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Square Foot Gardening In Singapore

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Post  merelydicta on 8/12/2013, 2:11 am

Hi all,

Figured I'd start up a thread for Singaporean gardeners (if there are any) interested in square foot gardening and also as an ongoing resource for local information.

Over the next few months or so, I plan to visit nurseries to collect information on vermiculite availability, seed varieties, and other resources to populate this thread.

At the moment I've managed to visit a timberyard/construction material trader to source for quality wood to contruct some custom SFG planters. However, I haven't yet made the final decision/follow-through so I won't put up the review until it's completed.

Hope to hear from anyone else in this part of the world!

=)
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Post  murarrie25 on 8/12/2013, 2:26 am

vermiculite can be used as a light weight  packaging material  for protecting fragile items .
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Post  merelydicta on 8/12/2013, 2:47 am

@murarrie25 wrote:vermiculite can be used as a light weight  packaging material  for protecting fragile items .
 Hi murarrie25,

Thanks for the info! Locally, the packaging material tends to either be bubble-wrap, air-bags (little bags of plastic with inflated patches - think upsized bubble-wrap, crushed paper, styro-foam, or packing peanuts. I have yet to come across vermucilite as a packaging material or as an insulating material here.

I have looked online for some vermiculite retailers in Singapore (there are some) and I do intend to order from them as a form of a review but before I do that, I intend to try and find the time to pop by the local nurseries to see what types they sell and the cost.
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Post  camprn on 8/12/2013, 8:25 am

Mel has given an out in his book regarding the vermiculite. He says that perlite is a perfectly acceptable alternative. It you can find neither, just go with the compost and sphagnum peat or coir, or straight up compost.

In the past when I could not find vermiculite, my go to product is from Canada, a greenhouse growing mix called BM6 or BM8. It is already blended sphagnum and perlite and compost. I would use it and add my compost blend. Miracle-gro potting soil is not a product to use.

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Post  murarrie25 on 8/12/2013, 5:21 pm

vermiculite and perlite are used in the building industry  to make light weight concrete that insulates and fire protection .
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Post  camprn on 8/12/2013, 5:49 pm

@murarrie25 wrote:vermiculite and perlite are used in the building industry  to make light weight concrete that insulates and fire protection .
Yes, we know, along with many other things. It's amazing stuff. Thanks for that.

merelydicta, I know we don't have many gardeners from your region on the forum. Please don't be a stranger, come join us in some of the other forums. happy hi 

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Post  RoOsTeR on 8/12/2013, 6:48 pm

Might I also suggest contacting the foundation:
http://www.squarefootgardening.org/

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Post  merelydicta on 8/12/2013, 9:55 pm

@camprn wrote:Mel has given an out in his book regarding the vermiculite. He says that perlite is a perfectly acceptable alternative. It you can find neither, just go with the compost and sphagnum peat or coir, or straight up compost.

In the past when I could not find vermiculite, my go to product is from Canada, a greenhouse growing mix called BM6 or BM8. It is already blended sphagnum and perlite and compost. I would use it and add my compost blend. Miracle-gro potting soil is not a product to use.
Hi camprn,

Yeah I got that from the book too on the Perlite but he also did say his preference was for Vermiculite. At any rate, I have found stockists who do sell it online in Singapore but I'm relatively old-fashioned in that I prefer to physically sight the product before purchasing whereever possible.

Thanks for the tip on Miracle-Gro! I see it all the time here in the supermarkets and I was wondering about that.
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Post  merelydicta on 8/12/2013, 9:58 pm

@murarrie25 wrote:vermiculite and perlite are used in the building industry  to make light weight concrete that insulates and fire protection .
Hi murarrie25,

Thanks for the info. I did read up on vermiculite as an insulating material but here in Singapore insulation is not really all that critical (no harsh weather here) so there wouldn't be much of a demand for that.

