Saturday, October 24, 2015

Unearthing a new talent! Live update of my vegetable plot Part 1

I am so excited today because almost all the bok choy seeds I've sown recently have germinated! Hooray...

My first crops of vegetable consist of these boy choy. 2 days after carefully sowing the seeds, this is the outcome.

Obviously, I was very pleased after my initial failure of growing anything from Horti seeds. I realized that the quality of seeds and types of plants really matter. Being a novice, I'm probably not ready for plants like thyme or rosemary in a tropical country. So far, I know basil, succulents and orchid works very well in an indoor setting in Singapore

5 days later, I've decided to transplant the immatured 1-inch seedlings from the plastic tray to the eventual container. Experimenting with 3 different types of containers, a deep container, a long planter and a small little container (for microgreens perhaps). I suspect that the little container will be overgrown with bok choy within 1 week if the growth spurts continue. This is the outcome today after I gave some diluted liquid fertilizers from Daiso.

My next step will be to further thin the seedlings so that they are about 10-12 inches apart. In the current state, these babies will probably die off they are still very crowded and this will probably impair their full maturity later.

I think I've found the key ingredient: very fertile soil from the local market in Clementi, mixed with compost. This is further complemented with water used to wash seafood I cook (I cook once a week, that's the most I can indulge in my second hobby). I've also taken to using organic insecticide and revitalizer to help prevent illness and insects. Hopefully, the bok choy will thrive in this sunny alcove and soon I'll be able to harvest my own vegetable!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hooked to my Indoor Garden

After days of pondering about acquiring a new hobby, I stumbled upon a few websites exhorting the possibilities of growing your own herb garden in a small apartment. Suddenly this became a strong impetus to go on a 'buying' spree. After voraciously reading up on pros and cons of growing various plants in Singapore (in order to suit my absence from them), I've decided on the following plants...

The first was the Basil... Basil thrives in the sunny warm climate of Singapore...and I love the aroma and taste of Basil in Italian & Thai cooking. My adventures started with a few bought from the NTUC finest vegetable section...

Basically Italian basil grown via hydroponics methods are kind of sensitive once you transplant them to regular potting soil mix. Out of 6 plants, I ended up having these 2. The rest sadly perished to root rot. Still I think it's not the end of the story as we can propagate basil using cuttings dipped into water plus a lot of patience (as seen in the foreground). I've already made my own pesto sauce from my basil without any pesticides and unusual fertilizers. What a victorious feeling!

Upon getting hooked, my shopping spree began. Next little pet I had was this moderately-big pot of sweet basil from a market in Clementi Ave 2. It looks very hardy and I've harvested 3x from this plant already. Just remember to fertilize using organic fertilizers (i.e. dung from either goat, chicken, etc) and use neem powder as natural pesticide. This is the plant on the right of the pic below.

My proudest moment as a gardener was when I snagged this pretty bunch of rosemary at an unusually cheap price at the same market in Clementi. This is seen on the left of the upper shelf (next to the basil). I literally snapped it up from the market just before another lady who was perusing at the range of 2 rosemary plants on offer. Indeed rosemary is a beautiful, hardy, dry-weather plant. The heady aroma is gorgeous and I have cooked at least 4 times with this awesome looking plant. Essential oil produced by this plant has this attractive aroma that naturally bring fragrance to any food or room. Much better than growing from rosemary seeds (trust me, I tried) because I totally failed at even producing one seedling from the seeds I've sown. This little girl loves living precariously on the dry side & adores the sun as well. Therefore, the prime position facing the sun and of course, only water once a day or when the soil is dry to touch.

Next my cutesy ornamental plants. Air plants are very pretty little flora that brings automatic cheer to any room and it's kind of hardy as well. I've just recently acquired this spiky little fellow (pic above) and apparently it's very easy to care for. Other than looking good, I've yet to find a use for this plant. Nevertheless, it's a good chum to my rosemary and basil.

And finally, my new succulent collections. This has recently arrived via post (online purchase) at a very very affordable rate. These are the most cost-effective little home decor items, and being alive gives us a lot of little baby plants in the future too either to brighten up each room in the house or to disseminate as gifts. 

Apparently, some brides are using this hardy creatures in the weddings as part of an eco-friendly decor movement. Ain't too bad for a genus that originates from the desert.

Echeveria (pic above) is this lovely purple-pinkish succulent that is easy to propagate but very sensitive to the hot weather in Singapore - coz it can get sunburn easily. Gradually expose it to sun and if possible, keep it in a slightly colder environment at night. I've recently given it a new pot, hopefully it likes it new home.

I think this is a graptoveria - correct me if I'm wrong - very new in the succulent world. Apparently it's a hybrid between graptoverium and echeveria thus it's green but in a petal-like formation. Out of all 3, apparently this can really with-stand the Singaporean sun but I've also not taking chances. Currently, it's sitting pretty in the shade for now.

And finally, this unusual looking haworthia which I believe is the turgid haworthia. I like the thorny-like apperance but there is no thorn at all. Reading up on all the stories and articles on succulents online made me realize that there are a lot of succulent-fans out there and this cute little plants are definitely here to stay. 

The most important ingredients (based on research, not experience) is a combination of appropriate well-draining soil, very little water and sunlight+cold nights (simulating desert conditions). I've to say I'm most worried about my succulents because the nights are still kind of hot in Singapore. Hopefully, the raining season will come soon and bring some relief to my 3 little plants.

Looking forward to growing more indoor plants in the near future - both edible and inedible (pretty ornaments) as this new hobby takes flight.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Another chapter beckons - assuming new responsibilities

Writing is..a form of catharsis to the soul. I've forgotten how joyful it is to be able to put my thoughts into words, stringing the words into sentences and creating the magic of written prose. With so much of pressure associated with 'scientific' writing in my daily work - I've forgotten the joys of casually, calmly jotting down my thoughts.

Next month marks another new chapter to my life. I'm not sure whether I'm ready to be a consultant, just like when I first stepped into HKL 10 years ago, I wasn't sure whether I'll be a good doctor or now. Now I'm wondering whether my years of wandering about, gathering knowledge, experience and pearls of wisdoms from various hospitals, mentors, colleagues and patients - whether I'll be worthy of the calling of a consultant general surgeon in a big academic medical centre in Asia.

Recently I met a few people who made me think very hard about the meaning of being a good leader and a healthcare provider. To some, these might be ordinary faces in the streets, foreign faces on this tiny, crowded island. To me, these could have been me should my life turned out differently. Yet they strike me as reminder of this inner meaning and purpose - What is my calling?

The calling is simple but not as easy to achieve - to live according to God's will, marked by being a person filled with moral values, integrity and honour. With each blessings in life, sometimes we forget that if we give up on our values, all that is left is emptiness and early burn-out. Today I received a reminder from above that I cannot squander all that I've been taught and given, and I do not ever 'rest on my laurels' - coz we should never stop learning and giving....

Before next month even begins, next week is the start of the school term for the bright medical students in clinical years in NUS. God has placed me here for a purpose, and I sure hope that I can give back to the community what He has given to me. Alongside some of the best medical and surgical tutors in the region, again I have the opportunity to guide these young sparks into the backbone of the healthcare system in this country. I pray that I'll be able to effectively help these young ones into being competent, confident and caring doctors of the future.