Orchid fan takes on herbs and veggies

Mr Joseph Yeo grows leafy vegetables and herbs on his plot at Eng Kong Cheng Soon garden.
Mr Joseph Yeo grows leafy vegetables and herbs on his plot at Eng Kong Cheng Soon garden.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Mr Joseph Yeo’s orchid obsession is such that his condominium has more than 300 pots of the plant on his balcony and the corridor outside. If space was not an issue, he would have grown much more.

Then last year, the 62-year-old avid gardener passed by a new community garden near his home and saw a banner that said it was renting out plots at only $50 a year. He balloted for a spot immediately and got a plot.

Unfortunately, he soon learnt that the rules at Eng Kong Cheng Soon garden did not allow orchids, only fruit and vegetables.

Thankfully, he just loves gardening in general and was happy to abide by the rules.

On his plot, he grows leafy vegetables and herbs commonly used in his family’s meals. They include lettuce, chye sim, xiao bai cai and kai lan as well as herbs such as Thai basil and mint.

He lives with his wife in a condominium about an eight-minute walk from the garden. He is semiretired and works part-time in the petrochemical industry.

He is a volunteer at Gardens by the Bay, where he helps with weeding, pruning and planting.

He visits his plot almost every day for at least an hour each time to water the plants.

On weekends, he can spend up to five hours there, potting, replanting and preparing the beds. His wife joins him sometimes.

Having a plot in the community garden also allows him to interact with other gardeners and share their harvest with one another.

When some of them are busy, he helps to “babysit” their plots.

He says: “It’s about reviving the kampung spirit and learning to care, share and live with one another.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2017, with the headline 'Orchid fan takes on herbs and veggies'. Print Edition | Subscribe