Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wild but productive

My garden is looking wild and unkempt but we're loving it. The kids are delighted that butterflies and sunbirds visit daily. To be honest, I'm secretly envious of my neighbours who have converted their spacious garden into clean and neat areas for dining and relaxing. Some have even installed hammocks and swings. I barely have space to put out my laundry rack.

Well, if I can't enjoy eating out in the garden, at least I can eat what I grow. The combination of sunny and rainy days have been good for the plants. I'm seeing lots of flowers lately. Even the mulberry plants are fruiting. And the bitter gourd is also ready for eating.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Have a break

 I've given up trying to grow anything new in this wet weather. Nothing seems to germinate these days.
The utriculari (bladderworts), which belong to my son, love the rain. These plants are so intriguing. Their bladder traps are recognized as one of the most sophisticated structures in the plant kingdom.
 The rain is also great for established plants. My garden is now awash with colour and green foliage. Instead of trying so hard to grow vegetables, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the burst of colours in the garden for now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bitter gourd

 My bitter gourd vine is quite a prolific grower, it creeps all over my yellow trumpet plant. They both produce yellow flowers, so it makes an interesting sight. I took a closer look this morning and spotted a tiny bitter gourd fruit hanging on the vine. The last one that grew was hidden under the foliage. By the time I discovered, it was too late as the fruit has ripened and burst open. This time, I'll keep my eyes peeled on this new fruit.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Growing tomatoes

I didn't think it was possible to grow tomatoes in our tropical heat until I saw these growing in someone's backyard. These were attacked by pests but somehow they were still laden with tomatoes.
I have tried growing tomatoes in my patio several times but they had never given me any fruits. Some had grown well enough to produce flowers only to die a sudden death. Others succumbed to white flies and aphid infestations. My parents, on the other hand, had grown cherry tomatoes successfully.
Maybe if I grow mine in large pots and give them enough fertilisers, they will do well. I am inspired to try again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Plants need brollies too

I came home to see my seedlings battered and drowning in rainwater (again), and had to find a solution quickly. Why not use my brolly to protect the delicate plants from heavy rainfall? If I had thought of this earlier, I would have saved lots of seedlings!

This is now a permanent fixture in my garden, well until the plants are stronger and rainy season is over.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Growing pea shoots

Since it is so hard for small seeds to germinate during this rainy season, I have chosen to grow pea shoots instead. The big green peas do not rot in the rain and they grow up strong and healthy. I can't wait to eat sweet peas!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The rainy season is upon us again. While this is good for established plants, most of the seeds failed to germinate. I wasted two batches of precious rocket salad seeds and some of the edamame beans also turned to mush before they could even sprout. I've not given up yet. I've just sowed some tomato seeds and cherry radish. Hope to see some action soon. Otherwise I really have to consider growing plants that thrive in bogs and wetlands.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A very small harvest

I harvested the edamame from my few plants today. There wasn't even enough to fill a small bowl but I was determined to eat them instead of leaving them on the plant like the last time. They were lightly boiled in salt water and MY GOSH, I had never tasted such sweet edamame before!

The beans were sweet and slightly crunchy, nothing like the ones served in Japanese restaurants. I think they are best eaten straight after harvest because like sweetpea and sweetcorn, they turn starchy quickly once they leave the plants.

Now I am even more convinced that I should grow more in the garden. After eating these few beans, I doubt I will ever fully enjoy store bought ones.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Edamame (soy beans)

 I love eating boiled edamame in Japanese restaurants but did you know that you can grow your own at home too? I used dried soy beans from Japan and they sprout very quickly and are easy growers. In less than a month or so, little pinkish flowers will bloom and pea pods will start to appear all over the vine. Mine should be ready for harvest anytime soon.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Final rocket harvest

The weather had been so hot lately. I returned from my trip to Kuching to find most of the rocket leaves parched and partially scorched. I salvaged some good leaves for my mango salsa and pulled out the rest to make way for a new batch.

These two pots of rocket have served us well. I've made so many delicious salads for dinner and these plants kept producing new leaves after each harvest. They also did not attract pests like the way other vegetables do.

