City, Garden Stories, Stories

Community rooftop garden tour with compost master Ong Chun Yeow

Ong Chun Yeow is an avid composter, with two compost set ups at home – an aerobic one in his HDB corridor and an anaerobic one in his kitchen – plus a vermicompost bin situated at his rooftop community garden allotment. Also, when he was working part-time at the Funan Urban Farm, he set up a large aerobic compost bin on their rooftop garden which is still active. All his compost goes back into the different gardens where the compost set ups are situated, creating a closed loop where nothing is wasted. If you are looking into composting at home in Singapore, you should definitely check out his approaches.

Chun Yeow believes in space efficient gardening, and having a wide selection of plants to encourage biodiversity. With a limited space of 4×1 metres, he experiments with bio-intensive growing, cramping as many plants as he can while sustaining soil fertility. Through this method he has succeeded in having a high yield with minimal inputs. He had his soil tested not too long ago and it was found to be very fertile with a high level of nitrogen. To find out more, watch the interview I did with him below.

This is an update from my last interview with him 5 years ago, to see how his garden has evolved over time, read the interview here.

In his HDB rooftop community garden allotment, he has chosen plants which can withstand the hot and windy rooftop conditions. These include rosemary, wild lettuce, madeira vine, turmeric, winged beans, hyacinth bean, sweet potatoes, sayur manis, okra and other plants that are either native to this region or well suited to our climate.

At community gardens, it is not uncommon to experience pest infestations. Chun Yeow prefers to let nature do its thing, instead of spraying pesticides. Soon after, beneficial insects usually appear and the pest issues resolve by itself.

He teaches composting and has contributed to Project Black Gold and other soil regeneration projects around Singapore. Project Black Gold is a group which encourages community composting, with the goal of redirecting our food scraps from incineration plants to creating compost in our homes and neighbourhoods. They teach composting and hope to empower individuals to start their own composting projects.

To follow Chun Yeow’s journey, find him on Instagram.

If you’re looking at different ways you can do composting at home in Singapore, see this post.

For more gardening updates, follow my Facebook Page – The Tender Gardener, Instagram page @tendergardener and subscribe to my YouTube channel! See you there!

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