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Fast growing Vegetables & edible plants in singapore

The current uncertainty that comes with the COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns with food security in Singapore and for some, this has piqued consumer interest in growing their own vegetables at home. However this all takes time and it helps to know which vegetables you can grow and harvest in a short time span, and how long you have to wait before you can harvest fruiting vegetables. In this post I will cover the types of food you can grow at home, including fast growing edible plants in Singapore, Malaysia and other tropical regions of South East Asia.

Community resilience is fundamental to surviving crisis on a large scale, and food growing is one way to build resilience. However, another way to do so is to share crops and skills. One important thing to note is that you don’t have to grow everything on your own, instead we can all trade excess produce so that we can diversify our diets without stressing ourselves that we need to be self sufficient.

We can also preserve food through fermentation and freezing meals to extend the shelf life of our produce. If we really want to stretch the value of our food and resources, we can make cleaning enzymes and/or compost using our food scraps.

Here are my recommendations of fast growing vegetables you can start growing today in Singapore. For a guide on how to start growing vegetables, please see here.

Growing Microgreens

Microgreens take a matter of days to grow and requires minimal effort. While this isn’t really going to fill your belly, it contains a good amount of nutrients, and can easily complement your dishes at home.

Note that alfalfa and mung beans (bean sprouts) are quick to sprout and mature in a sprouter, and should be ready by the 6th day, but sunflower seeds will take longer and require soil planting and will mature just after 10 days. Research the growing time of microgreens before you get hold of seeds.

This video by Jeremy Coleby-Williams gives a very thorough walk-through on the materials you need to create your own microgreens sprouter, choosing seeds and growing. Another fuss-free method of sprouting involves using a colander and kitchen towel, and a bowl to catch water run-off 👇

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grow vegetables in Singapore
City, Guides

Beginner’s Guide: How to Grow Vegetables in Singapore

Want to learn how to grow vegetables in Singapore? If you are starting from scratch, here’s a beginner’s guide! There is a lot to take in so let’s start from the basics.

When I hold workshops on this topic or about soil, I often get feedback that there is too much information to retain all at once. It is important to note that growing vegetables is a journey and it’s difficult to learn everything in one sitting because it is easiest to learn when you can reference the information to real life experiences. The amount of sun, wind moisture, or temperature – or microclimate in general – is different from house to house. Trial and error is important, as are observational skills.

Getting Started: Grow Vegetables in Singapore

So what will you need? Some seeds, soil, pots and garden tools. Here’s a general checklist that you can refer to:

At this point you may be asking, “Where should I get seeds from?” or “What is seed raising mix?”, “How much should I water my plant?”,”What fertilisers should I buy?” or “Where to buy garden tools?”. I will gradually elaborate these details further in the post. But first, I will talk about how to get started when you grow vegetables in Singapore.

Which Vegetables Are Easy to Grow in Singapore?

grow vegetables in singapore (winged beans)
Winged beans

For beginners, I always recommend growing herbs and green leafy vegetables before venturing into fruiting vegetables although I know that people want to start off by growing tomatoes. If you are curious and wish to do so, you can read this post on growing tomatoes successfully in Singapore. Cherry tomatoes do best in our climate, and pear tomatoes fare well too. Beefsteak tomatoes rarely do well here but Black Sea Man is a great one to try.

Herbs like dill, Thai basil, Italian basil are easy starter plants. Easy green leafy vegetables to grow from seed include kang kong, bayam (spinach), malabar spinach, lettuce (opt for loose-leaf and not tight heads), nai bai (tatsoi), and pak choy.

If buying herb and vegetable plants or swapping cuttings, some easy ones to grow at home include mint, curry leaf, laksa leaf, sawtooth coriander, kaffir lime leaf, pandan leaf, Indian borage and chives, longevity spinach, Chinese violets, Surinam spinach, Brazilian spinach and moringa. Spices like lemongrass, wild pepper, ginger and turmeric are also easy. Some of these plants are water-loving and you can consider growing those which favour the same conditions together.

Many people have issues growing rosemary at home, and the key to this is drainage. After purchasing the plants from the nursery or sometimes, the supermarket, there is a high probability that you need to repot the plant into a soil mix that includes sand, perlite and/or pumice, in order to recreate its preferred growing conditions in the Mediterranean.