I've just sowed some wild and cultivated rocket in my patio. My only worry is, the patio is getting way too much sun at this time of the year, my rocket might not do so well under the heat.

We'll see.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why I like radish

If there is one vegetable that I love growing the most, it has to be radish. It's almost impossible to go wrong with growing radish.
If you have no garden space, you can grow radish sprouts inside your home. Just pick a bright spot and sow some seeds in a shallow tray filled with some growing medium and you can harvest in under 10 days. Remember to keep the soil moist but do not drown the seedlings. I even grow mine in bowls. Young radish sprouts are slightly spicy (like wasabi) and they taste great in salads.
If you have outdoor space, try growing radish in a deep pot or on the ground. There are so many varieties to choose from. I'm currently growing cherry radish. Thinly sliced radish goes well with flavourful cheese!

All about sprouts

An interesting article in The Sunday Times.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Carrot & Soy

After being battered by rain several times, these carrot seedlings are still alive and growing. It's my first time growing carrots in Singapore. Honestly I never knew what to expect and I'm so grateful to have them in my garden. The leaves are so soft and delicate, and not to mention pretty to look at. At this stage, I doubt any carrot has formed below the soil yet but I'm just delighted to see them alive and well.

The soy beans from Japan are really quick growers. Within a month, few of the plants are producing soy beans already. I should have grown at least two dozen plants because I don't have enough to feed even one person.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Playing with food

Growing my own wheatgrass for juicing is fun and even more so when I grow them in all kinds of containers.
This superfood is also a super fast grower. They are ready for juicing in 5 days and do not need any attention. I just place them in a bright area and keep the seeds moist.

 You can create a centrepiece in days. They really liven up the living room!

Carrot seedlings

 The new batch of carrot seeds that I have sowed after the storm have germinated and are growing bigger albeit very slowly. They look like coriander seedlings actually and are just as delicate.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Salad tonight

I've just harvested my first batch of arugula (rocket) today. These are going into a salad for dinner tonight. It's just great that I can go out into the garden and pick what I need without having to run to the supermarket.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Rocking rocket

Thanks to the mild and wet weather, the rocket greens are doing well. This is the cutilvated Italian variety which is more delicate and less spicy that the wild rocket with the serrated leaves. This variety prefers milder weather which is why I am growing now when my patio is getting only the morning sun. Towards the later part of the year when my garden is exposed to full sun all day, I'll switch to wild rocket which is more robust and hardy.

The edamame plants are finally growing quickly after I got rid of the snails. Out of desperation, I scattered some pellets around the pots one night and woke up to find more than 2 dozen dead snails the next day. I'm guilt ridden but at least I'm no longer plagued by snail problems. All the new beans I've sowed also germinated without getting chewed up.
For years, my pot of chives has always come in useful when I'm cooking. Lately my father has been plying me with so much chives that I've no opportunity to harvest mine. As a result, they are flowering for the first time. Chive flowers are really pretty, so I'm looking forward to seeing the flowers bloom.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

'Like' Easigarden

If you have a facebook account, please go and 'like' Easigarden for interesting vegetable starter kits and growing tips.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Snails be gone

I've just written about my edamame beans yesterday and now most of the seedlings are dead. The snails came out of hiding in the night and chewed up the young stems and leaves. I thought the seedlings are no longer attractive to the snails, but I was wrong.

 Until now, I've never used any form of insecticides or chemicals in my garden but today I went out and bought pellets that exterminate snails. I am still hesitant to use as I don't like killing insects, not even ants.

I'm planning to build a little netted enclosure to house my seedlings but in case that still doesn't keep the snails out, I'm afraid I'll have to brandish the snail pellets. Argh!


When I was at a farmers market in Tokyo, I tasted some boiled edamame beans and was so bowled over by the sweet and delicious taste that I bought 500g of dried beans. They were expensive (S$16). 

Preparation is simple. Simply soak in water for 12 hours and boil for 15 minutes. The soft beans can be eaten plain as they are very flavourful and packed with nutrition.

