With the new year 2014 ringing in, there was a lingering question – should we take a break from the weekly garden sessions? A reply from a neighbour put the thought to rest. A garden, however low maintenance, needs consistent care – and so, we should hold our weekly sessions, even if it’s the holiday and festive season!
Given that it IS the festive season, I was really thankful for the neighbours who did turn up for the session – Dennis and Lydia, a wonderful brother and sister team; Sharon and Annie, a great aunt and niece team (they look like sisters really!). And special thanks to Sharon for coming – it is her birthday, and she chose to spend the morning with us! :)
A quick check-in on the long beans (the first plants we planted at the garden). We had planted 2 neat rows at 4 wicking beds, with the most sun. The inner rows (nearer to the pergola) were to be kept for further growth to harvest the beans, and the outer rows (away from the pergolas) were to be cut and tilled back to the soil to add nitrogen back into the soil to improve its quality for growing vegetables.
Somehow, Sharon and I felt that the plants that were to be cut and tilled looked healthier and bigger than the plants we planned to keep. “So sayang!”, we felt. Dennis, who is more experienced with planting with vegetables, shared that actually, this was to be expected. We had not thinned the plants in the outer rows, so there were 3 seedlings growing at practically the same spot, and this encouraged the plants to compete for limited resources. This, in turn, encouraged faster growth, hence, the “healthy” and bigger appearance. Dennis also shared that these same plants, if allowed to grow till they flower and fruit, will have less flowers and smaller fruits. The initial explanation on competition, I could understand; but the part on less flowers and fruits from a “healthy-looking” plant was a bit lost on me. I told Dennis, “I think that’s why the plants in my home garden seldom flower and fruit – they are too busy competing and growing new leaves!””
We had to “harden” our hearts a bit, to cut the plants in the outer rows and till them back into the soil. I wondered if they will taste good in a salad – somehow, still felt “sayang” that such good plants / food are being added back to the soil!
Check in on our other plants… The Cai Xin and Gu Cai seedlings were still very tiny. And so were the Heng Cai seedlings. I felt that the Cai Xin and Gu Cai were shaded by the tall long bean plants, and hoped that with the removal of the outer row plants, they have a chance to get good sunlight and grow. The soil may have too much compost though – some neighbours described it as too “salty”. Some neighbours felt that we had dispersed too many Heng Cai seeds into the small space, so there’s less hope for them doing well. The Kang Kong seedlings were the only ones that look happy!
We were also very happy to see that our transplanted Clitoria blue pea vine is flowering :)