Aloe Vera Care & Benefits

The following notes and illustrations are from Eric Lim (June 11 2017) who hope they are helpful to fellow gardeners.

Healthy Aloe Vera looked like this –

Healthy Aloe Vera Signs

Healthy Aloe Vera

Unhealthy Aloe Vera symptoms –

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Unhealthy Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plant problems and solutions –

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems 2

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems 3

How to grow aloe vera –

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

How to propagate aloe vera ๐Ÿ™‚

Interesting information about Aloe Vera from my readings –

  • is a succulent and like the cacti, cannot tolerate any medium that allowed water to stay stagnant. (Eric Lim recommend lecca balls, cacti mix, basically it is similiar toย rosemary/lavenderย which loves the dry medium in this customize soil formula post! Anotherย method is potting soil with more sand and perlite to allow water to drain out quickly.ย ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Bright light area is best
  • Water this plant only when the soil is very dry

Benefits and Uses –

  • Hair & Scalp Care – Aloe Vera gel contains proteolytic enzymes which repair dead skin cells on scalp. Its a good conditioner that not only allow hair to shine but also reduce dandruff, itching and promotes hair growth! ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Skin Care – reduce inflammation and rashes
  • First Aid – relieve sunburns and other minor burns

Natural Care with Aloe Vera Gelย – Blend to a paste and apply

  • Dry Skin – pinch of tumeric, teaspoon each of honey and milk, rose water
  • Sensitive Skin –ย cucumber juice, yogurt and rose oil (I use pure essential oil extract)
  • Scrub –ย a cup of sugar and two tablespoons of lemon (have not tried! )
  • Hair Mask – coconut oil and few drops of rosemary essential oil

 

Disclaimer – I love these natural remedies but only try at own risk! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

Gardening 101

I was a noob myself in 2015 and still remembered how I start.

What seem common sense to seasoned gardeners may not be so clear for new gardeners. I read a lot of posts in every group that I joined, researched gardening books and online videos and yet, with the volume of information available, questions still arose.

What was simple to experienced gardeners is a minefield for new gardeners!

How to start? Make a list of what you want to grow.

What to grow? In the past, I often advised, “Grow what you like to eat” ! But what happened if new gardeners are like me, a connoisseur who love to cook withย rosemary and thymeย ? These herbs are not easy to grow for even some seasoned gardeners.

I have learned to be more specific with my advice. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here is a list of some easy edibles to consider. For example, mint, kang kong, basil, peanuts, pak choi, arugula etc. Rule of thumb for beginners is, “READ FIRST” then rushed out to buy the gardening essential. The reason is, plants have different needs and the designated area for gardening may not be suitable. Most edibles thrived better where there is sun. At least 6 hours of sun if possible or at least, a very bright area. If there is no sun, fret not, your options are limited but there are grow lights or just grow more shade loving plants instead.

Gardening tips for new gardeners

See that Magnifying glass on the right corner?

Effective use of social media as a learning tool start from knowing how to source for information quickly. Use this magnifying glass to search for answer to questions. You will be amazed how quickly Facebook gathered and collect related posts for reading. The questions we asked as noobs may have been posted many times before. To save time, this was how I learned gardening using social media groups. An advantage of such tool is being able to learn at your own chosen time and be able to find out common problems (pests, pollination difficulties) affecting these plants and how to handle them before experiencing them yourself! ๐Ÿ™‚ Last but not least, who the experts are in that area and be able to ask directly! ๐Ÿ™‚

Some edibles need not be grown from seeds. Most plants can be propagated. The word, simply mean to grow from a parent plant.ย By the way, I learned about this method when I helped my then 10 years old daughter with homework. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thus cut a stem or trimmed off the end on a slant cut, and stick this in water and wait for roots to emerged. Then plant in your preferred medium. This is my blog post on mint and included in it, a video where my daughter will show you how. ๐Ÿ™‚

Gardening basic for new gardeners

Rosemary propagation – better chance of rooting if stems are from a live plant than grocery herbs!

What soil to buy ? Ever stand in front of the aisle where soil are sold? It is a different reality when standing in front of rows of soil options isn’t it? These are just too many types to choose from!

Seeds Compost – Likely it will have more husk and sieved soil to retain moisture. For this brand, fine sand is added to keep the soil loose for young roots to grow without hindrance. Fertilizer is included to last 2 months. Its a darker color compared to Horti brand. For your information, seeds do not need fertilizer to start.

IMG_3164

Then what is the different between seeds compost and seed potting mix? I think not much difference in terms of purpose. Seeds compost or potting mix tend to have less barks, more loose and water retaining properties than other types of soil. For seeds, I preferred to start them in seeds compost.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Seeds Potting mix and Potting soil

What is potting soil? Essentially its the same thing but with more barks, some perlite (volcano ash that had been heated into pebbles form), and fertilizers for growing plants. Most seasoned gardeners customized their own mixes for different plants. Check out the formulas at the above link.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Soil for edibles

 

On fertilizers, my personal advice for new gardeners is to remember why we are growing edibles in the first place.

We grow to eat. The kids will be eating them too. There is no deadline to rush the produce to the market. Thus, please give your plants time to mature and if needed, then add fertilizers. Most soil from the stores already have fertilizers in them for 4 – 8 weeks.

Again, there are many different kinds of fertilizers available. I preferred organic fertilizers, such as rabbit poo (any herbivore animals’ poo) or worm casting. I also make my own seaweed fertilizer and recycled green waste for compost in my outdoor gardens. Amy Choong made her own orange peel soil conditioner which I will be be trying out soon. Some gardeners kept earthworms and harvest worm tea and casting (poo) for their gardens. Most fruit bearing plants need higher Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) fertilizers. Please Google to find out more.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Worm casting – many different brands available!

How about soil – less options? ย If you are just considering your options, why not try Lim San‘s method first, out of recycled cups and plastic bottles. Trust me, plants don’t really care where you grow them in as long as their growing conditions are met! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Hydroponics salads following Lim San‘s instructions!

And even a video from the kids! ๐Ÿ™‚

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Small space gardening – From “garden”

The benefits of growing your own vegetables? There is no waste, we only harvest what we need and then the plant continue to grow. Even if I only have one sunny window and a table, with Lim San’s methods, I get to grow and harvest fresh vegetables from this table! ๐Ÿ™‚ Kids too, are better at science subject because of our hobby.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

To Table ๐Ÿ™‚

Last word on gardening.:)

It is FUN.

