A guide to growing herbs & veggies

Nothing beats picking, cooking and eating your own vegetables and herbs. They always seem to taste better than the ones bought in the supermarket. Maybe it is the sweet words of encouragement to grow? Or the casual touching of a leaf, as if you are stroking your cat or dog that brings out the best of flavour? Or maybe…. it is just good luck?

Our hot and humid climate in Kuala Lumpur presents challenges to even green-thumbed gardeners. Much trial and error over eight years has trimmed my list to those plants that will provide reward, even for the not so green-thumbed!


Benefits of growing plants in condos

Some of us live in condos and some at ground level in landed properties. Humidity is always higher at ground level and it does affect plant growth. This is the reason why some plants do better at the height of a condo balcony. I also noticed that many flying pests at ground level do not appear to exist higher up at the condo balcony.

Plants growing well in landed properties as well as condos

  • Holy Basil (Tulsi), also known as Thai Basil and Sweet Basil (Common Basil).
  • Mint is forever happy. Exert some tough love and cut back hard to keep vigour. 
  • Dill will grow anywhere.                                                           
  • Curry leaf plant for special Malaysian flavours grows easily, especially in tubs.    
  • Chili Padi, Birdseye Chili and Long Chili. These plants do well in tubs on balconies. They can be susceptible to fruit fles at ground level in gardens of landed properties though. I protect them with fruit fly pheromone traps, that I buy on Shopee or Lazada. They work well and are priced around RM10.

  • Shallots or Spring Onions. You can buy them as small onions from the supermarket! Just take home and put in a pot or in the ground, deep enough to cover the bulb. Within a few days the green shoots will start poking through.                                                                                                  
  • Chives will probably outlive us all. You can grow them from seeds or a pre-grown pot – a plant you buy, already established in the pot.
  • Corn grown from seeds does very well and you will see a quick crop within three months            .
  • Eggplant (Aubergine) All varieties produce well.                                                
  • Vietnamese Spinach (Malabar), a good substitute for English spinach.               
  • Turmeric while not strictly a vegetable, is happy in a tub or in a garden. 

herbs 2 - Happy Go KL

Plants growing well on condo balconies

  • Capsicum grows better in balcony pots than at ground level.     
  • Italian Parsley will grow in the garden, but I had more success with this herb on my balcony.     
  • Coriander grows better in less humid conditions.          

herbs 6 - Happy Go KL

Handy tips

  • If you are growing herbs or veggies in a pot, use a potting mix that is free draining, such as the Ace Hardware brand or Richgrow. Be careful with some local mixes that have much peat and therefore can become water-logged. You really need to shop around to get the right potting mix.
  • Explore growing from packet bought seeds. They are available from online shopping platforms, plant nurseries and some hardware stores.
  • Check out on-line tutorials that can assist with decisions made. Turmeric root (from supermarket) can take months to appear, and from then on it will never stop growing.
  • Supermarket or nursery bought pots of herbs or veggies have usually been grown in a hot house environment. They take some adjustment to outside conditions, especially the full sun.

Just have fun growing. Even armed with the plants listed, success is never 100% guaranteed but don’t let one failure prevent you from trying again. Enjoy gardening and don’t forget to involve the kids. They’ll love it!

Need more technical tips on how to start your own herb garden? Have a look at our article here.

herbs - Happy Go KL

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