In other words, if you can provide the ideal microclimate to plants, you can grow these vegetables in Singapore. There are some limitations to this of course. Living in a tropical climate means that we are not able to grow certain plants from subtropical and temperate regions, or get it to flower and fruit successfully.

Grow vegetables in Singapore (luffa)
Luffa gourds

If you are feeling more adventurous, some easy fruiting plants you can consider growing from seed include beans (green beans, winged beans), bittergourd, okra, gooseberries and luffa (let it dry on the vine for sponges). Chilli, eggplants and tomatoes require a bit of trial and error to get it right when growing from seed. It is not unusual to experience whitefly among these plants, this pest can be found on the undersides of leaves.

Pest management can involve the use of sprays, yellow sticky traps (you may end up trapping beneficial insects or even lizards), use of exclusion netting, eradicating ants (yes, they can bring pests to your plants), or by plain old squashing with your hands. There are many other pests that you will be acquainted with in due time as part of your gardening journey.

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City

Urban Jungle Folks: food growing using permaculture (Singapore)

Urban Jungle Folks is a group of urban dwellers who get together every Sunday to grow food using permaculture methods on a sizeable patch at Dempsey Hill in Singapore. Led by Michelle Tan, this all started when she observed that there was a disused plot of land beside the restaurant she frequented, and got the okay from management to plant edibles there.

Now, after 9 months of hard toil, they have an edible garden with herbs, vegetables and fruit plants including tomato, chilli, Brazillian spinach, mugwort, pumpkin, moringa, rosemary, pandan, torch ginger, turmeric, curry, ulam rajah, banana, mulberry, dragon fruit, papaya among many others. Also there are beneficial flowers such as marigolds, Brazilian button, snakeweed, and Spanish needles.

The group only tends to the plants on Sundays, with a bit of assistance from the restaurant when it comes to watering on some days. There is an emphasis on native plants and plants that suit our climate because these are the ones which will thrive and require less input.

urban farming city singapore
Urban Jungle Folks Singapore
Urban Jungle Folks Singapore

Here’s Michelle of Urban Jungle Folks, who tells us a little about the group, what they are hoping to achieve and their task of the day.

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air plants singapore
City, Garden Stories

Singapore Garden Stories: Air plant artisan Daniel Goh

Hidden away at Sungei Tengah in Singapore is a serene air plant haven, aptly titled ‘Airvatar’, managed by Tillandsia enthusiast Daniel Goh. A senior financial consultant by day, Daniel makes time to tend to his plant collection daily, and regularly runs workshops to spread his joy for air plants, sharing knowledge while highlighting its aesthetic qualities.

Daniel’s air plants are neatly laid out and well presented. There is a lot to take in, with hundreds of plants on display yet it feels moderately minimalist. At Airvatar, Daniel showcases his plants, a collection amassed from places like Pick a Plant and other private air plant collectors in Singapore. Here, he also runs workshops and uses it as a space for visitors to experience the beauty of Tillandsia, inspiring them with the possibilities of decorating their homes with air plants.

I sat down with him to find out about his passion for air plants.

When did you begin taking an interest in gardening?

I was as young as 10 years old. In school, they used to get us to grow beans into bean sprouts. From then onwards I liked growing plants. But if you ask about when I started liking air plants, it was 6 to 7 years ago, when I got my first air plant. I thought it was very intriguing because it is a plant that doesn’t need soil to grow, and then I started my air plant collection.

air plants singapore

What do you find intriguing about air plants?

It is an amazing plant to have because you can hang it by the window, or glue it onto a rock. But what really got me interested was as I started my collection, I realised that every plant is different. When you talk about species alone, there are around 3500 species of air plants. When you look at the varieties — the shapes, the sizes, the colours, the leaf structure, textures, they are all different. Singularly as a plant itself, it is very sculptural. When you put two separate plants side by side, they each look so different. That to me is like an art piece by itself. When you hang it up, it looks like a floating sculpture to me. That’s how it started for me, I was really, really amazed by air plants.

Subsequently I decided that I wanted to do more with just growing or collecting air plants, and that’s when I started designing. I used branches, rocks, materials that you can find from gardens or aquarium shops, and put them together and made art pieces with it. From then onwards, I called myself an air plant artisan and then I started doing this to share with people that air plants are not just a plant in itself, but it has a lot more dimension and aesthetic value. So it is no longer just growing plants but appreciating the aesthetics of the plant itself.

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