HDB Farming: Growing, Harvesting and Cooking My Own Kailan :D

Community Garden Singapore

This morning, I harvested my Kailan plus some Caixin from my personal plot at the community garden. (This is the 2nd blogpost in my HDB Farming series. The first was about Caixin which you can read by clicking here) I find it such a privilege and a joy to be able to grow my own vegetables despite living in a tiny pigeonhole of an apartment that we call an HDB flat. For many people overseas, having a garden might be something they take for granted. But to me, it’s truly a privilege. And may I add that the vegetables you “ownself grow, ownself cook” are really the best!

Here’s why:

  1. Peace of mind. I don’t use any pesticides so the vegetables can be eaten, really, after just a quick rinse to get rid of the soil residue.
  2. No wastage. I used to have veggies rotting in the fridge because I don’t cook and eat them fast enough. Now I simply harvest what I’m going to wash, cook and eat immediately. And if there are any scraps (yellowed leaves and all), they can head into the compost bin, and become fertilizer for the next batch of veggies.
  3. Super fresh. The veggies are so crisp that sometimes I have trouble breaking off the bottom part of the stem in order to get rid of the roots. Then I’ll have to use a pair of scissors to do the job.

If you have kids, I’m sure it’ll be easier to convince them to eat their greens if they had actually played a part in sowing the seeds, watering the plants, and harvesting the produce.

I’m usually all sweaty after I do my gardening. I’m sure I’m also inadvertently getting a good dose of Vitamin D from all that sunshine. Some people enjoy buying one of those fancy grow kits for use at home – you can grow tomatoes and strawberries even with those lights installed – but where’s the sunshine? Where’s the sweat and the toil? What comes easily often goes unappreciated. Also, we spend too much time indoors, in an air-conditioned environment. If you’re able to spend a small part of your day outdoors, in nature, getting your hands dirty and your back sweaty, and can return home with something you’re going to cook for your next meal, you’ll certainly note an increase in your ‘happiness level’.

I steamed the veggies with some garlic. ‘Cos I’m having a cold, I’m eating more veggies, garlic, onions, etc. Too bad for Queen Elizabeth that she doesn’t enjoy garlic.

growing kailan in singapore

*I steam the veggies because some nutrients are water-soluble, so I eat the veggies and drink what’s left in the plate too. 🙂

HDB Farming: Growing, Harvesting and Cooking My Own Caixin :D

edible plants to grow in singapore

Harvested some caixin from my HDB community garden plot this evening for my dinner. These are organically grown veggies and need just a quick rinse as I did not use any pesticide. They also taste really good! Farming, for me, has become a daily (almost) meditative practice. I take a walk to the garden, water the plants, remove the weeds and marvel at how some of them are growing really well. Sometimes I find myself touching the leaves like how people ruffle the fur of cute doggies. 😀

Some Uni undergrads doing research for their projects recently asked me if I would consider this “farming” (or myself a “farmer”) due to the scale of what we are doing. We don’t have acres and acres of land to grow lots of crops, but I do still consider this farming. What else would it be called? I said to them that whether you get 0 or 100 for your exams, you’re still a student, right? So whether my small plot of land is giving me 1 bunch of caixin or 100kg of caixin, it’s still farming. Next question please. 😛

Though everyone will tell you that caixin is one of the easiest vegetables to try and grow at home or in your garden, no one really expounds on the hard work involved.

First, you have to prepare the ‘land’ / soil. You have to get rid of all the weeds / grass (and they’ll certainly grow back again, faster than any veggie or plant). Then you have to loosen up the soil. Then you sow the seeds. (And you might want to pray that they’ll grow) And you water the plot at least once a day. And you do regular weeding. And don’t forget about the organic fertiliser and/or compost to give your young plants the nutrients they need.

(And yes, sometimes you say a silent prayer of thanks when it rains, and you don’t have to walk all the way to the garden to water the plants)

Often, I feel that I’m watering the land with my very own sweat. I’ll be doing the weeding and perspiring as the sun’s rising higher up in the sky. And I’m squatting till blood circulation to my legs is almost cut off.

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As it’s my first time growing edibles in a garden, I didn’t quite know what to do. The seeds were sown too close to each other, so the plants ended up competing for space and nutrients. Will do better the next time round:

HDB farming

And yes, if you’re eagle-eyed enough to spot the kailan, that’s what will be on the menu next when they’re fully grown. 😀

And I’m probably considered one of the lucky ones. Some of my neighbors have long bean or tomato plants which even after weeks and months of care, end up not bearing any fruit! Then you basically have to tear everything down, and start all over again. (I’d totally feel like crying)

At the moment, I have caixin, kailan, tomato, mint, ladies finger, and a torenia plant which gives me edible flowers for my homemade desserts. I’m really looking forward to the kailan, which is one of my favorite veggies. Maybe I should grow kale next as it’s really expensive even if you get it at supermarkets.

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For dinner tonight, I steamed a platter of veggies and tofu, and cooked some noodles with an egg. 😀 I found the caixin especially sweet. 😀

homegrown caixin

I wish the farmers in Mexico who produced these asparagus would have a chance to taste the caixin I’ve grown. 😀 From one farmer to another. 🙂 🙂 🙂