The next thing to do after reading all of this information?

Just do it! ๐Ÿ™‚

PS. Even if you have not decide whether to go with soil or soil-less, or have no soil on hand ? Don’t worry, seeds can start on damp kitchen paper too!! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

Customize Soil Mixes

We all know that plants have different preferences for where they rest their “feet” (roots). Some plants preferred very dry medium, like rosemary and lavenders, while others thrived in moist but well drained mixes . Generally,ย plants do not tolerate having their roots soaked all the time. Thus, it is important to know how to customize soil mixes or at the very least, how to adjust ready mixes for different plants’ needs.

Seasoned gardener, Guanster Guan, shared his soil formula for dry loving plants which need very well drained soil. By this, he meant that water need to drain out very fast, it does not sit in the soil. His ratio is 1:1:1 of the following :

  1. LECA balls (small ones)
  2. Rice Husks
  3. Baba Organic Vege mix (suitable for edibles)
Customize soil mixes for different plants needs

Ratio 1:1:1 of leca balls, rice husk and vege soil mix or other organic compost

Customize soil mixes

Close up look at Guanster 1:1:1 ratio for non-water retaining soil

Guanster also advised gardeners to adjust this ratio according to the garden’s environment. For example, if ย the garden is located in a high rise where it is dry and windy, ย to add more vege mix (or other good quality compost) so that the medium do not dried up too fast.

Customize soil mixes

Baba Vege Soil Mix (Organic) or other good quality brands

On the other hand, if the garden’s location is humid, where the air flow is bad and stale, it is advisable to add more LECA balls which allow aeration for the roots.

For soil mixes that contained compost, perlite (volcano ash that had been dried in 1200C heat), cocochip etc, his ratio advice is not more than 30% ย of each because this media will become acidic over time. Plants such as lavender and rosemary which preferred alkaline PH do not thrived in acidic soil.

On super soil mix for most other plants, his preferred formula are theseย with lecca

Customize soil mix

Plants which preferred more moisture – Naturegro Compost and Garden Formula Potting Mix

For edibles, add in Baba Vegemix (picture is third one from the top) for a potent formula. Another gardener, Ooi Shirley, enjoyed good harvest with this Baba Vegemix for most of her plants. Jaimie Lim used Garden potting mix for seeds and rosemary plants. Guanster used Baba vegemix to germinate seeds.

For succulent n cactus, Guanster’s formula is Baba cacti/succulent mix , volcano sand and lecca at the ratio of 1 : 1: 2

Soil for cacti and succulent

Customize soil mix for cacti and succulent

Cacti and succulent soil

Ratio 1:1:2 of Baba cacti, Volcano sand and lecca

Mix thoroughly and remove any coarse particles.

cacti and succulent soil mix

Cacti and succulent soil customize and mixed thoroughly

On burnt soil, Guanster advised this will break down into a powdery form over a year. This prevent aeration and thus choked plants’ roots. He preferred to use dried rice husks (non carbonated) which break down into plant food instead.

On volcanic soil, he felt that as it has a sticky texture, it is best to mix with volcanic sand rather than compost. Or volcanic sand with compost.

Guanster stressed that this is his preferred soil formula that he hopes to share with fellow gardeners.

Don’t have to follow 100% ! “. ๐Ÿ™‚

There are more than one way to garden and customize soil mixes. Most seasoned gardeners have their own formulas. It is important to understand the WHY’sย and use this information as a guideline for available options only.

Regarding feeding, his advice is reduce dosage and increase frequencies. Plants suffer shock when gardeners do the opposite, that is feed once a month but increased dosage than recommended. This applied to every fertilizer.

How to check plants healthย when buying from nurseries –

  1. Check the base of the stems (especially for rosemary and lavender). DO NOT buy if the lowermost stems are black or browning. This indicate roots rot already. Plants in this condition will die soon.
  2. Check the color of the leaves. Stressed plants showed distress in leaves as well, for example, brown and discolored leaves.
  3. Check the soil for fungus or algae.

Most of local nurseries plants came from Cameron Highlands or other parts of Malaysia. The reasons why most of these plants suffered stress are the following :

  1. Weather – our local weather is hot compared to the plants’ growing environments in Cameron Highlands.
  2. Transportation and time – Plants from orchards in cooler Cameron Highlands are packed in a) peat based media to retain as much moisture as possible during their long journey to Singapore. However, this media is not suitable for humid Singapore. b) The plants are also wrapped in plastic and packed in boxes, to prevent spill in the cargo. This increased the heat stress on the plants. 3) Long queues at customs put these plants in extreme stress conditions when they finally reached our nurseries.

Knowing how to customize soil or media for different plants’ needs increased the survival rate for these plants. For rosemary and lavender, as we found out in earlier posts, Guanster also gave the same advice, that is change the media from nurseries’ coco peat base to very well draining media. He preferred formula is 1:1:1 ย (lecca, rice husks and vege mix). Other gardeners from the above 2 hyperlinks, have other formulas.

Less severely stressed plants can be treated. Once media is changed to a more suitable type, these plants’ are slowly acclimatized. ย First placed plants in partial sunlight or filtered bright area (afternoon sun). The best is 4 to 5 hours of morning sun. Water as prescribed to the plants’ needs.

 

 

GRAPES and COWBOYS :)

And … COWGIRLSย ! ๐Ÿ™‚

In every group of various communities, there are bound to be a small group of rebels who are not satisfied with the ordinary. They defied every established rule to do things their own way and explore new boundaries! ๐Ÿ™‚

These are the grapes growers who do so in Singapore high rise gardens! ๐Ÿ™‚ Having no land and facing countless challenges are not going to stop these cowboys/girls from growing what they want and how they want to do it! ๐Ÿ™‚

GrumpyGrapes – Not sure if you are reading this right? How could growing grapes be possible in hot tropical crowded cities like Singapore?!

Grow grapes in SG corridor

June 29 2016 – Harvest day is around the corner !

Well, this apartment’s corridor “vineyard” ย had broken its own record on June 29 2016. More than 35 brunches of grapes, not counting newly formed flowers stretched along a 10 m length of vine. The gardener, Alex Ng, ย said with his usual caustic wit, that no special fertilizer was added, only the occasional cursing after happy bouts of Heineken and the sun seem to do the trick ! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thus, tip for gardeners!

