27 Sept 2020 Q&A Webinar

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Q1. Banana peel water or dry banana peel powder better for indoor edible plants? Is banana skin water a good fertiliser? Can I still use my slimy banana water?

Banana skins when soaked get very smelly/slimy, dried powder form will not. It is said to increase K (potassium in soil) but I used it previously, the result is not obvious to me and I kind of stopped the soaking process. Just compost the banana skins. In home environment, best to get a pot, layer with soil then chopped kitchen waste then soil again then kitchen waste then soil. Rest and let it break down. Typically take months if you chopped them up to very fine.

Q2. Can I put expired oats / wood chit / used coffee powder / tea leaves into our potted plants?

Banana skin, coffee, teas, oats, eggshells are all consider greens in your composting process. Wood chips, leaves are consider browns. In composting, you need to combine the right amount of greens and browns, at right temperature to get the correct compost, else it will get smelly. The finer you chopped your waste, the fastest it decompost. I typically see a complete breakdown only after at least 6 months

Q3. Can teach us how to make compost too?

I personally have not been very successful with composting due to the space and time involved (chopping up the materials) but I do buried vegetables waste into spare space around my planting plot, away from my plants and let them decompost. There are some composting groups around, best to reach out to them. I am sure they will be more than happy to teach.

Q4. Can I add egg shells into my soil mix for veg and root plant? How long will it take for the nutrients to be released into soil?

Eggshells need to be washed and grind into powder before used for best effect. In my experience, it takes forever to decompost if not in powder form.

Q5. Can I use my dog’s poo as fertiliser?

Generally dogs and cats poo are not suitable for plants as they tends to be slight salty.

Q6. Can earthworms in indoor pot change character of the soil and make it very clayey? Should earthworms in edible indoor pots be controlled?

Earthworm typically loosen soil so it should do good to your soil. They will stay in the pot unless the pot is flooded.

Q7. Can epsom salt or baking soda enhance vegetables grow?

Growers typically advise using epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to enhance flowering of fruit shrubs like tomatoes. However be careful with the dosage. Magnesium is a minor nutrient, plant typically get enough of it from soil. Too much of Magnesium will stop calcium uptake by plants and can cause serious problem. Kindly refer to this link for more info: http://bit.ly/epsom-salt-need-to-know. Growers advise using baking soda to prevent mildew. However, I have not have much success on that. Improve ventilation and reduce humidity work better to prevent mildew.

Q8. What kind of grow light is the best? Blue light/ red light / violet / white light? Can i used home normal LED?

Grow led typically comes in blue/red or full spectrum but there are more to it than just color. The spectrum and strength (PPFD) all play a part. Normal LED is built for human, not for plants hence not suitable especially for edibles. This is a huge topics on it’s own and it will not be covered in this series.

Q9. Is soil or soiless potting mix better?

It depends on what you are trying to grow. Will cover more next session.

Q10. Is millipedes ok to leave in the soil for the plant?

They feed on only decaying matters. So they are typically fine, just irritating.

Q11. Is it dangerous using msg to fertilize edible vegetable?

We typically don’t advise that.

Q12. Any advise about mulching for outdoor edibles?

You can try coconut fibre from nursery to use as top cover of your pot or plastic weed cover from Daiso works too. But do check from time to time to prevent pests like snails.

Q13. Where to order rack with special paint coat (outdoor)?

You can go to http://bit.ly/gopasar-dewa-store.

Q14. For outdoor veg, is it necessary to have a plastic cover on top? Should we always use nets to prevent pests? Where to buy the tent shelter for outdoor vege planting?

Plastic cover is to keep the rain out. It is important if you wish to grow vegetables well during raining season. If you can stop planting say during year end, then you can do without. Netting is to keep flying pests out like grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles. But like I said during class, if you are ok to hand catch all these, netting is not necessary. Little Urban Oasis custom those nettings as a turn key project. Alternately, you can get PVC pipes from hardware shop and netting from daiso and DIY yourself.

Q15. Why my chilli only flower and not fruit?

For chilli to fruit well, you need good sun. Usually in HDB highrise,it can be challanging to get sufficient sun. You can submit a picture and I try my best to diagnose.

Q16. What’s the reason for sunflower died after direct sun from front?

Frankly, I do not know off hand. Does it get enough water? Is the soil moist? There could be lots of reasons.

Q17. Any difference between the green netting to the white netting for vegetable plot?

White netting is generally used as it let light in while allow ventilation. Green netting tends to cut down light.

Q18. Is it true that mosquito does not like lemongrass?

I cannot confirm that as it does not really work for me.

Q19. If the soil is dry, do I wet it before seeding?

