Gardening 101

I was a noob myself in 2015 and still remembered how I start.

What seem common sense to seasoned gardeners may not be so clear for new gardeners. I read a lot of posts in every group that I joined, researched gardening books and online videos and yet, with the volume of information available, questions still arose.

What was simple to experienced gardeners is a minefield for new gardeners!

How to start? Make a list of what you want to grow.

What to grow? In the past, I often advised, “Grow what you like to eat” ! But what happened if new gardeners are like me, a connoisseur who love to cook withΒ rosemary and thymeΒ ? These herbs are not easy to grow for even some seasoned gardeners.

I have learned to be more specific with my advice. πŸ™‚ Here is a list of some easy edibles to consider. For example, mint, kang kong, basil, peanuts, pak choi, arugula etc. Rule of thumb for beginners is, “READ FIRST” then rushed out to buy the gardening essential. The reason is, plants have different needs and the designated area for gardening may not be suitable. Most edibles thrived better where there is sun. At least 6 hours of sun if possible or at least, a very bright area. If there is no sun, fret not, your options are limited but there are grow lights or just grow more shade loving plants instead.

Gardening tips for new gardeners

See that Magnifying glass on the right corner?

Effective use of social media as a learning tool start from knowing how to source for information quickly. Use this magnifying glass to search for answer to questions. You will be amazed how quickly Facebook gathered and collect related posts for reading. The questions we asked as noobs may have been posted many times before. To save time, this was how I learned gardening using social media groups. An advantage of such tool is being able to learn at your own chosen time and be able to find out common problems (pests, pollination difficulties) affecting these plants and how to handle them before experiencing them yourself! πŸ™‚ Last but not least, who the experts are in that area and be able to ask directly! πŸ™‚

Some edibles need not be grown from seeds. Most plants can be propagated. The word, simply mean to grow from a parent plant.Β By the way, I learned about this method when I helped my then 10 years old daughter with homework. πŸ™‚ Thus cut a stem or trimmed off the end on a slant cut, and stick this in water and wait for roots to emerged. Then plant in your preferred medium. This is my blog post on mint and included in it, a video where my daughter will show you how. πŸ™‚

Gardening basic for new gardeners

Rosemary propagation – better chance of rooting if stems are from a live plant than grocery herbs!

What soil to buy ? Ever stand in front of the aisle where soil are sold? It is a different reality when standing in front of rows of soil options isn’t it? These are just too many types to choose from!

Seeds Compost – Likely it will have more husk and sieved soil to retain moisture. For this brand, fine sand is added to keep the soil loose for young roots to grow without hindrance. Fertilizer is included to last 2 months. Its a darker color compared to Horti brand. For your information, seeds do not need fertilizer to start.

IMG_3164

Then what is the different between seeds compost and seed potting mix? I think not much difference in terms of purpose. Seeds compost or potting mix tend to have less barks, more loose and water retaining properties than other types of soil. For seeds, I preferred to start them in seeds compost.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Seeds Potting mix and Potting soil

What is potting soil? Essentially its the same thing but with more barks, some perlite (volcano ash that had been heated into pebbles form), and fertilizers for growing plants. Most seasoned gardeners customized their own mixes for different plants. Check out the formulas at the above link.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Soil for edibles

 

On fertilizers, my personal advice for new gardeners is to remember why we are growing edibles in the first place.

We grow to eat. The kids will be eating them too. There is no deadline to rush the produce to the market. Thus, please give your plants time to mature and if needed, then add fertilizers. Most soil from the stores already have fertilizers in them for 4 – 8 weeks.

Again, there are many different kinds of fertilizers available. I preferred organic fertilizers, such as rabbit poo (any herbivore animals’ poo) or worm casting. I also make my own seaweed fertilizer and recycled green waste for compost in my outdoor gardens. Amy Choong made her own orange peel soil conditioner which I will be be trying out soon. Some gardeners kept earthworms and harvest worm tea and casting (poo) for their gardens. Most fruit bearing plants need higher Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) fertilizers. Please Google to find out more.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Worm casting – many different brands available!

