My very first pot of lemon balm that I have grown since end January is seeding. Amazing. Something that I have actually grown from seed is producing seeds and continuing the circle of life. Yes, we all know in school that plants are grown from seeds, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah, but when you grow something and see it for yourself, it’s just amazing. Makes you appreciate the gifts of nature even more.

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And this is the second pot of lemon balm which I have grown since mid of February when I thought that nothing is going to come out of the first pot. Thriving very well too. Bless you guys.

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I found it aptly amusing to only realise the difference between this two pots of lemon balm on April Fool’s Day. Have been looking at them daily for a significant period of time and the dim-witted light bulb only lighted up today. D’oh! Another Homer Simpson moment.   

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See any difference? Compare the shape of the leaves and the body of the plant. They look totally different from each other to me. In fact, the second pot looks more like lemon balm after I googled for more lemon balm images. They are supposedly sowed from the same pack of seeds and yes, I am very sure that I didn’t mix anything up.

Two species of lemon balm seeds in the same seed pack? Maybe. Or is there something that I should know, like this is a very common occurence? Then again, it doesn’t bother me much. No biggie.

I hope everyone gets a good laugh today.

When was the last time that you laughed until you cried?

Yes, I just watched The Bucket List and you should too 🙂

Have a good April Fool’s Day everyone!

I was feeling pretty low about my balcony greens and blogging for the past week. And this picture pretty much sums up the feeling.

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Didn’t really want to write about anything. Come on, what’s there to write about? The snake beans are going haywire and with no sign of flowering still, plus the freakish weather is causing alot of leaves to turn yellow and drop off.  The death toll of the cherry tomatoes flowers are hitting 5 by now. My dill is turning yellow at an alarming rate and there’s nothing new to grow cos I am still trying to collect recycled containers from around the house to use as pots.

This all accumulated to the sinking feeling that I just suck at growing stuff. Simply clueless about watering, soil conditions & quantity needed, fertilization, plant preferences, etc…

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But I was reading through Kate’s article one day and this occured to me. When you garden and blog, you are not alone. Gardeners are kind folks who don’t laugh at you and encourage you along the way. Many thanks and virtual hugs to Kate, Wilson, Christina, Patrick, Rowena, Christi and recently, Joco, who all have helped me along the way with your comments, your words of encouragement, advise and tips.

So my snake beans are out of control, other stuff are turning yellow, but I learn right? I’ve learnt not to overcrowd my seeds anymore, learnt about the different types of soil, plant preferences, etc. And I should always continue to keep trying and learning along the way. So even starting all over again, finding less ambitious seeds to grow…  even growing a small pot of basil is something for a brown thumb like me.

If not for blogging, I would be growing my greens alone and would have given up sooner, and resigned myself to the fact that I kill plants, once again.  So I am giving my thanks now for technological advances, for nice folks and kind friends from other parts of the world that I would never have dreamt about making otherwise, if not for blogging.

I will never grow alone again.

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All images from I Has A HotDog. Check it out! It’s simply too cute. Guaranteed to lighten up some gardening blues.

It’s been constantly raining unpredictably for the past week and is still drizzling now as I write this. The drippy grey clouds seem to match my mood of bewilderment. I don’t quite understood what happened to my first cherry tomato flower so I’m just going to write it as it is.

My first cherry tomato flower just wilted after a few days so I want to take a picture for my blog. On the left, beside the very wilted first flower is a second one that bloomed a few days after the first and looks as if it is in the proceed of wilting as well.

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After the picture was taken, I looked up and @#&%*#! I see no flower!

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The flower just simply dropped off immediately after the picture was taken and I didn’t even touch it. Darn is to put it mildly. I’m abit flabbergasted and disappointed. Where did I go wrong this time? Even the second flower is yellowing and looks as if it’s gonna go down the same path as the first. The worse thing is that I am totally clueless.

More cherry tomato flowers are appearing but instead of feeling happy, I’m kind of worried now that they will all share the same fate.

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Don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. This blog should be retitled “Dummies Guide on How NOT to Grow Vegetables”.

I was out of town for 9 days and look what happened to my snake beans.

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I’ve been trying to “encourage” them to grow around their trellis but I guess they had a mind of their own. This means I can’t lower that portion of the blind anymore. Not that I really mind since their leaves create a nice silhouette too, just that I am amused by their progress.

I swear they looked triumphant. Like “Har! We did it! We made it to the blinds before she came back!”

Continued to check on the progress of my other plants and GASP! What is it that I see?

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My first flower!

It’s from one of the cherry tomato plants and it looks like there are 2 more smaller flower buds in fact. Fantastic! Didn’t knew it could be so exhilarating discovering your first flower.  It’s like you’re not growing just stems and leaves anymore. SWEET!

