As we fill our homes, porches and gardens with plants and find creative ways to squeeze as many of them as possible in every nook and cranny, there is a real need to optimise our vertical space. There are benefits to this. Besides organising our plants, we are adjusting the microclimate and adding visual interest by creating depth. One way we can use space more efficiently is by using plant racks and plant stands. So where can you buy plant stands and plant racks in Singapore?
There are a few materials to choose from, these include rattan, wood, plastic and metal. Wood and rattan give a sense of warmth and visual texture to its surroundings and add a tropical feel to the home. Metal lends a more elegant and sleek feel. Depending on the finish you choose – be it brass, copper, gold, iron, steel or others – these metals have its own aesthetic effect. For example, gold is luxurious, while copper exudes warmth.When elevating plants, you can get creative by using stools, benches, low tables, shelves, shoe racks and even bar carts.
There are some points of consideration before you decide to go out and get one. This depends on the look you are after, where you are planning to put it and how practical you are. Are you putting it indoors or outdoors? Will your plant pots use saucers? Does your property have termites? Will it be on the grass or on a tiled area? These materials will experience wear and tear differently and it’s important to make decisions you will not regret later.
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.
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 👇
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?
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.
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.