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water-wise gardening techniques
City

Water-wise gardening techniques for your foliage or vegetable plants

We already know that water is precious, and in Singapore, it’s expensive because we live in a water-scarce nation. We are one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, and the pricing of water is meant to reflect the value and scarcity of water here. In this post I’d like to share why it is important that we aim for a water-efficient garden indoors and outdoors, especially in Singapore, and include 9 water-wise gardening techniques that you can try at home.

Why have a water-wise garden?

As gardeners and lovers of plants, it is in our interests to care for the planet because it houses all the plants we love, and the climate because it affects all the plants we have at home and in the wild, the biodiversity around it — and us! Beyond our love for plants we also need to care for the resources that go into gardening. Water security is certainly a thing that should be on our radar.

Each day, Singapore uses approximately 430 million gallons of water, or 782 olympic-sized swimming pools, and this is expected to double by 2060. Households account for 45% of water usage and on average, each Singaporean uses 141 litres of water every day. Public Utility Board’s (PUB) target is to reduce this to 130 litres by 2030. In contrast, many European cities have managed to reduce water consumption to below 100 litres.

As recent as 2016, a major source of our water supply – Linggiu Reservoir – experienced a drastic dip in its water level. At its lowest point, it was only 20% full. Fortunately, it has since returned to healthy levels. As part of our water agreement with Malaysia, we draw up to 250 million gallons of raw water a day. Other sources of water include desalination, NEWater and local catchment from reservoirs.

For these reasons, we need to usewater-wise gardening techniques to conserve what we can.

water use Singapore

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how to control root knot nematodes organically
City, Country

How to get rid of Root knot nematodes organically

If your plants look stunted and its leaves exhibit chlorosis and lack vigour, yet you’ve done everything right and you can’t figure out why, it’s time to check the roots of your plants. If the roots are knobbly and have galls, you have a case of root knot nematodes in your soil. I have experienced this on a few occasions, fortunately in my planters and not in-ground. Read on to find out how to control root knot nematodes organically.

What are they? These plant parasites are microscopic roundworms that damage plant roots and feed on its vascular system. This causes growths to form, affecting the plant’s capacity to absorb water and nutrients.

Shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants are susceptible to root knot nematodes. These include begonia, azalea, hibiscus, gloxinia, hydrangea, impatiens, cyclamen, coleus, some cacti, rose, and edible plants like tomato, capsicum, chilli, eggplant, rosella, okra, cucumber, pumpkin, melons, Malabar spinach, passionfruit, banana, pineapple, sweet potato among others.  

What are your natural options? Here’s how to get rid of root knot nematodes organically, you can consider using a mix of methods to improve efficacy rates.

Grow biofumigant crops for root knot nematode control

how to get rid of root knot nematodes organically
(Photo by Eva Elijas from Pexels)

Brassicas such as Brassica rapa (field mustard) and Brassica juncea (mustard greens) have bio-fumigation properties and are effective at root knot nematode control when grown as a cover crop, however there are some other plants, like Tagetes patula (French marigolds), Tagetes erecta  (Mexican Marigold) and oats, which are highly capable too.

How it works is it releases compounds to suppress pests and pathogens in the soil. It is effective when in its early flowering stages, plants are chopped or pulped and incorporated into the soil and watered. The soil needs to remain moist for a few weeks, and isocyanate gases are released by the plants as it breaks down.

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Singapore beekeeping
City

Who to call for bee removal services in Singapore

While bees pose a threat to most urban dwellings, and the instinctive response is to call pest control and opt for bee extermination in Singapore, there is a better way. A less messy, non-toxic approach is have bees relocated with the assistance of experienced beekeepers. Humane bee removal in Singapore is possible and affordable.

Does anyone remove bees for free in Singapore?

Whether it is bee extermination or bee relocation, it incurs a fee, so why not opt for a more ethical, chemical-free, and natural approach? Bees play an important role in Singapore’s ecosystem, pollinating flowers of food crops and flowering plants, they just need to be moved to a place that doesn’t threaten humans, or adopted and raised in a bee hive.

How much does beehive removal cost in Singapore?

Expect to pay $150 – $600 depending on which beekeeper you call, and at least $120 for pest control bee removal. It can take hours to remove the beehive, and the price reflects the complexity of the job.

It is important to note that bees do not go around stinging people, unless provoked. This only happens when they feel threatened. Female honey bees in particular die shortly after stinging someone because their stinger is dislodged from their body and they are disembowelled in the process. How to avoid being stung by a bee? A few things that get their attention are hairspray, deodorant and bright clothing. These can cause alarm to bees.

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Marcus Koe Singapore
City, Garden Stories

Garden Stories: Marcus Koe of Habitat Collective

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!

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