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Getting Started With Urban Farming

Is your home a little plain? Not lively enough? Or maybe just too drab and boring? Well, maybe it’s time for you to get some plants for your home. You can purchase a couple of houseplants to liven up the place, but why stop there? How about doing a little bit of farming, in your own home?

I love plants. I have a few in my room I regularly water and take care of. As always, however, there’s always room for improvement. Besides, houseplants are one thing, but growing your very own crops you can harvest is another thing, and certainly much more rewarding. 

This guide will teach you how you can get started with urban farming.

An easy crop to grow for beginners that requires very little space, effort, and maintenance would be chia. You may have heard of the benefits of chia seeds in various health food establishments, such as them being an excellent source of protein, linolenic acid (LNA), and linoleic acid (LA), fatty acids which attract oxygen and strengthen the immune system. 

There are many ways to eat chia seeds, such as sprinkling them on salads, adding them to smoothies, or mixing them into home baked bread. You can even eat them plain if you like, given their nutty taste. 

Sprouted seeds give even more benefits. They contain five times as much calcium as cow’s milk, and are packed with fibre and other nutrients. With their tangy taste, you can add them to salads or other dishes. They are also very quick to grow and affordable.

Here’s how to grow your own batch of seeds. 

Step 1: Get the Seeds

Just about every supermarket in Singapore sells chia seeds. NTUC FairPrice sells packs of them in the organic foods section for about $6 to $11, based on the brand. 

I had a bottle of seeds that had been sitting in my kitchen for a while, so I used those. 

Step 2: Get a Planter

You can use just about any container for this. From old cups to styrofoam boxes to empty egg cartons, as long as they can hold a base, they’ll all set. Empty plastic boxes that can be recycled are recommended for this, such as those for holding fruits. Make sure they’re clean, so rinse them with water first.

If you’re looking for a more environmental planter, you can use cardboard planters as they are biodegradable. Stores such as Daiso sell them for a low price. You can also purchase planters from nurseries around Singapore. 

If you live in a HDB flat with a communal garden, you can also apply for a plot. 

Step 3: Get a Base

Once you have a planter, you’ll have to fill it with a base for the plants to grow. You can either use soil or paper. If you’re looking for a long-time harvest or want to grow your plant to maturity, use well-drained fertile soil, and a larger planter (i.e. an actual pot). 

If you’re looking for a quick harvest or don’t have any soil readily available, you can use a paper towel. Simply take a few pieces of paper towel and fold it until it fits in the planter and covers the bottom and sides. Then run it on tap water and soak it completely. Then place it into the planter. 

Step 4: Plant the Seeds

Now comes the fun part. Sprinkle the seeds onto the base using either your fingers or a spoon. Make sure the seeds have a fair amount of spacing and are not too closely packed. This will allow the seeds more room to grow and spread out. 

If you want to end up with a mature chia plant, leave even more room. Fully-grown chia plants can be the size of a large bush or even small tree, depending on how much room they have to grow. Chia plants in smaller pots can grow to the size of a houseplant, while those planted in dedicated soil plots can grow even larger. 

Step 5: Leave It to Grow

Once you’re done with everything, simply leave your chia seeds in a well-ventilated and warm area near sunlight, such as on a windowsill. It is important that you do not leave the seeds under direct sunlight, as this may dry up the planter very quickly, and the conditions may be too hot for the seeds to sprout. 

If you’ve done everything right, they’ll begin to sprout within 2-3 days. Remember to constantly water the seeds as moisture is vital to plant growth. 

Here’s a batch I’ve been growing for the past week and a half. Placed near a window with plenty of warmth and light, they have grown well and are ready to harvest. 

Remember to keep watering them regularly! 

Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can move on to growing other crops such as fruits and vegetables, along with herbs and spices. 

Remember to always research what you want to grow, as some plants have specific needs, while others may need more maintenance to grow.

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