20 Apr – Update


At least seven neighbours came down to help in today’s group session in the community edible garden!

The first things we did was to check out the health of our various growing plants. Some are still really small, but they have really grown quite a bit in the recent rains (after the long 2-month dry spell). Didn’t take any photos (add later) but we realised our tomato, basil, okra plants started to show signs of flies, aphids, baby grasshoppers… sparking a discussion again on how we are going to deal with these “pests” when they come. On one hand, we want to encourage biodiversity and be ecologically friendly, and not use pesticides on the edible plants; on the other, we get rather worried when the aphids, grasshoppers, etc start showing up on our doorstep!

Mr. Wong said he bought this “black oil”, which is much more effective than “white oil” and any of the insect-repelling methods. He hurried home to get his bottle of the “black oil”. I wondered what went into the making of the “black oil” product. The name itself doesn’t sound very eco-friendly? But don’t mind to experiment to see the effectiveness. Mr. Teo tried sprays of it on the winter melon plants which are starting to climb the pergola.

Mr. Teo, Dennis and Lydia typically use ground chilli paste mixed with water to repel the unwanted insects.

Dennis had a brainwave. He suddenly remembered that dill (of which we have plenty) has “bad” insect-repelling properties, while also attractive to the “good” ones (e.g. pollinators). He and his sis cut out 3 small branches of dill, and started grinding them with water. He then sprayed them on the chilli and basil plants.

Last week, Dennis, Lydia and I set up a little “nursery” to germinate corn seeds. We had place 2 seeds for every pocket (24 in total) of a seedling tray – of these, 1 have sprouted! Initially, I wondered if the rest are not going to germinate, but Dennis re-assured saying that it is a good sign that the rest will germinate in the coming days!

We transplanted our 1 corn seedling in the raised bed meant for the “3 sisters”. Hopefully, the park visitors don’t mistake it for ordinary grass, and pluck it out!

Our first corn seedling!
Our first corn seedling!

Mr. Wong and Annie helped transplant some white sweet potato leaves at the pit garden. These plants are from Mr. Wong’s edible garden at home. His home garden is amazing, and warrants another blog post of its own. We now have at least 3 types of sweet potato plants in the garden:

  • Sweet potato plants – grown for leaves in raised bed that looks like the number “8”
  • Sweet potato plants – grown for the potatoes in wicking bed next to the “8”
  • white sweet potato plants – grown for leaves in the edge of the pit garden
Sweet potato leaves from Mr. Wong's home garden
Sweet potato leaves from Mr. Wong’s home garden

Must learn more on the differences of the 3 plants.

Our cai xin (those that have not been harvested) have been sprouting flowers and seeds. To take advantage of the availability of dried seeds, Dennis and Lydia suggested that we put in the seeds. They opened up the pods one by one, and patiently spread out the seeds. Some have sprouted in the recent rains! To create mulch effect, they added  dried twigs beside the furrows.

We also realised that our resident Kapok (cotton) trees have been shedding cotton. These are useful for mulching too!

Straight row furrows
Straight row furrows

A few of us also trooped over to Sharon’s place to check out her edible garden at home. She couldn’t stay to help much at the garden because she has painting classes to go to. But she came anyway to see how she could help, and also gladly showed us her plants at home.

As with neighbour Wong’s, her home garden warrants a blog post on its own.

Totally thankful for the community garden and for the people chipping in to the project. There’s certainly a sense of community, good neighbours & friendships – something which I didn’t feel during the first decade of staying in the same estate!



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