I had been wanting to write and to share photos of my Indian pennywort for quite some time now … but I could not find the motivation to complete the entry and get it published even though I had started on it months ago.
But after I had realised how my Indian pennywort was thriving in the wet and slightly chilly summer weather here in Lausanne upon my return from Singapore two weeks ago … I felt that I simply had to make an effort to do so.
My first attempt at trying to grow Indian pennywort (or pegaga in my own mother tongue) started nearly two years ago. The desire to try and grow this herb on our balcony was sparked after I stumbled upon articles enumerating the health benefits of eating (or drinking) this salad herbs, which then brought back to memory how I used to pick the pegaga leaves that grew wild at my grandparent’s home in Malacca when I was still very young, … and of how I enjoyed eating them as ‘urap‘ (a kind of salad mixed with grated coconut).
I tried looking for the herb when I went to Singapore for homevisit two years ago but I failed to find any. Not to be deterred, I asked around if any of my gardening buddies had any of the herb or its seeds to share with me, but they did not. So I then surfed the Internet hoping to buy the seeds online. I managed to find a seller located in Spain who was selling the seeds on ebay and promptly ordered the seeds. But I had to wait for more than 2 months before I finally received my seeds as the first batch which the seller claimed to have sent failed to reach me.
So last year, I tried to grow the pennywort seeds. I had read that it is harder to grow from seeds than from runners … but as I was not able to lay my hands on the herb itself, I just had to try growing the seeds instead. Well, I tried twice … but both times the seeds failed to germinate even though I waited a long time.
Disheartened but still determined to grow some Indian pennywort … earlier this year when I went back for homevisit, I made it a point to try and search for the herb again. And this time I was luckier. I found the herbs by chance at two different markets that I visited to get my dried and frozen foodstuff to bring home … finally!! :-)
To raise my chances of bringing them home alive … I planted the first bunch that was bought at least a few weeks earlier in a pot and kept the other that was bought a week before my departure in the fridge … while waiting for the time I could fly home with my precious finds.
Four days after planting, the runner plants from the first bunch (A) were doing reasonably well.
However, the same could not be said of those from the second bunch (B). They looked as if they were finding it a struggle to stay alive. Poor babies! :-(
One and a half months later, the As in the black pot continued to grow well. As for the Bs in the brown pot … only a few of the runners survived and the survivors were growing very slowly.
My two pots of Indian pennyworts, a.k.a pegaga … two weeks later. The ones in the brown pot had finally started to take off … albeit slowly. By June (about 3 months after I had planted the runners), I was finally able to pick a few leaves from the ones growing in the black pot. My first harvest of balcony-grown pegagas … finally! :-)
However, when I suddenly had to leave my babies to go back to Singapore to see to an important matter at the end of June … the survival of the Indian pennyworts during my absence became a concern to me. I did not want to lose them after having gone through a lot of trouble to try and get them. But apart from hoping that the ‘water guy’ would try his best to take care of my babies … there was not much that I could do.
Happily enough … my two pots of Indian pennyworts survived my absence rather well … thanks to the wet July weather while I was away.
The ones in the black pot were growing out of the pot and had even set roots in the container below it … which means that I now have 3 pots of Indian pennyworts growing on our balcony.
And just look at the size of the leaves … they are quite large, are they not? I had never expected the leaves of this variety of Indian pennyworts (called pegaga kampung in my native language) to grow this big because the ones that I normally saw back in Singapore/Malaysia are much, much smaller.
But hey … I am not complaining. If this is the outcome of all the trouble that I had to go through to get this precious herb salad … then I reckon that it was more than worth the effort! :)
Almost five months later .. the two pots of Indian pennyworts or pegaga (which have given birth to another pot) … spotting a reversal of fortune. Whereas the ones in the black pot on top (A) are now looking a little straggly … the ones in the brown pot below (B) are now looking so lush and healthy!
Hmmm … nature’s imitation of our human lives … do you not think so? ;-)
Previous entries on balcony potager in August: