Starting out in gardening

I initially got interested in gardening because of my fascination with propagating plants. My sister got the ball rolling when she started passing me cuttings from her garden that she didn’t want to just throw after pruning. Just poke the stems in a pot of earth, she said. They’ll grow from there, she said. Obviously, it didn’t always work, but I became determined to increase my success rate.

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Peacock Tree flowers

That opened my eyes to looking out for pretty plants, and I began exchanging seeds and cuttings with friends and family, and collecting them from wherever else I could. My pride and joy are my Peacock trees – orange and pink varieties – that I grew from seeds. The flowers add gorgeous splashes of colour to the garden and the trees attract all kinds of birds and creatures.

Up to now, I’ve only been interested in ornamental plants, because I viewed fruiting trees as being higher maintenance. Insects, snails and aphids are attracted more to them, and my dad had a constant battle spraying insecticides and fertilizing the plants. It seemed like a lot of trouble to me, without a guaranteed good harvest.

Then, something began to change in the last couple of years. I began to pay more attention to cooking shows on TV and it looked really cool when the chefs would walk over to potted plants and snip off a bit of fresh herb for whatever they were cooking. For the fun of it, I bought a pot of rosemary and another of mint. The rosemary didn’t survive, but the mint hiccuped and came back from the brink of death. I began to take the herbs more seriously and began reading up on how to help them survive in our tropical weather.

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Sprouting beans

At the same time, a couple of other things clicked into place in my head. I grew up hearing of the struggle that many had during the Japanese Occupation, with not enough to eat. They had to grow things like tapioca to supplement their food rations. A friend Down Under also complained recently about the rising cost of ginger, and I joked that she should plant some herself. She claimed that she doesn’t have green fingers, but an online search indicated that it’s fairly easy to grow ginger. I found a bit of old ginger in the kitchen that had begun to sprout, stuck it in a pot and it began to grow. Alas, I hadn’t planted it deep enough, and it didn’t survive when I tried to transplant it to the ground. That was it. I had to experiment a bit more and succeed at it.

And so the Curious Gardener came about. I want to try to grow as many kinds of vegetables as I can in sunny Singapore, but there’s obviously much more to it than opening a packet of store-bought seeds and following instructions. This site could just be about trials and tribulations of planting, but I’m hoping there will be successes to share as well. Hopefully, the journey will be a good one!

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