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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!

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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!   

A Fertilizer Experiment

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Not long ago, I met my neighbour who was watering her plants outside her house. Her plants are very healthy and have been giving out colourful blossoms all the time. It was only after a short discussion when I found out she had used “something” as fertilizer. I was awe-struck and surprised that this household ingredient can be used as fertilizers for plants!

The “secret” ingredient is MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) which is used as a taste enhancer in many of our dishes. Being so amazed with the results using MSG, I continued to find out more details. She was applying a teaspoon of MSG every 2 weeks for her plants in 6-inch pot. The MSG used in crystalline needle form which is sprinkled on the top soil before watering.

jan004 Pot fertilized with MSG on the left and control on the right

I decided to give it a try and added MSG to my “stubborn” plants. I had an experiment set-up of two groups of pomegranate seedlings and an Adenium plant which did not flower for at least half a year. A pot of seedlings are fertilized with a teaspoon of MSG every 10 days and the other is used as control.

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Finally it bloomed!

After the 3rd round of fertilizing, there are significant results from the seedlings. It seemed that the seedlings with MSG are growing much faster than those without! How about the Adenium? It actually produces 3 blooms!… My friends had also joined in the MSG experiment and they had good results too. I wonder whether the MSG really helps and therefore we are still trying out with more plants.

If you are keen, you can try out with your plants but no guarantee yet! I have yet to find scientific proof on MSG and the accumulation of sodium in soil. If you decide to give it a try with your stubborn plants, remember to email me your results!!

Finally We have Chiku!

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

If I remembered correctly, I bought my Chiku plant (Manilkara zapota) 8 months ago and only recently it started to fruit. This tells me that my plant takes 8 long months to acclimatise to my growing condition! The previous flowering seasons did not produce any harvest for me as the flowers just wither away and usually there is less than 5 flowers every round of flowering.

IMG_1901Developing Fruit! 

Not long ago I decided to try my luck using some fruiting fertilizer, NPK (12:12:17 +2MgO), in the form of blue pellets. Guess what? It works like magic! The current round of flowering has more than 28 flowers! It’s probably due to the acclimatised plant and the additional boost of nutrients from the fertilizer.

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Flowers and more flowers!

The fruit is developing slowly and I just can’t wait for it to ripe and taste my “fruit of labour”. Flowers of the Chiku plant  will emerge from the growing tips of the plant where new leaves are formed. Therefore, pruning your plant is not a good idea!

What’s next? Tarragon!

January 23, 2010 2 comments

I am now in a “herb fever” and trying lots of different herbs I can find the supermarket. Two weeks ago, I bought a packet of French Tarragon for my propagating quest. There were quite a number of cuttings in the packet and I decided to trim all of them for propagation.

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This time round, I tried another combination using perlite + vermiculite mix and used rooting powder. This is the best result I got so far as all eight cuttings have rooted successfully compared to the other methods I tried in my previous post.

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My herb collection has increased from a mere Rosemary plant to five other herbs today! They are easy to grow and very suitable for apartment growers, since we are receiving less than 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Successful Herb Propagation

January 4, 2010 2 comments

Recently I started propagating three different herbs. Two of them being the easier ones, Oregano and Marjoram had successfully developed roots! These cuttings are bought off the supermarket’s refrigerated shelves which these herbs are used for culinary purposes. Marjoram was the first to root, all four cuttings survived the two week long rooting process in the potting mix of 1:1 perlite and vermiculite. The mix was kept wet all the time.

postxmas007 My propagating dish with Sage and Marjoram

At the initial stage when the cuttings were placed in the mix, they all went limp within the next hour and I admit they gave almost gave me a fright! Luckily they started to perk up and stay green and strong. No rooting powder was added to this method, which is different from the earlier post on propagating sage. In fact, I had some sage cuttings in this method too and they do better than the others in soil with rooting powder. However, they have yet to develop roots.

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Roots developing using the perlite : Vermiculite potting mix 

My marjoram cuttings are now potted in the standard potting mix, 1:1 burnt earth and compost. They will be in under bright light for a day or two before I introduce them to their permanent spot with some direct sunlight.  

Garden Surprise!

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Despite the wet monsoon season, some of my plants are doing very well. They braved through the strong winds and extreme temperature drops, and still gave a spectacular show! Finally, my dwarf pineapple started flowering! In my previous entries, I was complaining of this oversized plant which still refuse to flower. I was surprised to find this new flower spike which will gradually colour up and in time for Chinese New Year!

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New flower spike!

My Barbados Cherry shrub is now in another fruiting season, I guessed the fertilizers helped in some way. Flowers are still developing and that means more fruit to come! However, because of its pot size, it will not grow any taller anymore.

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More juicy cherries                                                New seedlings 

Recently I sowed seeds of the Pomegranate plant (Punica granatum). I tried some experiments by soaking some of the seeds in salt water before sowing it in the new pot. The results – those seeds in salt water germinated faster than those did not! The seeds were from the giant sized pomegranate which you can find in supermarkets and I have no idea whether it will fruit for me. Since I am in good luck, why not grow it? It’s Dream and grow it isn’t it? 🙂