If all else failed, start cursing!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow grapes in Singapore

Grape vines supported on bamboo poles along a common corridor!

For young vines, Alex add chicken poo or other organic fertilizer every 2 weeks, and use rice or fish/aquarium rinse to water his plants. As the vines matured, they do not need much to bear fruits. To cope with the heat, Alex watered his grapes religiously two or three times a day and with large volume of water. He harvested grapes all year round and after each harvest, pruned back the vines and wait for new shoots to develop. Alex Ng kept seedlings and regrow from cutting after each pruning of his vines. All his plants are grown in pots, and supported by 2 m length bamboo poles and lift 2 m from the floor.

Grow Grapes in Singapore

Simple No Frills Trellis made of bamboo poles.

If this bamboo pole support snapped, grapes are going to rain down on people on the street ! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am sure no one will complain.

Grow grapes

Out flung grapes hung precariously over the side of the corridor’s railing!

Grapes Growers in Singapore

Grapes – A sight to behold along this corridor!

According to Alex, grapes typically took 3 months to ripen on the branch. For some cultivars, when there is sufficient sun, they will turned from green to this purple hue.

Grape growers in Singapore

Grapes turned red when there is sufficient sun

Je t’aime Isabella! – If you had heard Henry Lim described his Isabella (not his pretty wife’s name, by the way), one could easily be mistaken that he was talking about his amoureux (lover) ๐Ÿ™‚

Grapes growers in Singapore

Isabella grapes

It took him 3 long years from cutting to young plant to its current maturity. Along the way, he encountered numerous setbacks. From a blank paper, he literally learned how to grow grapes in our region from scratch. How and which soil mixes/ what trellis work best, pest control, fertilizers (organic and inorganic), composting, worm casting, repotting issues, pruning methods, experimented with coconut water (for its cytokinins properties) and diluted beer fertilizer etc.

Grapes in high rise apartments

V-shaped trellis worked best for Henry LIm. Maximum sun exposure!

His journey seem to echo my strawberries journey!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Like him, I experimented like a mad scientist!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grapes in high rise gardens

First time fruiting after 3 years ! Stages of ripening – Green, Red, Burgundy

No-one really understood the work behind all the success stories/pictures until one experienced it. I am sure for every gardener who did , understood this deeper than anyone else and more so, all those heartaches felt when things don’t work out.

But, finally they did.

Grapes in high rise gardens

100 days from flowers to harvest day! First stage of fruiting

For Henry Lim, harvest day was on June 4 2016!ย Determination, 120 hours of research, trials of experimenting and steely grit, paid off.

Grapes in high rise apartments

Isabella – Sweet, Juicy, more flavorful than supermarkets! One seed per grape.

 

Another “cowboy” gardener isย Alan Tanย , whom I wrote about inย January 2016, “Mr. Green Fingers” in this blog. Heย started growing grapes in 2015, at his kitchen window. His grape seedling grew so quickly that his vines almost obscured the kitchen’s view and lend a wilderness chic to this apartment facade! ๐Ÿ™‚ I often wonder what his neighbors thought of this “wild window” and “wild corridor” ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow growers in Singapore

High rise grapes vines

As long as gardens do not blocked emergency exits along high rise corridors, personally, I rather hoped to share more wild green stories in Singapore’s high rise public housing. I applaud Alan’s green fingers in bringing natural green beauty into an otherwise, mundane building. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sharon Verena – Highest grape vine in Singapore ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally, a cowgirl’s story!

Believe me, Sharon has more growing at this high rise garden than grapes! I think to cover all that she grew here, I will write a blog post solely for her garden … soon ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Wild Edibles in high rise

Champagne grapes vines

Wild edibles

Grapes Vines creep along high above Singapore! ๐Ÿ™‚

Nowadays, growing grapes in high rise apartments and communities’ gardens are more common. But if it had not been for these cowboys/girls who challenged and overcome our space limitations and shared how to do it, we may not have gotten this far.

Henry Lim and Alex Ng continued to share their knowledge in SG GrapeGrowers group ( link :ย https://www.facebook.com/groups/SGGrapeGrowers/ ) with our communities.

SG Grapes Growers

July 9 2016 – Henry Lim visiting Alex’s vineyard, look at those clusters of grapes in the background!

Like most gardening enthusiasts, we all enjoyed our chats with these renegade gardeners. Not only their drive to learn and generosity to share their knowledge but also, they all seem to posses a keen sense of humor, an ability to laugh away their failures and strong will to overcome setbacks. ๐Ÿ™‚ ย Indeed, maybe, this is also the secret to their success –ย Not afraid to fail, thus dare to try anything!

Alex Ng’s TIPSย on how to start growing grapes in Singapore –

  1. Buy a stem cutting from nurseries in Singapore (cheapest one is $6 at World Farm and other nurseries may stock more exotic varieties at higher price)
  2. Re-pot to largest pot, preferably minimum size 40 cm height and depth
  3. Normal well drained garden soil is good enough for grapes cutting
  4. Once transplanted , leave in bright area for a few days before moving pot to an area with direct sunlight. Grapes can grow well in areas without direct sunlight but it should be in an area with bright natural light as much as possible.
  5. Water daily
  6. No need to fertilize in the first few months
  7. The pot need to be in a place where there is room for trellis to be built as the grape need to climb as it grows. Under the right conditions, healthy grapevine will grow a few inches each day.
  8. The trellis can be built later as the cutting grows.

 

 

Green Fingers’ Sanctuary

Our country, Singapore, measures 50 km (31 miles) from east to west and only 27 km (17 miles) north to south but supports over 5 million multinational people! Due to lack of land mass, most people lived in high rise apartments, and have no private outdoor gardens. ๐Ÿ™‚

But as I discovered after creating my gardening group, “SG Farming in Apartments“, gardeners in Singapore had carved whatever space at disposal for green sanctuaries that fed the souls and stomachs ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Edibles Corridors – Living in high rise apartments, corridors became the ideal spots for a garden, especially when there are ample sun! Although sunlit space is valuable, gardeners grow what they love on minimum space that do not obstruct walkway for their neighbors. ๐Ÿ™‚

Singapore private gardens

Amy Choong – Salad bar and even okras from recycled cups and bottles

Amy Choong used recycled cups and bottles to grow edibles in 90% sand and 10% compost with home made soil conditioner. Her edibles include okras, herbs, tomatoes and a broad selection of leafy vegetables! ๐Ÿ™‚

Singapore private gardens

Amy Choong‘s Garden

Amran A. Hassan‘s amazing suspended herbs garden in recycled cups and hooked along a corridor’s wall!

