A brand new gardening season for 2014 …

It is April Fool’s day … and on this day, a year ago … I was busy planting out my potatoes. Not this year, though … as I am a little late with respect to my gardening, which I knew that I would be, after having decided that I would go to Singapore for a few weeks to visit the family and my friends.

My potato seedlings are ready to be planted … but the planting medium and the receptacle for growing them are not! The grow bags that I used last year are still filled with soil and different plants from last year …. and we have not bought new composts for me to add into the existing ones. We did some ‘garden’ shopping during my first weekend home, and we bought some mediums to start my seeds sowing, etc … but I have not found the compost that I was looking for to start my potatoes. So the potatoes will have to wait to be planted.

In the meantime, I have re-planted some of the other plants and sown quite a lot of seeds. My edible balcony garden for 2014 is currently a ‘work in progress’! :-D

Messy balcony  at the start of spring 2014

Messy balcony at the start of spring 2014

The balcony is still in a mess … but the spring weather seems to be better this year, so that I should be able to make good progress on tidying the balcony and whipping my edible garden into shape … and, hopefully, I shall also not lose any of my seedlings to a sudden change of spring weather as I did, last year. We shall see lah!

Seeds on windowsills, end March 2014

Seeds on windowsills, end March 2014

So while waiting for my newly sown seeds to grow and provide me with fresh new edible plants that I am hoping to grow this year … I take comfort in those that I have managed to keep alive from last year … with some already happy to share their bounty with me! :)

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Plants growing inside the living room in winter.

My babies that had to be brought inside in winter … still looking well enough upon my return from Singapore. Except that when I started looking more closely … I soon realised that unwanted visitors had been having a ball of a time while I was away … despite the ‘water guy’ having put on his best pest-busting act!

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Hungarian black pepper plant continues to produce peppers while growing inside the living room in winter

Both the Hungarian red and black peppers were flowering and producing a lot more peppers … but they were also badly infected with the dreaded aphids! Thankfully, the aphids population has now been brought under control. Nobody (even tiny ones) messes with my babies when I am around! hehehe … *evil grin*

Curry plant

Curry plant inside the living room, end March 2014

My curry plant, which was about to bloom just before I left, lost all the flowers and the developing seed buds upon my return! So no seed to collect and to keep (and to share) … much to my disappointment. :(  And it was also starting to be infected with scale insects. Again, the unwanted visitors were quickly brought under control so that I do not lose my one and only curry plant!

On the positive side, the leaves on the plant have grown quite big … even bigger than the thickness of my thumb!

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Flowering and fruiting ground cherry inside the living room, end March 2014

And despite growing tall and lanky, deprived of bright sunlight inside the living room … my ground cherry plant has continued to grow … and to flower … and to fruit! I loikeee … :) I still have not decided whether I should trim the plant and lose the developing flowers and cherries in the hope that fresh shoots will appear so that the plant will become bushy … or to just let it grow taller and taller! I shall have to find out more info before chopping it off!

Out on the balcony, I was surprised at some of my plants which are ready to be harvested … if I so wish it. Apart from the usual herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram and several pots of chives …

Bean and pea shoots

Pea shoots (top) and broad bean shoots (bottom) left to grow over winter.

… my pea and bean shoots are also ready for the plate … after having left to grow very slowly on the table outside in winter    but, of course, covered lightly in bubble sheets lah!! They are now in the greenhouse shelf as I need the table to do some of my garden work!

Onions family

White (top) and red Florence (bottom) shallots in spring, 2014

White and red shallots or spring onions. Some are ready to be picked and eaten, too!

Tom Thumb peas

Tom Thumb peas, end March 2014

My Tom Thumb pea plants … which I left growing on the balcony wrapped in a protective plastic sheet. The ‘water guy’ totally overlooked these plants for the whole of 5 weeks that I was away. But when I opened the plastic wrap on my return…. I got a lovely surprise. The plants were busy flowering and producing pea pods inside their plastic cocoon … despite having to battle the aphids and the lack of water! :)

Roots veggies

Radish and carrot plants at end March 2014.

Some of my carrot plants and radishes from last year’s growing season.

And last, but not least …

Raspberries and strawberries

Raspberry and strawberry plants at the start of spring 2014.

… my berries bearing plants are growing well, too. The strawberries have started to flower … which means that I should be able to taste some early strawberries … if there are no last-minute snowfall or hailstorms in spring lah!

So despite being a little on the late side in the seed sowing department this year, … by taking the risk of having grown some of these plants late in the growing season last year, this seems to have paid off for me. It might not be much … but I am already happily harvesting my broad bean shoots …

March 2014 mini harvest

Mini harvest from my balcony garden at the end of March 2014.

…. as well as these little guys at the end of March! That two cute little peas are my first peas for this season and to me … they are the sweetest peas that I have ever tasted! :)

So everything considered … I am one happy gardener, especially as I have brought back something from my trip home to Singapore to plant in my edible garden this year! :D

 

 

Back in ‘Swissland’ …

The weeks certainly zoomed past quickly enough … and I am back at home … 3 days already! hmmmm …

Although I do miss my family and friends back in Singapore, I am also happy to be home as I am very eager to embark on another gardening adventure now that spring is here. Unfortunately, my warm sunny welcome home has been interspersed with some (light) snowfall as well. So I cannot do much on the balcony … just yet.

