Monday, October 21, 2013

A new lease of life

A friend gave me his fig plant several months ago. It arrived in my patio with only 2 old leaves. According to him, it had been that way for the longest time. Maybe I could revive it?

I transfered it into a larger pot but the situation did not improve. In fact, both leaves dried up and fell off eventually. I sought the advice of someone who is an expert in growing figs. He suspected the roots were not developing well and that I should pull out the entire plant and give the roots a good wash.

True enough, a wad of sponge was wrapped around the roots, constricting the root development. I discarded the sponge and repotted the plant and almost immediately, it started producing new leaves. Within a few months, the plant is a picture of health. Thanks to the expert, my fig plant has been given a new lease of life.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cheery cherry tomatoes

The pack of seeds from Italy is by far the best thing I have bought from my travels. To date I have harvested hundreds of tomatoes from two plants. I let them ripen on the vine so I can enjoy the sweetest, ripest fruits. They are so delicious that we usually just eat them as a snack. Otherwise I make a salsa or toss them in a salad. The vines are getting old and are no longer very productive. It's time to grow new plants to ensure I have a continuous supply of tomatoes.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pea shoots

One of my favourite baby greens to grow at home is pea shoots. If you get the right seeds, you will find it very satisfying to grow your own.

There are different varieties to choose from. Some seeds are harder and can withstand soaking. These I grow in a special hydroponic tray after soaking the seeds overnight. All I have to do is change water daily and harvest the shoots in about 10 days.

Another method of growing is to sow in a tray filled with compost. Generally, these peas expand by about 40% when moist, so do not sow too tightly to allow room for expansion. I mist the seeds and sprouts daily to keep them moist.

Pea shoots can be eaten raw in a salad or stir fried with garlic or noodles. The fat seed provides all the nutrients, so the shoots are packed with nutrients, carotene and valuable phytochemicals.

After you have cut the shoots for eating, new sprouts will appear after a few days. You can harvest up to 3 or even 4 times. Really good value for money.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I see radish

The radish I'm growing in the patio are doing well. In fact, I'm beginning to see one peeking out under the beautiful leaves. If you have a deep pot at home, try growing radish. They're just about the easiest thing to grow and it's so rewarding to see them flourish with hardly any care.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Baby greens

L-R - wheatgrass, peashoot and kangkong.
If you do not have the space and patience to grow vegetables in your garden, I highly recommend you start with growing baby greens. They are basically vegetables harvested at the juvenile stage. Typically, you can harvest your greens for eating in less than 10 days. As the nutrients come from the seeds, there is no need to add fertiliser or other additives.

I usually sow the seeds on a thin layer of organic compost and mist them daily. They germinate quickly and can be grown indoors. Harvesting is as easy as using a pair of kitchen scissors to snip off what you need. Some larger seeds like wheatgrass, peashoot and barley grass can produce new shoots after cutting.

The vegetables taste great stir-fried or added to salads, soup, noodles or omelette. Wheatgrass and barley grass can be juiced or added to smoothies to make a highly nutritious beverage.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Growing herbs

Many new gardeners ask me about growing herbs from seeds and I tell them I usually get mine from the stores. They are a good investment. A small pot of nicely grown herb costs a few dollars but with proper care, it can last for years.

That said, it's not that you can't grow them from seeds. It's just that some can be quite challenging to grow especially in our climate. They're also prone to disease (they're delicious, thay's why!) and come under attack by pests during the early stages of growth.

I like to buy the tiny pots of oregano, thyme and sage from the chiller section of the supermarket and grow them in a larger pot at home. I like that they are organic but you have to be careful to let them acclimatise slowly in your home. They'll die quickly if you place them under the sun. Remember they used to live in a chiller!

Lately I don't see them anymore in the supermarkets, so I got the larger pots from the nursery instead. They're usually lush and attractive, but also doused with fertiliser and chemicals. I won't use the leaves for cooking for the next few weeks until I'm very sure they're safe.

Here is an oregano that I bought recently. Within a month, it has grown so much that it's trailing all over. The great thing about herbs is that, the more you cut, the faster new leaves will grow.

I like to pound oregano with garlic, salt and rosemary together as a rub for provencal roast chicken. Trust me, it's good.