There are few things better than plucking a fresh juicy red tomato from your window for a salad or sandwich. After all, you are eating the fruits of your labour and that can be incredibly satisfying.
Besides herbs, such as mint and coriander, there are some vegetables that can be a great asset to your mini-garden as well. If you plan to venture into deeper waters, perhaps your next garden project could involve growing tomatoes.
The humble tomato, which is native to Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador, is a lot more difficult to grow than mint. The rewards, however, are just as amazing. If you feel inspired to add some tomato plants to your garden, keep these tips handy!
There are dozens of varieties of tomatoes, and all of them have slightly different characteristics and need different conditions for optimal growth. In sunny Singapore where the temperatures can be excruciatingly warm, you would find that it may be easier to manage tomatoes that are more tolerant of the tropical climate. Examples of these varieties include: Arkansas Traveler Heirloom Tomato, Black Cherry Tomato, Creole Tomato and Florida 91 Tomato. This is just the tip of the iceberg – some quick research will give you a mind-boggling amount of varieties to choose from.
It is no surprise that Singapore has land constraints, so it is rare that you’d have a plot of land to work with. But if you do, then just plant them about a metre apart. However, you live in an HDB or an apartment, things can get slightly trickier. You would need big containers or pots to contain your tomato plant. Ideally, each plant (unless it is a small tomato variety) should be planted in its own individual container that is at least a square foot.
Use good quality potting soil that is rich in organic matter and keep the pH slightly acidic at 6.2 to 6.8. It is extremely important that you fertilize the plants. Otherwise the beautiful fruits that you envision may not even appear. Mix some slow release fertilizer into the soil and water with a diluted liquid fertilizer every week or every other week.
As with fertilizer, tomatoes in the tropics need lots and lots of water. However, you need to be consistent in the amount of water you give to the plant, especially if you are growing your plants in a container. That means that if you water a specific amount, do not change that amount or skip days. If you do, your tomatoes may burst or crack. This is crucial especially when your tomatoes get bigger. Make sure that there is good drainage because with our humid climate, it is very easy for tomato plants to get fungal infections.
Tomatoes need lots of sun so make sure you put your plant by a window or a part of your veranda that receives lots of sunlight. However, do keep an eye on the temperature. Most tomato varieties do not grow well when the temperature climbs above 32 degrees Celsius.
With these top tips for successfully growing tomato plants and harvesting tomatoes, we hope your garden flourishes with the tasty tomatoes. If you plant them today, maybe in the next 10-11 weeks you might be using actual home-grown tomatoes in your recipes!
Written by Annmaria Patteri
Let's admit it, we all have that one friend in our lives that could have walked straight out of a L'Oreal advertisement. With long silky locks that move in slow-motion every time she flicks her hair, we can only watch in envy (and slight jealousy) as we admit to ourselves that we can never be her.
In the age of blow-drying, extreme bleaching and crazy dye jobs, being that girl requires a whole lot more effort that many of us do not have the time (or commitment) for. Before you despair over your frizzy hair, consider the following few steps that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine that may help to revive your hair. Regard these rules as the 'holy grail' to getting luscious locks, and you're on your way!
The perennial question bugging experts: how often should we wash our hair? After much debate, the optimal number of times is determined to be 2-3 times a week. On days when you are not shampooing your hair, tuck your tresses into a shower cap as water can cause your hair to be frizzy and prone to breakage. Opt for dry shampoo to keep your scalp fresh and oil-free.
Washing your hair too often strips your hair of its natural oils which are produced to to condition and protect your locks, experts say. This can result in your hair over-producing oils, which can create a vicious cycle of oil-production and shampooing.
Thus, for optimal hair condition, shampoo your hair 2-3 times a week. This, however, definitely depends on how often you exercise and your hair type - so vary accordingly!
Opt for sulfate-free shampoo for shiny and luscious hair. Sulfates can dry out your hair and strip it of essential oils, causing your hair to be dry and damage-prone. It can also remove shine from coloured hair, causing it to look dull. Thus, opt for a mild sulfate-free shampoo that will rejuvenate your scalp. Be sure to shampoo only your scalp and not the ends of your hair!
While hot water might be a great way to relax at the end of a long day, it is a big 'NO' for your hair. Blasting hot water at your tresses will damage it the same way heat styling treatments do - it dries out our hair and creates tangles that can result in breakage.
This rule applies especially when conditioning: rinse conditioner off with cold water to allow moisture from the conditioner to be better absorbed by your ends. Also, towel-dry your hair before conditioning, for excess water prevents the conditioner from being absorbed by your hair.
Part of achieving healthy hair is brushing your locks regularly - but make sure not to tear through them. When your hair is wet, make sure to use a wide-toothed comb (NOT a brush!), working from the ends of your hair up, as it is more vulnerable to damage and breakage. Use a brush only when your hair is dry to work through tangles.
Instead of wrapping your wet hair up with your towel, use an old T-shirt instead. Cotton T-shirts are more gentle on your hair cuticles, so you don't have to work doubly hard to untangle your hair afterwards.