How about soil – less options? Β If you are just considering your options, why not try Lim San‘s method first, out of recycled cups and plastic bottles. Trust me, plants don’t really care where you grow them in as long as their growing conditions are met! πŸ™‚

 

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Hydroponics salads following Lim San‘s instructions!

And even a video from the kids! πŸ™‚

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Small space gardening – From “garden”

The benefits of growing your own vegetables? There is no waste, we only harvest what we need and then the plant continue to grow. Even if I only have one sunny window and a table, with Lim San’s methods, I get to grow and harvest fresh vegetables from this table! πŸ™‚ Kids too, are better at science subject because of our hobby.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

To Table πŸ™‚

Last word on gardening.:)

It is FUN.

The next thing to do after reading all of this information?

Just do it! πŸ™‚

PS. Even if you have not decide whether to go with soil or soil-less, or have no soil on hand ? Don’t worry, seeds can start on damp kitchen paper too!! πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

How to Propagate Thyme

Ms. Erin Lee started with 2 pots of thyme πŸ™‚

Like many of us in Singapore, Thyme is a difficult herb to cultivate in our humid weather. More times than not, they died very quickly. Erin Lee said she failed many times too. But she kept on trying and finally she learned how to propagate thyme and grew them very well. πŸ™‚

How to root thyme

Erin Lee expanding thyme garden πŸ™‚

From 2 pots, her thyme expanded to 14 pots of healthy Thyme, which she harvested often for cooking or packed for the freezer.

I can just imagine the scent of fresh herbs along this corridor!

How to grow thyme well in Singapore

Nov 1 2015 – Erin Lee’s 14 pots of thyme!!!

Ms. Erin Lee shared her 3 steps to propagate thyme successfully :

  1. Cut thyme stems with roots (see picture)
  2. Plant roots in moist soil
  3. Grow stem cutting in shade, or allow only one hour of morning sun per day
How to choose thyme stem cutting for propagation

Find thyme’s stem with good healthy roots

Grow thyme

Cut the stem at the point below roots

How to root thyme

Stick the roots in soil, keep the soil moist and grow in shade (max 1 hour of morning sun only) until they recovered.

After propagation, the cuttings looked very weak and some of us may be discouraged had we not have Erin showing us that this is normal! πŸ™‚

 

How to grow thyme

3 days after being separated from the parent plant! New stem look liked its dying

Multiply thyme from rooting

The newly propagated stems may look weak after a week, but new leaves are seen.

Erin Lee said as long as we see new young leaves on the stem, that is the sign that they are recovering and with care, this herb will continue to thrive. πŸ™‚

Growing thyme

3 – 4 weeks later, the stems slowly stand upright.

How to grow thyme

This is how her thyme expanded to 14 pots!

And if all goes well, Erin Lee will have so much thyme that she had to share with friends or freeze them :

How to grow thyme

Thyme harvest

Tips to grow thyme

Chef Donny Tan’s thyme garden from the same rooting method

Beside the above method to grow thyme from propagation, we can also germinate from seeds.

Germinate Thyme from seeds

June 16 2016 – 2 months old Thyme seedlings

Due to high humidity in Singapore, germinating thyme can be quite challenging, however “not impossible” according to Anupriya. Her soil is a mixture of Aromax soil with home made compost and lots of crushed egg shells. She mist spray her soil once every 2 – 3 days and a deep watering soakΒ (see how to in the rosemary post) for her pot once a week. Her thyme seedlings enjoyed 2 hours of morning sun everyday and about 70% of her seedlings survived.

Cooking with Thyme –

Having fresh thyme that we can harvest as needed, is wonderful. The scent of this herb is not heavy in roasts but it does add an extra aroma, and goes very well with lemon, garlic and butter! (See what I mean about not being able to stay on my diet?! ) πŸ™‚

How to cook with thyme

Erin Lee’s roast chicken

How to grow thyme

This is my daughter’s favorite chicken meal – roasted with lemon thyme butter and avocado sides (Kids’ friendly gourmet)

Using thyme in cooking

Chef Donny Tan’s egg cocotte with thyme