When Marcus Koe joined the neighbourhood Jalan Senang Community Garden in Kembangan, Singapore, he was looking to grow vegetables in-ground. He was surprised to find that nobody was keen to take on a large plot of land near the entrance of the garden, which was filled with grass and weeds. He requested for this spot and started to implement permaculture methods on it.
Situated on a slope, rainfall makes its way into this part of the garden first. As the soil was compacted, this area was waterlogged on rainy days, and on sunny days it was hard. It was a challenge for him to grow vegetables here and he found that plants would not thrive in the beginning.
He decided to use a banana circle as a solution. He planted a cluster of bananas in the formation of a circle, with a 50cm deep ditch in the middle, and filled it with leaves and other organic materials, including compost that he makes together with others in the community garden.
This ditch also functions as a convenient place for him to compost his bulky garden waste. It also allows water to collect in there, meaning there is no stagnant water. In addition the ditch functions like a sponge, releasing water to the plants around it when required. As the organic matter breaks down, it feeds the plant and improves the soil.
The bananas started to do well and he grew other plants around it, and designed the garden around the bananas, using materials such as logs and leaves from the immediate vicinity of the garden. He also planted leguminous plants like pigeon pea as a nitrogen fixer, and as It matured, he would also prune the branches and leave it on the ground to add fertility to the soil. To find out more, watch this interview!
Find out how you can grow edibles at home even if you have space constraints in Singapore.
In this upcoming workshop, learn growing basics, get to know what plants need to thrive and how you can make the most of your space at home when growing edibles in soil.
Date: 15 May 2021
Time: 10.30am – 12.30pm
Registration fee: $75
RSVP: Book your seat at https://smallspacegrowing.peatix.com
Each participant will also receive a kit which includes a small, long planter box, soil, seeds and notes.
Please note that each class accommodates only 4 people at a time to allow for safe distancing.
If you are facing space constraints in your HDB apartment, condo or garden, why not try growing varieties of compact, dwarf vegetables instead? Here are some vegetables you can try in order to maximise your available space. Also, scroll down for space saving urban farming options in Singapore.
Quick germinating and fast growing, ‘Maiko’ is a butterhead lettuce with reddish leaves, and can be harvested in 4 – 6 weeks. Seeds are available from The Seedsmaster.
Tiny Tim Tomatoes
Compact and perfect for container gardens, Tiny Tim is an early, heavy cropper and produces bright red cherry tomatoes. These tomato seeds can be purchased online from Horti, and can be found in several NTUC Fairprice outlets.
Oda sweet bell pepper
This dark, almost black-skinned sweet bell pepper variety is a dwarf heirloom and matures in around 10 weeks from planting. Purchase these seeds online from The Seedsmaster.
Dwarf yard long beans
It’s that time of the year again, here is the 2020 Christmas Gift Guide for Gardeners! This year saw a spike in the number of gardeners worldwide. Whether it was edible or ornamental, interest in growing plants blossomed and this was extremely evident in the plant community groups based in Singapore. We now have more plant parents and urban farmers who have joined the fray, which is exciting.
Finding it hard to get suitable christmas gifts for gardeners? Here is a list of useful items you can consider.
- The Kinfolk Garden showcases gardens, its stewards and communities in captivating visuals. A perfect coffee table book for any avid gardener, available at Basheer Graphic Books for $45. They also have a good collection of edible and ornamental gardening books which is worth a gander. Basheer Graphic Books is located at Bras Basah Complex, 231 Bain St, #04-19.
- Seeds of edible plants are always a nice gift for others. For a list of places where you can buy herb and vegetable seeds in Singapore online, see here.
- Give the gift of good plant health with these popular fertilisers and soil conditioners. Suitable for both ornamental and edible plants, Plant Buddy, Root Roids and Plantonic have been gaining traction among the houseplant community and edible growers. Plant Buddy and Plantonic are natural fertilisers, while Root Roids is a soil conditioner that contains mycorrhizae and nutrient solubilizing bacteria. To get your hands on Plant Buddy, drop Terrascapes a message on Facebook, Plantonic stockists can be found on their website, and Root Roids can be purchased from Local Loco.
- Cleaning ourselves after working with plants is made easy with this Marseilles soap cube. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, it is a multipurpose soap made with 72% olive oil that can be used for hands, body, dishes, laundry and other cleaning needs. Prices start at $12 for a 100g bar, and comes in a few different sizes. Get it at Oasis Skin online or visit their beauty kitchen at 114 Lavender St #05-72.
- Know someone who loves botanical art? Local watercolour artist Lucinda Law is now selling her art prints and original art work. Prices start at $133 each. See her work here.
- Why not get in the mood for Christmas with some suitably themed plants? Little Botany stocks variegated foliage plants reminiscent of snow covered leaves. Some of these include Costus arabicus and Asplenium hybrid variegata. Buy it online or visit the nursery from Friday to Sunday at 21a Tebing Lane. To view their opening hours, visit their Instagram page and find the details on their profile write up.
- The Sustee water meter comes in handy for those who need a little help when it comes to watering plants. The water meter visibly indicates when it is time to rehydrate your plants, and it is suitable for houseplant beginners. A change of refill is required every 6-9 months. These water meters are priced from $6.90 to $10.30, and refills are available from $10.50 for a set of two from Potta Plantta. Buy it online or at their store at 55 Lor L Telok Kurau, #1-57.
- Give the gift of a three-hour workshop with Polkaros. They offer workshop vouchers for making planters and tableware. For the former, participants will learn basic handbuilding techniques, make their planter from scratch and decorate it before firing. Planters will be ready around a month’s time. All materials will be provided. Each workshop is priced at US$108, workshop vouchers are available on their website.
- This Music of the Plants portable device is able to pick up the electromagnetic variations from plants and translates them into pleasant music. Get it here, prices start at € 397.
- For a one-stop shop for garden tools, Horme Hardware carries an affordable range. From secateurs to pruning saws and bonsai scissors, they have several products to choose from. Buy online or visit their stores.
Got more ideas for Christmas gifts for gardeners? Share it in the comments section!
For more gardening updates, follow my Facebook Page – The Tender Gardener, Instagram page @tendergardener and subscribe to my YouTube channel! See you there!