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Garden Visitations with Mr Tang

You might recognise Mr Tang (pictured above) from a previous post. I had been wondering what he’s been up to, and interested to catch up after his two month stay in Taiwan. I found out that he had been working on different gardens, and he invited Chun Yeow and I to check out his garden project in the west of Singapore.

It’s a rather spacious plot of land, and the owners already have established trees of durian, rambutan, pomelo, mulberry, banana and I thought I saw a couple of loquat trees. Great bones to create a food forest! Mr Tang has planted chilli, okra, eggplants, pigeon pea, ginger, among others. He shared that wild chickens have been digging up his seedlings and snails have been a problem too, but he’s certainly enjoying himself.

February Workshops: Basic & Intermediate Soil Workshops

This month, I am holding two soil workshops at NONG at Hort Park. I have split my workshop into two separate sessions after receiving feedback from participants that they experienced information overload. To find out more, please see the event descriptions below.

Soil Class (Basic Level) by The Tender Gardener

Relatively new to urban farming, and looking to demystify the subject of soil? Learn soil basics and what your plants need to thrive instead of just survive. We will cover what you need to know to gain confidence in growing healthy edible plants, so join us!

Date & Time: 18 February 2017, 10:30am – 12nn
Venue: NÓNG at HortPark (33 Hyderabad Rd (Off Alexandra Road), #01-01 (Beside the Lawn), Singapore 119578)
Cost:  $39 per person, with limited spaces available, so booking is essential
Registration: Reserve your seat here

What you will learn in this session:

– Different types of soil
– Physical needs of plants
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Fertilisation
– Tips on growing seedlings

Soil Mixing Workshop (Intermediate Level) by The Tender Gardener

Do you already understand the basics of soil but wish to learn to make your own seed raising mix and potting mix? 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. We will also talk about soil amendments, including compost.

Date & Time: 25 February 2017, 10:30am – 12nn
Venue: NÓNG at HortPark (33 Hyderabad Rd (Off Alexandra Road), #01-01 (Beside the Lawn), Singapore 119578)
Cost: $55 per person, with limited spaces available, so booking is essential
Registration: Reserve your seat here

What you will learn in this session:

– What soil amendments are
– How soil amendments can improve your soil
– 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


18 Jan: Cultivate the Earth! Japan’s Agriculture & Biotechnology

WASABI Creation is primarily a consultancy bridging Japan and Singapore in areas of business and cultural exchange, but they also organise some interesting events. This one especially piqued my interest because it’s about farming and agricultural techniques – and Japan. Also I’ve sampled Chitose Agriculture Initiative’s produce before, and I found it very sweet and delicious.

According to the event write up, the speaker, Mr Kengo Fukui will cover the following:

  • Interesting trends and stories about agriculture in Japan
  • Introduce the “Farm-to-Table” concept, where each prefecture creates their own vegetable and fruits brand
  • Secrets of how famers in Japan can produce one of the best quality fruits and vegetable in the world
  • His observations in Singapore on Organic, Urban farming
  • Problems of agriculture & biotechnology in Singapore and SEA and experiences from their own farming in Cameron Highlands
  • This company’s philosophy and the latest biotechnology its has developed in bringing high quality produces from Japan to Southeast Asia and the rest of the world

This talk is happening next week and I’ve already booked my seat. The organiser, Tong, was kind enough to extend a special discount to urban farmers, so instead of the very early bird price of $40 or full ticket price of $50, pay $35 when you email him at with the subject header “The Tender Gardener group discount“, remember to include your name and company name. The price includes refreshments of beer and wine, and there will be some Japanese food at the event, including onigiri, as well as fruit and veg tasting. To view the full event write up, see here!

If you’re going, see you there!

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!

Learning the craft of Shibori


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.