Balcony gardening update

Balcony gardening update

It’s been a while since I updated everyone on my gardening. We have recently moved to Bangkok, hence the silence.  Don’t worry, I am still traveling to Singapore frequently for my regular Korean classes and events.

I haven’t quiet figured out what will grow well here as the weather in Bangkok is hot! hot! hot! but certainly not as humid as Singapore. My balcony  is about 3 times bigger than what I used to have and I even have a tap which will come handy for watering all my babies… 

 

My first project for the new balcony garden is to find good soil and compost. If anyone can recommend a good nursery in Bangkok, please drop me a line!!!

 

Actually, the best part of the balcony is the view. One side has the concrete jungle of central Bangkok and the other side is a beautiful park with a lake!

 

 

Meanwhile, I have received lots of emails from my readers with questions on gardening and some great photos of their own gardens. Thanks to everyone who has contributed and congratulations on your successes.

Here are some photos from a balcony garden enthusiast who mastered growing kai lan – Chinese brocoli.  It looks big enough to stir fry for the whole family! Well done!

 

 

Here is some Choy Sum – did you know this vegetable is a member of the Mustard family??

 

 

These tomato seedlings need a new home! Too crowded…I hope they were  re-potted shortly afterwards.

 

 

 

Finally, these are photos from my mother-in-laws farm in Australia. They have variety of vegetables and fruit growing and  13 cows and a few calves running around along with chickens and chicks. Their farm has been designed for self-sustainability, so they only grow what they need. If there is a surplus at harvest time, they will barter their crops with other local farmers. What a great life!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balcony garden journal 4

Balcony garden journal 4

My last balcony garden journal was in June. I guess everyone’s been wondering what’s happened in the last 3 months?

So since June, nothing much survived except a few plants because May to August is the hottest time of the year here in Singapore. After almost 8years(OMG!!) in Singapore, I should be more tuned with the different seasons in Singapore, right? Most people don’t realise that Singapore does in fact have seasons (although you would be hard pressed to recognise them!).  During November – January it is hot during the day but amazingly pleasant in the evening. For the rest of the year it is simply hot, hot, hot with the worst months being May to August. So for those of you like me trying to grow a variety of vegetables during the hottest months, try hardy plants such as different basils and mint. Remember to keep them in a shaded area and water regularly!

Some of the plants that survived well in the heat are Italian parsley and thyme. I am amazed that they made it through the extreme heat and humidity. I succeeded in growing them from the seeds for the first time! Now when I need some for my pasta, I just walk out to my balcony a grab a few handfuls of fresh herbs. It’s heaven….

 

 

And then here is my Florentine tomato which has gone wild! You might remember the little seedlings from my last blog in June. It’s about 1.2metre high and its stems are thick and healthy.  What’s interesting is the top part of the stems are all joined together as you can see below. There are 4 tomato flowers and hopefully a lot more to come. I am hoping to pick some juicy tomatoes in a month or so. Cross my fingers and toes!! Sadly the Italian Roma tomatoes are not doing so well. They are looking pale green and the leaves are turning purple.

The basil growing in the same pot is also from Italy and I have been giving these as gifts to friends to grow themselves. Unlike the ones from the supermarket, it has fantastic aroma. I have been using a lot of this basil to make bruschetta. All I need is some big juicy home-grown tomatoes and it will be an authentic Italian bruschetta!

 

 

 

 

Here are the photos of my real garden plot. Some of you have seen a glimpse or two in my previous blogs. Again, I gave up due to the heat but amazingly everything is doing well. I have picked at least 8 eggplants. A few pumpkin plants have also cropped up in a pile of compost and the basil has flowered attracting a lot of butterflies and bees.

The only one sad thing about this garden is that it is now shadowed by a construction site and not very pleasant to potter around.  Men at work next door…

 

 

My crops always look huge in the photographs. This eggplant is actually only the size of my palm. If I can harvest three, it’s good enough for my dinner as stir fry vegetables.

 

 

Now this is remarkable. I have a little compost bin which I put all my food scrap. When the bin is full, I dig a hole in my garden and fill it with the compost for the worms to eat. Among the food scrap, there must have been some pumpkin seeds. After a month of being buried in the garden, these little baby plants appeared out of the food scrap!

 

 

No matter what I do, these basil continue to flourish. All the basil flowers attract a lot of little flying creatures which are very good for my vegetables. If you look closely, you can see a bee collecting honey.

 

Finally a new addition to my garden is Malabar spinach from a Farm Tour organised by the Vegetarian Society of Singapore a few weeks ago.  Since it’s so hard to grow lettuce in the heat, I can use this Malabar spinach as a replacement in salads. The Australian Malabar spinach that I grew previously from the seeds were growing very well initially and then just started to flower before I had a chance to pick any leaves for my salad!! Hopefully, these local ones will supply lots of leaves.

 

 

I just planted a few more parsley, thyme and basil seeds yesterday to keep the supply going throughout the year as well as a few more variety of tomatoes for the cooler months ahead.

If you have any questions on growing vegetables in Singapore, drop me a line! I’d be happy to hear from you 🙂

 

Balcony garden journal 3 – harvest time!

Balcony garden journal 3 – harvest time!

It’s been so hot recently, so when I woke up to the rain this morning I felt really happy for my vegetables.  The last few weeks have been so hot and humid here and it’s not really the right temperature to grow anything. Luckily I have harvested most of my baby vegetables before I went to Italy. Here are some pictures.

