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Archive for the ‘Herbs, Veggies and Fruits’ Category

My Herb Article in Magazine

February 11, 2012 1 comment

Recently I wrote an article for a local magazine, Simply Hers, on herb gardening. The article featured easy to grow herbs and useful in the kitchen. The journalist who had interviewed me was thrilled and excited about herb gardening and even thinking to start her own garden!

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As the magazine’s mainstream readers are ladies, I roped in my gardening friend to talked more about herb gardening, in a feminine perspective.. Haha! The journalist was amazed of the wide range of culinary herbs which can survive in our tropical climate!

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Breadfruit harvest!

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently I followed one of my gardening comrades to harvest some fruits from a nearby primary school. It turned out to be Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) we are going after. A close cousin to the common Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), Breadfruit is used for culinary purposes. When cooked, it gives out a hint of aroma similar to freshly baked bread, which gives the name of the plant.

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The tree was tall, more than 5 metres, was bearing more than 20 fruits, were quite a challenge to us.  Some of the fruits were really high up and out of our reach. The mature fruits were the size of a basketball, and cutting them from below worry us that we might need helmets! The leaves are big, and deeply cut into pinnate lobes and the stalk of the fruit was too thick to use a stick to knock them off.

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We have to use a pole cutter, to reach for the higher fruits, and it took us more than an hour just to collect 5 fruits! When cut, the tree excretes its sap, which was used by the native Hawaiians as glue to catch birds.

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The entire experience was exciting, harvesting fruits after years of maintenance and care was something gratifying and hard to describe…

Asparagus growing…

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently I received seeds from my friend, which turned out to be asparagus seeds. They are known for their slow growth and rarity here in Singapore.

Not all Asparagus can be grown in Singapore, the larger ones found in supermarkets need lower temperature to survive, which is not viable for them to grow well here in Singapore.

What we can grow here are the smaller versions of it. Thai Asparagus, which yield thinner and smaller spears can be grown in Singapore. My seeds germinated in two weeks, using organic draining soil. It was pretty exciting, the first spear is needle thin and gradually open up with thin leaves.

To get a crop of edible spears, it will probably take 2 years! However, it is a pretty easy to grow plant, it does not need special treatment and can be regarded as a usual household plant. Asparagus generally needs at least 4 hours of direct sunlight and bright light throughout the day to do well.

They are hard to get, but it is a great plant for any garden! I will put up the photos pretty soon!

Stretched leaves

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Many gardeners have approached me with their plants during an informal sharing session. I was pretty shocked to see many of their herbs have somehow looked different. Instead of the usual compact and bushy rosemary or oregano, their plants are long, with leaves far apart from one another.

IMG_2292 Inadequate light leads to viney plants such as this oregano 

This is a problem with the growing conditions. Remember my previous posts, growing conditions will determine the success of your gardening hobby and juggling them well may be challenging for the amateurs. However, most plants are forgiving and can adapt themselves to the growing conditions. The five main growing conditions are light, water, humidity, temperature and feeding.

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Stretched leaves of Oregano (left) compared to healthy compact Rosemary

The stretched leaves are due to the inadequate amount of light. Most herbs are actually sun loving plants and to reach for more light, they have to grow taller and longer with lesser leaves. However in Singapore’s tropical climate, more light usually means higher temperature which is why not all herbs can be grown here.

Many of the common culinary herbs such as rosemary, oregano, sage, marjoram and mint can be grown easily. They are hardy and less fussy of their growing conditions.These herbs will require at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight everyday.

My Gardening talk – From Garden to Kitchen

This is the first time I conducted my gardening talk in the community centre, title ‘From Garden to Kitchen’. Attended by ten gardening enthusiasts, I had shared growing tips and secrets to gardening success for culinary herbs such as rosemary, laksa plant, ginger and more. The two-hour talk also consists of a hands-on session, where I demonstrated on how to divide a mint plant.

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The number of attendees is smaller than my previous talks but the session enabled us to discuss and share various growing experience. I had time to attend to their questions and share more knowledge with them. I was rather surprised with the questions they asked, that most of the questions are very technical and rarely asked by hobbyists, it seemed that the gardening knowledge of community gardeners had increased since the beginning of my promoting gardening campaign!

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Also, everyone got to bring back a pot of the mint they had divided and purple basil seeds for them to try out. The attendees were rather quiet at the earlier part of the talk but gradually the ice was broken and everyone made new friends when they walked out at the end of the talk. Not only that these talks help to gain more knowledge, but also provided opportunities for like-minded enthusiasts to network and discuss with one another.

I would like to thank for the wonderful support rendered by the Tampines West Community Centre staff and my friend Ai San for taking photographs that day. Special thanks to National Parks Board Community in Bloom team (Ms Lily Chen) for providing the necessary teaching materials to make this talk possible. I hope to get more opportunities to reach out to more gardening enthusiasts in the near future!   

Gardening talk coming up !

It’s been some time since I last conducted my public talks. This coming June, I am honoured to give a gardening talk organised by NParks and People’s Association. The gardening talk is titled as ‘From Garden to Kitchen’, where I will touch on growing tips for common herbs and spices.

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These plants are commonly found in our markets and suitable for growing in our tropical climate. Not only they are mainly for culinary uses, most of them can be grown as ornamental plants! Over many years of interaction with local gardeners, edible and fruiting plants never failed to attract and encourage gardeners to grow.

The 2-hour gardening talk will cover various topics such as growing conditions, care and maintenance, and tricks and ideas from my very own experience! This is also my first gardening talk conducted in mandarin and in a Community Club (Tampines West). More details are available on the banner and registrations can be done on PA’s website. Hope to see many gardening enthusiasts that day!

Breadfruit…

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a tropical tree which can grow to a height of 20 metres. They are grown for their fruits. When cooked, these fruits taste like freshly baked bread, hence its name Breadfruit, which are used to make many traditional dishes.It is very widely used in the Pacific Island region and believed that the plants are exported by the early Polynesian voyagers.

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Not only the fruits are edible, other parts of the plants have its uses. The sap is used by the native Hawaiians to trap birds and the wood pulp can be processed into paper, also known as breadfruit tapa. Currently these plants can be found commonly in South East Asia.

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The leaves are large and lobed and the fruits have tough skin with hexagon shapes, resembling another closely related tropical fruit, jackfruit. Both male and female flowers are found on the same tree and pollination is usually carried out by birds and bats.

The unique shape of the leaves and the wide range of uses of the entire plant makes it a very educational plant to grow in community gardens! It is not a fussy plant and can take many soil types. Do aware that it is a tree and ample space is needed!