Singapore private gardens

Amran A. Hassan ‘s herbs garden

Every space, even the wall along a corridor, is precious when there is no ground for a garden in urban cities.

Corridor Edibles Gardens

Full view of Amran’s herbs wall

One of the first post of corridor gardening by Guat Lian Pehย  to my then newly mint group last year ( May 2015), and therefore left a deep impression. She was one of the first to teach me how to grow a vegetables garden along a corridor using normal household baskets! ๐Ÿ™‚

Singapore private gardens

Guat Lian Peh‘s corridor vegetables “Farm” !

Singapore private gardens

Guat Lian Peh‘s new corridor crops include climbers!

Where there is no space, these corridor railings are very useful to hook racks so that gardeners can safely grow plants without having their pots fell from high rise apartments and caused harm to people on the ground.

Singapore private gardens

Evelyn Saw‘s fresh greens!

Edibles Corridors

Urika Sia – Garden on racks

Edibles Corridors

Climbers along corridors!!

For safety reasons, there are by-laws over-seeing corridor gardens in high rise apartments in Singapore. A minimum 1.2 meter clearance space is needed, in case of fire or other emergency evacuation . Breeding grounds should be dry and gardeners must ensure there are no stagnant water to breed mosquitoes, as dengue cases here are always a concern.

Edibles Corridors

TN DNY – Recycled an old bed frame for a narrow garden bed for his corridor!

Consideration for neighbors is good policy when corridors are shared. Less frictions living in close proximity with each other made life easier for all. And gardening became a shared joy and create opportunities for closer bonding.

Edibles Corridors

Freshly harvested radish from his old bed frame! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Singapore private gardens

In addition to this oregano, TN DNY grew thyme and rosemary very well too!

Other gardeners like Tong Alan, who are skilled with tools, made their own grow bed out of huge drums that include a central composting tower to feed soil with organic matter while they grew vegetables on minimum space! ๐Ÿ™‚

Singapore private gardens

Tong Alan’s vegetables “plot” in drums!

These heavy drums sat on hand- made trolleys to access sun whenever needed! They are simply too heavy to cart around otherwise. According to Alan, one drum required about 150 kg of soil to fill.

Singapore private gardens

Labor of love learned from internet resources like YouTube.

Besides edibles gardens, there are spaces created for beauty that soothe gardeners’ souls in our high rise living quarters as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

The world outside these gardens may be a hub of activity and newspapers filled with alarming developments around the world, looking at these pictures of quiet solace, I understood what they meant for gardeners tending to these beauties.

Singapore private gardens

Minnie Lee‘s cosy garden gave her peace and satisfaction ๐Ÿ™‚

Singapore edibles corridor garden

Minnie Lee’s quiet enjoyment with her flowers and edibles garden

Singapore private gardens

Saodah Hasbolla‘s flowers brightened her day!

Singapore private gardens

Farreeda Bagam Mssm ‘s garden was featured in a local documentary June 2016!

Singapore private gardens

Farreeda D.I.Y hanging poles from tree branches to save space (above right)

Mohd Sanny is known in our gardening community for his lush and fragrant flowers corridor’s garden but his video is unable to load in this blog post currently.

Singapore private gardens

Mohd Sanny‘s lush Bosten Ferns clean the air.

Singapore private gardens

Caroline‘s therapeutic corner – Orchids Galore on a DIY rack handmade by the gardener’s spouse

Singapore private gardens

Caroline’s therapeutic corner

All over the world, gardeners shared the same passion, to filled space with beauty and where possible, grow food and harvest fresh.

In urban crowded cities like Singapore, gardening is a growing trend as more people ย crave fresh harvest at doorstep and sought beauty in green private corners wherever they can. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

DWARFING A PAPAYA

Notice I did not add a “tree” behind the papaya in the title? There was some debate during the sharing of this post in our group (SG Farming in Apartments) whether a papaya plant is a tree , herb or both! ๐Ÿ™‚ What is interesting about papaya plant is that it has three sexes : Female (fruit bearing), Male (non-fruit bearing) and bisexual (fruit bearing and has both male and female flowers on the same plant)!

The tips to germinate a fruit bearing papaya plant starts from choosing the rightย seeds.ย Firstly, black color as opposed to lighter shade seeds increased the chance of a fruit bearing plant. This information came from member Galih Galih in our group. Another resource ( agriculture90 ) recommended to soak black seeds in lukewarm water overnight and then chose the ones that sink to the bottom. In addition, seeds from the tip to the middle of the fruit’s cavity is better for germination than from the base of the fruit. From my own experience, removing the outer skin covering the seeds made germination faster.

Anyhow, the dwarfing papaya method was shared by Mr. MaderaRoja de la Secoya (or MAI), on how to keep papaya plant low for easier harvest and allowed it to be grown in pots. According to MAI (his shortened Thai name), this was not his original idea. He seen this post from another contributor, and tried them for his fruit trees (orange and lime) and they worked! The plants are able to thrive in pots, did not grow to full size but the fruits are of normal sizes.

Dwarfing fruit trees

Potted Papaya in pot (pruned roots) and grounded Papaya are the same age (6 months old)

At the maximum height, papaya roots that had been pruned will grow to 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) only. According to Mai, it would take a very long time for dwarf papaya to reached this height and they would likely die of old age thereafter.

So how did this method work?

Dwarfing fruit trees

2 weeks old papaya plant from seeds

When the papaya seedling is 2 – 4 weeks old, remove it from pot.

Dwarfing a papaya tree

Good roots mass had developed , gently removed soil from roots.

Mai has shared that in his region (Chiang Mai, Thailand) only bisexual papayas are available, so this is what the root mass looked like. One main tap root with many root hairs along the whole main root..ย MAI advised to save as many roots hairs as possible when cutting the main root. From my reading ( arlene1027ย and contributions from gardeners in South East Asia) on this plant, it seem that we can confirmed whether the mature plant will produce male or female flowers based on their roots. Since only female or bisexual plants produce fruits, it is important to know how to tell the difference. Male root is straight while female root is shorter, developed in a bunch and has more than 1 main root.

