When it comes to gardening, the typical Malaysian knows very little. Despite the love we have for gardens, we can still see widespread pollution of our environment. If a person has no respect for nature, what good is it to decorate his garden?
In today’s post, let’s go back to the roots and discuss ways you and your family can cultivate appreciation for plants.
Firstly, it begins with knowledge. A lot of people experience frustration when their plants die from improper care, and they find owning plants to be such a chore. They pass on this attitude to their children. How many of us have kids who complain when we ask them to water the plants around the house?
These children will grow up with the same mentality that plants are mere ornaments that are tedious to care for. Is it any wonder why widespread clearing of forests, indiscriminate leveling of hill slopes, and pollution of rivers happen in our own backyard without many people making a fuss?
Government intervention is one thing, but it’s believed that the government is constantly in transition. When the powers that be aren’t doing enough, it’s up to the people to take action. After all, it’s our environment.
So knowledge is the key then. When you know how to care for a plant, your efforts are rewarded. You will begin to derive pleasure from your plants, and in time, respect it as part of nature. This will lead ultimately to an overall appreciation for the natural environment.
Does it strike you as peculiar the way Europeans, who have good sunlight for a mere three to six months a year know more about caring for tropical plants than us Malaysians who have been blessed with sunlight all year round?
Planting for the beginners
1. Starts simple
Let’s start with little steps. Don’t even dream of owning a garden full of exotic flowers and shrubs. Try a little tabletop plant for starters, and put it someplace where you’ll see it everyday – on your office desk, on your dining table, in your kitchen, and so on.
2. They are living things!
A fact taken for granted yet difficult to remember is that plants are living things. They need food and care. And if possible, they need somebody to talk to them. Remember that indoor plants require plenty of indirect sunlight or strong artificial light. Water them once a day but ensure that you don’t flood the pot with too much water.
For beginners and the like, expect your plant to survive not more than six months. That’s already quite an accomplishment. You can even teach your kids to care for plants this way. This exercise will teach them more about life than a year in school. And the satisfaction you get from caring for a living thing will spur you to learn more.
Read up about plant species that interest you. There are lots of books, magazines, and especially websites that you can use for reference.
Bear in mind that we grew up with a lot of misconceptions about plants, and the way to care for them. Most of us can remember having a mango tree or some other fruit tree that seemed to grow bigger and stronger as the years pass, without being tended to. So we assume most plants are like that – just leave them in the pot and they’ll grow on their own accord. See now why we said a six-month life span for a little plant is quite an accomplishment?
5. Buy from a good nursery
Another thing to remember is not to shortchange yourself when you buy plants. Go to a reputable garden center or nursery, instead of looking for bargain plants that are normally force-fed artificial growth stimulants. Talk to gardeners or growers who know about plants and can share with you invaluable tips.
6. Do it with your loved ones
A good pastime for your family is spending a day at a garden center and browsing the multitude of plant varieties. Teach your kids about different species, and you may pick up some pointers yourself along the way.
When you have acquired that sense of appreciating plants, then will you begin to enjoy your garden.