This first flower hasn’t bloom fully yet. I know successful germination of the flower to bear fruits is another hurdle but I’m basking in happiness for now cos this means that I am one step closer to tasting red, juicy & delicious home-grown cherry tomatoes.

This Disney tune popped up in my head suddenly while I was admiring my first flower…

“Skippity Do Dar, Skippity Day… My O My, It’s A Wonderful Day!”

It sure is a wonderful day!

Read on yesterday’s copy of Today that “it will soon be compulsory for all condominiums and private apartments to have recycling facilities.” (page 10)

Yay! Way to go, this is definitely good news for me. Having recycling bins will encourage more people to not just thrash their paper and plastics. Hey, every little bit for the earth counts right?

But as I flipped on, this other article changed my mood from upbeat to down-crestedness.

The header for this NATAS Travel Fair related article (pg 48) reads – “LAST CHANCE TO SEE – Tourists Are Heading To Formerly Ignored Destinations Before Warming Weather Takes Its Toll“.

Some snippets are:

That dream vacation – diving along the Great Barrier Reeef, skiing in the Swiss Alps – could remain a dream forever if you don’t get a move on it… As global warming is rising up the world’s agenda, ecotourists are flocking to previously ignored places… It’s been called climate sightseeing, a kind of farewell tour of Earth’s greatest hits… Here’s a short list of places that are feeling the effects of global warming today – places to consider as you put to consider as you put together your travel plans…”

I don’t know what to think anymore. It’s like a “Here ye, here ye, come see before it’s gone” sort of marketing pitch to sell travel.

Hey, we should be more ashamed over the fact that this is what we, humans, did to our one and only planet that we live on and what we SHOULD AND CAN do about it.

It’s so ironical. It might as well have been – “Nature’s wonders and gifts to us will be gone soon. Time limited offer. Come see them before mankind destroys them forever.”

Me and my itchy fingers decided to move the Okra seedling from its recycled plastic bottle container to a bigger one. Three days after its move, one of its leaf turned yellow and wilted. Another leaf is turning yellow as I type. I don’t know if this will progress to the rest of the whole plant. It’s the only seedling that germinated out of over 10 seeds that I tried. Shucks.

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Dill is turning yellow too. Could it be overcrowding? Should I pull out the yellowed ones to make space?

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Feeling Blue.

Blue + Yellow = Green = Definitely not the colour of my okra & dill

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Snake Bean A: Pssst… guys, guess what I heard…  (conspiratorial whispering)

Rest of the Snake Beans: (gasps in horror) What do you mean she doesn’t know how tall we’ll be growing until? This is insulting. We’re at the end of our trellis already, her bamboo pole support sucks.

Snake Bean A: Look, it’s her first time growing anything, she has extended our bamboo poles already and we have not stopped growing still. She’s already at her wits end and wondering whether our continuous upward growth is due to overcrowding. Give her a break.

Rest of the Snake Beans: But we’re not going to stop. We are meant to climb… for reaching new heights! We’re aiming for the blinds!

Snake Bean A: Wait! Wait! She’s even considering whether to pull 2 of us out so that the rest of us will have more space. She’s worried that we might not flower at all.

Rest of the Snake Beans: But this is preposterous! You can’t expect us to just stop now. We must reach for new heights!  

Snake Bean A: Guys, guys, please. Just try to lie low take it easy for now. Please?

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I found my compost bin some weeks back! It’s a container for popcorn sold during Christmas,  someone didn’t want it, left it by the staircase and I came along. The moment I saw it, I thought “COMPOST BIN!”. I was thrilled that I found something that I could recycle and my mom gave me weird looks when I hugged the piece of trash home.

Ever since I started reading garderning blogs, I noticed that composting is a very big thing that gets mentioned everywhere. I would like to do something about my kitchen scraps too, instead of dumping them into landfills. Been surfing up on composting and even though I have only 7 containers of plants to date, I would still like to try my hand on composting. I can’t have a compost heap since I don’t have a garden at all, but I can try starting my very own apartment composting bin.

I’ve been feeding my compost bin:

  • dried leaves 
  • coffee grounds
  • tea leaves 
  • a variety of kitchen scraps such as fruit peels, vegetable ends, etc

But about a week or two later, I saw maggots crawling happily in the heap. Darn. Darn. Darn.

And that’s how my first attempt at composting went.

MM, a member of the Green Culture Singapore forum, went to my rescue when he answered my questions posted on the forum asking about what went wrong. Here’s what I learnt from my first composting attempt (cos all I thought was that I just needed to add my greens & browns):

  • My compost heap is too wet.
  • Grass clippings decompose quickly and help to get the process started. So I made a mental note to add some next time.
  • I need to add some high nitrogen matter (activators) to kickstart the process
  • I need to add as well some soil or compost for the bacteria that is naturally occuring in the soil.

Points all noted for my second attempt at composting.

I’ll be back, hasta la vista baby.