Dwarf a papaya

Bisexual Roots mass uncovered (papaya seedling)

How to dwarf fruit trees

Pruned or cut the tip of the tap root

How to dwarf fruit trees

Tap root has been pruned!

How to dwarf a papaya plant

This is aย Female papaya roots (contributed by ย Farreeda Bagam Mssm on June 16 2016)

After the papaya’s tap root has been trimmed, this seedling should be planted in the biggest pot possible so that it can grow to its mature height without further transplanting. His experience has been that papaya plant do not take to transplanting easily. They will die if their roots are disturbed when they are a few months old. Lesson learned – *** Do not uproot papaya plants for transplant when they are already a few months old ! ***

How to dwarf a papaya

3 months old papaya – On the left, root had been pruned vs. normal size

To avoid transplanting when his papaya plant outgrew a pot, MAI checked at the bottom of the pot and trimmed off roots that are extending out of it.

Regarding fertilizer, Mai’s experience had been that papaya can thrived with no fertilizer, “in plain old dirt” .

Disclaimer Advisory – ย Local SG gardener, Ms. Annie Lim, shared that her seedlings did not survived this root pruning. on February 05 2017 . Perhaps not all seeds are suitable for this method. Do try on one first and observed before proceeding with the next seedling.

RECIPES – Mai also shared that a squirt of lime and a dash of pepper on ripe papaya is not only delicious but also settled a queasy stomach! ๐Ÿ™‚ Other delicious Thai recipes for papaya salads can be found on his favorite blog -http://recipes.organicmountains.com/green-papaya-salad/

FEW months old Papaya dwarfing method

To keep few months old papaya (with normal un-pruned roots) from growing too tall, “topping off” method is quite common. This is a method where the top of the papaya plant is trimmed off and a lattice is built over the plant. MAI said the plant will regrow in a lateral pattern instead of reaching for the skies! The fruits will also hung in a lateral way making for easier harvest. I am sure we seen images of these in the internet.

MATURE Papaya Shortening Tree Method (Taiwan)

Are there no hope for mature papaya plants?! Gardeners who grew papayas often lament about controlling mealy bugs infestation. What made this problem acute for mature papayas is its height. According to Suan-Loke Tan (Urban Farmers Singapore group), when papaya plants grew too tall (3 meters and taller), they become more difficult to manage pests. A lot of gardeners would stopped maintaining the plants and they will decline. Eventually these plants would be chopped down and discarded.

A method to shorten the height of mature papaya plants was introduced in a YOUTUBE video from Taiwan.

According to this video (in ย Mandarin and Chinese dialect), papaya plants can be shortened by cutting three vertical slits on the “trunk” of the papaya, so that it can be stretched to bent over. Unlike other tree-like plants, papayas’ inner cores are like bamboos with hollow center. Cutting deep slits on the plants’ exteriors will not killed it. In fact, growing them in a lateral way, will slow down its growth and doubled its normal productive lifespan from 3 to 7 years! Water and nutrients are more effectively distributed to the top of the tree in a lateral way than vertical. Fruits grown this way are sweeter and tastier too. Last but not least, pest control at waist height is much easier and effective!

One local brave (!!) gardener , Mr. CheongWeei Gan from UrbanFarmers Singapore, decided to test this out on 5 of his own plants.

Shortening Papaya method

May 29 2016 – One of the 5 trees in Mr. Gan’s experiment

Slits were cut on the “trunk” of this papaya, so that it can be bent. A support was used to hold up the plant in its new position. Some of the leaves were trimmed off as well. This papaya had already produced fruits when it was bent. As seen in this picture, the leaves are facing downwards. Some gardeners in Singapore expressed concern that this plant may not recover!

Shortening Papaya method

June 3 2016 – Papaya plants are so hardy that the cut area has dried up and healed 5 days later!

Two weeks later, the plant has recovered. The leaves are no longer facing down and have moved upwards towards the sun.

Shortening Papaya method

June 19 – Papaya plant has recovered!

Shortening Papaya method

Slits cut into trunk so that it can bent over

Mr. CheongWeei Gan had these observations based on his experiments to share –

  1. Ideal height to apply this method is 5 to 8 feet. If the tree is too short, the shortening effect is not optimum. Too tall or too old, the papaya plant had become too woody and its harder to bent and likely caused the vertical strips to break or tear. Nutrients and water distribution will be disrupted and the plants would take a longer time to recover.
  2. Thin trunk needs 3 – 4 vertical strips while thicker trunk 5 – 6 ย strips for better bent effect. He will be experimenting whether different bent positions affect shortening effect and would try to find the best bent position to optimize this shortening.
  3. Papaya plants do not thrive in water logged soil. Most plants die because of root rot than any other reason.
  4. Plants with unhealthy roots have few leaves and the bottom most leaf is only 1 to 2 inches from the tip of the top leaves. In healthy plants, the lowest leaf is more than a foot from the “growing tip”. This is one of the way he gauge whether his papaya plant is in good health or not! ๐Ÿ™‚

On this method of shortening, Mr. CheongWeei Gan felt that the real test will be whether the new fruits after the current harvest would be as claimed, that ย they taste better and sweeter being grown on a lateral trunk than on a vertical one. ๐Ÿ™‚

Updates to follow!

 

 

SUMMARY of Papaya Plant Growing Information ( Gardening Know How ) –

  1. Full SUN
  2. Water frequently for best fruits production and do consider mulching to retain moisture
  3. Best in growing zone 9 – 10
  4. These plants can produce either female , male or bisexual flowers. Only female and bisexual flowers produce fruits. Supermarkets’ fruits seeds tend to be produce bisexual flowers (both male and female flowers on the same plant).
  5. At maturity and grounded, the plant can reached 30 feet

 

 

Grow OKRA !

My okras seeds came from Alan Tan’s amazing edibles garden, and their journey began on December 27 2015. ๐Ÿ™‚

These were amazing seeds, they germinated in 4 days!

Okra

December 31 2016 – Okras seeds germination (Sowed on 27-12-2015)

I am sure the seeds are good because Alan took much care preparing them for sharing among the gardening communities.

