(images by Cynthea Lam)
Grow your own herbs – you literally reap the herbs and vegetables you sow, it's a guaranteed satisfaction (even if you don't have a green thumb!), and it makes a good Instagram photo. Cynthea Lam, owner of Super Farmers, tells you how to give empty jam or pasta-sauce jars a new lease of life.
WHAT YOU NEED
• Pasta-sauce jars
• Small pebbles or gravel
• Mint, basil or microgreens seeds, or stems from a parent plant
• A spray bottle
WHAT TO GROW
Mint, basil and microgreens are hardy and easy to grow – they’re perfect if you’re a gardening novice or simply don’t have a green thumb. Mint and basil are useful herbs in Asian cooking. Microgreens are shoots of vegetables such as radish, snow peas and kai lan (Chinese kale). You can harvest microgreens two weeks after planting, to use in salads, sandwiches or as garnishing. Seeds are available at nurseries like Far East Flora (555 Thomson Road, tel: 6254-6662) and Super Farmers (1M Yong Siak Street).
First, fill the jar with pebbles or gravel. This creates a drainage system for excess water in the soil so the roots do not rot. Next, fill the jar with compost, up to 1.5cm from the mouth of the jar.
Sprinkle some seeds on the compost, keeping them 1.5cm apart so they have space to grow. It also makes it easier to dig up the seedlings with their roots intact should you need to transplant the herbs when they grow bigger.
Cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost, and water with two spritzes from the spray bottle. Cover the jar with cling wrap and poke holes in it to allow air in. Keep out of direct sunlight and give it a few spritzes of water every day. Once the seedlings push through the top layer of compost, remove the cling wrap. When the seedlings develop their first set of leaves, place them in partial sunlight.
After five days, you'll see some results. Wait a month for a full growth spurt!
You can grow more herbs by snip off a few stems (each about 12cm long) from a parent plant, and placing these steps 1.5cm deep into the compost. Roots and new stems will grow over time.
This article was first published in Simply Her, 2015.