Launch of New Site

Today is the launch of this new site for the slow food and slow farming experience. I call this my “Really Slow Cottage” experience.

In the recent issue of Sai Kung Magazine a reader was fretting that there isn’t much written material available in Hong Kong for growing and gardening that takes into consideration of the local climate.

Well, you would have read from my post couple of weeks ago that the weather was really in extreme in Hong Kong and how can one plan for sewing the seeds and growing by reading books and magazine that were written for European or American climate.

Plus, where do you go to find seeds that you are looking for and what soil or medium is best to grow what kind of vegetable. Where can you get your own bag of horse manure? What and how to compost in an urban environment without upsetting you neighbours.

I hope you will find answers to your question here, however, if I haven’t cover what you are looking for yet please feel free to drop me an email. Happy reading!

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“Move Earth” Says the Chinese Almanac

The Chinese Almanac, which our agricultural ancestors had use throughout the last two thousand years to give advice about planting, has indicated the last two days would be auspicious days for “moving earth” and “start trading”. It’s so happened that these are the wettest days of the month, up to 95% humidity, and you can almost swim in the air. The plants are surviving the dampness, but they do need the sun to expose itself otherwise they will suffocate and die. This is the time I really believe an indoor garden is better for the growing then the outdoor ones. With my portable growing boxes, this is exactly what I will do and taking some of the plants indoor to the warmer and dryer atmosphere to let them have some air.

Endiveplants grown in different media.

The endive that I have transplanted about 4 weeks ago from seedlings are doing fine. The ones that are growing in perlite (珍珠岩) are growing at least 30% biggest than the ones I have planted in compost alone or half compost and half perlite. For this batch of plants I am growing them in a HypoNex high-grade solution that is diluted 1,000 times. I use the measuring cap supplied and used only half of the small cap and dissolve the nutrient in a 2 litre bottle that was recycled from used orange juice container. The nutrient is changes every week or so and the boxes that contain the nutrient are scrubbed and washed with dishwashing liquid.

Living outside the urban area is actually more challenging with the growing environment as there are more insects and pests to deal with on a day-to-day basis. This morning I’ve found a couple of fat green caterpillars munching on my Choi Sum leaves. They are promptly deported to our neighbour’s plot. Well, they don’t really grow anything there so it’s no harm for the green friends to have some dust for breakfast.

So, to follow the suggestion of the almanac, I thought I should plant some seeds to mark the wettest days of the month, or the year, who knows?

Zucchini Flower Opens Today

The seed for this plant was sewn on 3 December last year in a propagator. Each pod was filled by perlit in the base about 1 cm high and then filled up with scientific compose I bought from the Flower Market.

The seedling popped up about 1 week later and by early January it was strong enough so I transplanted the seedling into a pot and raised it in a hydroponic unit.

Last night when I come home, I saw the flower about to open and was hoping that it will this morning. I am not disappointed. Too bad though, dispite it’s about 19C outside it’s raining and so the bees are not working today. I would need more flowers opening anyway to pollinate this plant.

Quickly, I must work, to get the hydroponic bench built and automatic drip pump working.

Actually, since my last report, there’s more salad and flower seedlings coming online to be transplanted. It’s going to be a bountiful season if we continue this pace.

Jocelyn and Ewout on their rooftop garden

On a different note, I went to visit Jocelyn and Ewout last week and had an interesting tour of their rooftop garden. They are participants of the Slow Food Hong Kong movement.

Ewout uses an organic compost bought from the market and grow from seeds sprinkled on the compost. With the richness of the compost and the perfect sunny position on the roof the seedlings are having a wild party out there. Without a doubt, I shall be paying a return visit to their home in a couple of months to sample the deliciously grown products. 

I am particularly impressed that after our conversation, when I told Ewout that I do regularly visit the refuse center near home to savage material to build growing boxes, he actually went out with me to shop at the “bargain basement”. Low and behold, he’s found two discarded plastic shelf units in the waste collection center.

With a couple of holes in the bottom of each drawer for drainage, I said, you can grow even more goodies. Oh, I forgot to add, perhaps a coat of paint too to make each box more interesting. It is truly, “One person’s garbage can be another’s treasure.”