Singapore, Lets grow Strawberries!! :)

Why?

The most obvious reason is the taste.

If you have the chance to meet my daughter, she will tell you with shining eyes, “because they taste like jelly beans!”

Imagine, strawberries that looked and tasted like jelly beans, and packed with vitamins and all the natural goodness that jelly beans don’t have!

Just ask Shirley Ooi, a gardener from our ย Facebook group, “SG Farming in Apartments”. ย I am sure she did not expect the taste to be so good ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Growing and Picking strawberries indoors

Shirley Ooi was surprised ๐Ÿ™‚

Self Pollinating strawberries flowers

How many kids in Singapore can say their daily chores include pollinating strawberry flowers ?!

Growing and Picking strawberries indoors

Strawberry and Cream “JellyBean” ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Pesticide free strawberries in Singapore

Pesticide free home grown strawberries

Ever wonder what other strawberries varieties there are?

Most of the tasteful wild alpine strawberries cannot be shipped as they need to be consumed on the same day as harvest, and thus not available in our supermarkets.

I really want to try them all ! Wouldn’t you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Coming Soon : Gourmet Strawberries !!!

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries seedlings

Feb 9 2016 – Trays of gourmet white strawberry seedlings to research !

Do follow our gourmet strawberry posts for updates ๐Ÿ™‚

Strawberry Hospital – Treatment

When Alan Tan visited me on Oct 26 2015 and saw my new transplant strawberry patient, he said, ” This one cannot liao! “… and for most plants, he would be right too ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Strawberry Care in the tropics

Oct 26 2015 – Signs of a stressed strawberry plant – dried leaves and dried fruits

Strawberry plants Care in the tropics

Dried fruits, lack of nutrients and it was cramped in a 1.5L bottle with 2 other plants

 

Cycle of strawberry plants in the tropics

Stunted dry fruits occurred when strawberry plants lost their vigor

Treatment –

How to treat stressed strawberry plants

Nov 2015 – Strawberries enjoyed the good life – love sunbathing all day but don’t like to sweat (roots need to stay cool) , sipped ice coffee and look fashionable (trimmed unsightly leaves!) ๐Ÿ™‚

How to treat sick strawberry plants

After the “hair cut”, its time for a coffee break!

Strawberry Care in the tropics

Dec 2015 – Strawberry plants recovered and flowered after a few months

 

Strawberries plants CAN RECOVERย ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Strawberry Care information for the Tropical Zone

Feb 2016 ย – Stressed strawberry plants recovered

Alan Tan’s sick seedlings also recovered under his excellent care ๐Ÿ™‚

Strawberry plants care in the tropics

Dec 26 2015 – Alan’s strawberry has recovered!

Strawberry plants care in the tropics

Sick plant recovered under Alan Tan’s excellent care ๐Ÿ™‚

Summary of Strawberry Care and treatment –ย 

  1. Keep the soil acidic and cool for the roots
  2. Some variety needs the sun, some not – do prefer to seeds information
  3. Trimmed away brown and dry leaves/fruits (remove from soil, dont leave in the pot)
  4. Minimum pot depth and diameter is 6 inches (Advice from : Michael Wellik, an American strawberry farmer/expert)
  5. Add fertilizer /compost as needed
  6. DISCLAIMERPlease note, the above information are for seeds grown strawberries based on my own experience and observations. They may not apply to nurseries bought strawberries.

How to Chill Cool Seasoned Plants’ Soil?

The plants that often intrigue us in Singapore are ones thats not meant to grow in our tropical climate! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lavender today (Oct 29 2015) ย from one post in our Facebook group, ” SG Farming in Apartments”, and strawberries are my all time favorite plants to grow in Singapore!

If we cannot put our plants in the chiller, it is NOT ย impossible to bring the chiller to our pots ! ๐Ÿ™‚

This is what I do for my fifty mature strawberries plants and seedlings indoors :

How to cool strawberry soil in the tropics

Aug 2015 – En mass chilling for my 50 mature strawberry plants at home during the heat wave

For plants that need less watering

How to chill cool seasoned plants soil

ICE Packs for non aircon rooms to keep strawberry soil cooler

Tropical Care for Temperate plants

Ice bottles for plants that hate wet soil but needs to stay cool at roots level. (May 6 2016 – Peach)

Seedling Stage Plants ( 3 – 5 months)

How we use home made liquid kelp fertilizer

Iced Nutrients feeding the soil of cool seasoned plants (white strawberries seedlings)

Outdoors, my strawberries soil are mulched with dried leaves to keep soil from over heating and iced down as well. Special compost just for strawberries are also being tried out.

How to cool strawberry soil outdoors

Strawberry care for outdoor pots: Mulched to cover top soil from overheating and iced often

It is possible to adapt our environment for the cool season plants.

All it really takes are some creative solutions and determination to grow strawberries in Singapore! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Home Made Super Soil

Home Made Compost is possible in crowded, urban tropical cities like Singapore.

This process of recycling kitchen green waste into compost for gardening , is good for plants, ourselves and the environment .

Look at how my edibles garden turned out with this “home made” super soil for yourself ย !

From THIS –

Composting methods in Singapore

March 2015 – Dead or dying citrus plant, abandoned after Chinese New Year

Benefits of Organic Compost

March 20 2015 – Dead Tree awakening with organic compost!

TO THIS – !!!