Yes, best to wet/water it first. Put the seeds then water again.

Q20. How to get rid of cone snails/snails?

Chemically, use snails pellet. Or handpick before the heat build up in your garden. Like before 8am. They will typically be on the surface early in the morning or at night. It will be easier to spot and handpick. Alternatively, place some vegetables scraps/ pineapple skins at a corner of your garden at night to lure them, pickup and throw first thing in the morning.

Q21. Planter bed layers for herbs and fruits, same or should be different? This is for our new community garden. Please advise.

If you want to use the bed interchangably for herbs and fruiting vegetables, then build it to at least a depth of 35cm. Herbs only use probably up to about 25cm though. If it is community garden, typically under Nparks care, do reach out to their community in bloom ambassadors for help.

Q22. Where can i get recycled wood planks for planter bed sides?

Not easily avaliable in Singapore unless someone you know happen to have it.

Q23. Can I set up my planter bed directly on grass? Please advise how to layer to reduce nutrient seepage?

You need to clear the grass else they will grow into your planting bed. You can remove all the grass, put a layer of sand followed by planting media.

Q24. Any comments on using wooden pallets for outdoors?

You can use those as long as you can get handy man to repurpose them into the right design you want.

Q25. I didn’t sterilize the soil I bought from the nursery and now there are lots of little insects in the soil. How do I get rid of the insects without hurting the plant?

I need to know what are those. However, will touch on a pest repelling fertilizer next week for you to consider.

Q26. How long does kaffir lime cutting take to root?

I tried cuttings on kaffir lime a few times, not very successful. I have better success with seeds. Lemon however does well with stem cuttings.

Q27. What about Chinese Parsley. It usually comes with the roots from the market. I tried growing directly by it doesn’t survive long. What is the possible reason?

Generally this is better off start off from seeds. Growing from roots doesn’t work for me too.

Q28. Was not successful rooting Laksa (supermarket cuttings) in water. Would it be better to plant in soil instead?

Yes. They don’t like too wet and too hot ( semi shade is good). You can plant directly into soil.

Q29. What is the cost of the self-watering solution for soil planting?

It varies from type to type. Drop me a note to discuss your needs if you wish.

Q30. Is it good to add charcoal to soil?

For edibles, I don’t usually use them. Typically use for ornamentals like orchids.

Q31. Where else can we know more about soil?

If you refer to soil science, I afraid you need to know precisely what area you are looking at then look for papers or books.

Q32. What kind of planting we need coconut husk?

For me, it is best for root vegetables like ginger and sweet potatoes. They like very loose media. Little soil plus coconut husk (crushed and fine) or cocopeat work very well for this group.

Q33. My neighbour poured salt into my plant soil. Now, the plant is dying. Can I still use the salty soil? Or have to throw away?

Typically no. Unless you can wash the salt away thoroughly.

Q34. Can we just use soil without the rest?

Of course if your soil is loomy, rich and drain well.

Q35. If you have a bag of compost or soil, stored in dry condition for 6 months – 1year. Will the nutrient content diminish over time? If yes, how long can we keep a packet of opened soil (assume it’s kept in dry condition)?

I doubt the nutrients will diminish but the living beneficial mircobes may die off though.

Q36. How to determine movement of sun in open air planting surrounded by buildings or trees?

Covered last session. Start taking photos at different time of the day and analyse from there. Details in last session.

Q37. What is volcano soil?

Soil that have been formed where there are lots of volcanic activities. It tends to be rich in nutrients but with lots of volcanic ash.

Q38. Rainy season is here. What plants to start growing since no sun?

Frankly without sun and with constant rain, most plants do not do well. Consider those can survive in bright light condition covered in session 1. However, you do need to shield them from constant rain.

Q39. How to recycle soil?

You can treat the soil and reuse them. Will cover in more details in other session.

Q40. How to transplant coriander seedlings? I only have success with coriander microgreens.

If you intend to transplant coriander, the best success I have seen is using individual small pots or seedplug tray for seeding. Then transplant the whole plant with root ball intact.

Q41. I have planted cucumber with five leaves only so I transplant it to a bigger pot and what should I do as it’s growing bigger?

Cucumber is a climber. You have to build a trelli for it to climb so the leaves can reached out for sun. Constant fertilizing and watering are both crucial for proper fruiting too.

Q42. What is vermiculite?

Vermiculite is magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate. This is one interesting substance that does not decompost but hold moisture very well. It does not drain water but rather holds water. It is a bit spongy when touch. It is typically used in some farms to place in seedling tray to retain moisture to keep the delicate young seedlings soil moist throughout the day.

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