For many these days, plants are the new pets. It is not uncommon for us to see more local IG plant stores appear pointing to the growing demand among Malaysians.
But causing our plants to die suddenly despite being very careful (or so we believe) is a common occurrence. We usually blame it on our lack of green thumb, insufficient or excessive sunlight, poor watering habits, etc., but we rarely get to the root of the problem (forgive the pun).
Sunlight and the recommended amount of watering can only help a lot, but if so land that our plants thrive is not healthy, they have little chance of surviving.
And of course, there is no land that suits everyone, which was one thing Ground control the team had discovered it since 2017.
Supplying as many plants as possible
Ground Control has a variety of soils, for good reason. “Not all environments are the same,” Harbir Gill, founder of Ground Control at Vulcan Post, explained.
“For example, when you try to grow rosemary and fail, you have to realize what the natural environment of rosemary is, which is in the Mediterranean.” The soil type in the Mediterranean is relatively well drained compared to our local soil, where it cannot be grown with rosemary successfully.
Another example is that if you grow plants on the balcony, there will be more breeze that will dehydrate the plants faster. Therefore, you will need a mixture that better retains moisture.
The land sold by Ground Control has prices ranging from RM15 to RM15, depending on its use. Information on what each soil is supposed to do is displayed in detail on the site, making it easy for even beginners to figure out what suits their plants.
Encourage gardening for well-being
While the goal of Ground Control is to make sure you can grow herbs, plants and vegetables successfully with the right soil, Harbir said they also encourage people to go into gardening for the well-being of their mental health and Outdoor.
“The difference between a gardener and a farmer is that a farmer has to fulfill an order while a gardener does it to fulfill his pleasure,” he explained.
For Harbir, it also started purely as a hobby. But the more he did gardening, the more compost he needed and he started making it himself.
His passion for gardening later translated into giving lessons to teach people how to make their own compost. “At the end of each class, someone would ask me where I got the compost from and that’s how the business started.”
Ground Control had been a composting plant since 2011, but became a registered business 6 years later.
Now more people have time to garden
If you are a consumer who has absolutely no idea what type of soil or nutrients you need, the Ground Control team made it clear to us that they are ready to help you. You just have to tell them what you want to grow and where you want to grow.
From here, they will guide you through the soil and nutrients you need, as well as through tweezers or culture slabs (which are made of high galvanized steel or concrete garden beds), if necessary. These latter tools are typically used by those who are on landed properties with adequate space for the garden.
These range from RM312 to RM837, depending on how you want them to help set up your garden beds.
Over the past ten years, the Ground Control team has noticed a gradual increase in interest in gardening, but the pandemic catalyzed the rise of this progress, as people spend more time at home.
“During the pandemic, we have certainly seen an increase in sales compared to the pre-pandemic,” Harbir confirmed, reflecting on the huge increase they have been seeing over the last 2-3 months.
Having the right soil is just one step
Most of us are more likely to watch the hawk on the health of our plant rather than our soil, but both are equally important.
Harbir advised that the best way to check the health of the soil is to check first if there is biodiversity in the soil (presence of earthworms, good insects, etc.) and if the soil is hard as rocks (the roots of the plant they would suffer from it and mean poor drainage as well).
“Think of a rainforest, no one comes in to fertilize it because a rainforest can produce its own food, thanks to falling fruit, falling branches, falling monkeys, and so on.”
“Most of the soil in Malaysia is very clayey and therefore to reproduce the independence of a rainforest to feed within its own environment, you will need to start adding more organic matter to the soil,” he simplified.
The compound would be very useful here. Over the years, Harbir has conducted paid and free workshops for those who want to learn more about composting.
Ground Control has also worked with community gardens, nursing homes, orphanages, and more. to try to educate as many people as they can about composting and the importance of soil nutrition.
Education about these things is an important part of your business as it teaches people more about the circular economy. In the long run, Ground Control wants to be able to make its soil more affordable so that Malaysians from all walks of life who simply want to grow healthy plants can access it.
Featured Image Credit: Harbir Gill, founder of Ground Control