While I enjoy eating them, I also dread the day I'll run out of my yummy snack. So I decided to grow my own beans. I soaked some dried beans for a day. The next day, I sowed the plumped up beans in two pots of soil.

The beans had turned very soft after all that soaking and I was quite skeptical they could still germinate. To my surprise, new leaves emerged within a couple of days!
Sadly, half of them got eaten up by snails in the night. The ones that survived the snail attack are showing true leaves now and are growing pretty quickly. I have a bamboo trellis for them to cling on to and can't wait to see them climbing all over soon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rucola aka Rocket

Having survived Rusty's trampling and several heavy downpours, most of the rocket babies are doing well. The true leaves have emerged and soon they will be ready for the salad bowl. The good thing is after cutting the leaves, new ones will grow again. I don't ever want to buy expensive rocket from the supermarket again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pretty vegetables

We think of vegetables as food but they make great centrepiece and are wonderful for jazzing up the decor too. Here are some vegetables at 10 days old, just before they get tossed into a salad bowl.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


My seedlings were doing so well until yesterday. A sudden downpour killed all my carrot seedlings and flattened half the rocket and nearly destroyed the lanky radish seedlings. If I weren't away at work, I would surely rush out to protect them even if it meant getting drenched.

And the snails gobbled up all my edamame beans and wheatgrass before they could even sprout. It's an endless battle.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I have finally gotten round to sowing the seeds. It's as simple as sprinkling the seeds on soil but to ensure they grow properly, I mix the soil with compost and vermiculite for better drainage. I've sown rocket, baby radish and carrot in an area which receives some filtered sunlight in the morning. It's probably the ideal condition for these varieties to thrive.

I've never had trouble with any seeds germinating. The only problem is if the climate is not right, they don't grow up properly. This is the first time I am growing carrots because I was encouraged by Michael, an expat reader who is growing them in Singapore. I've picked this variety from Japan that should thrive in warmer climate. We'll see.
Carrot seedlings.
I've also sowed some baby red radish. These fellas grow up fast and are easy to care for. In fact, radish is one of the best plants to grow. The seedlings are delicious in salads and if you grow them in a deep pot or in the ground, you can harvest radish in under 2 months. Some people eat the leaves too.
Red radish seedlings. Note that the bottom half of the stem is red. A round radish will eventually develop near the root.
The rocket seeds from Italy are so fresh, germination rate is extremely high, probably 100%. My family loves rocket salad so much, I have two planters worth of seedlings growing in the patio.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Organic vegetables

While I'm resigned to growing herbs and little pots of vegetables like rocket and chives in my patio, I'm lucky to have a father who loves growing his own vegetables in his backyard.

Organic vegetables aren't as easy to grow as you think. If you keep using the same patch for too long, the vegetables get diseased easily. Hence my dad rotates the crops frequently and leaves some patches empty for months before sowing again.

He has a new batch of vegetables growing on newly tilled soil and gosh, they are so lush and gorgeous, we're helping ourselves to fresh organic greens as frequently as we possibly could.
Malabar spinach.
The young mustard green is less bitter and much more tender than the store bought ones.
Sweet potato leaves are delicious when cooked with spicy sambal.
Round leaf spinach which becomes so tender and soft when cooked.

Monday, July 30, 2012

So much to grow

I have purchased so many different kinds of seeds during my recent travels but have been too busy to grow them. It's time to organise my garden and make space for these vegetables.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Japanese pumpkin

My parents are big pumpkin eaters and they always have some growing in their yard. Ever since Japanese pumpkins started appearing in the stores, my parents quickly embraced this fluffier and tastier variety. Naturally, being gardeners, they sow the seeds and pollinate the flowers diligently. Now we have Japanese pumpkins growing in the backyard.

Monday, June 18, 2012


It's the start of summer in Osaka and I happened to walk into the vegetable garden at Nagai Botanical Gardens.
The plum trees are laden with fruits.
A field of hydrangea plants.
Vegetable garden.
Edamame (soy) beans.
All kinds of gourds and squash.