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It’s been a week since the seeds were sowed and the basil has started sprouting! It is quite exciting to see the seedlings sprout after watering them daily. This is what they look like now:
The seeds started sprouting at around 3 days after i planted them. However there were no parsley sprouts as of yet which is expected as they do take a long time to germinate.
I also added sage and sweet basil to the mix as i saw them for sale, they smell nice and they would make a great addition to the herb garden. They were not planted from the seed but they were sold as a potted plant which removes the waiting time for it to grow, but the excitement lies in maintaining them and not letting them die as it wont be easy to plant them together.
Some websites apparently point out that sage and basil do not grow well together while some websites seem to say that they grow fine together. Perhaps it is because that sage requires little water while basil does need quite a bit of water and planting them together may result in a conflict in this sense. The only way to find out if this is true would be to see what would happen as time passes by.
I decided to plant aromatic herbs, as they can be used to make fresh teas, or even dried up to be used as potpurri sachets. Besides, crushing the leaves in my hand and sniffing it provides a refreshing burst of energy, whenever i need a quick picker-upper.
The two plants that I have chosen to plant this round are parsley and Genovese basil (also known as vietnamese mint in asian communities) as these are the 2 seeds that I could get hold of when I was shopping for seeds. I would like to plant the various types of basil and herbs on my little tray and more will be added later if there is space as not all of the seeds will germinate and even them not all of the shoots will make it.
To start off this project, I bought a rectangular pot and a tray. The tray helps to keep the overflowing water from spilling to the floor. I also bought soil. The plastic pot just needs one bag of soil. I emptied one bag of soil into the pot and started scattering the seeds around, parsley in one half of the pot and the basil on the other.
The basil seeds turned white as soon as i sprayed water on them and i got a bit worried and i soon found out it was normal. You can see the white spots on the right side of the pot. They will take a week before i see sprouts. However, the parsley will take a whole month before they germinate! I think that is why they say that the seed goes nine times to the Devil and back before coming up. The ungerminated seeds are the ones that the Devil keeps for himself. I guess it is a test of patience to see my garden come up. I might add mint to the mix, if i can find the seeds or the plant. Hope to have a picture of sprouting basil next week!
Project Eden is a little project that I have started on my own: to plant a small bed of aromatic herbs at the place that I am living. This category will be a weekly journal of sorts of my planting projects. I will mainly be using organic methods to plant them as opposed to the conventional methods, including the use of organic fertilizer.
This section will be updated weekly as there wont be much development for plants, so do stay tuned for interesting updates on my planting experience!
It’s Not Too Late to Get Started with Some Heirlooms
There have always been two good reasons to grow your own tomatoes: they taste much better than the mass-market kind and they’re much cheaper than equally tasty local tomatoes from the farmstand or greenmarket. Now we can add reason three: they’re safe.
Unless you have spent the last month in complete isolation, you know the dark underbelly of industrial agriculture has once again rolled to the surface. Every hamburger is a scary roll of the health dice, this time because of tainted tomatoes.
Why are we not surprised?
Fortunately, raising your own tomatoes is a lot easier than raising your own beef cattle. In fact, tomatoes are among the very easiest vegetables to grow.
Picnic-ready heirloom tomatoes; the green ones are ripe Aunt Ruby’s German Green.
Tomatoes are not only easy, they’re productive — 6 or 8 plants (in the front yard, if need be) can supply all the fresh tomatoes a family of 4 could want, with enough extra to preserve for winter. And if your garden is the container kind, a single Sungold or Sweet Million in a half whiskey barrel will give you what does seem like a million delicious cherry tomatoes.
Although planting time is fast passing, it’s not too late to get growing your own in most parts of the country. Garden centers still have seedlings and tomatoes are such tough plants that even skinny pot bound disasters will usually do fine, eventually.
Tomato Growing Tips
* Choose “indeterminate” tomatoes. Unlike the determinate kind, they keep growing and producing until stopped by frost. That means they need sturdy supports: stakes and string or heavy duty wire cages. Small price to pay for hugely increased yield. (If the label doesn’t say and the salesclerk doesn’t know, just google the tomato name; determinate or indeterminate will be in the description). Patio tomatoes are determinate, btw; so don’t be fooled by those big bushy plants with the green tomatoes on ‘em.