But as mentioned in an earlier post, there are vermiculite stockists around (at least online) but I just haven't found the time yet to visit a physical nursery yet to price compare. Once I do, I'll put up my findings here as a growing resource for future SFG gardeners in Singapore and the surrounding regions.
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Post  merelydicta on 8/12/2013, 10:00 pm

@camprn wrote:
@murarrie25 wrote:vermiculite and perlite are used in the building industry  to make light weight concrete that insulates and fire protection .
Yes, we know, along with many other things. It's amazing stuff. Thanks for that.

merelydicta, I know we don't have many gardeners from your region on the forum. Please don't be a stranger, come join us in some of the other forums. happy hi 
Hi camprn,

Thanks for the invitation =)

I will join in once I have something to contribute =) At the moment, I'm just starting out so I'm better positioned as a sponge. =D
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Post  merelydicta on 8/12/2013, 10:02 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:Might I also suggest contacting the foundation
 Hi RoOsTeR,

Thanks for the suggestion!

I'll probably go down that route once I've exhausted all the possible solutions on my end =)
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Post  murarrie25 on 8/13/2013, 1:30 am

Singapore botanical gardens  have volunteers to help with upkeep of the gardens  but on there web site they say no vacancies  but they may be able to help  with information  or people in  Singapore who may be able to help  with information  on gardening in Singapore.
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Post  merelydicta on 8/13/2013, 1:54 am

@murarrie25 wrote:Singapore botanical gardens  have volunteers to help with upkeep of the gardens  but on there web site they say no vacancies  but they may be able to help  with information  or people in  Singapore who may be able to help  with information  on gardening in Singapore.
Hi murarrie25,

Thanks for your inputs.

I've actually checked around before. There are a few gardening groups (actually depending on the definition used, there are quite a lot more than a few). There are the geographically-specific community gardens under the Community-In-Bloom program run by NParks (which also is the entity/authority responsible for the operation of the Singapore Botanical Gardens), there are also a variety of non-profits dedicated to self-sufficiency/domestic gardening/urban farming, and there are various other educationally-focused groups here and there that deal somewhat with gardening both on a personal and a community scale.

Most of them deal with raised bed gardening and container garden to one degree or the other, and there are yet others that focus on hydroponic and aeroponic gardening. I've actually spoken at varying degrees of length to the various groups out there in order to find out more about gardening in general before I decided to adopt the SFG method.

So there is a level of gardening activity present in Singapore. There is even a Singaporean SFG facebook group (though it appears to have been inactive/sporadically updated for some time - I checked). What I found to be lacking was a unified resource pool centered around SFG for the local (Singaporean) context.

By my personal and professional nature, I'm informationally driven =) hence seeing as there is a lacuna of information with respect to both gardening in a tropical environment and SFG in a tropical clime, the best way I felt and feel that I can contribute to what I think is a genius idea/movement is to document and build up that informational database via documentation/codification of my discoveries as I start out in the SFG method .

Accordingly, seeing as there was no representation on the SFG forum for Singaporean gardeners, I figured it'd be a good thing to get the ball rollin' along. =D

So your helpful inputs are most welcomed as they continue to add to the knowledge pool =D
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Post  sanderson on 8/13/2013, 2:19 am

Merelydicta, It sounds to me, that with all of your research and interest, you could become certified by taking the online course. Just an idea. . . ?
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Post  merelydicta on 8/13/2013, 2:38 am

@sanderson wrote:Merelydicta,  It sounds to me, that with all of your research and interest, you could become certified by taking the online course.  Just an idea. . . ?
Hi sanderson,

Haha you are too kind.

I think it would only be proper that I ought to get my tiny little SFG up and running first before I even think about attempting to do the online certification course.

I did my research because, amongst other things, I have a limited space to deal with and some very specific goals in mind. I wanted to be able to grow my own herbs and/or vegetables and I wanted something that was both space-efficient and relatively easy to maintain.

Container gardening seems like the logical place to start but the more I got into it, the more the somewhat disciplined and codified methodology (eg. "if it doesn't have a grid it's not SFG!") of SFG seemed to be the logical conclusion.

