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Bee Amazed Garden: Learn About Bees & Beekeeping in Singapore

John Chong is a jovial man and one who loves his bees. Out of pure passion, he decided to open BEE aMAZEd Garden, a bee education centre at Kampung Kampus, located in Yishun. I have since visited twice, and I really like his humble facility, which has a garden for bees, bee observation gallery, educational aids and an area for classes and workshops. For those keen on bees in Singapore, this is the place for you! My first visit was with my friend GK, and more recently, Waj (pictured above), a beekeeping enthusiast who recently relocated from London with his family.

BEE aMAZEd Gardens offers several education programmes including garden tours, bee education classes, and even basic beekeeping, see here for the list. In addition, the education centre also provides organisations a CSR opportunity to adopt a hive. So far, John has hosted school visits to his centre, and welcomes group bookings.

Plants poisonous to cats and dogs

poisonous plants for cats and dogs

Shopping for plants but wondering which ones are toxic for your cat and/or dog? I speak with veterinarian and plantswoman, Gloria Lee, who highlights edible and ornamental plants poisonous to cats and dogs and explains what pet owners should do if their pet is poisoned.

1. Are most plants safe for cats/dogs? Is there a rule of thumb when it comes to choosing safe plants?
Most plants are in general not systemically toxic to cats/dogs. The more commonly available plants in Singapore which happen to be toxic to cats/dogs, are generally locally irritating to the mucosa or lining of the gut, thereby causing unpleasant gastric signs of drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. In general, plants with sap can be considered not edible. To be safe, all plants should be considered potentially toxic, unless otherwise proven. This is especially so if you have puppies which have no safety valve when it comes to chewable things. Puppies are more likely to ingest large amounts of inappropriate materials, causing more serious problems

2. Which edible and ornamental plants should cat/dog owners completely avoid having around the home?
I cannot think of an edible plant which should be avoided around the home, unless you are referring to something like brinjals and tomatoes where the green unripe fruits are toxic. There are some highly, highly toxic plants which can kill outright e.g. oleander, all bulbs belonging to the Lily family, Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica), Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), Datura etc. Flowers in bouquets are sometimes more attractive to cats and dogs and also need to be considered, not just the plants themselves. Bouquets often involve exotic flowers not grown in Singapore or the tropics, and hence, do not ping the radar when investigating a potential source of toxicity.

The common plants found which cause gastric signs are often ‘house plants’ or corridor plants e.g. Dieffenbachia(dumb cane), Money plant, ZZ plant (Zamioculcas), Peace Lily, Mother in law’s plant, philodendrons- these only cause issues if ingested in sufficient quantities- which then depends on the size/weight of the pet.

May workshops: Soil Class & Soil Improvement Workshop

Announcing two soil workshops for May – a basic and an intermediate class in my backyard. There’s only room for 6, so book your tickets without delay!

Soil Class (Basic Level)

Relatively new to urban farming, and looking to demystify the subject of soil? Through this talk, learn soil basics and what your plants need to thrive instead of just survive. We will cover what you need to know when shopping for soil and how to grow healthy plants, book your seat without delay!
  
What you will learn in this session :
– What’s in soil?
– Different types of soil
– Physical needs of plants
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Which soil to buy?
– Fertilisation
– Tips on growing seedlings

Date: 13 May 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 11am – 12.30pm
Venue: Butterfly Avenue
Cost: $45 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book your seat now!

Instructor Bio :

Olivia is a gardener, nature lover and believer of a sustainable society. She writes about gardening and sustainable living on her blog – The Tender Gardener, and raises awareness of environment-related issues through a non-profit environmental society, Green Drinks (Singapore), where she is the President and Co-founder. Very much a homebody, she likes to spend time in her garden, fussing over her chickens and watching bees in her apiary.

soil gardening singapore

Soil Improvement Workshop (Intermediate Level)

To have healthy plants, we need to ensure there are good microbes in the soil to make fertiliser nutrients available to it. During this session, find out how to use fertilisers and soil amendments to improve soil structure, and mix your own nutritious potting soil. Participants can take home a sample size portion of seed raising mix and potting mix.

The cost is $49 per person, and with only 6 spaces available, booking is necessary. Reserve your spot without delay!

Date: 13 May 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 2pm – 3.30pm
Venue: Butterfly Avenue
Cost: $49 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book your seat now!

Composting in Singapore: Which is the Best Composting System for You?

composting food in Singapore

Thinking of making compost at home but unsure where to start? Whether you are looking to creating your own compost for your plants or seeking a solution to food waste, there are several systems to choose from when it comes to composting in Singapore. Here is a list of systems available locally, there is one to suit your space, budget and comfort zone.

