Starting on your edible gardening journey and thinking about what vegetable to grow. Here are the 4 most important considerations when making your important first decision:
- Personal preference
- Gardening Space
- Harvest time
1. Grow vegetables that you and your family will enjoy eating
It is important to grow vegetables that you or your family would like to eat. Since vegetable gardening does take time and energy, you want to be growing something that gets you motivated and look forward to the day of harvest. Write down a list of vegetables that your family loves to eat. Involve them in the decision-making and growing process. Other than winning extra hands to take care of the garden, use it as a family bonding activity.
2. Choose heat-tolerant varieties that suit our tropical climate
Choose vegetables that suit your growing conditions. Broadly speaking, vegetables are classified into cool-season or warm-season plants based on their optimum growth temperature. Warm-season vegetables thrive in higher temperatures with abundant sunlight. However, cool-season plants are likely to do poorly in Singapore's climate, especially given the extreme heat of our afternoon sun.
Other than survival, growing the right crops in the right climate ensures optimum flavor and speed of growth. You do not want to taste a plain watery watermelon grow in the cool season. You also do not want to take ages waiting for seeds to sprout as the soil is too cold for its liking.
For a list of leafy vegetables suitable for the Singapore tropical weather, read this.
3. Plant only what you can eventually accommodate
Other than a preference for growing conditions, vegetables also differ in size and root structure. The smaller your garden, the more constraints you have in vegetable selection. As most urban gardeners are growing out of containers on the balcony, stay with shallow to medium rooted vegetables to grow. A planter of 15-20cm depth can accommodate most plants, Below are soil depth requirements for common vegetables:
|Shallow to Medium Rooted(15-20cm)||Deep Rooted(>25cm)|
|Asian greens (eg. Chye Sum, Bok Chye, and Kangkong), parsley, onion, lettuce, peas||Okra, pumpkin, sweet potato, tomato, turnips|
The depth of the root system correlates to the water absorption potential of the crop. The shallower the roots, the more it is confined to the surface soil and the faster it dries up the soil, So water it more frequently. On the other hand, the deep-rooted plants have access to water at a greater depth, you can spread out your watering slightly more.
Apart from soil depth, you also have to consider if your garden has space for growing upwards. While cucumber and tomatoes are shallow-rooted and popular grow at home vegetables, they are of higher maintenance cost. You have to install the vine holder or net frames to support them growing upwards.
A vertical garden is a great solution for small space gardening. Maximize your space and grow more with Our VegeGrow little home farm.
4. Set your timeline expectation from seed to harvest
Vegetable harvest can range widely from 2 days to 200 days depending on what you plant and which stage you would like to harvest. Think infant, toddler, child, teenage, and adult. They signify the different stages of our development. Similarly, this applies to vegetables.
- Sprouts: 2-5 days old when the seeds have germinated and shoots emerge.
- Microgreens or vegetable confetti: 1-3 weeks old young seedlings when the first leaves appear. Examples are your pea shoots (Dou Miao) and wheatgrass.
- Baby greens: 2-4 weeks youthful greens. They are usually more tender and crunchy. Examples are your baby spinach or baby Kai Lan
- Adult leafy greens: 1-2 months from sowing to 1st harvest. Common leafy vegetable examples our supermarket greens-Bok Chye, Lettuce, Chinese mustard, Chinese Spinach, Kailan are harvest in this time period.
- Fruiting vegetables: 2-4 months when their fruits can be eaten as vegetables. Examples are Chili, Tomato, Cucumber, Okra.
Interested to find out the sow-to-harvest time for commonly grown leafy vegetables grow in Singapore, refer here.
For sow-to-harvest time for commonly grown fruiting vegetables in Singapore, refer here.