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Dec 14 2015 – A fully recovered plant! ๐Ÿ™‚

How to use and benefits of organic compost

A healthy thriving plant again

Update of this tree on July 17 2016 (16 months from when I start composting in this pot) –

using compost

July 17 2016 – This plant continued to thrive

home made nutrients rich soil

July 17 2016 – see what recycling raw greens can do for your plant? ๐Ÿ™‚

Uses of compost

How lime/citrus begin their fruiting journey – Isn’t this cute?

When I see how this little tree continued to prosper, its as if it talking to me, ” I am okay now. Thank you! ” ๐Ÿ™‚

Benefits of recycled green waste compost

Jan 20 2017 – STILL ALIVE and Thriving!

No other fertilizer was added in this pot, beside composting of peels and adding earthworms from the garden. Imagined this – whatever nutrients that this plant gained from the compost, allowed it to rejuvenate its drive to recover from a dying state. Then I often wondered what we will gain when we consumed edibles grown in this kind of natural compost ? ย Will we be able to rejuvenate ourselves as well?

Meyer Lemons –

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Growing Meyer lemon in compost pot

Sweet basilย 

How to use and benefits of organic compost

September 16 2015 – Sweet Basil

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Layer upon layer of kitchen raw greens, soil, dried leaves are added to the pot until its almost full.

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Sweet basil in compost pot is bigger than my herbs grown indoors

Rosemary and Curly leaf Parsley

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Rosemary and curly leaf parsley thriving in spite of the thunderstorms!

Our MINTย wasย grown without pesticide and in our own compost from recycling kitchen greens waste –

Benefits of home made organic compost

Kids love to harvest home grown mint for tea when they are studying

Bell Peppers or Capsicums

Growing bell peppers in home made compost

Bell peppers or capsicum grown in home made compost, taste sweeter. Kids are eating them raw like green apples!

Growing red bell peppers in home made organic compost

Red and Green bell peppers in the same pot

Even strawberries! ๐Ÿ™‚

Growing strawberries in outdoors Singapore garden

We weed our strawberries outdoor to learn more about growing them in the tropics.

Two varieties of strawberry plants were weeded here from October 2015, to see how they fared in our special acidic compost in normal SG temperature.

So far, sick plants have recovered in them and survived our terrible haze and thunderstorms, to flower and bore fruits by December 2015.

In our household, recycling raw greens for compost bins is second nature! ๐Ÿ™‚

How to make organic compost

We are striving toward zero-waste in our household

What goes into our compost bin?

How to make organic compost

Fruit pulp, peels, tea leaves, ground coffee, raw washed egg shells, any raw greens BUT not meat and bloody innards (too smelly, attracts rats/cats/dogs to dig in)

 

5 Easy Steps to prepare organic compost OUTDOORS

  1. Cover the holes with net or any material that allow liquid to drain while stopping soil/compost erosion
  2. Dried leaves or any organic dried matter from the garden
  3. Add soil (Any nurseries soil would do – new, used, old soil, would not recommend garden common soil)
  4. Add kitchen greens waste: peels, washed egg shells, tea bags, ground coffee ( Not bloody innards, meat, bones)
  5. Cover with soil and dried leaves, raise the compost container for aeration is a good idea.

 

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Cover pot’s drainage holes with net to allow water to drain out but not erode the soil and compost.

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Step 2 – Dried leaves (shred them if you are not lazy like me! ๐Ÿ™‚ Break down faster if they are smaller pieces.

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Step 3 – Add soil (any soil can be used – old , or new soil )

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Step 4 – Add raw greens etc. Cover with soil and top off with dried leaves so less fruit flies hovering around the pot!

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Layers after layers are repeated until my pot is almost full.

What to do when it rained, and the compost become wet?

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden and what to do when compost is wet

After a heavy rain, its good to “turn/stir” the pile and add dry soil . I usually top off with dried leaves again to ward off fruit flies. My soil smell like orange, nothing foul. In our tropical heat if there is no rain, compost can be ready in 2 – 4 weeks.

Composting in Singapore

The ready product is a soft, citrus smelling dark soil!

Benefits of composting

Color of nutrients rich compost is BLACK !

Home made compost

Lots of worms as raw greens break down! Not for the squeamish ๐Ÿ™‚

When the compost is ready, the color of the compost is very dark and none of the peels and kitchen raw greens are distinguishable. This is my super soil which I used as a top soil in my pots.

2) For apartments’ corridorsย composting, ย please followed this group’s “Composting in Singapore” instructions.

There is no smell and not much presence of pests , it is neighbors’ friendly but takes longer to breakdown.

Compost bins suitable for apartment’s corridors

How to prepare compost bins for indoor area without pests or smells

Step 1 – Plastic Bin with cover, drilled holes at the bottom for drainage

How to prepare compost bins for indoor area without pests or smells

Step 2 – Cover holes with net. Second layer is shredded newspapers, followed by dried leaves and soil.

How to prepare compost bins for indoor area without pests or smells

Step 3 – add greens and my idea of a toilet roll for aeration! ๐Ÿ™‚ Top off with soil, newspapers and cover bins!

How to prepare compost bins for indoor area without pests and smells

In the process of breaking down organic matter for compost, heat and moisture are created in the compost bins. Newspapers absorb liquid and smells.

Composting in Singapore

Thumbs UP – Compost bins like these are neighbors friendly – no smells, no pests!

