try again. Keep experimenting until you get it right. Plants are hardy living things and wish to survive as much as we do.”
By Natasha Ann Zachariah, The Straits Times, November 2017 / Updated July 2019 / Updated by Willaine G. Tan, November 2020. Images: 123RF.com
More on The Finder:
So, You Can Now Rent Spaces In Singapore’s Parks To Grow Your Own Crops
9 Surprising Health Benefits Of RAW Potato Juice (And How It Tastes)
10 Secret Parks In Singapore To Explore Before Everyone Else Does