Today’s weather could be described as wonderfully cool, with a short duration of heavy rain downpour. There were five of us who came to check out the garden this morning – neighbours Dennis, Lydia, Auntie Wenying and myself, and J who cycled over from “nearby” Yew Tee. At least 3 of our core gardeners are overseas for holidays, so the rain was really welcome for it meant that we don’t have to manually water the beds that don’t have piped irrigation!
As I walked into the park this morning, I sighted a familiar neighbour pushing his mum in a wheel-chair away from the edible garden area and heading home. Talked to them for a bit. Always happy to see familiar faces! While this neighbour doesn’t help out at the garden, it is because of the edible garden project that we got to know one another :)
Walking in further, I noticed another familiar silhouette. Took me a while to recognise him, but after a short chat, realised I had met him before. Very briefly, at a group dinner with friends. He re-introduced himself as J. J is an alumnus of NEA’s Environmental Envoy programme, and he decided to cycle over from Yew Tee this morning.
Seeing no one else around, I brought J on a little tour around the garden. I sincerely wished we have the wicking beds looking like how they used to – 2 layered bricked wicking beds! The fact that the gardeners wanted larger and shallower raised beds and at the same time, didn’t want to purchase additional soil meant that our wicking beds look more like 1-layer brick raised beds now. I wonder if the wicking system still works. Hopefully it does, although there is admittedly much less soil and moisture gradient for the wicking to happen.
After the tour, J said he’s available to help, what can we do? A tomato plant donated by Jacqueline from Jurong area had fell. Using small tools from home, we started tying the bamboo sticks “better” to help it stand. This was where I found myself thinking… If only, I feel more confident at building up a stable trellis for the tomato plants! Because not only one needed help, there was another plant that had really grown in the past weeks.
Dennis and Lydia came, and just minutes after they reached, the slight drizzle turned into a heavy downpour.
Lucky there was the pavilion structure that we could all hide under, and chat for a bit.
As quickly as it started, the rains stopped. Dennis and Lydia went to check the compost heap. We thought it looked different. Did NParks contractor help us add stuff to the heap when they trimmed the bushes and trees the other day? Turned out it was not the case. The heap looks different simply because the compost has been working as it should. As Dennis raked in and created a hole, he got us to put our hands in and feel the steam. It’s amazing to feel and see the steam, especially after the heavy downpour earlier! Dennis said the recent downpours probably helped the compost heap do its work.
After the compost heap was raked through, Dennis, Lydia and J also got to work in providing better bamboo support for the butterfly blue pea plant. We also added additional bamboo support for the tomato plants.
Did I mention earlier… almost all the tomato plants were flowering! Dennis mentioned that the flowers of tomato plants have both male and female parts. To give a helping hand with self pollination, we can give the vine a little vibration. This vibration help the flowers to release pollen. It’s better to do so on sunny days with less humidity, but it never hurts to try anyway. Pollination occurs naturally by bee, and by wind.
The cin cau plant is also flowering. It’s so pretty! Now, we need to learn how to make the black glass jelly. Here’s what fellow community gardener, Lionel, shared on our Facebook page.
- Dry the leaves till they turn black
- Boil the dried leaves
- Add starch and gypsum to harden the mixture
Would be really great to serve home-made cin cau drink at our upcoming community potluck!
We also cleared out the twigs and leaves that lay scatttered amongst the beds, after the massive bush trimming and tree canopy trimming by NParks’ landscape contractor. Like that the garden has more direct sunlight now. The bushes look over-trimmed, but they should grow back soon. Like also the mulch beds the contractor created around the trees by shredding the cut branches and leaves.
On the biodiversity front, look who came to visit us! There were also quite a number of butterflies after the rain. We saw the Plain Tiger butterfly and a much smaller grey butterfly species. The butterflies move around so quickly, it was difficult to try to get a nice photo.
We didn’t do much more at the garden today, but can you believe it – 3 of us remained at the garden until past 2pm! The weather was so cool, the park furniture was nicely refreshed and all, it was really easy to just sit around and chat. About things we would like to see at the garden, and also other things in life. Past 2pm, auntie Wenying came by on her way out, wondering why we are still sitting there, just chatting. It’s lovely how the garden project creates friendships and conversations. :)