Guest Post: Top 10 Tips From A Lifelong Gardener (My Mum!)

Fashion, passion and more passion (… fruit!)

Shortly after my previous post describing a new lame attempt at starting a small composting project, my mum Anna gave me her top 10 lifetime gardening tips!

She has always been a lifelong gardener. Even as a child, I have memories of her planting mangoes and guavas in the old house. There would always be something edible growing in the garden wherever we lived. Guava fruits would be wrapped in plastic or newspapers to protect them from birds (pure speculation here)…? , and I would see branches from different trees spliced together. Also, beautiful flowers everywhere in the garden I used to play in with my toys.

I only realize now (…3 decades later) the incredible amount of effort she put in. Bear in mind she held two jobs and was raising two kids at the same time. Nowadays, being retired, she has more time to devote to the garden/farm and she still has a burgeoning social life compared to my Dad who is quite the introvert. The home farm produces more than enough organic vegetables to cover an entire family year round so she shares them with her friends and neighbors too. Maybe some of it comes from her ancestral heritage; she grew up in a farming family. Looks like the tradition and the skills end with her, though……my bad 🙂

So without further ado, here goes:

  1. Love your vegetables. Enjoy them. You will find joy when you literally see them grow.
  2. Check them every day. If they suddenly wilt, there must be a reason.
  3. If the roots start to rot, immediately remove the plant and bin it. Do not use it as compost. Get rid of the gangrene forever.
  4. If they are attacked by lily buds (there is a scientific name for it), white in color, spray with garlic water (mix crushed garlic with water and use the water to spray on affected leaves) Editor’s note: Hemerocallis fulva?
  5. If snails attack, put salt around your garden. This will stop them from coming into the garden. Literally kill those that are already in the garden. They love to come out at night.
  6. Leaves, twigs, egg shells, etc, are very useful as soil.
  7. Vegetables and fruit peels are good for making compost. Coffee dregs can be used as fertilizer. Water used to clean fish is very good for plant growth. Fish innards are good too. However they attract ants. Banana peels when dried make very good fertilizer. Just go to any pisang goreng stall, buy 1 or 2 Ringgit of their banana fritters and ask for the peels. They will be glad to give them to you.
    Before fertilizing, pull out the grass around the plants.
    Don’t over-fertilize. It is better to fertilize more frequently than overdoing it. Over-fertilizing may kill young plants. Fertilise about once in 7-10 days.
  8. Certain plants like four-angled beans, need pruning to accelerate flowering. Anyway removing old leaves always assists the plant’s growth.
  9. Pollination can be assisted by using a cotton bud to transfer the pollen from flower to flower. Editor’s note: Plant IVF?!!
  10. Space out the seeds when you sow them in the nursery. Use the old seeds first. Vegetable seeds keep longer in the refrigerator.
  11. Plant vegetables at the correct distance. Planting them too close will restrict their growth n the plants will be skinny n tall. Here more does not mean better. For fruits, for example guavas, it is prudent to leave only one on a branch so that it will grow big and juicy. When harvesting always cut with a pair of scissors. It is like pruning.
  12. To keep away fruit flies, punch holes at the top section of mineral bottles, put some water in the bottles and add a few drops of fruit fly lure. Hang the bottles near the fruits. The fruit flies will be attracted n they will die inside the bottles.

Thanks Ma! You definitely over-delivered on the tips; there are a lot more than ten in there. My favorite and most important tip for me is #7. If you readers find any one or more of these helpful, please leave a like. I normally don’t make these requests, but this guest post means a lot to me.

She’s not a Hobbit; those flowers are real.

Thanks for reading.

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