* Plant deep, setting 1/3 to 1/2 of the stem underground. Useful new roots will form all along the buried portion. It is not necessary to remove the lower leaves before burial.
These tomatoes have their bases covered in more ways than one.
* Use an organic mulch, to hold moisture in the soil, keep roots cool and protect against soil-borne plant disease. We use a thin layer of newspaper – just one fold – under a largish pile of straw.
Tomato mulching in progress. The brown paper grocery bags are a thicker weed (and water) barrier. Helpful if your raised beds are really raised. These are about a foot above the paths.
* Fertilize with organic fertilizer labeled for tomatoes. All-purpose fertilizers can promote leaves at the expense of fruit.
* Water consistently, alternations of dry and damp lead to mushy black spots on the bottom, aka blossom end rot.
* Keep Harvesting – usually not hard, but if you’re going to be away, delegate a neighbor to come and pick. Leaving lots of ripe fruit on the plant will slow or stop further production.
It can be hard to tell which shop would sell organic materials such as fertilizer or seeds and saplings, as most nurseries only sell the ordinary varieties. The best way to get organic seeds, saplings, supplies and perhaps even a free lesson on organic farming would be to visit an organic farm. Organic seeds and saplings are not treated with any chemicals to make them last longer, and nor are they genetically modified. This causes the seeds or saplings to have a shorter shelf life compared to the treated seeds. Shops selling organic fertilizer are more commonplace, which saves the trouble of having to create compost by hand.
List of organic fertilizer suppliers in the Klang Valley
Protinkin Sdn Bhd
No 11, Jalan Melur 27
Contact: Mr. Arnold JS Loh
No. 16, Jalan Juur 1/8
Ei Kim Hock
No 130, Jalan Morib
Lim Kian Kee
No 20, 3rd Floor, Jalan Mas 6
Taman Cheras Mas
Paras Baiduri Sdn Bhd
No 22, Ground Floor, Jalan Damai 2
Hextar Bio-fert Sdn Bhd
No 145, B, Jalan Meru Kawasan 19
AddGrowth (M) Sdn Bhd
No 3, 3rd Floor, Lorong Tiara 1B
Bandar Baru Klang
Maxyield Trading Co
No 61, B, Jalan Rengas
Kawasan 5, Taman Selatan
Evergreen Organic Fertilisers Sdn Bhd
No 41, A, Jalan 5 Kawasan 16
Active Micro Fertilizer (M) S/B
Lot 1637, Persiaran Raja Lumu
Pandamaran, Port Klang
Contact: David Khoo
Sin Seng Huat
No 52, Jalan Hang Kasturi
No 24, Jalan Padang Belia
Greenbiz Trading and Services
62, Jalan 2/62 Bandar Menjalara
Syarikat Perniagaan Kelapa Sawit Jaya
No 32, B, Jalan Pandan Indah 1/23c
Taman Pandan Indah
Jasa Kimia Sdn Bhd
B4-11, 4th Floor, Blok B Plaza Dwitasik, Jalan 5/106
Bandar Sri Permaisuri
Fyborganic Technologies Sdn Bhd
No 18, Lorong SS1/11A
MG EcoTech Group
C710, Level 7, Block C, Kelana Square, 17 Jalan SS 7/26
GK Organic Farm
Lot 1819, 1812, 1813 Kampung Sungai Buah
Contact: SK / Lee / Gan Koon Chai
CCM Bioscience Bhd
No 200, Jalan Asam Jawa 16/15
C & C Barter
M-3-19< Plaza Damas
Contact: Mr Enoch Chen
Syarikat Baja Tropika
No 43, Jalan Radin Anum 2
Taman Sri Petaling
Sin Choon Kee
No 96, Jalan Besar
Seeds, saplings and other supplies
The Lords Garden
420/7, Jalan Stesen
Contact: Mr. Yahqappu James Adaikkalam
MJ Sunrise Sdn Bhd
N0 12A, Jalan Awan Makmur 1
OUG Square, Taman Yarl
Jalan Klang Lama
LOVG Loh’s Organic Veg-Garden3
No. 75, Jalan Bukit
Contact: Mr. and Mrs. Loh Siew Fook
Yee Bio Farm
4, Lintang Enggang
Kawasan 17, Taman Meru
Contact: Mr. Ng Chee Yee
Phone1: 03-3341-5017 (hse)
Garden City Landscaping & Nursery
3-2, Jalan 3/116D, Kuchai Entrepreneur’s Park
Jalan Kuchai Lama
Fresh Farmers Enterprise
N2-02-03, Andalucia Pantai Hillpark, Jalan Pantai Permai
Contact: Edo Hong
Compost is a great additive to any soil as it improves the texture, nutrient content, aeration as well as water retention capabilities of the soil. Besides being an eco friendly way to deal with organic waste, it also increases drought resistance as it causes the soil to release water slowly and protects the ground against erosion. Due to the presence of microorganisms, nutrients that the plant needs such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus will be produced naturally in balanced amounts.
