Urban farming, or the practice of growing food in the city, is the latest green movement that has found its way into Singaporean’s homes. But not many of us are blessed with the necessary green thumbs and fingers.
Fret not, we have an expert here to help. Edible Garden City, champions of the ‘Grow Your Own Food’ movement, share insightful tips to help you grow your very own herb garden.
1. Start with the basics
Singapore’s climate can be very hot and dry. Plants or herbs with the best success rates are basil – both the Thai and Italian or sweet basil varieties – mint, rosemary, pandan, curry leaf, laksa and chilli padi. In particular, basil and mint are fairly easy to maintain and can be grown indoors with a minimum of 6 hours of partial sunlight a day.
2. Buy from a reputable supplier
3. You don’t have to spend a lot
If you have friends who are already growing herbs in their home, they can simply propagate it for you at zero cost.
Purchasing seeds from a supplier can range from $4 to $9 for a pack, depending on the quantity and whether it is organic. For plants, the price can range from $6 to $10 per pot, depending on the variety.
4. Water, fertilse, harvest, repeat
Just like a skincare routine, successful urban farming requires a consistent 3-step maintenance. Of course, add lots of tender loving care into the process for the best results.
Plants are like humans; containing 80 – 90% water and requiring sunlight and nutrients for a healthy growth. Treat your plant like you would treat yourself and it will grow as you grow.
5. Watch the sunlight
Every plant needs light to grow and flourish, but the amount of sunlight does vary from plant to plant. For example, basil, curry and rosemary require full sunlight, while mint only requires partial to full sunlight.
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6. Think twice before you chemicalize
Chemical-based fertilisers or pesticides will affect how safe your plants are for consumption. Given this, we recommend the students in our urban farm school to use only natural fertilisers and pesticides.
7. Water in the right amounts
We all know plants require water, but different plants need watering in different amounts and frequency. For example, basil pots placed in a sunny and windy location need a moderate amount of water twice a day. The key is to know the specific needs of each plant – there is no one size fits all when growing a garden.
8. Grow it indoors
Don’t have a balcony or rooftop to grow herbs? Why not construct an indoor vertical garden instead. Hang small cloth baskets, flowerpots or buckets on empty wall spaces within your interior and grow to your heart’s desire. You can consider getting grow lights to provide your plants with sufficient lighting indoors.
9. Grow herbs, support Singapore
Did you know that 95% of vegetables and herbs are imported into Singapore? Buck the trend and grow your own to enjoy fresh herbs as and when you need, save money and keep chemicals off the plate. Urban farming also has its therapeutic benefits and edible plants can look great in the apartment as an alternative to flowers.
10. Don’t give up
As a beginner, you might be disappointed or frustrated when your seeds do not germinate, fall prey to diseases or suffer from unexpected weather. Don’t give up! Sometimes it’s just a little tweak in location or water amount that can get your first seed to sprout.
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FSI, Project File, The Association, Edible Garden City, Camille Styles, The Design Hunters, Tidbits&Twine, Young Wife’s Guide
Featured Image: Oliver Hoffmann / Shutterstock
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