Sustainable Vegetable Gardening Singapore-style

I must have not visited Hort Park for quite a while. A new vegetable and herb garden has sprung up in the time I was sleeping. Today, as part of Gardeners’ Day, kids get to harvest fruits and leaves for $2 per person.  And you don’t have to go to Yio Chu Kang or Choa Chu Kang to see vegetable plots.

The vegetable plot and new herb garden is near the butterfly enclosure which makes a concentrated pathway for children to explore.  Wilson and team have done an excellent job introducing all kinds of vegetables. I’ve never seen the plant nor the flowers before such as the West Indian Pea, lady’s finger, long beans and cherry tomatoes, Job’s tears, sweet potato.

White West Indian Pea flower is consumed in both Indian and Filipino cuisine. But only the white unopened version is eaten. In Philippines, its called Katuray, and sometimes eaten as a salad and tastes like bitter gourd. The red version, according to W, turns black when blanched, not a pretty sight.

Job’s tears is a long grass, propagated from seed or root division. Someone once asked me to buy Chinese unpolished barley from Chinese medicine shop for L when he had some uric stones. The polished barley pearls version (yimi) from supermarket that we simmer boil into a cloudy drink to reple “heat”. Its anti-infammatory and detoxifying.  What a meaningful name in English, Job’s tears. With holes on either ends, each seed has been used as rosary beads.  Some bible commentators say that Job was probably one of the first books of the Old Testament to be written, about a very good man whom God allowed to go through a testing by Satan.  He lost everything but never blamed God.  Eventually, God restored Job’s fortunes.  Very meaningful name and I can almost imagine that when the Catholics meditate, fingering their rosary beads made of Job’s tears, they get a proper perspective of life’s tribulations and God’s vindication.

I’m most surprised with the lady’s fingers. The flowers are big, size of my fist, and reminds me of poppy flowers, except that its lightish yellow and its petals are firmer. But the greatest surprise, is that I would have imagined it to hang down a vine like gourds, and not stand out-stretched like a finger, in a shrub. Is it just me, or I thought I had Beyonce’s “Put a ring on it”, ringing in my ears, and yes, it looks like its waiting to get its nails painted.

They’ve planted groundnuts too, but the leaves have been infected. Otherwise, the nitrogen-rich groundnut leaves can be ploughed back into the soil as fertiliser. In the Louisiana cotton-growing area, farmers were known to alternate crop-growing with groundnuts to re-introduce nitrogen into the soil.  Soil needs NPK – Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, although of varying proportions and PH. Apparently, they’ve PH measuring instruments from the US, and Gardens by the Bay has one such instrument with the ancient olive trees and baobabs that they’re bringing in, one needs to be exact.  I hope to take up a WSQ certificate course on soil.

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