For an easy non fussy indoor method, Lim San had uploaded a new video in February 2017 –

Just for knowledge, the following video showed what happened in my compost bin when too much raw greens is added over brown ratio! Thus do keep Lim San‘s advice in mind (Brown : Green , 30:1 ratio) when starting a new compost bin! ๐Ÿ™‚

Compost bins in Singapore

Bins can be used outdoors but mind the mosquitoes breeding when it rained on the bin’s covers! Best to lay a cloth than tile like this.

 

We love to cook with edibles from our organic garden!

It is possible to grow edibles without using commercial fertilizers.

Sweeter edibles grown in home made organic compost

Young chefs in training and home made Quiche with herbs from our garden ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Growing vegetables with children in our organic garden

SG Strawberries kids helped built this ย edibles garden (2015 ) ๐Ÿ™‚

Benefits of natural compost

September 22 2016 – Our garden one year later ๐Ÿ™‚

A small pleasurable plot of organic edibles, grown in (hopefully) nutrients dense soil now, but it was an empty corner where people abandoned plants and discarded pots.

Gardening has become my voice for sharing ideas to promote recycling in our communities and how every household can play a part to protect our environment. This is also a good way to teach the younger generation how to grow food from “own-made” super charged soil! ๐Ÿ™‚

In addition, we took science out of the textbooks and learned how to protect our environment while growing delicious food.

 

 

 

How to Transplant Strawberry Plant

More than half of my 30 strawberry plants died from transplanting woes than from Singapore tropical weather.

This is an experience earned the hardest way! And the reason why this blog is set up, to share our knowledge.

Summer and Shona showed how to moveย 2 weeks old seedling to bigger pot ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Young Seedlings ( 1 – 3 months old) – ย Mind the roots !

How to move 3 months strawberry seedlings

Loosen soil with toothpick or small fork to separate soil from plants for easy removal.

How to transplant young strawberry plants

Close Up look at young strawberry roots

How to transplant young strawberry plant

Clear debris from old pots around the roots before transplanting to the new pot.

How to transplant ย 4th months and older strawberry plants ย – Mind the CROWN!!!!

Matured plants including flowering and fruiting plants.

This is the crown:

Transplanting strawberry plants

Do not tug or pull the crown when moving mature strawberry plants to bigger pots

To remove the plant from the older pot, its okay to cut some of the roots if they are stuck to the pot. But do not jarred the crown. This is the CPU of the matured strawberry plants!

How to transplant mature strawberry plants

When roots get stuck to pots, I do cut some of their roots to release strawberry plants , instead of pulling the crown!

How to remove remove strawberry plants from plastic bottles ? ๐Ÿ™‚

How to transplant mature strawberry plants

For plants in vertical plastic bottle: cut plastic away from the crown area to release the plants!

How to transplant mature strawberry plants

Cut away plastic to release the crown. Do NOT tag or pull the crown to release from bottle!

Transplanting strawberry plants

Release bottle from plants first then loosen the soil before moving the plants. Some of the roots may be stuck to the sides of the pot

Transplanting strawberry plants

Loosen the soil first around the plant. I like to clean the debris from old pot before replanting, but thats up to the individual gardener rather than a “must do” ! ๐Ÿ™‚

If the roots are stuck to the container or are too tangled up with other plant’s roots, its okay to cut it loose.

What do Transplant Stressed (Shocked) strawberry plants looked like? ๐Ÿ™‚

No matter how careful we were with the roots and crown, sometimes the plants will still be stressed during the transplant process. They looked like this in their new pot :

How to transplant strawberry plants

July 2015 – Strawberry plants in transplant shock state ๐Ÿ™‚

Don’t be discouraged! Give it sun and water as normal , wait patiently. There is no need to add fertilizer.

Transplanting mature strawberry plants

Transplanted strawberry plants can recover! It may takes 2 – 8 weeks to see it well again.

Stressed strawberry plants can recover

Mid August 2015 – The plant slowly recovered.

TIPS on transplanting strawberry plants ย – Best to move plants to permanent pot by third month when the crown is not yet developed.

 

Summary :

Young seedlings – Mind the roots when transplanting. Loosen roots before repotting in new pot.

Matured Plant – Mind the crown. Roots can be cut to separate plant from pot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acidify, Chill and Water strawberries’ soil in less than a minute!

Possible to add ground coffee to top soil without increasing pests in tropical Singapore’s apartment?

No Time!!!

Rushing for work in the morning!!

Strawberries care is only for people who are not working? ๐Ÿ™‚

Strawberry plants care in less than a minute

Drink your coffee and iced coffee ahead for strawberry plants on busy days

Actually, it takes less time than you need to water normal plants and still add to the acidic and cooler soil that these plants love! This is how I do it –

Prepare ahead! The coffee you enjoyed 2 weeks ago, dilute it more and collect the drips, then freeze them!

How to chill and acidify strawberry soil in less than a minute

Chill coffee ahead for strawberry plants

Strawberry plants care in the tropics

Strawberry Care -Chill and acidify strawberry plants soil as much as possible

Zero Waste Household – Ground coffee in paper filter will be buried in the compost bin with the rest of the kitchen raw greens for compost!