Well, there is still the sowing that needs to be done (I would already have done so if not for my home visit) … but as I also have some plants from last year’s gardening season … so I already have an early start to my balcony garden this year lah!

But today’s entry is not about my gardening adventure … so no gardening photos to share. It was just to say a quick hello to everyone who might be wondering when I would start sharing again.

However, as no sharing is complete without some photos, I thought I would share some photos of the alps that I managed to snap from the aeroplane as we were approaching Geneva. It reminded me of my first view of these mountains from the aeroplane when I first came to Europe … many many moons ago! :)

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I do not normally sit by the window … as I prefer being seated by the aisle. But I had the whole three seats next to the window all to myself on the second part of the flight home … so that it was hard to resist from taking a few shots of the alps as the plane was making its descend.

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There was not a lot of snow initially …

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… but the nearer we were approaching my adopted country, I could see more snow covering the tops of the mountains.

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The Swiss Alps in all their white glory …

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So beautiful. I could still remember my first impression of the alps on my first trip to Europe a long time ago. I had felt so small and so blessed to have been given the opportunity to see it with my own eyes … and not just from the television!

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Flying below the clouds and fast approaching Geneva airport.

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Almost there …

Jet d'Eau of Geneva as seen from the aeroplane, 24 March 2014… with the famous icon of Geneva in full sight … le Jet d’Eau. It was beautiful sunny when I arrived in the afternoon. But a few hours later, once home … I was given a nice snowy welcome as well! Awww … :-)

My home visit …

The date of my departure is looming nearer and nearer. Soon, it will be time for me to bid my family and friends au revoir and then make my way home back to Lausanne. 

Prior to my departure, five weeks had seemed like a nice, looong stay … as, usually, I am back home for only two weeks or so … and I was pretty sure that I would find some time and the motivation to share a thing or two during my stay in Singapore. But the weeks have gone by in a flash … and, now, there is only a little more than a week left of my holidays, with not a single entry to my credit, despite the promise I had made to the hubby about writing a post. Shame on me!

Apart from the rounds of lunch and dinner meetings with friends and ex-colleagues … as well as going for appointments and doing shopping for stuff to bring home … I did not do any sight seeings. Which is to say … that there are no photos of interesting places in Singapore on this visit that I could share … and it is also the reason why I have not shared anything so far.

But since I hate sharing picture-less entries .. and to keep my word to the hubby that I would write something during my stay here … so instead … I shall just share some photos of the places I went to (even if they are not very interesting) lah! hehehe … :-)

An example of such uninteresting places I took some photos of (for my own keepsake) … is my own place in Singapore … where I used to live before I moved to Switzerland.

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I was a little nostalgic on this particular walk from the bus-stop (on the main road) to get to my place … as I do not always visit my place when I am back on home visits, and on the rare occasions when I do so …

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I normally take this other path (as my place is situated almost at the half-way point between two bus stops).

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When I first moved here to live in my own place, I used to find it a hassle to have to walk a distance to the bus stop whenever I wanted to go out … especially, when it was raining heavily. After having grown up and lived in a flat which was located near bus stops and a MRT station, as well as all the conveniences like shops and markets …

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… it took some time for me to get used to living in a place where not only I had to walk for about 10 minutes to reach the nearest bus stops, but from which I would need to take a bus in order to get to the nearest MRT station or even to the nearest supermarket!

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Yet I soon learnt to appreciate living in this quiet neighbourhood … lurving the sound of cocks crowing from the neighbouring village and the chirping of the birds just outside my bedroom windows … including the walk to get to and from the bus stops. Yes, even that! :-)

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I used to enjoy looking at the fruit trees growing in the area as I made my way to the bus-stop and I was quite sad when one after another of the open spaces, including a huge private garden (on the right of the above picture behind the huge tree) with several durian trees, later gave way to clustered townhouses. :-(

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And on this visit, I was even more upset when I saw that one of the last private properties in the area with a big garden and some fruit trees, had finally given way to the construction of these two large bungalows … so that all the fruit trees which I used to admire from outside the fence are no longer there.  Arrgghh … !

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The estate is currently undergoing some upgrading work … and although it is nice to see some of the improvements that have been made to area, especially the pedestrian footpaths and the stairs that lead to the main road and to the bus stop from this street, I find it a little disheartening to see the loss of green spaces that I used to enjoy when I first moved into the area. I saw the same loss of green spaces in many other parts of Singapore … the cost of wanting to increase the population size! :-(

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That green area beside the canal (in the picture above) is where the last surviving kampung or village in mainland Singapore is located. Like many other Singaporeans, it is my hope that this little kampung will be left alone to continue its existence in modern Singapore.

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The same could be said with this old factory, which is slowly being dwarfed by the high concrete jungle that surrounds it.

And so, this was the neighbourhood where I used to live before coming to join the hubby. It might not be as green as where I am living right now in Lausanne … but … it was close enough lah! :-D