Being lived in Singapore for the past three years where having a landed house with front or backyard is something that we don’t even dare to dream (soooo…..expensive), we are used to the people who utilize the spaces in their balcony or apartment corridor to satisfy their craving of greenery in their houses. While I myself is someone like to see beautiful garden and plants but refused to do any gardening job, my mom on the contrary is someone who can not see empty space without a single plant and will voluntarily dirty her hands to make sure every available space is filled with any kind of plants.
My mom has planted many kinds of trees all these years, from fruit trees, flowery plants, pandan leaves, aloe vera, herbs and spices, medicinal plants, and even grass. She loved her small garden in front of our house but too bad it was all washed away during the big flood that came several times to Jakarta. Now she gave up planting the ground opposite my house since the last flood came last, she only plants in pots in her cemented front yard. She loves plants and is willing to work hard and make sure that her plants are growing well.
When we moved here, she already said that I needed some plants in front of my apartment, which never took it seriously because once she came back to Jakarta, then I would be the one who took care of the plants and I never liked to get involve with growing plants.
When we moved to an another apartment two years ago, the owner of the house left some unused big and small pots in the corridor. My mom insisted to plant some things and when she said that she wanted her grandson to experienced seeing how plants grow and picking fruits and vegetables from his own garden, she know I couldn’t refuse anymore. The thought of seeing my boy happily harvesting vegetables just outside the house had soften my heart. She said she would do most of the farming jobs and all I needed to do was just water the plants whenever she was not here. Ok, that was a deal then. And that was how we ended up having some pots of tomatoes, chilies, and limes.
She said that she would start by planting tomato seeds. She bought fresh tomatoes (big ones) from the wet market, took out the seeds and let them dried for few days. She also bought fertilizer and soil from the wet market, and surprisingly the soil was good quality potting soil. She also added more soil to the pot after some time. The boy helped watered the plants for few days before he got bored but couldn’t wait to see the result aka the real fruits. The plants grew taller and taller when she had to go back to Jakarta and boy how messy my corridor was when she finally arrived here, so she decided to prune unwanted leaves and tied the branches so they would look nice and neat and facing direct sunlight. When she got spare time, I could see her hand dirty with soil and fertilizer and pots…………..hers only because there was no way for me to do the dirty jobs, hahaha………………
The fact was, I was getting fond of the tomatoes plants and since I really wanted to see the real fruits finally came up, I never failed to water the plants whenever my mom was not around. It took another 3 months of patient waiting before the fruits started to appear and ripen. I always couldn’t wait for the morning to come and opened the door and observe the daily progress of my tomatoes. It was fascinating to watch the growing of my tomatoes and how it turned slowly into this:
We still left the fruits on the vine until they turned really red and guess who had the honor to harvest our very first tomato:
We still wonder (even until now) of why the tomatoes that we harvest were so small comparing to the original size.
Since we only produced tiny tomatoes, I just popped them in my mouth and amazingly thy tasted sweet and nice unlike the bigger tomato which happened to be the mother. We had to watch carefully and pick the tomatoes as soon as they turned red or the birds would have their feast…………we were so upset with the birds who ate our tomatoes………..
Another plants that my mom also planted was chili. Since my mom and I are chili lover, we feel the need to grow our own chili and pick them whenever we wanted (or that was the plan…….). Although they took longer to produce than the tomatoes, but we finally could see real chili when we opened the front door one day, and so far we already picked more than 20 chilies.
We then had our own green chilies and red chilies and the experience of harvesting the chilies was very precious for the lil boy, and he had so much fun picking the chili one by one.
Our tomato plants still continued to produce fruits in the coming month and I always watered them in the morning (unless it was raining the night before). And oh how I loved taking pictures every time I saw something different with my tomatoes.
After our happiness to see our small garden finally produces real fruits, then came the day when the boy and I would be going back to Indonesia for the whole month of December. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I had one thing to worry about: What would become of my plants? Daddy would be going to business trips quite often and he would be joining us for the holiday in Surabaya on the year end. Even if he was at home, he could only managed to water the plants on weekends.
And yap, when we finally came back, all the plants were in very bad condition. It was so sad for us…………….but still, I had to uprooting all the plants and throw all (yes all) of them. So we left with no plants at all………………they didn’t survive.
When my mom heard of what happened, she asked if I still wanted to grow tomatoes and chilies and I said nope………although it was nice to see them grow and finally ripen, I still thought the job of watering them everyday and to take care of them when my mom is away is too burdening for me (I know that I would probably would never love to do any gardening at all).
So that was the end of our fruit and vegetable farming and although I’m glad that we’ve experienced all the processes, I am also relieved that it’s all over now……………
Right now, we still have some plants at home, but they are all small and easier to maintain, and I need all of them. First is pandan trees, we need pandan leaves to cook and pandan leaves can be quite expensive in here. Growing pandan trees is super easy, because they just grow…………….no need to water them everyday, they will not become too tall, no hungry creatures will “attack them”, no need to trim the leaves or tie the branches…………….my mom just need to put the fertilizer and good soil in the pot, and they suddenly grow up…………
The second one is aloe vera. These plants are even easier to maintain that pandan trees. Seriously, the just easily grow on the pots. We keep those easy to maintain plants because however we still need to have green plants in front of our house. They just make the corridor not so bland and alive.
Another plants are lime leaves which my mom got from her friend at church, and surprisingly they grow ups very well although many of my mom’s friends who tried to plant them had failed…………they smell really nice and I can’t wait to use them in my cooking.
The good thing of having them on pots is that we can easily bring them with us if we move someday (hopefully when that day comes, the plants are still there………….). Until now, none of us inherit my mom’s love for gardening, hahaha……..but we really and truly enjoy her hard work in our garden.