Garden By the Bed

Year 2015ย  – When we started on this journey in March 2015, it was just a table by a sunny window in a bedroom ๐Ÿ™‚

How to germinate strawberry seeds in Singapore

March 2015 – We started with one humble table ๐Ÿ™‚

Then two tables started filling up with plants as we gained confidence in gardening. Papaya, lychee and any seed that stroke our curiosity were tried. We seen how donut peaches start their journey as well! However strawberries were our favorite and thus, we grew many, many strawberries! ๐Ÿ™‚

SG Strawberries garden by the bed

April 2015

Our strawberries garden by the bed

From cups, strawberries moved to bigger and more hanging pots

How we grow 30 strawberry seedlings in a bottle

How we grow 30 strawberry seedlings in a self watering bottle (From Green Urban Garden Video I think)

 

How to grow strawberries inside apartments

Strawberries started to climb all over the windows!

Indoors strawberries garden in Singapore

September 2015 – Strawberries all over the windows and spilling over 3 tables!!

Indoors strawberries garden in Singapore

Strawberries everywhere ๐Ÿ™‚

Growing strawberries in Singapore

Strawberries spilled out of bedroom to the balcony

Year 2016 – ย We continue to fill our home with unique cold zone varieties. As we gained more experience growing them, we challenged ourselves to grow more white strawberries which are tastier and sweeter than common garden varieties! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Hanging Garden of strawberries and camomile plants

Small Spaces Gardens

December 15 2016 – bedroom garden

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

August 1 2016

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Yummy pineapple scented strawberries!

Small Spaces Gardens

December 30 2016 – Balcony

Year 2017 –ย 

Small Spaces Gardens

Jan 10 2017 – New Window garden out of PET bottles ๐Ÿ™‚

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Library – My writing area filled with our favorite plants!

Growing strawberries in Singapore

Aug 26 – Summer’s room

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Hanging Gardens still filled windows

Growing strawberries from seeds

Strawberries seedlings for workshops (

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

July – Kitchen’s windows

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Kitchenย  – It was really nice when flowers were spotted!

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

September – Living Room

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Living room fruits

As you can see, we really love to grow strawberries! ๐Ÿ™‚

Wild Woodlands Strawberries

Our wild strawberries’ journey began on September 1 2015 after freezing some seeds.

Germinated wild woodlands strawberries

Sept 7 2015 – Wild Woodlands strawberry seeds germinated (6 days)

My variety was “Fragaria Vesca” or Woodlands Strawberries. These seeds did not have good germination rate. Out of 30 seeds, only 5 germinated ๐Ÿ™

Growing wild woodlands strawberries from seeds

Only 5 out of 30 seeds of the Wild Woodlands variety germinated

Growing Wild Woodlands strawberries in Singapore

Oct 20 2015 – Wild Woodlands strawberries (bigger plant) vs. White Soul strawberries (smaller). Both were 50 days old .

Fragaria Vesca from seeds

Nov 2015 – Wild Woodlands strawberry was 3 months old. A much bigger plant than white strawberries.

Wild Strawberry would be the most challenging variety to grow in Singapore, because it is a cool season plant. ย This mean it sleeps during summer and grows in spring and fall !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I will have to be very creative in adapting this variety to our climate.

Grow Wild Woodlands strawberries outdoors Singapore

Dec 2015 – Test growing Wild Woodlands strawberries in outdoors garden

Growing wild woodlands strawberries

Strawberry care for outdoor pots: Mulched to cover top soil from overheating and iced often

Finally understood why my plants keep disappearing!!!

Why my wild woodlands strawberries disappeared without a trace

January 5 2016 – Snails not SG weather is the biggest threat to my outdoors strawberries!

Wild Woodlands strawberry eaten by snail

Jan 7 2016 – Last Wild Woodlands strawberry plant became snail’s poo! Have to start all over again ๐Ÿ™

Facts about Wild Woodlands Strawberries : –

The matured plants are 6 to 12 inches tall and reproduce by stolons (above ground runners) and it needs space to run!

 

White Soul Strawberries

Our white strawberry variety, White Soul, began its journey on Aug 29 2015. ย Their taste profile was described as “intensely sweet” and “vanilla” !

True white strawberries belonged to 2 groups only ย – (Gardening Know How dot com)

  1. Alpine (Fragaria Vesca, originated in Europe)
  2. Beach (Fragaria Chiloensis, originated in Chile, also known as South American or coastal strawberries)

Both the alpine and beach strawberries are wild species.

White strawberries are white because they lacked the protein FRA a1 which made red strawberries red. People who are allergic to red strawberries have no problems eating white strawberries because of the absence of this protein.

I found ย reading on white strawberries simply fascinating and wanted to grow them myself and hopefully , sample the fruits of my labor soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

After waiting 6 months for the seeds, my White Soul finally arrived and they were frozen overnight for direct sowing on moist soil on August 23 2015.

Germination time was very fast, only 6 days.

Germinated White Soul Strawberry seeds

August 29 2015 – White Soul strawberries has germinated !

Experiment 2 – Wanted to test if seeds frozen for over a month will improve its germination time, in the second batch.

White Soul Strawberry seeds germinated

Oct 21 2015 – White Soul germinated in 5 days (start Oct 16) after freezing seeds for over a month.

Conclusion – It made only one day difference in germination rate for seeds frozen overnight or one month.

Example of a white variety of strawberry sold in Isetan on January 8 2016. Fifteen pieces of gourmet white strawberries from Japan cost Singapore dollars almost $200!