1. Smart Cara – This is for those who prefer a straightforward, high tech option and do not mind the $899 price tag. Made in South Korea, there is no need to sort your food waste and you can put raw and cooked food into it, unlike many low tech solutions. This unit holds up to 1kg of food waste and it takes 3-4 hours to convert food to compost, grinding and dehydrating it in the process. Measuring 31cm long x 27cm wide x 34cm tall, it doesn’t take much space in the home and is perfect for kitchens with space constraints. Get your Smart Cara from Ecoponics.

2. Bokashi Bin – This anaerobic system uses EMs, or Effective Micro-organisms that include beneficial yeasts and bacteria, to hasten the process of composting through fermenting food waste. When the bin is full, it is sealed and left alone to pickle, and after 10 -14 days, its contents will be turn into pre-compost, which needs to be added to a compost bin or heap to further compost for at least two weeks because it requires that amount of time for its acidity to neutralise. What is fantastic about the Bokashi Bin is you can compost eggs, dairy, cooked food, as well as raw and cooked meat. Like many low tech compost systems, the Bokashi Bin requires a balance of wet and dry ingredients so that its contents are not too moist, which can result in a bad odour. This system requires the continual purchase of Bokashi EMs, which is applied each time food is added to the Bokashi Bin. During the composting process, leachate is also produced and can be used as a nutrient booster for plants. The 19-litre Bokashi Bin is currently available at a special price of $90 at GreenSpade, find out more here.

3. Baba Compost Bin – This is suitable for those who travel often and are unable or unwilling to take care of a worm bin. An anaerobic composting system, this compost bin is most suitable for raw food waste and garden clippings, but not meat, eggs or dairy, and also produces leachate which can be diluted and applied to plants. Similar to the Bokashi Bin, the manufacturer recommends using this bin with their house brand Compost Maker, which contains microbes to speed up the decomposition process. This is not absolutely necessary, alternatively you can mix fruit and vegetable peelings and/or garden clippings with moist healthy soil to assist with composting, remember to balance the green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) materials. A reminder – always dispose of diseased plant parts, and never add it to your compost bin! Place this in a warm or sunny spot to accelerate the breaking down process, and after two months, your compost should be ready. There is a chance that your compost might still be acidic and might require an aerobic phase for the pH to neutralise. This is one of the more affordable composting options in this list, the Baba Compost Bin is available in two sizes – 15L at $48, and 30L at $63. Get yours at World Farm!

4. Tumbleweed Tumbling Compost Bins– This is one for the urban farmers and gardeners! The Tumbleweed is an aerobic composting bin which makes mulch and compost in weeks – depending on how long you leave your garden clippings, dried leaves and fruit and veg clippings in there for. It is recommended to balance 50% garden waste (green and brown) with 50% raw food scraps in the tumbler. What makes this special is the ability to effortlessly turn its contents, and through this act of aeration, your organic waste is well mixed and breaks down quicker because oxygen is required for decomposition. This unit makes for a wonderful addition to community gardens, courtyards and backyards. Find a sunny spot to house this tumbler and turn it every couple of days. The Tumbleweed Compost Tumbler is available in 140 litres ($299) or 220 litres ($269) at Organic Origins.

April Workshops: Soil Class + Start a Herb Garden

soil singapore

It’s April, and I am holding two workshops this month – Soil Class (Basic Level) and Start a Herb Garden! More details below, as well as how to book your seat – only 10 seats per workshop!

   

Soil Class (Basic Level)

Relatively new to urban farming, and looking to demystify the subject of soil? Through this talk, learn soil basics and what your plants need to thrive instead of just survive. We will cover what you need to know to gain confidence in growing healthy edible plants, so join us!
  
Date: 15 April 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 11am – 12.30pm
Venue: orgayana stand @Terra Village at Parkland Green, East Coast Park (C1 Car Park)
Cost: $45 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book your seat now!
  
What you will learn in this session :
– Different types of soil
– Physical needs of plants
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Which soil to buy?
– Fertilisation
– Tips on growing seedlings 
  
Instructor Bio :
Olivia is a gardener, nature lover and believer of a sustainable society. She writes about gardening and sustainable living on her blog – The Tender Gardener, and raises awareness of environment-related issues through a non-profit environmental society, Green Drinks (Singapore), where she is the President and Co-founder. Very much a homebody, she likes to spend time in her garden, fussing over her chickens and watching bees in her apiary.

how to start a herb garden singapore

Start a Herb Garden

Have you thought of starting a mini herb garden at home? Why not kickstart your journey with a crash course on herb growing?
  
Through this hands-on workshop, you will find out which herbs thrive in Singapore, learn how to grow your garden from stem cuttings, and some basic tips on caring for your herbs. Participants will leave with two potted herbs, notes and greater confidence growing edible herbs.
  
Date: 15 April 2018 (Sunday)
Time: 1pm – 2pm
Venue: orgayana stand @Terra Village at Parkland Green, East Coast Park (C1 Car Park)
Cost: $39 per person
Tickets: Limited spaces available, so booking is essential – book you seat now!