Watching Plants Grow

Jen is no green thumb. If there is any term to describe her gardening level, it should be a brown thumb. Or black thumb, if we consider we almost got an Aloe Vera plant killed under her care. To end its torment, I ended its life for good. To redeem myself, I managed to revitalise five of its shoots, turning them from brittle bits to healthy green succulents again. Just as I thought the plants will survive the searing Summer, I saw the Stevia plant was close to its end today, dying from the drought. It was then I realise if I have any plans to do with plants, I will have no one to rely on. Jen and I share many interests between us. However, planting isn't one of them. I may have to reformat my future vision.

Even as a hobby urban farmer on a microscopic scale, he faces the same harsh reality as other true farmer out there. And that is, things die. All the time. Only if one can withstand constant showers of failure in his environment, he has the chance to survive. My training actually starts now, not when I have land. If I cannot produce a thriving garden in my concrete balcony, I don't even stand a speck of chance against the vicissitude of nature.

Some months ago, I was teased by Josephine for not being able to recognize the (dried) flower of the garlic plant. It was a humbling experience, since I could identify many types of living herbs better than the average Singaporeans. When I was a young boy, I watched plenty of heritage drama serials on Channel 8. Whenever there was the part when the Japanese occupied Singapore, we were shown how resourceful locals make their own soap or dig up sweet potatoes from the ground for food. I wonder how many of us can identity crops to save our asses these days, within Internet down, let alone knowing how to grow them.

I remember how my mum used to lament about how food prices spike during the final years of our little western food stall. "Prices of raw food keeps going up yet we can't increase our prices!" she would go. At times she laughed about the irony when she recalled her youth where they had such an abundance of food around them, such as potatoes, green vegetables and all kinds of tropical fruits such that they "wouldn't even eat them." The elders will tell us how "back then, life was simple." Today, to have such a life is anything but simple.

Fear. Why are we so fearful to break out from our wheel of routine? Why are we so afraid and sad? In our subconsciousness, we know that we have very little control over our lives. Our jobs are just about our last lifeline. What do you expect when we buy every single thing from the market, which every single thing is imported from elsewhere. Take it or leave it at best. A gun pointed at your head at worst. In this current societal climate, it is near impossible to break out of the inter-dependencies of the economy. However we are not aiming for the impossible, just bits and pieces here or there. Produce your food, control what goes into your diet, living off the grid, be self employed, run a business, take your pick. Every chain broken is a sliver of freedom, which in turn diminishes fear. Most importantly, life will always be fun and fulfilling. To start, we need to know. Why don't we start by watching our plants grow?

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