Seeding, Rooting & Watering

  • My tomato seeds did not sprout after putting into soil, now I’m trying on xiaobaicai, how to ensure seeds are not too deep inside soil?

When it comes to seed germination, are your seeds new or already kept in your house for years? Did you buy your seeds from the trusted source? When I said trusted source, I meant the vendors who actually keep the seeds well (not under the sun / rain). 

If your seeds are from trusted source and not expired, for vegetables, don’t put the seeds too deep. Assuming you use small little pot (8 to 10 cm pot), go for media such as pea substrate, compost and well-drained garden soil. Don’t use hard garden soil.

Step 1: Scoope the media and put in your pot, keep them loose and don’t compact them

Step 2: Use toothpick and lightly poke the media about 1mm

Step 3: Put the seeds inside

Step 4: Water and the seeds will sink in

  • I have difficulty in maintaining the health for my rosemary herb which I bought from nursery. I have balcony but no direct sunlight. I use artificial light but it didn’t help. The plant just died after one week. I water it every 2 days. So far, bought 4 pots of rosemary, all cannot survived.

When you buy rosemary from nurseries, squeeze the pot a bit, take out the whole plant intact and you will realise that generally the media is very wet.

Once you bring the rosemary home, if you leave it in the same wet growing media, it will not make it. Rosemary is a drought resistance herb. In other words, if I don’t let my rosemary drink well, it is ok. But if I feed my rosemary with too much water, it is not ok. They prefer dryness.

Tips: After you buy the rosemary, what you can do is snap off some of the cuttings, remove the bottom leaves, expose a few nodes and root them first.

  • Do we always have to re-pot every plant bought from nurseries?

Generally for drought resistance plants such as rosemary, thyme and lavender, oregano, almost always, you need to re-pot them. Reason being is the media used by nursery is normally cocopeat which is wet, light and easy to transport.

When you re-pot, take out the whole pot with roots intact, remove the loose cocopeat at the side (don’t hurt the roots) and put the plant in your well-drained media. 

Tips: What is well-drained? Sand, pebbles, perlite or anything that is hard and looks like stone, it will help you to drain water better. Try 70:30 rule, use 70% of soil or compost then mix with 30% of river sand. You can even go up to 50:50 for drought resistance herbs. 

Tips: For watering, try 5-second rule, when you pour water into your media, all the water drains through your media in 5 seconds. When you poke your finger about 1 inch into your media, feel it, if it’s moist, don’t water anymore. 

  • How to grow lemon balm? They get brown quite easily.

Two ways to grow lemon balm, either from seed (will take a long time to sprout)  or cutting (can get the potted plant from NTUC Finest) .

If you plant lemon balm and the edge of leave gets brown, it’s usually because of too hot. Lemon balm doesn’t like afternoon sun, especially scorching sun. It will be good if you can shade the plant a bit. Morning sun is fine. 

Normally if you buy lemon balm from Cold Storage, the leaves might get brown the next day. So you have to consume them quickly. 

  • Is it ok to plant fresh seeds directly after using the veggies (capsicum and chillies)? Some say soak in salt water first. How long can seed last? Why some seeds float?

For capsicum and chilli, yes, you can sow the seeds directly. You only dry the seeds when you want to keep them, otherwise they turn moudly. Do not soak the seeds in salt water. Soak dried seeds in normal water overnight. If fresh seeds, you do not need to soak. 

Those floating seeds are the bad seeds, throw. Use those seeds that sink.

Tips: Why buy seeds from store? Normally, store bought seeds are hybrid. Such seeds tend to produce nicer looking fruits and faster (1st generation). However, if you collect the seeds from these hybrid seeds fruits, 2nd generation tends to produce offspring that looks different from their parents, sometimes a bit odd looking.

Besides that, not all capsicums can be grown in Singapore, if they are meant to be grown in cold country, those particular varieties won’t flower well or fruit in Singapore. In contrast, you get certain level of guarantee when you see “heat resistance” or “can grow in summer” on seed pack from reputable seed source.

  • Generally if leaves curled down or swivels – under water? Young leaves turn yellow – over watering?

Not necessary, I need to see the picture. Sometimes, young leaves turn yellow because it’s too dry. It really depends on the plant.

  • We would like to grow kale also but how and where do we get or buy from?

Short cut to grow kale: go to Farm85 and get seedlings. It’s not expensive and you can grow the kales for months. Alternatively you can get good kale seeds from Ban Lee Huat or go online to buy. Kale is quite easy to grow in Singapore.

  • The spring onions that we grow are very thin and tiny and where can we get the seedlings or which one to buy?

You can either grow spring onions from seeds or shallots. Growing from shallots is faster (they sprout easily). Generally, the more sun you give, the stronger they look. If thin and tiny, I suspect you don’t have enough sun. They don’t need a lot of sun, shouldn’t be a problem.

Unless you grow from seeds, they take much longer time to grow fat (about 6 months to 9 months) and they need sun.They don’t have bulb to take the food.

Suggest get shallots from supermarket and sprout them first. Poke them into soil and see them grow. It’s very fast. Then you can try seeds growing and compare the difference.

  • Can I water at night after 730pm because I reach home late?

Common for a lot of growers but it is not ideal for plants. May result in pests/fungus issue.

  • What if watering into ground, how much water is enough?

After watering, dip fingers into soil and feel if it is well at least 1 inch down. Over time, you will be able to decide by looking at the water draining pattern. Too dry, in one second, all water gone.

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