From now till 29 March, you can view cherry blossoms in Singapore at Gardens by the Bay. The Sakura Matsuri is back with 500 stunning cherry and peach blossom trees in over 20 varieties. Here is a video postcard from me, which gives you a taste of what you can expect.
This year I had planned to visit Japan to experience my first autumn and cherry blossom festival, but with the pandemic, this will have to wait. The next best thing is to see the plants at the Sakura Matsuri.
I love these miniature Gassho-style farmhouses with the thatched roofs. These traditional roofs are a more sustainable option and offer good insulation against heat and cold.
When shopping for a novice or experienced gardener, there is no lack of gift options in Singapore. Whether it’s for Christmas or any other occasion, here are some great gift ideas for gardeners.
1. Green Spade Xmas Bundle Green Spade has put together a special package for the festive season. Their Xmas Bundle consists of a 20 litre bag of Veggies Mix for growing vegetables, Nutri Yield fertiliser, Bio Protect organic fungicide, and Bug Shield, an organic pesticide. Get it for $38 at www.greenspade.sg.
2. Basic Starter Kit A wonderful gift for someone sinking their toes into edible growing, this gardening starter kit from Crops & Co. comes with a SeedCell which contains seeds, 250g of potting soil, a paper pot plus growing guide. Priced at $12.80, this starter kit is available at http://www.cropsandco.com
3. Felco secateurs This one’s for serious gardeners. Felco is known for its high quality tools and these secateurs are built to last, with parts that can be replaced for a lifetime of service. Priced from $109.90, find them at www.monotaro.sg.
4.Compot If you only generate a small amount of kitchen waste and wish to cycle nutrients back into the garden, the Compot is an ideal composting solution. Bury it in the soil, put anything biodegradable in it, cover it with the lid provided. Each pot has a 10 litre capacity. Get yours at $30 from Plant Visionz at https://eshop.plantvisionz.com.
With so many under-utilised little pockets of land available on Singapore’s street verges, why not grow some food and educate others in the process? The Farmers, Justine Ong-Farmer and Scott Farmer – decided to do just that. After trying their hand at growing edibles less than a year ago, they have come a long way in such a short period of time with their trial-and-error approach and some helpful advice from Justine’s mother.
With this knowledge of growing and cooking with local herbs and vegetables, they started offering workshops to connect Singapore residents to local plants and food. After realising that local ingredients are more readily available on sidewalks compared to supermarkets and wet markets, they wanted to communicate that there is a value to eating and growing plants native to Singapore.
As part of their regular workshop, A Seat at The Farmer’s Table, participants pick ingredients from their garden and get involved in making nasi ulam and chilli chukka, and savour some of their tasty nasi ulam – I’ve tried it, it’s really good!
To date, they have grown cabbage, rosella, ulam rajah, bittergourd, Thai basil, pear and cherry tomatoes, marigolds, turmeric, okra, papaya, and blue butterfly pea among others, on this newly reclaimed verge alone. At home and on another more established verge, there are edible plants like banana, neem, soursop, pandan, wild pepper, torch ginger, lettuce, cucamelons, bayam, and more.
I sat down with Justine and Scott to find our more about their urban farming journey and their verge garden situated at Yio Chu Kang.
1. When did you both discover that you loved growing plants?
Justine: I was never really interested in plants until Scott and I bought our first plant together for his place in the early days of our relationship. We call him Lazarus (nickname ‘Lazzy’) because he has looked dead and then come back to life several times over the last couple of years we’ve had him. He’s alive and kicking today.
2. You both use a lot of natural farming techniques, which makes use of the materials already available to you. Where did you learn to grow edible plants?
Justine: My mum has been growing fruit trees and vegetables in our home garden for many years now. She’s usually the first person I turn to when I have questions. She’s very crafty and super innovative, always encouraging us to come up with solutions using what nature has provided or what we can find around the house.
Scott: I think we’ve learnt most of our techniques as we’ve gone along. Back in the UK, we always had a vegetable garden when I was growing up but I was never actively involved – I guess I may have picked up some knowledge through occasional digging, picking and watching. But really, we just make sure we spend a bit of time every day fiddling and talking to the plants – I don’t think there is any real secret!
New to gardening or urban farming, and wondering where to buy plant pots in Singapore? Whether you are seeking common or fancy plastic pots, rustic or painted terracotta pots, or stylish, perhaps quirky looking plant pots, there are lots of options locally. Here are some of my personal recommendations of where you can find pots to suit any space.
If you’re looking for plant stands and/or plant racks, see here for a list of places you can buy them in Singapore.
Lightweight, affordable and practical, plastic pots are also better at retaining moisture than terracotta pots. However the lower quality pots may not last more than a few years, depending on how much sunlight it is exposed to. This is due to photodegradation from UV rays.
One thing that bothers me about some types of plastic posts is how it can get powdery as it deteriorates, and that is when I throw them out because I don’t want this plastic dust getting into my soil, especially for my edible plants.
I tend to veer towards the larger, long planters, which I can use to grow a mix of plants in, although it ends up being harder to move around.
Here are some places where you can find plastic pots:
1.World Farm Practically a one-stop shop for all things gardening, World Farm is pretty much the most affordable place to buy essential gardening items and they have a massive variety of ornamental, fruiting, flowering plants and edible herbs. The physical store stocks a variety of plastic pots and planters, and you can find the commonly used plastic pots in different sizes here, they also have colourful, small round ones. Find them at 15 Bah Soon Pah Road in Yishun.
2. Noah Garden Centre Online however, Noah Garden Centre has one of the widest range of attractive plant pots in various materials within Singapore. They also offer a good variety of garden essentials, and even nice plant stands. First time buyers get 10% off, how lovely.
3. Far East Flora A household name, Far East Flora’s physical stores have a lot of good quality products and their online shop is hard to top. They offer a wide variety of plants and gardening items in their Thomson, Bedok and Queensway branches. Online shoppers get 10% off their first purchase and Singapore Gardening Society members are eligible for discounts in their physical stores, remember to flash your membership card.