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Christmas Gift Guide for Gardeners 2016

Hunting for an appropriate gift for a new or experienced gardener? Here is a list that is sure to contain at least one relevant gift for gardeners of varying expertise, for any occasion!

  1. Mosquito repellant plants – Mosquito Plant, Citronella, Marigolds and Lantana are some plants which are said to repel mosquitoes. A thoughtful present for everyone, really. Available at Far East Flora and all good nurseries.
  2. Seeds –  The Seeds Master stocks a huge variety of heirloom, organic, and/or hybrid fruit, flower, and vegetable seeds. They do not sell GMO seeds. Buy individual packs or seed collections, available on their website, from S$5.62 a seed packet.
  3. GIY stick – This is for the travellers, the busy folks, or laid-back gardeners who love the aesthetics and/or benefits of plants but are not to able to dedicate time to watering them. All you need is a reusable bottle and a piece of fabric to use with the GIY stick. Buy it here, at S$10 each.
  4. Headlamp – This one is for the night gardeners, and can be used for any other kind of hands-free activity, or even during black outs. Available for $14.90 at Decathalon.
  5. Haw’s copper indoor watering can – A real showpiece which will last well through the years. Haws are renown for quality watering cans, and its watering rose ensures gentle sprinkling of water on your plants. Buy yours at Super Farmers or Plain Vanilla Home – 315 Outram Road, #08-06 Tan Boon Liat Building.
  6. Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap – This is a great gift that can be used for more than one purpose. This natural, fragrance-free, all-purpose soap comes in concentrated form and needs to be diluted before use – it can be used as a hand soap, or dishwashing liquid, and then used as a pest spray on plants. I don’t recommend just any kind of soap for plants because of its ingredients, including fragrance, but this is one that I consider to be safe. Available at Bud Cosmetics, S$11.90 for 236ml or 944ml for S$30.80.
  7. NaturalGro Organic Kelp Liquid Fertiliser – Seaweed emulsion contains more than 70 trace minerals that are beneficial to plants. Used at a foliar spray or soil conditioner, this is a useful gift for every gardener. Available at The Nature Company and World Farm, 240ml for S$11.50, or 1L for S$35.
  8. 1001 Garden Plants in Singapore (3rd edition) – This is a plant bible of a large variety of  plants available in Singapore, and is a popular read. Contrary to the title, there are more than 1001 plants included in the latest edition. Get your copy today from Singapore Botanic Gardens Shop, Nong, Kinokuniya and Times bookshops, S$27.90.
  9. Botanical watercolour classesWITHIN offers botanical watercolour classes and they have a few different packages for aspiring botanical artists. Vouchers are now available, starting from S$138 for a single class. We recommend at least an introductory class – 4 classes for S$380, materials are provided. More information here.

Something that I wanted to add to this list was knee pads but I wasn’t able to find ones of good quality. Hopefully by next year, I’m getting to that age where I need them and will have to buy mine overseas. I hope to compile a much more comprehensive guide next year. Happy holidays!

Where to WWOOF in Fujino, Kanagawa

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Welcome to part 3 of a series on Fujino, Kanagawa, Japan. If you’re smitten with what Fujino has to offer and would like to work for board and lodging as part of a WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) arrangement, here are four places you can WWOOF at, and if you’re adventurous enough, you can do them all!:

1. Fujino Club

I have written an extensive post on Fujino Club here, it’s a great first-time WWOOFing location, and ideal for those who enjoy farm as well as kitchen work. Fujino Club uses natural farming methods, and from what I understand, they will also be employing permaculture methods from 2017.

To WWOOF with Fujino Club, find them on the WWOOF Japan network under Kanagawa in the Kanto region.

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Permaculture Center Japan in Fujino, Kanagawa

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In my recent post on Fujino Club, I mentioned my visit to Permaculture Center Japan (PCCJ) in Fujino, Kanagawa. Here is a walkthrough of my experience there. It would not have happened without the help of the people at Fujino Club, who helped organise this trip, and I would like to acknowledge them for their kindness.

This is part two of a three part series on Fujino, Kanagawa, with a focus on WWOOFing and permaculture. WWOOF stands for WorldWide Opportunity on Organic Farms).

PCCJ Founder Mr Kiyokazu Shidara found some time amid his busy schedule to give a few of us a tour of their permaculture demonstration site. He elaborated that it has been designed as a self sufficient site, and in summer, it is possible to live there.

Here is Mr Shidara, explaining the design of the plot of land from a vantage point. He walks around with a toolbelt, and the ‘kama’ – a popular Japanese hand tool for weeding, was visibly sticking out at the side.

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Learning the craft of Shibori

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This is Leong Minyi of Mai Textile Studio, she is a textile artist who runs shibori and sashiko workshops in Singapore. Shibori is a Japanese fabric dyeing technique, where indigo dye is commonly used, while sashiko is a Japanese embroidery technique used to reinforce fabric. She also specialises in katazome, which is another dyeing technique, but the fabric pattern is created using a stencil. In the above photo, Minyi is holding a stencil which she has been working on, it is an arduous process of cutting shapes by hand.

I spent my Saturday afternoon learning how to dye a tenugui – a cotton hand towel measuring 35cm x 98cm. The workshop goes for 5 hours, mainly because of the manual and repetitive effort required to adhere the desired deep, indigo colour on the fabric. But it’s all worth it in the end, when you see the result. There are eight 10-minute sessions of steeping your tenugui, and in between, you expose the fabric to the air to oxidise the dye.

But first, we need to fold the cloth. There are several folding techniques, and we learnt some basic ones.

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Soil Mixing Workshop on 3 December at Make Your Own

Old woman hands holding fresh soil. Symbol of spring and ecology concept

I have organised another soil mixing workshop for December, come join us!

Wish to learn the basics of soil and learn to make your own seed raising mix and potting mix for edible plants? There are many recipes out there, but it also depends on what you’re growing. Hear about the variations of soil mixes and participate in this hands-on soil mixing workshop.

Date: 3 December 2016

Time: 3pm – 5pm

Venue: Make Your Own, Blk 4 Upper Aljunied Lane, #01-06, Singapore 360004

Fee: $55 per person, with limited spaces available, so booking is essential. Reserve your seat below!

What you will learn in this session:

– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Physical needs of plants
– Soil amendment basics
– How to grow and care for seedlings
– How to mix your own seed raising mix and potting mix

What you will take home:

– A list of seed raising and potting mix recipes
– Notes from our workshop
– Seed raising mix sample
– Potting mix sample

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