Fay Khoo talks about her new book, edible gardening, and some tips
Grow, Cook and Eat
One question: How do you know if the ingredients used to make your food are truly harmless? Let's just talk about this revolving around the category of vegetables and the easiest example we can give you is the possibility of farmers using insecticide on their produce. You hear all kinds of news these days and really, which of them can you trust? Or should you just give up on eating completely? The latter is a rhetorical question. The answer is simple: Growing your own edible garden.
Of course, that doesn't mean you can no longer eat out but the trend of edible gardening is slowly, but surely, on the rise; and it spells more benefits than disadvantages. Resident food columnist Fay Khoo is an avid believer of it and her new book Grow, Cook and Eat: Cultivation Asian Herbs and Cooking them with Flair is aimed to help people discover the vast possibilities of growing your own produce—and the green thumbs they never thought they had. Co-written with CY Phang, it covers easy composting instructions, tips on how to make your own natural fertilisers, a lowdown on some of the most popular Asian herbs, the recipes to go with them, and more. Fay has teased about her book in her column two weeks ago but we had some questions of our own.
On her new book Grow, Cook and Eat: Cultivating Asian Herbs and Cooking them with Flair
"This book came about when I was chatting with one of my radio guests CY Phang and discovered we both shared a passion to spread the message about growing—and cooking—your own produce. It's taken a while because we have so much to share but the book is finally ready and I'm confident it will inspire many to embark on their own gardening journey, especially when they see that it's not as difficult as they imagine it to be."
On her passion for edible gardening
"I've had an abiding interest in it for some years now but my gardening journey got off to a rocky start as I had very little space (a balcony) to work with; and got attacked by bugs which resulted in my plants being annihilated. I'm glad I didn't give up. I persevered and with advice from CY (whose garden in PJ is truly a marvel, being a home to more than 180 species of fruit, herb and vegetables), rebuilt the garden. It's now flourishing and I've expanded to also having a garden lot; and both my gardens produce a plethora of produce that ranges from lemongrass and oregano, to kale, to nasturtium and turmeric!"
The Asian herbs in the book are all perfect for novice gardeners, and we actually chose them specifically because they're sturdy and easy to cultivate.
On where to start gathering materials for an edible garden
"Look for a reputable nursery. You can start by joining a gardening group on Facebook (there are plenty and personally, Gardener's Gold MY is particularly helpful) and ask the more seasoned gardeners for advice. You may also find that the members will have soil and other things you need that they will be willing to share or sell."
On her three best tips for growing your own edible garden
1. If at first you don't succeed, don't give up. The rewards in the long term are massive; not just in terms of the money you save, but also the huge reduction of your personal waste. And let's not forget, the gratification you'll glean from harvesting your own produce.
2. Make the effort to gain knowledge before you start planting so you can plan your garden to produce an optimum yield.
3. Composting is a great way to reduce your personal waste while producing an ongoing supply of nature's fertiliser for your plants. So make sure you include it as part of your gardening activity.
On the benefits of cooking your own produce
"Plenty! Most importantly, you'll know the source of your produce and what has gone into growing them (no harmful insecticides!). They always taste so much better and you can harvest whatever you need within just a few steps away. No more needing to drive to the supermarket!"
On her plans for 2017
"I'm currently working on a book for an Australian client. CY and I also have plans to roll out a second title in the Grow, Cook and Eat series but in the meantime, we're also looking to doing some community work with the current title—working with children in orphanages and teaching them how to embark on their gardening journey or collaborating with corporate companies to teach their staff the importance of growing your own produce."
On sharing a recipe from the book
Grow, Cook and Eat is out. DM Fay Khoo on her Instagram to purchase a copy.