Apartment Living - Balcony Gardening
Living eleven floors up we don't have a garden, obviously, but we do have a balcony and that's as good as it gets for most of the citizens of Singapore in terms of our own outdoor space. A balcony is still plenty of room to create a little haven for green and growth though, and it needn't be an expensive or time consuming hobby. Singapore's climate is perfect to see quick returns on your planted seeds, so even the most impatient of kiddies (or adults) will be rewarded in no time. I've blogged about mosquito repelling plants already, but these aren't all you can be growing with little to no effort. How about creating a herb garden by throwing a mix of basil, rosemary, oregano, sage etc seeds into a couple of containers (if you're in Singapore head to Daiso for a wide selection of $2 beauties!) along with potting compost (available from most nurseries, as well as online delivery from the likes of Fairprice and Redmart). Water daily and within a week or two you should start to see the first shoots coming through. Your very own home grown organic herbs! Delicious!
Or, how about scraping the seeds out of a hot chilli (literally from the sort you have in your fridge for cooking) into a pot of compost, cover with about an inch of soil on top, water and wait. They should start to develop green shoots in about a week with gentle watering every day, so not too long to wait at all! There's no need to buy seeds if you have what you'd like to grow in the fridge already. Some seeds do best just being thrown straight in the soil (like chilli) whereas others may need a little convincing to sprout (keep scrolling to see). Remember though- scraping the chilli seeds means exposing your fingers to the hottest part - wash you hands thoroughly straight away after handling and don't let the kiddies do this job. Unless you're really, really cruel.
Cherry tomatoes - those lovely little red balls of sweet juicy tomato-ey goodness - grow especially well from the fruit. Simply scrape the seeds out of a couple of tomatoes (staright out of the fridge), and wash off the jelly on the outside as this will go mouldy during the sprouting process if left. Once the seeds are completely clean, get a small tupperware tub (or something similar that you can put a lid over, even a bowl with a sheet of paper on top will do) and lay a couple of sheets of kitchen paper in the bottom. Sprinkle the seeds on top so that they are fairly evenly spread and not touching each other. Add enough water so that the kitchen paper is soaked, but that the seeds aren't swimming. Pop the lid on and leave the tub in a warm (ish) place that is dark (this bit is cruial for speedy sprouting). Within a few days or so you should start to see the seeds are sprouting little white roots, once they've got this far you're good to plant them into the compost in a container. The tomatoes will grow quickly here, reaching at least 30cm in height in less than a month with regular watering and plenty of sunshine. Remember, they grow upwards and will need some support in place in the container- Daiso do a good range of hoops and canes at the bargain price of $2. The satisfaction of watching new plants grow from the seeds of food out of the fridge is shared between kiddies and adults alike!
Some seeds need a little more time and coaxing though, and so patience is a virtue when it comes to the balcony garden. However, when you FINALLY get a seed to sprout it's like you won the lottery. In our case, the lemon lottery. We'd tried sprouting about a dozen lemon seeds (we had to drink alot of G&T's to get that many seeds, but you know, I'm always up for a challenge) and all but one of them turned a rather nasty shade of grey and developed white fluff rather than any sign of a root. I was so close to giving up when ONE seed finally started to grow a lovely, strong root. So off I went to plant it in it's new home and then, what do you know, absolutely nothing happened for about two weeks. I thought I'd killed this fragile lemon baby off but no, it was just taking it's time. After a month of trying and eleven failed attempts we have one teeny tiny little green sprout of a lemon tree!!! I will guard this with my life, talk to it twice a day, water it each morning and love it like no other plant. Such is my emotional investment into that one little seed that didn't get pickled in gin.
And, don't forget, any amount of colourful blooms and garden adornments will brighten up the greyest of concrete skyscrapers. We have multi coloured bunting, rainbow windmills, and (thanks to the apartment gardeners one floor above us), the confetti like petals of their flowers blowing around. Clara has told me they are the wings of baby fairies left behind when they grown big enough to go on their own adventures, and I'm just fine with that explanation.