Creating compost is also a great way to reduce garbage as it reduces the amount of organic waste that will fill up the landfills. These are the list of items that can be used as compost:
- Animal manure (not pet waste- please see below)
- Cardboard rolls, cereal boxes, brown paper bags
- Clean paper
- Paper towels
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Cotton and wool rags
- Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
- Crushed eggshells (but not eggs)
- Fireplace ashes
- Fruits and vegetables
- Grass clippings, yard trimmings
- Hair and fur
- Hay and straw
- Nut shells
- Seaweed (rinse off saltwater)
- Shredded newspaper
- Tea and tea bags
- Wood chips, sawdust, toothpicks, burnt matches
These items are not recommended:
- Meat, fish, egg or poultry scraps (odor problems and pests)
- Dairy products (odor problems and pests)
- Fats, grease, lard or oils (odor problems and pests)
- Coal or charcoal ash (contains substances harmful to plants)
- Diseased or insect-ridden plants (diseases or insects might spread)
- Pet wastes (dog or cat feces, cat litter, bird droppings) (might contain parasites or germs)
- Yard trimmings treated with pesticides (might kill composting organisms)
- Black walnut tree leaves or twigs (substances harmful to plants)
- Milk yogurt or cheese (odor problem and might attract pests)
Steps for making compost:
1) Obtain a plastic bin with a cover that is at least 18 gallons in size. Having a second lid can help catch the nutritious liquid that seeps from the compost.
2) Add tiny holes all around the bin to allow air circulation in the bin. This will accelerate the decomposing process of the compost.
3) Fill the bin with compost material as stated in the list above.
4) Shake the contents of the bin every few days to aerate it. If the bin starts to smell, add shredded leaves or shredded newspaper to the mix to tone down the smell.
5) The compost can be harvested by running it through a sifter. Keep the solid materials that need more decomposition back into the bin.
There are 4 factors that help with decomposition, mainly moisture, oxygen content, temperature, and a good mix of ingredients. The perfect compost pile is damp without being wet, like a squeezed out sponge. It should also be well aerated, with plenty of the oxygen that aerobic bacteria need. The optimal compost bin should have drainage, airflow, insulation and a good mix of various ingredients. Keep the compost material damp but not too wet as water might wash away the nutrients in the compost pile. The compost pile also needs heat to decompose properly, so put it in a warm area.
A good compost pile consists of 75% of brown material and 25% of green material. Brown materials consist of dry, fiber-like materials like dried grass, leaves, and shredded newspaper. Green materials are juicy organic material such as fruit rinds and vegetable peels. If the compost is too wet, add more brown material. If it does not have a lot of green material, water may need to be added to the material.
Managed composting requires a lot of manual work, but generates faster compost as a result. It involves shredding all the material as it decomposes faster and shuffling the ingredients on a regular basis to encourage the decomposing process. Additionally, fibrous material can be added to encourage more heat to the compost bin, which will speed up the decomposition process.