Okra plants from seeds

Red and Green okra seeds prepared by Alan Tan

Red okra from seeds

Jan 3 2016 – 7 days old okra seedling

He recommended transplanting them to bigger pot when 6 leaves are present, but as usual I was running out of space at home and my okras were moved to outdoor gardens much earlier!

Red okra from seed

Jan 14 2016 – Red Okra, I will later regret not transplanting to a much bigger pot!

Green okra from seed

Jan 13 2016 – Green okras in a 30L pot (Plastic rim to support young seedling, was removed when stems were stronger)

Green okra from seed

May 30 2016 – Green Okra progress

This green okra’s journey has not been easy. Grasshoppers almost killed this plant by feasting on its leaves at 2 months old. The growing journey is slow down but it did not died, and today its still fruiting. Thus I considered okra to be an easy plant to grow even for beginners, as it is a hardy plant. Once problems arose and treated as they happened, this plant will recover on its own. For the grasshoppers problem, I used Pak Mat’s homemade pesticide recipe to spray on the leaves and plant.

Grow okra from seeds

May 30 2016 – Green okra from seeds! Better in wider deeper pot ๐Ÿ™‚

Red Okra from seed

Feb 10 2016 – Red okra, only 2 months old!!

Red Okra from seeds

Okra Flowers

Red Okra from seeds

March 2016 – red okra

Red Okra from seeds

May 24 2016 – Red Okra became a “tree” !!!

The taller the plant grew, the thinner the okras.

Red Okra from seeds

Size of the red okra ๐Ÿ™‚

NEW DISCOVERY – I accidentally cut the top stem of an okra plant and learned something new about this easy going plant! ๐Ÿ™‚

Okra information

June 29 2016 – Accidentally cut the topmost stem while harvesting okra

Okra information

Topping off method seem to work for okra too

Okras

July 17 2016 – New okras at lower-most stem after topping off method applied.

OKRAS

Size of okras harvested from topped off plant.

Topping off okra plant

By cutting off the top of the okra plant, its fruits will grow at the lower most stem!

 

The plant did not die or grow taller, but new leaves and fruit start developing at the lower most of the stem, making for easier harvest! However I found that the fruiting had slowed, instead of 2 – 3 fruits at one go, it now fruit one at a time.

I am sure many gardening enthusiasts in various gardening communities seen Alan Tan’s bountiful okras harvest postings. He made it seem so easy to grow them!

Okra

January 02 2016 – Okras from Alan Tan’s garden, a simple gift that touched our hearts, because we knew the care he took to grow them ๐Ÿ™‚

Lessons learned from my first okra experience – Bigger pot is needed for healthier okra plants. The roots are quite massive and they need a lot of room in the pots. ๐Ÿ™‚ ย If the pot is too small (like mine), the okra plant will grow very tall and easy to topple when there were strong gusty winds. The okras were also skinny, not as juicy.

Otherwise these are relatively easy edibles to grow even for beginners. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

COOL PORTABLE GROW BED

Gardening is no longer about just growing plants! Its a combination of great D.I.Y ideas like this and plant knowledge which will allow gardeners to grow plants that’s typically out of zone.

And that’s why I love Wanqing Lee’sย ice box idea for a tropical strawberry planter! For material cost of less than SGD $10, she crafted an amazing strawberries’ chill grow bed which yielded flowers in less than 2 months for her plants!

Tropical strawberry planter ideas

Wanqing Lee’s 1.5 month old strawberry plant has flowered!

She did not even used electricity to keep her plants chilled all day under full overhead sun on her balcony.

DIY strawberries pot

How Wanqing Lee cool strawberries’ roots, simple wicking used.

By now, we know strawberries need sunlight, compost and chill roots to thrive. So Wanqing used a simple wicking system to draw chilled waterย and keep her roots cool all the time.ย 

Lushgro Bloom solution is wicked only when the plants need the extra boost or when roots has already extended out of her cups towards the solution. She chose this method of soil and hydroponics to give the plants more roots space while still remaining in cups to save space.

Her water is kept chilled with ice block from Daiso –

strawberry planter ideas

ICE Block from DAISO

This frozen ice block is enough to keep roots and water chilled for 6 hours under direct full sun with the help of an additional safeguard ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Tropical strawberry planter's ideas

Insulation Pad over ice box cover! Keeping roots cool is key to keeping strawberry plants healthy in the tropics!

Based on her results, it seem that seedling growth is faster as well by keeping them on a chiller (wick water for seeds) –

Tropical strawberry planter's ideas

Germinating seeds on a chilling ice box

Tropical strawberry planter ideas

These seedlings are sowed at the same time but the ones sowed on chiller conditions grow faster!

To maintain the chill factor, please note that insulation pads also covered her soil when the seedlings are taller.

I believed this chill box idea can be used on all cool loving plants which loved sun. For lavender which preferred a drier soil, no wick should be used but the chill box will maintain cooler roots under our hot tropical sun. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ethan Phang’s Sleek Aquaponics

The idea is simple. Reared some marine life, be it fishes or shrimps, then channel the aquarium water to feed vegetables. Its a self-sustaining system which auto-irrigates your edibles while you are on holiday ! Sound great, right?

But this post took me the longest time to write, even though I told Ethan Phang ages ago that I love his set up and wanted to write a post on it. I wanted to understand more about how it work before actually penning it down. But you know what? The more I read, the more questions arose! ๐Ÿ™‚ There is more to this than drawing fish water to the veggies bed, and I still don’t know the half of it, so please pardon me if I got some of the facts wrong. ๐Ÿ™‚

Aquaponics design

Sleek and clean looking aquaponics system, DIY by Ethan Phang.

Aquaponics design

Awesome aquaponic system in retail spaces ๐Ÿ™‚

According to Ethan, fish waste and water alone are not enough nutrients to feed a good yield of vegetables. There is a need to maintain healthy microbes growth which act as catalyst to break down different form of waste into minerals that the plants used. The plants will in turn filter the water so that the marine life can live in the same system.

Aquaponics design

Grow bed for veggies

To write this post, I sought out Xi Zheย as well, who built his own aquaponic system when he was 21 years old. I shall borrowed his “Nitrogen Cycle” diagram on the right, to demonstrate how an aquaponic system work (hopefully!) :

Aquaponics design

Xi Zhe’s awesome aquaponic system

In the simplest layman’s term, fish waste and water need to ‘mingle’ with bacteria, where they are broken down into useful minerals for the plants. The result is nutrients rich water which will be drawn to the plants’ grow bed. The plants absorbed these nutrients, then ย act as a filter for the marine life. The cycle will continue with the help of pipes, timer, pumps and a bell siphon.

