Were you inspired by the National Parks Board’s Gardening with Edibles initiative and requested to receive free seed packets? Are the packets now sitting idly because you don’t know what to do next? Starting an edible garden may seem challenging, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Here are five steps to help you grow your own herbs and veggies at home.
Imagine having a supply of fresh, pesticide-free veggies right at your doorstep. With an edible garden, you can! Along with saving you money on groceries, it provides you with nutrient-rich vegetables to feed your family.
In this article we give you tips on how to start your own vegetable or herb garden. If you follow the right conditions, you won’t need to have a green thumb to succeed!
STEP 1: DECIDE HOW AND WHAT TO PLANT
Herbs are a good option for beginners, as they tend to grow more easily. Our sunny climate suits herbs such as basil, mint and rosemary — all used in cooking a variety of dishes. If you’re feeling more ambitious, kangkong, bitter gourd, and green beans are some vegetables that grow well here. The amount of sunlight and available space you have can help you decide what to grow. Herbs can be placed indoors by a window, but vegetables will need more space and sunlight outdoors.
Choose a garden that suits you best. Using pots allows you to move your plants around, thus requiring less space. Planting straight into the ground gives plants much more space to grow, but it is harder to control conditions. A good in-between is a raised-bed garden, which lets you choose the soil while having more growing space than pots.
STEP 2: OBTAIN TOOLS AND EQUIPTMENT
For amateur gardeners, wearing gloves will protect your hands from thorns and splinters. A hand trowel, spade and fork are the basic tools you will need. Depending on the type of garden you want, you’ll need pots to grow your plants. World Farm in Yishun has all these essentials and more. They also stock soils, compost, fertilisers, and a variety of herbs and seeds. You can find cheap seedling trays online, which will come in handy when growing seedlings.STEP 3: PLANT YOUR HERBS OR SEEDS
Most supermarkets and nurseries will sell potted herbs, which saves you the trouble of growing them from seeds. All you need to do is repot them or divide them into separate pots if the plant is mature. The great thing about most herbs is that you only need a cutting to propagate it in some water. Mint, rosemary and basil are the easiest to grow using this method.
You can buy from nurseries the seedlings of vegetable such as spinach and cabbage, or you could germinate the seeds yourself. Use a seedling tray or reuse an egg carton and fill it with a seed-raising mix. Plant the seeds at a depth twice its width. Keep the soil damp and cover the seeds for them to germinate. It should take around one to two weeks for leaves to sprout.
STEP 4: CARING FOR SEEDLINGS
If you are propagating herbs from cuttings, replace the water in the glass every one to two days. Once you see roots growing, you can already start using the leaves. When the roots grow to one to two inches, transplant the plant into a pot with soil so it has more space to grow.
Expose your seedlings to the sun for a few hours, then take them back indoors. Too much and too little light can be detrimental; this way, they can harden off and get used to the conditions. You should water them at least once a day, or enough to keep the soil moist but not wet; a spray bottle works best. Depending on the plant, it will take a few weeks for the true leaves to emerge, at which point they are ready to be transplanted.STEP 5: MAINTAINING AND HARVESTING
If you keep your potted herbs indoors, you can use LED lights if you don’t have a window nearby. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and ensure excess water can drain from the pot. Other than that, they don’t need much maintainence. Just snip off leaves whenever you want to use some.
Do some research on the conditions specific plants need. Some prefer more shade while others like strong sunlight. Watering your plants in the early morning is best as the water will evaporate quickly in the afternoon sun. Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes require more fertiliser than leafy greens, while herbs don’t need much. Be sure to harvest your veggies when they are ripe and wash them before cooking. Finally, let the whole family enjoy the delicious fruits of your labour!
It may take time, research, and effort, but you will be rewarded with greens fresher and healthier than what you can find in any supermarket!
If you prefer guidance that’s more hands-on, you’re in luck. AA Singapore will be conducting a gardening workshop in March 2021 — and it’s open to both Members and non-Members.
Date: 27 March 2021 (Saturday)
Venue: 2 Kung Chong Road, AA Centre Level 5, Singapore 159140
Registration closes on 19 March 2021. For more information, visit our website.