Urban Gardening: Interview 1

Mageswari Sangaralingam and family of Taman Pekaka, Gelugor have over 30 types of plants – vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and flowers – some of them grown during the latest lockdown. The white brinjals, okra, kangkung, green chillies, bittergourd, pumpkin, Malabar spinach, cekur manis, kesum, turmeric, ginger, serai and limau kasturi; and mint, pandan and curry leaves that she and her family grew provided them with good and healthy sustenance.

The herbs they planted – tulsi, setawar, Indian borage, aloe vera and betel leaf – all have medicinal values and can be utilised in home remedies when needed. Leaves from a dwarf banana tree that they grow is used for traditional banana leaf meals.



Another view of the garden.

For aesthetics and some plants to attract pollinators to their garden there are jasmine, rose, bougainvillea, Japanese rose, Rangoon creeper, snake plant, bachelor’s button, and various types of ferns.

Here she elaborates on her rewarding urban gardening experience.

“I am never in one place for more than a month due to work commitments, hence I never started growing anything as I wouldn’t have time to nurture it. The pandemic was the right time to start gardening. It is gratifying to see the yield and share them around. We are also assured that what we are eating is chemical-free, fresh from the garden. The foods we grow, eat, and share give us joy.


“An event organised by the Forum Kedaulatan Makanan Malaysia (FKMM) in 2020 in conjunction with the #InternationalSeedsDay was my first attempt to sow vegetable seeds and grow. All this while I have only been maintaining plants that were already there in our home garden.

“I obtained some white brinjal seeds from the CAP office and sowed them in a pot. To my delight, they produced many seedlings, which we transplanted to other pots and raised garden beds in our house compound and on the kerb. Today we are still harvesting brinjals from the initial seed that was sown in April 2020.

“We also get seeds and saplings in pots from friends and relatives who are refurbishing their gardens or want to give them away due to lack of space. There are also seeds that we save ourselves. Some of these seeds germinate when we compost our kitchen wastes in the garden. All of these seeds are shared with friends and relatives. If we encounter nice fruits, we save the seeds and give them away to be grown in orchards or home gardens.

“Our urban garden provides us with a constant supply of certain types of vegetables, which came in handy during the pandemic, when we seldom went to the market. When we run out of greens, or when there is no food in storage, we just harvest vegetables from our own garden – freshness assured, and chemical-free.

“We share the produce grown with friends, colleagues, relatives and neighbours. One elderly woman who collects recyclables in our neighbourhood, whom we give white brinjals to, happily reminisced about how her mother used to grow this very same food when she was young.

“We use compost made from kitchen and garden wastes. Composting is easy, you just need to dig a hole in a small plot of land and dump everything inside. As soil is naturally rich with micro-organisms, the composting process is quite fast. To promote growth, I occasionally use vermicompost bought from CAP. My sister sources for cowdung, which we also use.

“We don’t use pesticides or chemical pest repellents but instead rely on natural methods. We manually get rid of pests such as grasshoppers. As for caterpillars, they love a certain plant in the garden, so we just leave them to eat the leaves. The leaves eventually grow back, so the parent plant is still maintained. If there are any white flies attack, etc. we simply trim off the leaves or stem.”

Her advice to the public: “Anyone can be a successful urban gardener. Just give it a try. If you have any questions, the CAP team is always ready to guide you.”

#GreenActionWeek Agroecology Fund

Next: “I Grow My Own Nutritious Ulam – And Get to Bond With My Kids” & “Fewer Doctor Visits, Thanks to Our Herbal Garden”. Look out for the 2 interviews tomorrow.