Plus thinking in squares and straight lines is easier for me than free-forming it. =)
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Post  sanderson on 8/13/2013, 3:03 am

Just a thought.  I've been thinking of taking the online course if for no other reason than to learn as much as I can.  You may decide you want to share with others??  Very Happy
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Post  merelydicta on 8/13/2013, 3:42 am

@sanderson wrote:Just a thought.  I've been thinking of taking the online course if for no other reason than to learn as much as I can.  You may decide you want to share with others??  Very Happy
Hi sanderson,

I hear where you're coming from but I think if I did indeed go for certification, it would be more beneficial for me to have gotten my hands dirty, as it were, with some hands-on experience with the SFG method.

That and the fact that I'm not exactly sure how beneficial the course would be for tropical conditions that I presently face.

It is, however, definitely something to keep at the back of my mind =D
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Post  bigcow on 2/20/2014, 10:59 pm

Hi Merelydicta

Fellow Singaporean here, but living in Beijing. I won't be able to help you find vermiculite in Singapore but IMO you should focus on finding the right compost (better yet, make your own compost if you can) instead of stressing over vermiculite. My understanding is that vermiculite is not readily available everywhere and could be really expensive. I myself am looking for alternatives in Beijing for both vermiculite and peat moss. They are both incredibly expensive and rare or mixed with other ingredients. I've been told that square foot gardens can work with straight compost, although I haven't tried it yet myself. Maybe start from there?

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Post  merelydicta on 2/20/2014, 11:04 pm

@bigcow wrote:Hi Merelydicta

Fellow Singaporean here, but living in Beijing. I won't be able to help you find vermiculite in Singapore but IMO you should focus on finding the right compost (better yet, make your own compost if you can) instead of stressing over vermiculite. My understanding is that vermiculite is not readily available everywhere and could be really expensive. I myself am looking for alternatives in Beijing for both vermiculite and peat moss. They are both incredibly expensive and rare or mixed with other ingredients. I've been told that square foot gardens can work with straight compost, although I haven't tried it yet myself. Maybe start from there?

bigcow

Hi bigcow!

Nice to see a fellow compatriot around! I ended up doing a 100% pure compost method which ANSFG prescribes as the alternative in the event vermiculite is expensive or difficult to obtain.

It didn't work out as well as I had hope for and I'm still in the process of working things around.

Best of luck with your efforts!
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Post  sanderson on 2/21/2014, 12:45 am

Merelydicta, If memory serves me, were you looking into treated coir in lieu of peat moss? Why do you say things are working well? Anything we can do to help?
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Post  merelydicta on 2/21/2014, 1:02 am

@sanderson wrote:Merelydicta,  If memory serves me, were you looking into treated coir in lieu of peat moss?  Why do you say things are working well?  Anything we can do to help?
Heya Sanderson,

I typed out a reply but it disappeared =(

Anyway here's my response as best I can remember it.

Great Memory Sanderson!

There was a wet spell and that resulted in overflooding on my planter boxes. So I changed up the drainage as the soil was over-saturated. Then there was an extreme dry spell which meant that despite deep watering at night, the plants wilted in the heat.

An additional complication was that the drip/overflow was slightly affecting my neighbors below me so its been back to the drawing board for me. At present I'm leaning more towards a hydroponic set up but I am not sure if it's worth the trouble.
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Post  sanderson on 2/21/2014, 1:58 am

During heat spells, use mulch. The watering need really drops, plus it keeps the soil cool.

For the above floor boxes, can you install a catch system that drains into empty gallon jugs? Then you can use the water to re-water?
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Post  merelydicta on 2/21/2014, 2:14 am

@sanderson wrote:During heat spells, use mulch.  The watering need really drops, plus it keeps the soil cool.

For the above floor boxes, can you install a catch system that drains into empty gallon jugs?  Then you can use the water to re-water?
Yeah I did read up on the mulching and I was thinking about that.

The catch system thing is tricky for me due to the site location. I did think about a venting solution to project the drained water away from affecting the neighbors but it just wasn't feasible.
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Post  sanderson on 2/21/2014, 2:29 am

Maybe you can post some photos and everyone can give you their input.
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Post  merelydicta on 2/21/2014, 2:43 am

@sanderson wrote:Maybe you can post some photos and everyone can give you their input.
I would if I could but I've since taken down the planters until I can figure out a solution (I didn't want to offend my neighbours =D)
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