Photo : Joyce Ho, January 8, in Isetan (Japanese Supermarket)

Photo : Joyce Ho

Common varieties of Wild Alpine White strawberries are the following –

  1. Krem
  2. Pineapple Crush
  3. White Delight
  4. White Giant
  5. White Solemacher
  6. White Soul

White Strawberries’ common taste profile are pineapple and strawberry with some variants of vanilla, rose, grapes and caramel (!!) depending on the strains. These are definitely worth growing! ๐Ÿ™‚ From our first harvest experience, we knew fresh home grown strawberries to be intensely flavorful and sweet, growing these varieties would be akin to growing a plant full of multi-flavored jelly beans!!!

As it was not stated on the Isetan White strawberries, one cannot tell if its the true wild or hybrid white strawberries. A much well known and sought after white hybrid variety is Pineberry (white flesh, red seeds), a cross between Fragaria and Ananassa varieties. This cannot be grown from seeds, as Pineberry is a cultivated hybrid, thus please do not buy pineberry seeds online.

My observations on White Soul – ย 

  1. Seedlings were very small.
White Soul strawberry babies

September 18 2015 -White Soul strawberries seedlings were 20 days old

2. Roots are frail and delicate, not easy to transplant.

Growing White Soul strawberries from seeds

Oct 20 2015 – White Soul strawberries are 52 days old

It would be very difficult to transplant them if I had no prior experience growing strawberries!

White Soul strawberries roots

Oct 25 2015 – Look how delicate the White Soul strawberry seedling and roots are!

Most of the white soul strawberries seedlings were transplanted into its individual bottles. I really do not want to transplant them too often!

White Soul strawberry seedling in individual pot

Oct 25 2015 – Painstaking work to transplant these White strawberries into individual pots!

3. Seedlings had low survival rate, more than half my 50 seedlings died after transplant ๐Ÿ™

White Soul strawberry seedlings died

Nov 2015 – Dying White Soul strawberry seedlings

4. ย For those that survived, they grew very slowly ๐Ÿ™‚

White Soul Strawberry seedling

Nov 10 2015 – 3 months old White Soul strawberries are small compared to other strawberry varieties!

5. Hardier plants from the 4th month. Survival rate is very good from this point.

White Soul strawberry seedling at 4th month

January 7 2016 – White Soul seedling are slightly over 4 months old

White Soul Strawberry at 18 weeks old

Jan 18 2016 – White Soul strawberry seedling is 4 inches tall!

White Soul strawberry crown

January 28 2016 – White Soul strawberry seedling had an emerging crown

White Soul strawberry developing a crown

Jan 28 2016 – Most varieties of strawberries developed a crown by the 4th month

Growing White Soul strawberries indoors

Jan 28 2016 – White Soul strawberries are growing taller

Growing White Soul Strawberry

March 5 2016 – Almost 8 months and no flowers yet! ๐Ÿ™

Grow White strawberries

March 6 2016 – Cupped leaves on this white strawberry plant. Cannot figure out the ‘why’ yet. Grown in grow bag with loose coco peat soil and compost.

March 10 2016 – First flower bud ๐Ÿ™‚

White strawberry from seed

After 8 long months, finally the first white strawberry ‘s flower bud appeared!

Growing white strawberry

March 12 2016 – White strawberry’s flower

Self pollinating strawberry flowers

March 18 2016 – Human bee Summer pollinating strawberry flower again ๐Ÿ™‚

White Strawberries

First set of flowers did not made it!

White strawberries

April 10 2016 – More tiny flowers and fruits !

Outdoor Trials – Bright Corridor

Even though this variety thrived in USA Zone 4 – 8, I wanted to see how they grow in our natural environment without air-conditioning. Thusย 10 plants in 3 batches were planted in my 60L compost pot in my bright corridor.

From this pioneer batch, only one survived today (March 8 2016), however I learned how to adjust the pot environment to enable them to survive in Singapore without air-conditioning! ๐Ÿ™‚

Outdoor Trial began on January 18 2016.

White Soul strawberries tested in outdoors trials

Jan 18 2016 – First batch of 3 months old White Soul strawberry seedlings grown outdoors

White Souls in a 60L corridor compost pot, Jan 18 2016

White Souls in a 60L corridor compost pot, Jan 18 2016

Ice and ice bottles to cool soil where air-conditioning is not available

Ice and ice bottles to cool soil where air-conditioning is not available

white strawberry

Sole surviving white strawberry in corridor pot, finally learned how to grow them without air-con!

As the weather became warmer in Singapore, more adjustments were made in our corridor pots ๐Ÿ™‚

Tropical care for strawberry plants

March 18 2016 – Frost arrived in our corridor strawberry pots

May 2016 – Corridor trails without air-conditioning, sun, and shelter from rain, were a total failure. All 30 plants died ! White Soul strawberries seem to need air-conditioning and a cooler climate/environment to thrive. Luckily for our studies, Regina Fok, who is based in USA, will germinate her seeds to help us test this theory.

White Strawberries

April 6 2016 – White Strawberries in air-conditioned library where I read and wrote blog’s posts!

After the post of Hydroponics Strawberries was written, I decided to experiment with half hydroponic/half soil method on the white strawberries. This was more a pragmatic decision rather than a zest to experiment with hydroponics! ๐Ÿ™‚ The roots of some plants had already outgrew their pots and transplanting flowering white strawberries was too risky. White Strawberries as we already learned during the seedlings stage, did not like to move! :

White Strawberries

Roots finding purchase outside my pot!

