While I was feeding my worms more veggie scraps the other day, I suddenly got to thinking about how vastly different my beliefs and habits with regards to gardening are now, as compared with when I’d just started gardening about three years back.

It made me wonder how much I’ve learned, and how much I’ve changed in my methods. So this post is somewhat for me to chronicle what I’ve changed, and what methods I’ve found which actually work.

Choice of plants
When I first started out gardening, I wanted to grow ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, down to the smallest weed if I could. I had great interest in edible plants only, then, and after joining GCS and reading the posts, I was growing anything from mulberries, to daun cekur, to onions and potatoes and what-nots. I filled my allocated space up extremely quickly, until I had to either give away or cull plants.

I frequented local nurseries – especially World Farm – a lot in the past. I could spend so much on edibles such as rosemary, mint, thyme, majoram, oregano, and so on and so on. I recall dragging my partner to many hypermarts just to buy cuttings of herbs and attempt to grow them.

These days, my choices have become a lot narrower and more stringent: I grow plants which challenge me, which make me learn about them and about myself. I don’t look for plants which are tried and tested in the local conditions any longer. Of course, I do still have some of them, but my interest has strayed off. As long as the plant species and their requirements aren’t too different from the conditions I can try to provide, I will probably take on the challenge, especially if edibles are involved.

Of course, I’ve also gone into growing some easy species of nepenthes (after having tried out various carnivorous plants) and into some dwarf flower species.


Fertilizing
I used to stuff my gardening cupboard with lots and lots of different fertilizers, from hydroponic solutions to Phostrogen to fish emulsion to seaweed extract and so on. I’ve tried out the supposed “high brix” regime (although I don’t think I’d call it that if I had a better term for it) of feeding my plants fermented milk and high phosphorous fert and all that. I’ve rarely used organic stuff like animal poo (chicken or goat), and have never used compost.

After a lot of experiments, I actually find that I like things simple. I don’t chase after fertilizers in the market like some people do with technology. Not anymore, at least. I’ve sneakily made my own worm bin (and warned my dad not to open it, heh heh), and am happily using worm poo/worm tea along with Envizyme’s Gondwana fertilizer (good stuff) these days.

With just these two fertilizers, I’ve found at least a 90 to 95% decrease in pests like scales, red spider mites and mealy bugs on my plants, where there used to be A LOT of them…like hundreds and hundreds on each plant and I could never seem to get rid of them. Nowadays, I leave the odd pest I find alone, since the random ones don’t harm my plant, and a healthy plant can definitely stand up for itself easily.


Propagation and germination
I used to believe in using the simplest and easiest method to get my plant established. Most of the time, this entails using cuttings for propagation, since the plants I grew last time did less well via seeds than through vegetative propagation.

I like to grow stuff from seeds now, not just because I like the challenge of it, but also because I’ve somehow found that plants which are grown from seeds seem to acclimatize themselves more easily to different environments. It’s as if they take things more easily if they are shown no other environment beforehand.

Marcotting and air-layering were two methods I’ve never dared to try before my change of directions in beliefs. But I’ve tried both, and both have worked for me for various plants.

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I guess these are the few points I can think of for now. But even these few have reminded greatly of how much I’ve learned, just in one area of interest alone.

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