Sunday 11 June 2017

Gardening at Retirement.

In six months time, I’ll be returning my taxi vocational license back to LTA as I would surely fail the compulsory 70 year old medical test at Tan Tock Seng Hospital due to glaucoma.

So, Congratulations, I’m ready to retire from driving and working. I’ve spent the last ten years driving people to work, play and whatnot and also a lifetime taking care of my family.

Is now the right time to retire? But what if retirement turns out to be too easy with nothing much to do and boring? 

On hindsight, I'm glad I started planing about a year back on what I want to do when the dreadful day finally comes, so that I'm ready for a smooth and happy transition with fulfilling activities. 

There are hundred of ways to stay busy and engaged with life at retirement.

To name a few:

. find another easy job,
. do volunteer work,
. start a business, 
. travel,
. start a hobby,
. do physical activity like swimming, jogging,
. learn new things like cooking, art painting or gardening. 

For a starter, I've decided on gardening.

I'm a novice in gardening with no formal education or training in farming or plant science. I've no knowledge about soil and fertilizers, pests, diseases or best practices to produce great flowers and food crops. But I always believe that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. Therefore, my ignorance is no deterrent because I can access a wealth of free knowledge and advice from the Internet and Facebook groups like SG Container Gardening & Vertical Farming, Urban Farming and many others.

I love nature, trees and plants especially beautiful flowers but never thought of planting them. I stay in an ordinary HDB apartment without the luxury of a plot of land, lawn or balcony. But I've two meters wide and five meters long common corridor with about six hours of morning sunlight. 

More importantly, I've a wonderful young couple neighbor who empathizes with this old man's need to keep himself busy with fulfilling activities. No worries, my corridor is always neat and clean with no stagnant water. My only worry is trouble from my town council.

Please allow me to share my gardening journey with you.

Through the years at my present dwelling, I had collected a few beautiful antique looking clay pots discarded at my neighborhood junk bins. I never used them.

A year back, I found the inspiration to do something with them. I created my first real gardening attempt. I planted a few easy growing flowering plants on them. I've no idea what are the names of those plants. When they survive and starts to bloom albeit my rough work, it brought me sweet confidence, joy and a belief I've green fingers to begin a journey of faith in gardening.

Gardening somewhat transforms my lifestyle and daily routine. Although I love nature, I was never a gardening person and my knowledge of horticulture is elementary. But on my retirement leg now I need something physically easy yet spiritually enriching. 

A month later I decided to build my gardening racks below my window so that I have more planting space. My tools and fertilizers are kept below my kitchen sink. 

After the brick racks were painted and wooden planks laid, I had no idea what to plant, where to plant, what are the plant needs and how I like my garden to look like. Every single day thereafter I spent thinking, learning from Internet resources and planning.

Initially, I scout and "stole" suitable plants and cuttings at road-sides, public parks and private estates as I drove my cab around Singapore. After a while, I found this illegal way of collection rather nerve racking and gave up.  

My original plan of growing only flowering plants was changed to include food plants for the kitchen as well as fruits. But this ambitious endeavor fails miserably. All my vegetables and fruits plant dies after germination.

So here I am. Over the months I've made a few mistakes, overcame a few, but continue to challenge myself to perfect my skills. My aim is to know all my plants and deliver the right growth conditions to them so they, in turn, reward me with beautiful and healthy flowers.

Today I have about 80 different plant types in my 'little garden'. Fortunately, most are easy to care and require little or no attention other than occasional fertilizing and pruning.
As long as I'm able to take care of my plants, I'll keep to my daily rituals of attending to their needs in exchange for the pleasure they provide me.

My pride is my garden is possibly the prettiest in my block. I like the challenge of growing my flowers from seeds or cutting instead of buying from nurseries. I take pride in arranging my plants to get the best of the sunlight. I've also learned much from internet gardening tips and resources as well as from gardening groups I joined.

I'm happy to discover this enjoyable recreation for my retirement days and I pray for many many years to look after my little garden and enjoy the "fruits" of my small labour. Gardening is fun and I encourage those who are about to retire, or already retired and with some space to develop a small garden, to start gardening. Whether its for pleasure or for food, it will help you spend your time fruitfully. I wish I's started it several years earlier but like in many other things, it's never too late. Good Luck!. 

After One Year, on 25/6/2018.


Anonymous said...

Good to read your posts again and to hear you are well.

Good luck with your retirement plan.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi Anon.

I'm deeply touched by your sincere and honest comments,

Thank you

James Lim

concerned citizen said...

Hi James, i drove taxi for 18 months and it makes me respect you more after that experience.