Sunday, August 17

The fig, the blue pot, and the mushroom-head

I have no idea how time just flew past and it's been way more than a year since I last blogged!! >____<

Thank goodness I am not as remiss with my care of the greens.

I was particularly happy to get a little more time today to work on cleaning up and repotting some plants. Let me indulge a little and describe one of my projects for the day, as well as introduce a couple of good purchases I made!

Like many others here in Singapore, Ikea's a pretty good place to kill more time than is necessary. Some days, the visits are more fruitful than others. 

Ikea's Mistletoe Fig from Dec'13
I picked up this mistletoe fig last December when I was desperately looking for a ficus plant but couldn't afford the big ones sold in nurseries. Needless to say, I was pretty happy with this little purchase. And to be honest, pleasantly surprised at how long it's lasted. 

One of the cons of plant shopping in Ikea - there is usually little to no guide as to how we ought to care for our purchase. The fig was simply labelled as a "Christmas plant" when I got it. That meant that for the longest time, I was clueless as to how to care for this plant.

Unfortunately, it took me MONTHS before I finally decided to check exactly what plant it is. Despite its low resolution, it's visible from this picture that the top leaves are spotted, a sure sign of poor health. It's entirely my fault for leaving it out in full direct sun. Apparently, this plant does better in bright but indirect light. I am glad to report, this plant has since been shifted to a more appropriate location.

Anyway, I digress.

As it's fast outgrowing its previous home, I decided to repot it today in a new square pot - a purchase from the Katong Flower Shop. 

This particular nursery offers some good and affordable pots, which are usually hidden towards the back. I paid only $28 for this solid 40x40cm pot and it's gorgeous to boot!!

I was initially debating whether to get one of those self-watering pots from Ikea and totally glad that I took my husband's suggestion to check out the nursery instead. I really love its bright blue pattern and, together with the fig it cradles, adds a nice splash of color to my living room. 

This leads me to another purchase I'm pretty happy with. Those of us who live near or have access to a Daiso (a popular Japanese $2 chain store), may want to go check out the following item - Mushroom-head, a ceramic waterer. 

This little ceramic mushroom helps keep the soil moist - it holds water in its hollow body and releases water from the unglazed tip when the soil is dry. This is particularly handy for plants that need their soil to be moist. It's also handy for when we're away on short trips and have no one else to help water our plants. Sadly, a situation that's resulted in the demise of many of my precious greens... 

Thanks to this purchase, I have one less thing to stress when I need to go away. I've added mushroom-heads in a number of my potted plants in preparation for my short trip away from home. This way, I don't need to worry about them drying while I am away! 

Do keep a lookout for this handy little item next time you're at a Daiso! They also come in different shapes, like frogs and turtles.

*Do note that this may not be good for plants that need the soil to dry in between watering sessions (e.g., cacti). 

Monday, October 1

... and a love for life motivates us all.

I really need to apologize for neglecting this blog. To make up for months of silence on this blog, I've been actively seeking a new direction for the space. In addition to exploring various gardening issues, I've lined up themed interviews with experienced gardeners who will be sharing their experience on how gardening in a small space is like. My "gurus" for this quarter are  Ethan and Irene, 2nd runner-ups for the "Cool Ideas for better HDB living - Growing Vegetables at Home" competition. If you haven't heard of their nifty idea yet, because like me, you didn't have a chance to attend the Cool ideas for better HDB living exhibit, do check it out here. Essentially, their idea addressed a major concern for all of us living in small apartments - that of limited space.

Last Friday, when I was fortunate enough to meet up with them, we had a lengthy talk about various issues of gardening in Singapore. Having lived in Japan before and enjoyed gardening with land and four seasons, I was curious about what they felt were the major differences between gardening with land and within containers. Almost unanimously they voiced out a major difference was the lack of space. We're talking about open land, almost unlimited space for the plants to expand versus confined space within the containers and really, limited storage space for the plant pots. Also, with the seasons in Japan, they experienced a different kind of relationship with the plants -- there, sowing and harvests happened at fixed times of the year whereas in a tropical country like Singapore, we can pretty much sow and harvest anytime. 

"In Japan, we had help from the natural environment whereas here [in Singapore], there is no environment for the plants; We have to duplicate the conditions for them."

Like all amateur gardeners, they started out focusing on ornamental plants back in the 80's, after moving back to Singapore. Like Irene shared, they pretty much grew stuff "the usual way" - plant and soil in pot. If plant dies, just buy another pot. When they were busy, the plants were the first to be sacrificed. So you can expect that over the years, they've had experience with a wide variety of plants and found that aloe vera and bamboo plants are the hardiest. Now, they're moving towards sustainability and so are focusing on edibles like herbs and other greens for their salads. 

I could sense their deep love for the plants and Irene passionately agreed with me when I commented on how hard it is kill or throw plants that we've grown from seeds. This is one of the main motivations for Ethan's small bottle solution; there were just too many plants and much too little space to hold all the plants. For an elderly couple in their 60's, they were certainly active and still dynamic. But Ethan revealed that another source of motivation for this idea came from the fact that he could no longer help Irene move big and heavy pots of plants. There was a real need to think of how they could hold on to the plants in containers that were mobile and still had conducive conditions for the plants.

By the end of the interview, I walked off with a petite bottle in which held a healthy, big-leafed lemon balm. I can't help but agree with them that big solutions can indeed come in small bottles. And maybe all we need is a love of life and all creation to motivate us towards our own big solutions. 

A big-leaved lemon balm held in a petite container

Sunday, June 17

Crazy hot weather

Just a quick reminder for all gardeners out there - our weather's just been insanely hot!!! Before I knew it, I've lost quite a few branches (not the whole plant, thankfully) to the extreme heat. Remember to water!!!

Will be updating all of you on the progress of my tomato plants as well as more tips on how to care for them. Hope you're having a nice cool day in the shade of your plants~~

Sunday, June 3

The Garden is now at Etsy!

I finally managed to get the seedlings organized and they are now available for sale on Etsy! Some of the smaller seedlings are placed in pairs within the pot and the slightly more mature ones are in pots by themselves. I've started two listings for the smaller seedlings.

Hopefully, once I get this started, the other projects such as plant starter kits, wall-deco plants, and terrariums will come easier. Do watch this space for updates~~ Happy gardening on this sunny day.

One of the seedling pots available on Etsy