Week 2

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.

Week 1

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 pot and my seeds. Grow, grow my pretties!

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

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!

How to Grow Great Organic Tomatoes

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.

 sliced heirloom tomatoes

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.

 heirloom tomatoes getting mulched in gardening

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.

 heirloom tomatoes getting mulched with straw in a garden

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.

(From http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/blogs/organic-gardening/grow-organic-tomatoes-460608#ixzz1ov2SMerq)

Organic resources

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 
Taman Melur 
Klang Valley 
Contact: Mr. Arnold JS Loh 
Phone1: 017-272-0900 

Saby Enterprise 
No. 16, Jalan Juur 1/8 
Taman Bakti 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 012-2898-097 
Phone2: 012-399-8615 
Fax: 03-9285-1497 

Ei Kim Hock 
No 130, Jalan Morib 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-3187-7313 

Lim Kian Kee 
No 20, 3rd Floor, Jalan Mas 6 
Taman Cheras Mas 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-9076-1160

Paras Baiduri Sdn Bhd
No 22, Ground Floor, Jalan Damai 2 
Desa Damai 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-8926-4271 

Hextar Bio-fert Sdn Bhd
No 145, B, Jalan Meru Kawasan 19 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-3343-7481

AddGrowth (M) Sdn Bhd 
No 3, 3rd Floor, Lorong Tiara 1B 
Bandar Baru Klang 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-3344-9935 
Fax: 03-3344-9936  

Maxyield Trading Co 
No 61, B, Jalan Rengas 
Kawasan 5, Taman Selatan 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-3371-6986 

Evergreen Organic Fertilisers Sdn Bhd 
No 41, A, Jalan 5 Kawasan 16 
Taman Intan 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-3343-6210 

Active Micro Fertilizer (M) S/B 
Lot 1637, Persiaran Raja Lumu 
Pandamaran, Port Klang 
Klang Valley 
Contact: David Khoo 
Phone1: 03-3166-9193 
Fax: 03-3166-9194 

Sin Seng Huat 
No 52, Jalan Hang Kasturi 
Kuala Lumpur 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-2078-5715 

Perniagaan Indraputra 
No 24, Jalan Padang Belia 
Kuala Lumpur 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-2274-8789 

Greenbiz Trading and Services
62, Jalan 2/62 Bandar Menjalara 
Kuala Lumpur 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 012-290-2414 
Fax: 03-6277-2341 

Syarikat Perniagaan Kelapa Sawit Jaya 
No 32, B, Jalan Pandan Indah 1/23c 
Taman Pandan Indah 
Kuala Lumpur 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-9274-3394 

Jasa Kimia Sdn Bhd 
B4-11, 4th Floor, Blok B Plaza Dwitasik, Jalan 5/106 
Bandar Sri Permaisuri 
Kuala Lumpur 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-9173-0943

Fyborganic Technologies Sdn Bhd
No 18, Lorong SS1/11A 
Kampung Tungku 
Petaling Jaya 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-7877-2270 
Phone2: 03-7877-2295 
Fax: 03-7877-2236 

MG EcoTech Group 
C710, Level 7, Block C, Kelana Square, 17 Jalan SS 7/26 
Kelana Jaya 
Petaling Jaya 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: -03-7494-2666 
Fax: 03-7494-2555 

GK Organic Farm
Lot 1819, 1812, 1813 Kampung Sungai Buah 
Klang Valley 
Contact: SK / Lee / Gan Koon Chai 
Phone1: 012-386-6078 
Phone2: 012-386-6078 
Fax: 03-8925-6434 

CCM Bioscience Bhd 
No 200, Jalan Asam Jawa 16/15 
Seksyen 16 
Shah Alam 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-5548-7524 

C & C Barter 
M-3-19< Plaza Damas 
Sri Hartamas 
Klang Valley 
Contact: Mr Enoch Chen 
Phone1: 03-6207-5422 
Fax: 03-6201-1664

Syarikat Baja Tropika 
No 43, Jalan Radin Anum 2 
Taman Sri Petaling 
Sri Petaling 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-9058-1160 

Sin Choon Kee 
No 96, Jalan Besar 
Tanjong Karang 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-3269-8493 

Seeds, saplings and other supplies

The Lords Garden
420/7, Jalan Stesen 
Batu Arang 
Klang Valley 
Contact: Mr. Yahqappu James Adaikkalam 
Phone1: 017-370-8326 

MJ Sunrise Sdn Bhd
N0 12A, Jalan Awan Makmur 1 
OUG Square, Taman Yarl 
Jalan Klang Lama 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-7781-1311 
Fax: 03-7782-1311 

LOVG Loh’s Organic Veg-Garden3
No. 75, Jalan Bukit 
Klang Valley 
Contact: Mr. and Mrs. Loh Siew Fook 
Phone1: 03-8737-5779 
Phone2: 017-3332-394 
Fax: 03-8737-5779 

Yee Bio Farm 
4, Lintang Enggang 
Kawasan 17, Taman Meru 
Klang Valley 
Contact: Mr. Ng Chee Yee 
Phone1: 03-3341-5017 (hse) 
Phone2: 012-3250-175 
Fax: 03-3341-1223 

Garden City Landscaping & Nursery 
3-2, Jalan 3/116D, Kuchai Entrepreneur’s Park 
Jalan Kuchai Lama 
Kuala Lumpur 
Klang Valley 
Phone1: 03-7984-0311 
Fax: 03-7983-2003 

Fresh Farmers Enterprise 
N2-02-03, Andalucia Pantai Hillpark, Jalan Pantai Permai 
Kuala Lumpur 
Klang Valley 
Contact: Edo Hong 
Phone1: 03-2240-9318 
Phone2: 012-223-9259 
Fax: 03-2240-9318

Creating compost

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
  • Houseplants
  • Leaves
  • 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.