A downside to living in an apartment or condominium is often not being able to have your own garden
Meet Evangeline Lim, also known as 'Lady of Leisure', who has been growing her own vegetables and herbs for years – and she does it all on the small "balcony" of her condo unit in Petaling Jaya
"[It's] pretty tiny that I myself have to squeeze through and it's quite impossible to get an overall shot of the 'balcony' (more like an A/C ledge) given the sunlight glare if I were to take a frontal view from my living room," she shared in a Facebook post.
In an interview with SAYS, she shared that "an unfortunate yet serendipitous circumstance" is what led her to begin gardening
"It was in 2015, I was on crutches and had to leave my job. Being bedridden and unemployed (which my friends positively teased me as being a 'Lady of Leisure'), was a downtime for me but the one thing that kept me going was reminding myself about the strong women in my life.
"I was reminded of my grandma whom I miss a lot and how amazing she was at gardening. So I decided to do her memory justice and learn up on gardening. I started reading and researching during my recuperation in bed.
"As my leg got stronger I started to put the lessons into practice. I chose to focus on edibles because I was home a lot and felt it would be more useful to me since I had to cook more often too."
As a result, she chose to stick to the moniker 'Lady of Leisure' to serve as a reminder that no matter how difficult and busy our life is, we should still make time to do what feeds our soul.
Despite the small space, Lim has managed to grow all types of edible plants, such as capsicum, tomato, cili padi, curry leaf, basil, and other herbs
She started growing her own food back when she lived in her parents' terrace house and eventually moved into her previous condo.
Although she had no balcony then, the 33-year-old was able to grow several indoor fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including tomatoes and cili padi.
At her current place, she's grown fruits like rockmelons and mulberries, and various vegetables like capsicum and variegated mani cai (sayur manis) to name a few.
During the Movement Control Order (MCO), Lim started growing long beans, groundnuts, sweet potatoes, and passionfruit.
"I also grow my own cotton plant, so I can avoid buying cotton."
She revealed some of her favourite plants to grow that do especially well in Malaysian weather
"The Hibiscus Acetossella (Cranberry Hibiscus) is my top choice for its edible foliage that has a refreshing sour flavour akin to Roselle's flavours, her beautiful maple leaf shaped leaves, and stunning cranberry coloured Hibiscus flowers that can be harvested to be made into a distinctive tea."
"My other favourites are these selections that are easy to grow, have low pest risks, and has a variety of ways it can be enjoyed - Brazilian spinach and sweet potato leaves which can be stir-fried or used in soups; mulberries for breakfast bars and desserts; Lacinato kale which can be enjoyed raw or juiced; and the longevity spinach that is suitable raw or stir-fried. All of which also do well in our tropical weather."
Lim proves that you don't need fancy, expensive pots or fertiliser to grow plants, adding that 90% of her edibles have been regrown from kitchen wastes
She often uses unwanted planter boxes from 'Freecycle' groups or repurposes food packaging as seed pots.
"Most of my edibles are regrown from kitchen waste to help reduce my waste. Through my Facebook group (Plant Swag), I also swap/gift/adopt plants, seeds, and cuttings, which helps us all to expand our plant collection," she explained to SAYS.
Having her own edible garden has allowed her to avoid going to supermarkets during this pandemic, as she was able to stay home without a grocery top-up for up to two weeks
Check out how yummy her meals look with the veggies she uses from her garden!
To make some of her favourite heartier meals, she includes roasted chicken breast, chickpeas, smoked salmon, or tofu.
"I enjoy making a variety of salads as it is an easy meal, and pairs beautifully with my homegrown edible flowers... Salads could also be made the night before and kept in the fridge for consumption the next day, thus suitable for a busy lifestyle."
"No matter your space, you too can grow your own edibles in the comfort of your home! It's all a matter of knowing what plants work best for your space and direction of sunlight," she added.