Net the bottom of the pot to prevent more soil erosion and the pot is sitting on an old steamer’s tray instead of resting fully in the nutrients solution. I needed to see how these plants react to the nutrients solution first before I changed them over totally!

White Strawberries

April 2 2016 -Testing pot of soil based white strawberries on nutrients solutions

White Strawberries

April 4 2016 – White pot of soil based flowering white strawberries and fully hydroponics from soil based (cups) survived! Air pump added for aeration in the tray as well.

I am not ambitious for this variety. I knew with my limited resources (example: cannot afford to keep the air chilled all day long) , I cannot grow them as well as they could be as ย they were a Zone 4 – 8 variety! Likely they needed the chill factor to thrive.

But,hey! They did survive to flower and I can only hope to see ONE fruit to make my day! More of course, would be better but lets just keep our fingers crossed! ๐Ÿ™‚

Comparative data from USA Regina Fok will collect data on white soul’s journey in cooler USA zone for us ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, Regina!!

Grow white strawberries from seeds

April 8 2016 – About 9 days to germinate and almost all seeds are viable. (Same as Singapore based data)

White Soul strawberries from seeds

May 21 2016 – Regina Fok’s white soul strawberries are 2 months old. Small seedlings (same as our Singapore based data)

 

White Soul Strawberry Summary –

  1. Perennial plant
  2. Heavy feeder, need Phosphorous and Potassium like most strawberries
  3. Minimum 6 hours light, prefers shade over full sun
  4. Minimum soil temperature is 15 degree Celsius
  5. Well drained loamy soil
  6. Moderate watering, preferred drip irrigation
  7. Temperature not above 29 degree Celsius (not suitable to be grown outdoors in our tropical heat)
  8. Mature plants are 6 – 8 inches tall, Width 10 – 12 inches across
  9. Suitable for USA zone 4 – 8 (For reference, Singapore is Zone 14 – 15). That’s why, this variety is very challenging with my limited resources! ๐Ÿ™

 

As there is not much information available on white soul strawberries in our tropical zone, we are hoping to record more data as we grow them in our blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

White strawberries are a challenge to grow in tropical zone, but if we don’t at least try to cultivate them here, there is no chance to taste these great tasting fruits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Germinate Strawberry Seeds

3 EASY steps to germinate strawberry seeds in Singapore :

I) Bright morning sun room in normal SG temperature (NO air-conditioning)

How to germinate strawberry seeds in Singapore

May 2015 – Bright morning sun area is best

Cool breeze ventilated the germinating trays which were recycled from fruit packaging.

Germinating Strawberry seeds in Singapore

Feb 21 2017 – Strawberry seeds need light and warmth.

2) Don’t bury the seeds! Seeds sowed on soil surface as shown:

How to germinate strawberry seeds in the tropics

Strawberry seeds need light to germinate

How to germinate strawberry seeds in the tropics

Successful strawberry seeds germination

3. Water fromย bottom up rather than top down.

How to water strawberry seeds during germination

Water is push up the soil

How to water strawberry seeds during germination

Fresh strawberries seedlings in cups to save space.

 

Once the seeds are buried in soil, it may not germinate or germinate at a slower pace (more than 10 days).

Watering from the bottom lets the soil takes only the amount of water it needs and the excess water is drained away through the holes we cut at the bottom.

If you have time for only top down watering, just make sure that the seeds are not dragged into the soil. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have germinated different varieties of strawberries with these 3 easy steps, and they work the best.

 

Other observations on Strawberry Seeds Germination in Singapore:

  1. Types of pots used – ย Cylinder shaped versus flat surface seeds germination “pots”.
Germinating strawberries seeds in Singapore

Cylinder shaped pot had varied results with strawberry seeds germination

Cylinder or cone shaped pot yield different results. For example, whiteย strawberry varieties did not germinate in this pot but red strawberries did.

Flat surface container germination work for all strawberry seeds I tried.

I can only reasoned that its the uneven absorption of water as the cause. The moisture need to be relatively even for the soil, and thus, a flat surface container work best for germination.

Self watering without mosquitoes risks

This paper towels below my flat “pot” retained ย water from the soil and prevent mosquitoes from breeding in my “pots” !

2. Temperature of soil

Some seeds instructions recommended a certain range of temperature to germinate seeds.

For example, most white strawberry varieties instructedย 16C – 21Cย  be maintained for successful germination.

Self watering pot for seeds germination

Ice and water in reservoir to keep soil chill, aquarium sponge is used to wick chilled water to soil

But it did not work for me.

I had a lot of difficulties germinating Heirloom Pineapple strawberry seeds with the chilled soil in my self watering pot above. Finally I gave up and returned to my 3 easy steps method, and the seeds germinated …finally!

Sometimes what work for gardeners abroad may not work for us! We just have to try our own way and don’t give up ! ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Germinating From Fresh strawberries seeds ๐Ÿ™‚

Harvesting ripe seeds from strawberries

Summer and Shona were harvesting mature seeds from ripe strawberries ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, the experts’ consensus are in, this is not a good idea! ๐Ÿ™‚

Supermarkets’ strawberries are hybrids and they do not produce true to the parent plants because of their genetic make-up. In laymen terms, this mean “no fruits” !!! ๐Ÿ™

My experience had been these strawberries seedlings that we grew from fresh fruits, do not survive long enough to bear fruits.

