How does growing your own vegetables sound to you? If you think growing your own lettuce, sweet potato, eggplant, ocra, etc., the organic way in your home seems like an impossible task, you'd be surprised as many families in Singapore are already growing vegetables at home for their own consumption.
For those who have yet to experience growing food at home, it is in fact a healthy, creative and fun activity that the entire family can enjoy together – there is no experience as satifyig as raiding your own veggie patch for some wholesome and nourishing crispy vegetables.
“I remember visiting a friend in the UK, and I thought it was so amazing when I saw her snipping off some fresh vegetables and herbs from her front porch to prepare dinner for us, and I wanted to be able to do just that in Singapore,” shares Yvonne, a Taiwanese living in Singapore who was inspired to grow her own vegetables. She is a nature lover and mother of two living in a condominium in Siglap.
There are in fact many people like Yvonne – more and more families in Singapore are becoming more aware of the food they eat and where they come from. This is a result of them wanting to lead healthier lifestyles, thus the growing popularity of organic foods in Singapore.
Why the trend?
Home-grown food has never been more fashionable, and with good reasons:
1. Eliminate toxic chemicals from daily lives
The bottom line is that pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms and can also harm humans. In addition to cancer, pesticides are also implicated in birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutations. Most vegetables that you buy from local supermarkets and markets are likely to have been sprayed with pesticides, however, if you grow your own vegetables, you can control what goes into your food.
2. Offers the full nutrition you need
Many studies have shown that organically grown food boasts a slew of minerals and nutrients that are beneficial to our health. Food grown with synthetic fertilisers, on the other hand, are processed and contain chemical additives that could be harmful to our health in the long run.
Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, which eventually leads to the nourishment of the plants and ultimately nourishes our bodies.
3. Enjoying the crispy freshness
Most of the food we eat – both fruits and vegetables - have travelled hundreds or even thousands of kilometres before they reach us. As such, they tend to lose their nutritional value when they are being transported from overseas or when they are stored for long periods of time. If you grow your own food, you will not only be able to enjoy the freshness of 'live' veggies, but they also offer the nourishing enzymes not found in dead plants.
Apart from reducing carbon emissions from transport and refrigerated storage, home-grown organic veggies also taste a whole lot better, and will save you a lot of money.
Most importantly, home food production allows one to connect with nature - hectic urban lifestyle is not beneficial or our heart and soul.
Growing an edible garden is easy
For beginners who are new to gardening, the task can seem quite intimidating. However, the entire process is actually quite simple, and not time-consuming at all.
Gardeners just need to bear in mind that the elements that all plants need in order to thrive are simply sunshine, water, fertilisers, and daily care.
Contrary to what most people think that it is difficult to grow your own plants at home, it is actually possible for everyone to acquire the elusive ‘Green Fingers Magic’, and grow as many vegetables at home as they want, even in our hot climate, as long as they take note of the abovementioned elements.
That said, it is important to note that growing edible plants is quite different from growing ‘normal’ plants or flowers. For beginners, it would save you a lot of time if you could obtain few practical tips from experienced growers - most gardeners are happy to share their expertise with newbies. Alternatively, you can go online and google for places that organise organic vegetable workshops or find these courses at your nearest Community Centres. Visit www.one.pa.gov.sg and search for Vegetables or Herbs for more information.
Once you learn the basic tricks of growing edible plants, you can proceed to grow many other types of vegetables, herbs and even fruits at home. Imagine having your very own pots of asparagus, strawberries, bentong gingers, and eggplants along your corridors – it is bound to attract your neighbours' attention.
Additional perks for the family
• Gardening gives one a new appreciation for Mother Nature – you will have the opportunity of seeing how things really grow, which can be really good hands-on education for children. Whatch your children glow when they see their plants grow.
• Gardening increases self-confidence in children and even adults. After discovering this new found interest of growing their own vegetables and plants, children could feel empowered and inspired to become a scientist, a researcher, a herbalist, or even a master chef in future. Even if they don't, they will at the very least learn what it means to lead a healthier lifestyle.
• Gardening may stimulate many new interests including in horticulture, food sciences, landscape architecture, photography, chemistry, cosmetics, and perhaps even spark off new business ideas.
• Participating in gardening activities can bring a family closer. Imagine engaging in hard labour together, sharing the responsibilities of caring for the vegetables and plants on a daily basis, and eventually reaping the harvest together – it is a very fulfilling expereince.
• Experience the joy of growing, harvesting and eating the vegetables you grew on your own.