Monday, August 30, 2010

Growing sweetcorn

I'm so enamoured with the fresh sweetcorn sold at our market, I treat myself to several ears every weekend. The freshly harvested corn, with white and pale yellow kernels, tastes extremely sweet and succulent simply steamed or baked in foil, there is no need to add any butter or seasoning.

Since I like sweetcorn so much, I'm trying to grow the 'sweet jean' variety in my patio. Corn needs plenty of space to grow well, so I filled a deep styrofoam box with compost and top soil and sowed a dozen kernels.

Unfortunately, the newly germinated seedlings were quickly devoured by snails in the night. All that were left were chewed up stubs. The leaves must be so sweet and delicious! I have just sown a second batch (below) and hope these will grow up well. I must find a way to outwit the snails without killing them. One idea is to poke toothpicks to form a sharp barrier.

For some reason, the other 2 kernels that I sowed in a smaller pot were left untouched. These are growing well. I may have to transfer them to a large container soon.

This (below photo) is what happens when I get lazy. I didn't bother to transplant these lady's finger seedlings into a larger pot and look at how tall and lanky they have grown. I'll be lucky if they give me miniature fruits.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Plants and such

I used to grow a patch of Turnera at the farm. Every morning, the entire front yard would be covered with cheerful white and yellow flowers waving about in the wind. It was always such a sight to behold.

You can count on the turnera to flower all year round but the delicate flowers only stay open for a few hours in the morning.

Last week, I bought two plants for my patio but I didn't get to see the flowers because of work. Today, I finally see them in full bloom. They really brighten up the garden.

While I was pottering about, I inspected some of my other 'delicate' plants as well. I always pray very hard when I grow tomatoes because they're so vulnerable to infestations.

I started off with 4 cherry tomato plants (from seeds) and now there are only 3 (photo above). Recently I found white spots beneath the leaves which I removed immediately. My previous attempts to grow tomatoes were never successful, so I'm hoping for a miracle this time.

While propogating rosemary from stem cuttings seem easy enough, the success rate is not always high. I've done it many times and had seen some grow into healthy adults. The weather and soil play an important role. Rosemary prefers well drained soil and dry weather conditions. That said, we've been getting lots of rain lately but these two cuttings seem to be doing ok.

The basil I had sown from seeds are growing up nicely. I don't use often use basil in my dishes as the kids aren't very fond of the smell, but I like growing them in my patio.

Don't be discouraged yet. If there is one herb for dummies, Indian borage has to be the one. It's almost impossible to kill this one. Simply plonk one stem cutting into the soil and it'll not only survive, you can count on it to thrive. When it gets too tall, cut one part off and put it into the ground and you'll have two. Keep multiplying until you have a whole cluster. Then begin to wonder what to do with all that minty leaves.

It is an useful plant of course. Pick some leaves, wash and then boil in water. The resulting decoction can be taken to treat cough and asthma. The leaves may also be pounded and applied as a poultice on bites from insects. Finely chopped leaves can be used in fish and mutton curries as well.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Robust vegetable

If you're looking for a vegetable that's robust, lasting and gorgeous, you should consider growing mustard green. The one in my patio is already 3 months old and more than a foot high.

The striking green leaves, being peppery, do not attract much pests except the odd snail or two.

They're easy and fast growers, not fussy about soil condition or the amount of sunlight they are getting. Mine does not get any direct sunlight at all yet it is going strong.

Look, it is even taller than Rusty!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shopping therapy

I always enjoy shopping at the supermarket and nursery. This morning I did both. While the groceries are very necessary for the family's well-being, these pretty flowers are just perfect for brightening my day.

This particular variety of Angelonia has larger than normal flowers which makes the plant particularly striking.

I've always wanted this white periwinkle with a red centre. The ones available at World Farm are small and young with very little blooms. I'm hoping for faster growth now that I've transplanted into a larger pot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I am beginning to see more colours in my garden. It just shows that sunlight is slowly creeping into the patio again. By year end, the entire garden will be soaking in the sun. It's the best time to grow tropical vegetables!





Cat's whiskers.


Cycad blue butterfly resting on curry leaf.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Magazine feature

The August issue of Appetite magazine did a feature on urban gardens.

My garden is in there too. :-)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tropical vegetables in Finland

Early this year, I mailed some kang kong and chye sim seeds to my friend Amel who lives in Finland. The weather was too cold then, sometimes dipping below -35 degree celcius, to grow anything.

Now that it is summer, she finally sowed the vegetable seeds. Isn't it amazing to see tropical vegetables growing in Finland?

Kang kong.

Chye sim.

Friday, August 6, 2010


If you're wondering if the two aquatic plants in my patio are still alive, I've got good and bad news for you. The bad news is, the beautiful fern-like one is almost dead. I doubt the crinkly brown leaves will ever turn green again. It looks like a gonner.

The good news is, the reddish one is thriving albeit losing it's red hue. The new leaves are green and large. Still, I'm happy to see it alive and well. (below)

The dandelion from Petunia has grown bigger too. While it is treated as a pesky weed in many countries, it's a rarity here in Singapore.

My heart leapt when I saw a bud. I'm expecting flowers!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Coleus is flowering!

This is my first attempt at growing coleus, so I have completely no expectations. Its colourful leaves are already a nice addition to my otherwise green garden, now it's producing baby blue flowers too. Nice!