In spite of this, the method on how to extract the best seeds is still valid and we successfully grew second generation strawberries from our own Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries plants in September 2016.

Although extracting seeds from supermarkets’ fruits do not yield fruiting plants, it may still be a good project to engage kids to gardening. Kids have fun when they see, feel and make their own decision on which seeds to harvest, plant them and then, anticipated the seedlings. ๐Ÿ™‚

Strawberries from seeds

Strawberry seeds just germinated – Very cute!

Our fresh seeds germinate the fastest, sometimes overnight to the second day to see something sprouting! ๐Ÿ™‚

At least its more interesting than germinating green beans, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

TIPS –ย For better germination rate , FREEZEย strawberry seeds overnight first, before sowing ๐Ÿ™‚

How to germinate Strawberry seeds

Freezing strawberry seeds

I prefer directly on moist soil rather than tissues or cotton because its easier to transplant them later . Place some seeds in bowl and ziplocked in bag to freeze. This prevent seeds from spilling accidentally in the freezer and moisture from seeping in.

My recommendation is to try with some seeds at the first try instead of the whole pack! ๐Ÿ™‚ That way, if they did not germinate the first round, at least there are seeds left to try again.

Regarding freezing, I have froze seeds in various time frames before I sowed (trials : 1 month, 2 month, 3 months, overnight, 2 nights and NO Freezing) .

Those seeds that were frozen, germination time is 5 -6 days, regardless of how long they have been frozen. Thus , I think overnight freezing in ziplock or airtight pack is enough in Singapore conditions. 5 – 6 days is still faster than most seeds packaging predictive gauge of 2 – 4 weeks.

If the seeds are not frozen, germination time can be more than 10 days or they don’t germinate.

Left over seedsย or new seeds should be ziplocked in bags and kept in fridge or freezer as well. Being chilled, they last longer and would be ready for sowing the next time you felt like growing fresh strawberries at home again! ๐Ÿ™‚

Please leave a comment if you find this content useful ๐Ÿ™‚

SEEDS FOR SALE ย (DIRECT FROM GROWERS) !!

 

 

Harvesting Strawberries In SG Apartment!

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The day finally arrived to pick and taste the fruits of our labor!ย No one, not even ourselves, anticipated that this day would arrived so quickly.

Harvest strawberries in Singapore

Picking fresh strawberries in Singapore

We picked our first SG strawberries on October 20 2015, two months earlier than expected. ๐Ÿ™‚

As our plants are cultivated in water bottles and not pots , our fruits are very small as a result. But that is okay because they made up for its size with flavor! ๐Ÿ™‚

Picking Strawberries in Singapore

My fellow researchers/gardeners are thrilled to bits !

Harvest fresh strawberries in Singapore

Summer’s wish has come true!

Picking fresh strawberries in Singapore

Picking strawberries in Singapore!

Picking fresh strawberries in Singapore

Home grown strawberries in Singappore

Pick and eat home grown strawberries

Strawberries needed to be picked as soon as they are ripe. They have a strong strawberries scent which attracts fruit flies otherwise! ๐Ÿ™‚

Pesticide free strawberries in Singapore

Pesticide free home grown strawberries

Our home grown SG strawberries tasted like jam with a punch of apricot, very flavorful! They are so different from supermarkets’ strawberries.

Lets hope other gardeners can contribute ideas of how to make them grow better, and share their input! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Strawberries’ Overview – From Seeds to Fruits :)

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My 11 year old daughter’s birthday wish was to harvest strawberries in our apartment. ๐Ÿ™‚

It would not be a hard wish to grant if we were living in a temperate climate region, but we are living in Singapore, a tropical country.

Right from the start, we were met with disbelief and skepticism when we tell friends what we want to do. They all think I was crazy!!!

Our impossible mission began March 2015, after watching a few videos on how other people grew strawberries from seeds.

Most of these how-to videos were from Europe or United States. There were none from South East Asia, at least not the English speaking ones that we could find.

The first strawberries germinated on April 4 2015, from a packet of seeds from Far East Flora, a local nursery near home.

Strawberry Seeds in Singapore

It took 10 days to see our first strawberries seeds sprouting! There was no going back after this point.

Strawberry seedlings from seeds in Singapore

A week later, we decided to see if we could harvest seeds ourselves and germinate seedlings from store bought fresh strawberries.

We discovered that matured seeds from ripe fresh fruits had a faster germination rate of 2 to 5 days instead of 10 days. This is Summer’s video on how to choose the matured fresh strawberry seeds for germination :

However in late December 2015, we were advised by American growers that harvesting from fresh strawberries was not a good idea. All our supermarkets’ strawberries are hybrids, they would not grow true to parent plants. Our own experience with these seedlings showed they did not last long. Most of our seedlings from fresh strawberries died at 5th month or after they were transplanted to deeper pots.

Harvesting ripe seeds from strawberries

Kids are harvesting mature seeds from ripe strawberries ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I hope this excitement of discoveries and spirit of learning led them to research in fields of their interests when they grow up.

We created our group on Facebook, ” SG Farming in Apartments”,ย  to share our experience on May 1 2015.

