Friday, January 3, 2014

Newly Motivated

Last year for Christmas, I received a book from my mother in law about an urban farmer in Oakland, California.  For some reason, I slipped this book into my bookshelves and promptly forgot about it.  About a month ago, glancing through spine after spine of titles in my bookcase I saw the title, Farm City, and pulled it out.  Was I really in the mood to read about farming now that I lived in this concrete city?  I started reading it and was instantly pulled in by the author's humor and mishaps.

Spurred on by her persistence to get close to the earth in the ghettos of Oakland, I am once again motivated to grow things in Singapore.  When we first moved here, I was excited about growing, seeing how lush everything can be.  But, the more time I've spent  here, it seems the farther I've gotten from my roots.  It's hard to stay close to the ground when the buildings are so tall, so concrete, so full of artificial goods.
I've spent the past few months halfheartedly making laundry soap and cleaning enzymes, and feeling accomplishment at lowering our power bill from $1,000 to $400.

After our first power bill, it become my sole mission to slash power usage in our household.  Each of our power outlets have an on and off switch which can easily be forgotten about when you've switched off a lamp.  Each bathroom has it's own power-switched hot water heater as well.  Heating water and cooling air is expensive.  And though I feel a great accomplishment in reducing such an enormous amount of energy consumption, I think the number one action that really turned the tide of overuse was our bodies' acclimation to our new environment.  When, before, we would try and see how long we could last before turning on the air conditioning units, we now don't even notice the temperature of the air - it feels fine to us.

This first accomplishment of lowering our energy consumption does not feel like much of an accomplishment as it's success is mostly due to time, rather than effort.  But growing, growing is going to be a different task altogether.  Growing is going to take time, energy, and I'm sure some heartache.

See how natural we are?  We line-dry our cloth napkins!

So today, armed with my motivational book, the girls and I headed out to start our new adventure in growing food in Singapore.  Our first step in this process was hopping in our van to drive to the market just up the street.  Yes, silly.  I never drive to the market.  Ever.  It seems like a great waste of two perfectly healthy legs to drive when you can walk.  I walk, take the bus, or take the train when I need to get somewhere in Singapore.  Our van is reserved for special occasions such as going to church, or Malaysia, or picking up large amounts of soil.  Our little grocery hand-cart just wasn't going to cut it in transporting the amount of soil we needed, so our large van would do the transporting.

We came home with six bags of soil and three decorative plants that the girls were eager to plant.  I had been gathering local seed packets over the past few months and had also accumulated some spindly rosemary and basil plants bought at the grocery store.

Oh, little basil, won't you please perk up?
Sad.  Just, sad.

I eagerly ripped open the bags of soil and was quickly dismayed at the fact that just one flower box welcomed five of those bags on its own.  Lesson number one: you need a LOT more soil.  So, into this flower box I transplanted our sad, sad emaciated-looking rosemary plants and keeling, wilted basil.  I'm hoping that in this nourishing, moist, open soil space these first few plants will find the freedom to grow big and strong.

A tiny little adventure into growing.

Then, into the small seedling pots I poked the tiny coriander, oregano, basil, sage, and mint seeds into moist soil and set them out to do what they were intended to do.  Our job now, is to wait, water, and have faith.  In a few weeks, a bit of green sprout should pop out of the damp brown soil, feeding our hopes in our urban farming abilities.  With this faith in our abilities to grow food for our family, I am now devouring heritage seed catalogs and dreaming up what I can plant in which space of our tiled yard.

Perky little flags to show us what we hope to sprout soon.