Remember growing bean sprouts from beans in water-soaked cotton wool in glass jars as a young kid in school? For many Singaporeans, that was our first attempt at gardening.

Fast forward to 2020, living in the new normal as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a new surge of interest in urban farming. Growing our own herbs and veggies not only contribute towards food sustainability, it also makes for a great home DIY project for the whole family, both young and old!

Whether you’ve got green fingers or are a gardening greenhorn, here are four tips and tricks to reaping a bountiful harvest at home:

1. Do some R&R (Reading and Research)

There’s a treasure trove of home gardening information online and all around us. NParks has a series of free DIY Youtube videos and other online resources designed to help everyone from gardening noobs to experienced growers. Join community Facebook pages or follow Instagram accounts where fellow gardeners give friendly advice on how to deal with pesky bugs to the easiest type of edibles to grow.

Don’t forget the experts nearer to home – family members and neighbours! Many of our seniors grew up in rural environments filled with tropical fruit trees and edible plants like pandan or curry, so start by asking grandma or grandpa. Or strike up a conversation with neighbours with flourishing corridor gardens – you may be surprised by the wealth of knowledge they have!

2. Start with easy-to-grow plants

Gardening may not be as easy as ABC, but there are a lot of plants that grow well in Singapore’s tropical climate. NParks has put together lists of suitable plants to get you started, from leafy vegetables to common herbs and spices. All you need to do is check that your home garden meets the right light and shade conditions for each.

Start with popular veggies like caixin, long beans or kangkong which are quick to germinate and fast to harvest. Advanced gardeners may want to take on more challenging herbs such as thyme and rosemary.

3. Get the right equipment

There’s no need to shell out big money for sophisticated planting equipment if you are just starting out. Look around your home for materials you can recycle for gardening use. Egg cartons make perfect planting trays for germinating seedlings, while plastic containers can be trimmed or modified to become planters.

For hassle-free options, there are urban farms and nurseries in Singapore that sell growing kits for kids and beginners. Those willing to splurge can opt for low-maintenance hydroponic systems that can let you grow up to 27 different plants on just 1-square metre of space!

4. Enjoy the fruits of your labour

Watching Mother Nature in action at home as you farm your own food can be an eye-opening experience for everyone in the fam! Kids can learn about plant life cycles, while adults can fine-tune their gardening knowledge as they work from home.

To top it off, there’s nothing like harvesting your own home-grown organic herbs and veggies and turning them into fresh, tasty dishes for family meals!