They were just so fresh and delicious. My favorites were the lettuce but my husband loved the radish as they reminded him of little red radish  he used to have when he was a child.

Here are pictures of Korean Zucchinis I planted before I left to Italy.

When I returned from my trip, the two zucchinis have grown so much. Some of the leaves were bigger than my hand.

It must be the heat and humidity. There are lots of flower buds but none of them are opening up! I might have to put them in an air-con room. 😉

While I was in Italy, I bought lots of tomato and zucchini seeds so this is my first attempt to grow the Italian zucchinis. These are for zucchini flowers more than the vegetables themselves. Have you tried fried zucchini flowers with stuffing? They are really hard to find in Singapore so I am going to be growing them myself. Wish me luck!

I am using  plastic containers that I recycle from the groceries. They are great for my seedlings. Once the third or fourth leaves are growing, I will transplant them to a bigger pot.

The next new members of the garden are different tomato seeds I bought from Tuscany. They are growing really well.

 

Florentine ribbed tomato seedlings – they are supposed to be big and ribbed around tomatoes. I have never tasted them before so I am really looking forward to it.

Italian Roma tomato seedlings– we bought some Roma tomatoes from a fruit shop when we were in Sienna and they were just heaven. I am hoping I can have some of those for myself. Very juicy and sweet!

At our friends wedding in Italy, they handed out sweet basil seeds and I am hoping to grow them and give a few plants back to our friends as a present. Basil seem to be the only plants that really don’t mind Singapore’s heat and humidiy. I have basil bushes all over my balcony garden. I used empty milk carton for the seedlings. Just wash the bottle and cut in half and there is your pot!

Lastly, I adopted a Korean chilli seedling when I visited a Korean farm in March and finally I have a chilli growing.This Korean chilli is known to be deadly so this one will be incredibly spicy.

I forgot to pick the chilli last week. Look how big it has grown over 5 days. The chilli was so heavy that it was leaning like the leaning tower of Pisa we saw in Italy.   I am going to use this chilli in Den jang jji ge (Korean miso soup -된장찌게) tonight.

I just received two photos from my mother-in-law in Australia showing off their veggie garden. As you can see, it looks luscious!  My in-laws are waiting for  the delivery of about 60 fruit  trees, camellias and gardenias as well as 40 + roses. I can’t wait to visit their farm soon.   🙂   Happy gardening!

Balcony Garden journal 2 – baby plants

Balcony Garden journal 2 – baby plants

There have been a lot of activities in the balcony garden last two weeks. More seeds arrived from Korea and I have been busy planting. Now I have baby chicory, broccoli, kale,  Chinese cabbage,  red cabbage, and raddish. It should only take 2-3weeks to grow and I can add them to my salad.

They are really simple to grow. All you need is a piece of kitchen towel, a bowl and some water.  In the instruction packet, it said to water them 2-3 times a day with water spray. I started off with baby radish first. Only a few more days to go and these little baby sprouts are going into my salad!

Next one is baby Chinese cabbage, like the ones used in kimchi. Instead of growing in a bowl, I am growing them in soil to see how big they get. I am curious to see how they will  look in 3 weeks.

Now some updates on the ones I planted in the beginning of February.

  • My Thai cucumbers are growing really well. It’s ready to be transplanted to bigger pots. I just need to find some space on my balcony.

  • The Korean perilla plants are looking really healthy. The outer leaves are almost ready to be picked  but I am going to resist and wait for them to grow a little taller. A little creepy crawly got to one of my leaves already which taught me to check the back of the leaves more frequently. I thought I was only one eying the perilla leaves…

  • The most exciting result this week is my cucumber. I harvested one cucumber  already a few days ago. When I cut it in half, the skin looked and felt really thick but they were sweet and refreshing. According to my research, you need to pick the first vegetable early, so there will be many more. The name tags keep falling off  so I not sure which cucumber this is exactly but from memory  I think  it’s the seeds I bought from Malaysia.

  • My information appears to be correct because after I picked my first cucumber, a few more started to appear.  In the past, I haven’t had a lot of success with cucumbers in Singapore. I thought it was just the weather but now I think I found the secret. Cucumbers need lots water and calcium.  I learnt that crushed egg shells are a great source of calcium. All you need to do wash and  dry them and put them through a  spice grinder to turn them into powders.

  • Cucumbers have both male and female flowers. The cucumbers grow from the female flowers. To help them along, I have artificially hand pollinated the female flowers by cutting back the surrounding petals of male flowers and dabbing it inside female flower.  The picture above is two days after the female flower has been hand pollinated. Today I had a look at  the cucumber and it’s now half the size of my hand.

  • Finally, I have been picking lots of cherry tomatoes from my garden. It’s not enough to have a salad with but it keep us smiling everytime we get to taste a real tomato straight off the vine.  🙂

Singapore Garden Festival & my harvest for the day!

Singapore Garden Festival & my harvest for the day!

My first visit to Singapore Garden Festival at Suntec few weeks ago blew my mind away. There are so many ways of utilising small space such as vertival gardening to grow different herbs and vegetbles. I am into growing plants that are useful for cooking. I am not into flowers or trees, mind you, I would love to have fruit trees but I doubt I can grow them at my condo! 🙂

Some of these vegetables are amazing, check out the watermelon! I wonder how these are grown so well in this hot weather…

Here are my latest harvest from my garden. Eggplant and capsicums, aren’t they beautiful? I am still waiting for my tomatoes to grow as big as my hand so I can show off to everyone soon!