The next puzzle for me – What is a bell siphon and why it served an important function for such aquaponic system? ๐Ÿ™‚

We all know as gardeners, that stems and roots should not sit in water too long , right? In soil based plants, we always used “well drained” soil to ensure that water are drained from the soil and the plants do not suffered root rot. So, it is the same for an aquaponic system. A bell siphon ensured that when too much water is piped up to the grow bed, this excess water does not sit around causing plant’s roots to rot.

This device is a mechanism to “cycle the water” said Xi Zhe. The “cycling” ensured that nutrients reached the plants while not letting the roots sit in water all the time. It is usually installed inside the grow bed, so that excess water will be discharged with the help of air pressure when water over-filled it. According to Ethan, a good bell siphon is one which self adjust to control the water level. I am sure a lot of trial and error are needed to get this to work right.

Aquaponics design

How a bell Siphon work, to discharge excess water from the grow bed

To doubly ensured that his plants’ roots do not sit in water, Ethan only allowed 2 inches of water to cycle in his grow bed at any given time. And then, where his plants sit in the grow bed, there is at least 2.5 inches gap between roots and water so that the roots can breathe.

Aquaponics Design

Ethan’s aquaponic rosemary in the background !

Want to know why Ethan’s rosemary is thriving here with the rest of his edibles? ๐Ÿ™‚ To ensure that his grow bed work well for different plants’ needs, whether thirsty or dry loving herb like his Rosemary, Ethan’s plants are not planted directly in leca balls. In fact, on closer examination, every plant is individually potted in soil as well. For drier loving plant like the rosemary, the pot is higher away from water source. And that’s how he ensured that different plants with different water preference can be grown together! Ingenious, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Aquaponics

Ethan’s aquaponic system for any space

The most difficult concept for me to grasp in this aquaponic system is how to breed the bacteria needed to break down waste into nutrients for the plants? Different gardeners used different methods but this is how Ethan did it.

He added worms in his grow beds!

Remembered his water level is kept low, only 2 inches height of water per cycle? As the water level is kept low in the 15 inches depth of leca balls, it created a perfect humid environment for the worms to thrive. The worms’ waste provide good nutrients for the plants as well.

Into the fish tank, he mixed the milky water from the aquarium’s filters for its nitrate microbes properties. These are the bacteria which will consume the ammonia released by the fish waste. The water which is pumped up to the grow beds are nutrients rich minus the ammonia.

Leca balls played a part too, as they are “good habitat to breed” the microbes and bacteria present in the water (Ethan Phang).. Both he and Xi Zhe agreed that when algae appeared to be growing out of control, you’d know the water is nutrients sufficient!

 

Aquaponics

June 22 2016 – Thriving grow bed and plants are lush and healthy.

Aquaponics

Ethan testing different grow lights for his aquaponics system

Ethan Phang designed his aquaponic systems this way, in layers behind glass tanks, to show how Mother Nature’s ย eco-systems work in sync to produce food. If we protect and guard every eco-systems carefully, Mother Nature takes care of itself, its a self sustaining cycle. Spoiled one part of it, everything falls like a house of cards. Thus, his aquaponic showpieces are not just to decorate an empty corner, they are “windows of nature” and carried an important message as well – Please, protect our environment!

Not all Ethan’s showpieces are big, some are tabletop size as well! Aren’t they cute? ๐Ÿ™‚

Aquaponics in Singapore

Tabletop aquaponics

Last but not least, Ethan Phang shared tips on how to keepย aquaponic system as low maintenance as possibleย –

  • Don’t exposed the tanks to direct sunlight
  • Artificial lights on for maximum 6 – 7 hours a day
  • Don’t over feed the fish
  • Dont keep too many fishes in the tank, especially those that eat a lot, example: tilapia, koi
  • Preferred shrimps or algae eaters

For a custom built of these sleek aqua systems, please contact Ethan Phang for quotation at kingii494@yahoo.com ๐Ÿ™‚

Hydroponics Strawberries

Finally! A well documented hydroponics experiment contributed by member Cher Keng Hengย and posted in our “berries crazy” group, SG Farming in Apartments!!!

Germinate Hydroponics Strawberries

This is Cher Keng Heng’s 3 months old strawberries, grown in hydroponics system

Germinate Hydroponics Strawberries

April 3 2016 – Fruits in 4 months!

Gardener Cher Keng Heng grew his strawberries in his office, where the environment is cool at 22C all day long (24hours) and I am assuming 7 days a week. Ideal strawberries environment indeed! He did not freeze or chilled his medium in this environment and they still grew well!

These were the steps to his germination method:

  1. Seeds in sponge :
    Germinate Hydroponics Strawberries

    Step 1 – Place 4 seeds in sponge like this

    Germinate Hydroponics Strawberries

    Can use long pointed net cup and sponge for seeds placement

    Germinate Hydroponics Strawberries

    The long pointed cup fit a PET bottle opening exactly

    Germinate Hydroponics Strawberries

    Secure seeds position

    Germinate hydroponics Strawberries

    Germination took place in 10 days, same as my soil based method.

    Germinate hydroponics Strawberries

    LED lights of white, red and blue was used. 12 hours per day

    Germinate hydroponics strawberries

    Cher Keng Heng’s one month old strawberry seedling!

     

  2. ย Important Tip! Cover seeds environment to create a mini greenhouse and ensure humidity –
    Germinate hydroponics Strawberries

    This is his simpler fuss free way to germinate seeds!

    Gardener Cher Keng Heng also shared his observations on soil based and hydroponics strawberries for a comparative study with us. These were his observations –

    Soil based seedlings are smaller than hydroponics strawberry seedlings.

    Germinate hydroponics Strawberries

    Soil based (left) vs. hydroponics seedlings

    Hydroponics seedling had massive roots mass like this –

    Germinate hydroponics strawberries

    Hydroponics strawberry seedlings

    Germinate hydroponics strawberries

    Soil based roots were lesser

    Germinate hydroponics strawberries

    Hydroponics strawberry plants flowered in 60 days compared to 150 days for my soil based plants.

