Now & Then- Home Garden
In June 1984 when I moved to my first house in Taman Maluri, Kuala Lumpur my wife started planting flowers in our mini-garden. It is a small patch of a land area about 10 square metres located beside the car porch. She planted her flowers in pots. No digging was needed. Thank God for it. It is a convenient way to move the flowers around whenever she has a new idea to make a new flower arrangement.
To get good quality flowers, we even went all the way to Sungai Buloh, a distance of 30km away to buy flower seeds and as well ready flowers in pots. At times, we get free flowers from my mother and also from my neighbours. My neighbour Uncle Rashid was an avid gardener and great neighbour. He also grew mango trees. I always got free mangoes from him. By the way, we were to busy to get engaged with fruit gardening because my wife has three growing boys to take care and I don’t like gardening. My job is only to take photos of her blooming garden flowers.
When we moved to live in Bandar Baru Bangi in 2009, the potted flowers followed us. Our new neighbours are also great gardeners and farmers. They grow flowers on the roadside and coconut trees as well. They collectively take care of the coconuts trees and share the fruits of their labours. I just watch from a distance because I don’t like gardening. My role is only to take photos because I love photography.
My friends in Shah Alam have a community farm in their neighbourhood. Every weekend they take turns to work on their garden that produces groceries for their needs. The best part is that after morning work in the garden, they have a community picnic. I think this is a great community project that promotes friendship and a sense of belonging. Nowadays, people are getting more creative even for flat/apartment dwellers. They do not have plots of land to do gardening but they build their own vertical garden in their homes.
With the present COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people started growing their own vegetables and fruit trees in their gardens. Instead of staying at home watching TV, they choose gardening. I chose sketching and writing. That is a healthy alternative and should be continued even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The Movement Control Order(MCO) has prevented them from going out of their houses every day. Home farming has great personal benefits for our physical and mental health. At the same time, we add more greens to our neighbourhood environment as well as reduce our grocery costs-not to mention that vegetables are costing more during pandemic lockdowns. As the saying goes:” We should plant what we eat, and eat what we plant.”
I have a friend whose wife is a lecturer in environmental science at Universiti Pertanian Malaysia. She promotes urban gardening with two benefits — garden products like groceries and fruits and using home waste as compost/fertilisers for the plants. This will reduce solid waste, hence will improve our environment.
One of my cycling friends planted all kinds of vegetables and banana trees in her home garden. I noticed that her garden produces enough vegetables for her family needs. She is really an avid gardener. Two weeks ago I saw her posting of banana fruits, but sadly a few days later, the fruits were stolen. Two days ago, I saw her posting that part of her garden was damaged by the heavy rainfall and storms. Such is life for an urban farmer at the mercy of bad weather and bad hats in the neighbourhood.
My late father was a teacher but he has paddy field and coconut farm. He employed others to plant his paddy fields but he planted his own coconut trees in a one hectar of land around his house. Now, his children and my grand children are enjoying the fruits of his labour. Agriculture is long lasting enterprise. My exposure to agriculture was very limited when I was in primary school. I grew up in full boarding schools for eight years of my adolescent life. When I grew up as an adult, agriculture was not in my blood. Ironically, during my corporate days, I became a director in a public listed company whose core business is palm oil. The company now has more than 50,000 hectars of oil palm plantation. Such is life.