Edible Raised Beds and Container Gardening, by first-time novice gardeners

Seriously? No major new inspirations from this kitchen for the past three to four months? When winter lingered with minimal natural day-light, there was no motivation to take any food photo-shoots. And just when spring came by and said hello, I found myself occupied with so many other "things" that I lost touch with my own cooking quite a bit. Well I still cook but I cook the usual, the routine, everyday dishes, thus not much new photo-shoots in that sense. Then comes summertime when we just want to spend more time outdoors, so not much time for cooking (new dishes). EXCUSES.

What "things" was I busy with? Starting up our own backyard BBQ for the first time, inviting friends over for backyard BBQ (which meant I had to go out of my comfort zone to prepare food for more than a-party-of-two), a short visit to Singapore in late May/early June, and most important of all, GARDENING which kick-started when first signs of spring set in during February/March.

Four varieties of tomato (Sun Sugar, Yellow Pear, Sweet 100, Red Cherry) planted in March

Now we are already in August (I cannot believe it is already August, and just a few more months to end of this year!), and these are some updates that I can share. Not a totally successful backyard garden; however we do have our own harvest of vegetables!

Red Russian Kale harvest

In these four months, we have had minor setbacks in the gardening experience but in the process, we also learn and came up with budget-friendly "solutions" to tackle those issues. For example:

1) Birds and slugs attacking our seedlings - so we had our first bird-netting set up with U-shaped bamboos.

2) Using recycled salad boxes/containers to protect seedlings from the spring rain yet allowing the sun the pass through. Pretty primitive huh?

3) Cabbage worms were feeding on the leaves - so we had a copper tape around the raised bed (see photo above) and sprayed 100% natural neem oil on the leaf foliage

4) Discovered that the first bird-net was not good enough when we saw with our own eyes, how moths flew through the net as the netting hole-size was too big. As the name bird-netting goes, our first bird-netting did prevent birds but not other "flying" insects?!? So we switched to a tulle-netting that we bought from a fabric store (it happens to be the same tulle used to make wedding veils)!

Compare this photo with the netting from photo in (1)

5) How the sun plays a part in healthy plant growth

The fact is: the right side gets more hours of sun, so you can see the direct correlation to growth

6) How the soil plays a factor in healthy plant growth

Use of worm castings as part soil and fertilizer

7) In the absence of full sun, how to select the kind of vegetables to grow

Shade-tolerant vegetables include kale so we grow different varieties of them such as Red Russian, Dino (Lacinato) and Rainbow Kale

8) How to "wire" a drip irrigation for self-watering of the vegetables/plants. This is especially useful when you are off for a short vacation

9) How an indeterminate tomato plant (refer to the very first photo) can grow so tall, and unexpectedly we had to make our own tomato cage using bamboo stakes and rope

The four varieties of tomato (Sun Sugar, Yellow Pear, Sweet 100, Red Cherry) as seen in June

Phew, what a "playground" of experiments! Mainly my husband's experiments. Of course, there is more going on but as usual, I just have no time (and energy) to update everything. Not forgetting, taking photos is one thing, but writing and sharing thoughts about the photos/gardening experience is another daunting task. And the everyday business of cooking, and food-blogging (writing again) still continues.

I will try my best.

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