Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grow, grow, grow!

I took some leaf cuttings (below) from my friend 2 months ago. They were limp and weak when I got home, so I was careful to pot them in a shady spot.

Unfortunately some died soon after but the ones that survived are doing very well, so well that they've grown into a fairly large cluster with sturdy leaves and pretty red flowers to show for.

Look! The soy bean plants have grown so much since they germinated 10 days ago. Beans are one of the easiest plants to grow!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I'm not that great at Math but I'm good at multiplying, in the garden that is.

I got rid of my three soy bean plants during the weekend and tossed the beans into a big pot of soil. They've all germinated. To think that I started with only 3 soybeans, now I have more than a dozen seedlings. If they all survive, I'll end up with loads of edamame on the dinner table!

Even the kangkong stems that I've carelessly planted in the planter box are producing new shoots.

My roselle plant doesn't get spared either. The seeds have sprouted, I'm going to have more babies in my garden.

Look at how pretty a roselle flower is!

From several stalks of portalucca given by a friend, I now have 4 pots. They're fast growers that need loads of sun which my garden is currently lacking. By year end, I should have more than a dozen pots of these pretty things.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hortpark's vegetable patch

Would you laugh if I told you my favourite exhibit at the Singapore Zoo is not an animal? It's the vegetable and spice garden located near the reservoir bank of the sprawling zoo! It's too expensive to pay about $20 just to look at plants, so I look at the animals to make my trip worthwhile.

Of course now that we have HortPark, I can visit the vegetable garden for free. In comparison, the vegetable patch here is small and uninteresting, but then again, it's free. Here are some of the plants I saw yesterday.

This is quite an unusual banana plant. The bananas seem to be glued together.

Yam was such a common plant in our kampong but I hardly see them these days. When I saw these, I was jumping with joy.

An old cucumber.

French beans.

Yellow lemons! It's hard to find yellow lemons here. According to Hortpark, lemons thrive in cool and dry Mediterranean climate. The fruits usually turn green when grown in our tropical climate.

I love the pretty patterns of the mosaic plant. Look closely and you'll see a baby frog amongst the leaves.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pumpkin and turnip

While my parents have been growing orchids for decades, my father only started growing vegetables this year and has been very successful so far.

Recently the pumpkin plants produced lots of little fruits and he had assumed they would grow big like the ladys fingers and brinjals in his garden. He was puzzled when the fruits started falling off until mum told him about manual pollination.

He started pollinating the flowers manually and now we have many big pumpkins in the yard. To be honest, I didn't believe in manual pollination in the past. We never had trouble before but now I recognise that we need to give our plants a little help from time to time. I guess we don't have as many garden helpers (the birds and the bees) like before.

I'm using my phone to give you an idea of how big the pumpkin is.

CH gave me two turnips to grow in the garden. One of them is doing very well. This is the first time I've seen a turnip plant. I like the shape of the leaf!

Dad has been growing lots of mustard green lately. I must say the vegetables are very pretty to look at but not many people can appreciate the bitter taste. I'm surprised bugs like them!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gardeners like us

I grew up in the countryside surrounded by greenery. Growing up, nobody spoke about gardening as a hobby, it was something we all did naturally. Plants thrived and flourished without much human intervention and fruit trees were always laden with fruits. Everything was grown organically. The only fertiliser we knew came in shitloads from the chicken farm nearby.

When I was chatting with a friend yesterday, I was surprised to learn that he had never planted anything in his life. An engineer by training, he knows how to fix his own computer, install solar panels in his house and has even built a temperature controlled greenhouse in his garden, yet when it comes to growing things, he has no clue.

"How is that possible?" I asked. "All you need is soil!"

"What kind of soil and how much?", he asked.

For beginners like him, taking the first step is the most difficult. In his case, maybe he's just being too technical though he thinks that once he has 'broken the ice', he will be encouraged to move to the next level.

It looks like seasoned gardeners like me have taken our green fingers for granted. For me, as long as I have soil, I can grow (or at least try to grow) anything. Planting pots can come in the form of jars, tubs or anything with drainage holes. Compost can even be made at home. When dealing with pests and mites, we can mix a mean concoction in the kitchen that can kill them without harming the plant.

Well, I encouraged him to give gardening a shot, afterall he has a big garden. I hope he becomes hooked like me. Just look at some of the plants I have in my patio, once salvaged from seeds and vegetables in the fridge.

After harvesting some leaves from my big basil plant for a minced-pork dish, I put the stalks back into moist soil. Some of them survived and are doing very well though there were some that didn't make it.

I have a bunch of citrus plants growing in my garden. I'm not sure if they germinated from orange or mandarin seeds. We'll see.

I didn't harvest the roselle fruits in time and some of the seeds began germinating. I put them in a pot of soil to see if they'll grow into big roselle shrubs.

Even the kang kong stems that didn't make it to the cooking pot ended up in the planter box. New leaves are already growing from the stems.

Some experiments didn't work like the frangipani stems salvaged from the mother plant. Most of them have already shrivelled up. Oh well, at least I tried.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pumpkin fever

Since nothing new is happening in my patio garden, I shall focus on my father's more happening farm. The pumpkin seeds that my parents have strewn carelessly on the ground have not only flourished, they have produced many little pumpkins!

I spotted many female flowers with a little fruit attached at the bottom.

According to mum, many of them turn yellow soon after and fall off. We have plenty of bees and pollinators at the farm, and mum has done some manual pollinating herself, so I don't see why the baby pumpkins are not growing properly. With so many new ones on the way, I'm sure we'll have some success sooner or later.

I was quite shocked to see our backyard being taken over by pumpkin and sweet potato leaves. While these provide good ground cover, the hot and wet weather is causing them to grow out of control!