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Mark 29th March 2008 down on your calender for Earth Hour, where lights are turned off for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming. 

Here’s how I make Earth Hour a daily thing:

  •  I turn off and unplug all appliances that are not in use, instead of leaving them on standby-mode.
  • I turn off lights that are not in use.
  • I do not sleep with the air con on, although my husband goes along with this abit  reluctantly.
  • In public toilets, I dry my hands naturally by using only time, instead of the hand dryer. Yes, I am guilty of taking quick swipe on my pants at times and  leave wet palm prints unwittingly.
  • I take quick showers with cold water instead of using the water heater. Yes, even at night. And I’ve grown so used to it that it’s more enjoyable showering in cold water,  I feel more refreshed.
  • I stand very near a pail during my shower to capture the grey water (about 1/4 pail of water “saved” per shower,  especially from rinsing hair after shampooing), which I use for flushing my toilet bowl with a scoop. Effective enough for the yellows, I still flush for the browns though.
  • I hang dry my laundry instead of using a dryer.
  • I am trying hard not to spend too much un-necessary time surfing the internet on frivolous stuff. Need to log off and get in touch with real life.
  • I try to recycle as much as I can. 
  • I make use of the excellent public transport system in Singapore and take the buses and MRT as much as I can. I’ve boycotted cabs since the last price hike in end Dec ’07 and this is an achievement for someone who has single-handedly helped many cabby uncles raise their families in my lifetime. Okay, so I’m exaggerating abit here.
  • My mom washes her vegetables in a container (instead of running water) and keeps the water for giving dirty dishes their first rinse.  

As an additional incentive, trying to conserve as much energy and water as possible pays off in the monetary sense as well. Our monthly water & electricity bill for a family of 4 adults (with 2 being home the whole day) comes to be about S$60 monthly. My friends have told me that their average monthly bill comes to be about S$100 over monthly. The difference would translate into S$480 savings in a year. Hope this inspires you to look into creative ways that you could conserve energy too.

I think the mentality for alot of families is that they could afford to pay for their water & electricity bills so they see no need in engaging in such practices. But this is not the point anymore. Like Christina from A Thinking Stomach mentioned before, we are part of the problem and part of the solution.

Are you contributing to the problem or doing your bit? I feel sad sometimes when I think about how some can be oblivious and ignorant to the problems of this dying earth.

Gardening books are a great help for beginners gardeners like me. Am going through this book recently – The Complete Book of Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit cos I thought it’ll be great to know more about what I am growing.

These are the interesting tidbits about Lemon Balm that I felt useful:

Species: Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm). Hardy perennial. Height 75cm, spread 45cm or more (oops, I think my pot is too small as usual).

History: This ancient herb was dedicated to the goddess, Diana, and used medicinally by the Greeks some 2,000 years ago. The generic name, Melissa, comes from the Greek word for bee and the Greek belief that if you put sprigs of balm in an empty hive, it would attract a swarm.

In the Middle Ages, lemon balm was used to soothe tension, to dress wounds, as a cure for toothache, mad dog bites, skin eruptions, crooked necks, and sickness during pregnancy. It was even said to prevent baldness, and ladies made linen or silk amulets filled with lemon balm as a lucky love charm. It has been acclaimed the world over for promoting long life.

Germination: Common lemon balm can be grown from seeds. Germination takes about 10-14 days.

Pests & Dieases: The only problem likely to affect lemon balm is a form of the rust virus, cut the plant back to the ground and dispose of all infected leaves.

Garden Cultivation: Lemon Balm will grow in almost any soil and in any position, but it does prefer a rich, moist soil in sunny position with some midday shade.

Culinary: Lemon balm is one of those herbs that smells delicious but tastes like school-boiled cabbage water when cooked. Add fresh leaves to vinegar. Add leaves to wine cups, teas and beers, or use chopped with fish and mushroom dishes. Mix freshly chopped with soft cheeses.

Medicinal: Lemon balm tea is said to relieve headches and tension and to restore memory. It is also good to drink after meals to ease digestion, flatulence and colic.

Other uses: This is a most useful plant to keep bees happy. The flower may look boring to you but it is sheer heaven to them. So plant lemon balm around beehives or orchards to attract pollinating bees.

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My Lemon Balm Plant at 4 weeks old

* The Complete Book of Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit – The Definitive Sourcebook To Growing, Harvesting & Cooking

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About Me

Limited apartment space is not a deterrent to my garden dreams. I’m no green-thumb but always have alot of hope and optimism.

I’m located in Singapore, a tropical Asian country.

Comments, especially gardening tips, are greatly welcomed. Thanks for dropping by! Teresa

Stuff That I Am Attempting To Grow

Cherry Tomato
Chives
Coriander
Curled Parsley
Dill
Lemon Balm
Okra (lady's finger)
Snake Bean (yardlong bean)