More pictures on how we began to harvest day’s post is pinned at the top of this group. Our link is at :ย https://www.facebook.com/groups/866039746800973/

Please follow our post “How to Germinate Strawberry seeds” for tips ! ๐Ÿ™‚

By mid May 2015, we had 60 strawberry seedlings thriving in our bedroom. The kids and I are now strawberries “farmers”!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow strawberry from seeds in Singapore

Strawberry baby plants from seeds in our SG bedroom ๐Ÿ™‚

 

From these tiny sprouts, more leaves appeared. They were such pretty seedlings, and this was the first time we seen strawberries’ seedlings!

The question of ย whether our strawberry plants can really really bear fruits troubles me constantly ๐Ÿ™ ย I told my daughter we would take them as far as we can, not wanting to disappoint her with false hopes.

Strawberry seedling

Our 1 month old strawberry seedling

Strawberry seedling at 3 months

3 months old Strawberry seedling has an emerging crown

As we would be away during the June holidays, and not wanting to bother my elderly parents too much, we decided to give half of our 60 seedlings to seasoned gardeners in Singapore.

Strawberries seedlings shared with Singapore gardeners

Sharing our strawberry seedlings with Alex Ng, who successfully grew grapes along his corridor ๐Ÿ™‚

Due to over-watering, pests had invaded our soil when we returned home after the June break.

I decided to change the soil instead of applying pesticide, and took the opportunity to look at strawberry’s roots.

strawberry plant roots

3 months old strawberry plant has an emerging crown and long roots

Strawberry seedling has long roots

Close Up look at strawberry roots – very long and taper

Please follow post on “How to Transplant Strawberry Plants” for tips!

By the 4th month, strawberry plants became hardier.

They are drought resistant and need less water. At this time, the soil should be more acidic. Yeh Gerald from Urban Farmers (Singapore) Facebook’s group, advised to add used ground coffee to the soil.

Strawberry seedling stages

4th month strawberry seedling

 

Strawberry plant length at 4 months

Strawberry plant at 4th month is 29cm

As the strawberry plants grew, space to grow them at my only sunny window in the apartment was running out.

Strawberries from seeds

Crowded Table top – strawberry seedlings!!

Vertical garden seem the only solution left.

All our vertical towers are recycled from used plastic water bottles and painted white to reflect heat away from the plants.

Strawberry farm in Singapore bedroom

Strawberry plants covered our windows and filled our table ย space!

 

I am guessing that my daughter is the only kid in school who can say she is sleeping and studying in a strawberry garden in tropical Singapore!

On Sept 20 2015, when the strawberries were five months old, flowers buds were found on our the strawberry plants. A couple of days later, these flowers bloom.

We were really happy to see them. Fruiting seem possible at this stage.

Strawberry plant flowers

Our first glimpse of a strawberry plant’s flower

Two legged bees were put to work, pollinating these flowers with a paint brush. A friend from our gardening group, Ms. Regina Fok, send us a link with information on how to do this.

Summer presented a video in YouTube to show how we pollinated ours.

This is my theory. In Singapore, because of high humidity, we cannot relied exclusively on natural elements like wind or bees (which we don’t have in our room) to pollinate strawberries’ flowers.

Self Pollinate Strawberry flowers

Human Bee Shona pollinating strawberry flowers in Singapore

The best chance to see fruits is to lend a human’s helping hand.

When pollination is successful, the petals dropped the next day and its head started to droop downwards.

Self pollinated strawberry flower

One day after self pollination (Sept 21 2015) – Strawberry flower looked bruised.

Self pollinated strawberry flowers

Self Pollinated strawberry flower on the right ย has shed all petals,begin to fruit.

stages of strawberry fruit growth

On the right, flower has shed all its petals and begin fruiting journey. On the left, a fruit becoming more developed.

Fruiting process start as soon as petals are dropped and the flower’s bud drooped down. This happened within a week instead of months as we expected.

Strawberry plant baby is really ugly!

First stage of strawberry fruit development

First stage of strawberry fruit – flower lost its petals, head drooped downward

Second stage of strawberry fruit development

Second stage of strawberry fruit development – flesh and seeds are green

Third stage of strawberry fruit development

Third stage of strawberry fruit development – seeds began to redden

4th stage of strawberry fruit development

4th stage of strawberry fruit development – seeds redden further while flesh remained light green

5th stage of strawberry fruit development

An unexpected surprise – strawberry fruit flesh turned from light green to white while seeds remained red

6th stage of strawberry fruit development

Pink blush on strawberry fruit’s white flesh overnight

Last strawberry fruit development stage

A recognizable red strawberry fruit at last!

SG Strawberries first harvest

Oct 20 2015 – Our first strawberries harvest. Absolutely thrilled!

 

This story shared on TEDx stage on May 28 2016. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, TEDxPickering Street for the honour to share our story.

 

All the videos here are written and presented by children, using their own words.

Summer is 11 years old and she is our spokesperson for the English communities. Shona is 8 years old, and she is presenting in Japanese. (Year 2015)

They both enjoyed making these how-to videos and sharing our experience.

We hope you enjoyed them too.

PS. This is how we grow 50 -60 strawberry plants at home !! :))

August 7 2016 – We harvested our second variety of strawberries. The children and I love these Heirloom Pineapple strawberries even more than the red variety! ๐Ÿ™‚ Check out why they are so special at the link.