    For the best results of hydroponics strawberry plants, Cher Keng Heng felt that aeration is key. That means,we need to keep water moving and the liquid need to be clean for best roots development. Stagnant water that is not clean will caused algae/moss in the water resulting in red leaves on strawberry plants.

    Germinate hydroponics Strawberries

    Suspected Fungi problem caused by algae growth in stagnant water

     

    Ideally an automated system of aeration in the nutrients solution, cool environment and ideal light will allow strawberries plants to thrive in Singapore’s tropical climate, but for normal households like mine, this is an extra expense that I cannot meet! ๐Ÿ™‚

    So, its back to mostly soil based experiments for me, but knowledge is invaluable, and I am thankful to Cher Keng Heng for sharing his wisdom! With this new information, I have also upgraded my white strawberry pot, to half hydroponics and soil with aeration, hoping for better flowers in the white strawberry plants!

    Hydroponics SG Strawberries

    Aeration from air pump to the nutrients solution in reservoir!

    Hydroponics SG Strawberries

    Flowering White Strawberries plant too risky to transplant, testing out half hydro with aeration method

    On another note, for gardeners wanting to try hydroponics method but do not wish to spend so much money, please check out Lim San‘s no frills DIY method from mostly recycled material. He is an extremely creative gardener who has built awesome gardens with less, and a successful strawberry pioneer as well ! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

Apartments’ Rice Paddies

In land scarce Singapore, it is not impossible to grow rice for fun and where space allowed, for our own consumption. I thought this is a great gardening project to do with children as well. Hopefully with the experience, our urban kids will ย know how difficult it is to harvest just one cup of rice and learned to cherish every morsel of grain on their plate. ๐Ÿ™‚

Apartment rice paddy

February 24 2015 – Ms. Serena Ganesh’s home grown grains

Serena Ganesh's rice grains before they turned brown

Serena Ganesh’s rice grains before they turned brown

This is a labor of love forย Serena Ganesh’s family! She harvested her grains by hand peeling each husk after other attempts failed. Members from our gardening group (SG Farming in Apartments), such as Edmund Gan, recommended to wait till the stalks are fully golden brown before grinding the husks on a sieve to separate the grains.

Grow rice in containers

Feb 25 2016 – Serena Ganesh hand split and peeled husks from rice

Tips for Germinating Grains:

  1. Soak the seeds 24 – 36 hours, drained away water and cover seeds with towels to keep them moist or directly sowed on very moist media
  2. Brown rice is better than white as the latter had been processed (Gardening Know how blog
  3. Germination took placed between 3 – 5 days in a sunny area
Grow rice in pots

February 27 2016 – Budi Widodo had already soaked these grains for 24hours before sowing on really moist towels.

Grow rice in container

Budi Widodo used these grains for his apartment’s rice paddy project

Budi Widodo grew rice along his apartment’s corridor, where he has about 6 hours of indirect sunlight. After his seeds germinated on wet towels, he would plant them here before transplanting to a deeper trough until harvest day.

Grow rice in pots

Budi Widodo cut holes on the side of his “pot” to drain water when it rained

Grow rice in pot

Budi Widodo’s rice paddy trough

For soil sowing, William Toh recommended to thoroughly mix potting soil with water until its muddy and then add more water till it covered the soil, before planting grains in the mud pool.

February 3 2016 - William Toh's rice paddy in cookie jar

February 3 2016 – William Toh’s rice paddy in cookie jar

Grow rice in pots

William Toh’s rice paddy in cookie jar “incubator”

William Toh - This is how wet the soil needs to be

William Toh – This is how wet the soil needs to be

Grow rice in pot

Feb 15 2016 – William Toh’s rice are growing well

 

The key for a good rice harvest ๐Ÿ™‚ is to keep the soil constantly moist and to grow them in warm sunny places.

The International Rice Research Institute also recommended to prepare the soil well with 7:2:1 ratio of potting soil, manure/compost and rice husks, mixed thoroughly with water for the young seedlings to thrive.

I liked to share pictures from Serena Ganesh’s mature rice paddy ๐Ÿ™‚ See how big this crop grew ?! ย For interested gardeners, do consider a bigger pot than a cookie jar for a more bountiful harvest! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow rice in pot

Serena Ganesh’s potted rice paddy

Grow rice in pot

Serena Ganesh’s potted rice from seeds

It would take 4 – 5 months from seeds to harvest day.

Last but not least, please remember to check and change the stagnant water in our rice paddy “fields” for mosquitoes breeding, while enjoying our gardening projects! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ย 

 

 

 

 

 

Potted Longan Tree

As always, before I write a post in my blog, I like to research first and hopefully summarize what I learned from readings and gardeners who grew these wonderful edibles before I shared.

Grow longans

Feb 20 2016 – Anne Ang’s long awaited harvest day!!!!

First, there were not much written about growing longans from seeds. I guessed growing this fruit tree from seeds would take too long to mature and carried an additional risk they would not grow true to parent plants (meaning -not able to fruit!). But I am happy to see some SG gardeners unfazed by common opinions and had already germinated their seeds for observations.

Grow longan in pots

September 14 2015 – Irissa Lee’s 2 weeks old longan seedlings

Feb 10 2016 - Lien Li 's 2 months old longan seedling

Feb 10 2016 – Lien Li ‘s 2 months old longan seedling

Most gardeners would buy a grafted plant like Ms. Anne Ang did and cultivated the fruit tree in pot rather than grow from seed. This way, there is more assurance that the tree would bear fruits after 2 – 3 years compared to 6 years for plants grown from seeds to mature and another 2 years to see fruits if there are any!

Grow a Longan Tree in apartment

Anne Ang’s Longan Tree on her rooftop garden

Anne transplanted her plant to this pot which has a diameter of 50cm, and it is grown under full sun on her rooftop garden. It took roughly 2 years from the date of purchase to harvest day ๐Ÿ™‚

Griw longan tree in apartments

Jan7 2016 – Gardeners advised not to bag fruits in plastic as it will retain moisture and caused mold.

Grow Longan

Feb 10 2016 – Almost ready to harvest. Fruits in air-through bags instead of plastic ones

Ms. Ang also recommended to grow this tree near flowers to attract natural pollinators like bees. Unpollinated flowers will drop and there would be no fruits.

December 31 2015 - Jason Ong 's longan flowers

December 31 2015 – Jason Ong ‘s longan flowers

 

Tips for growing longans in pots

  1. ย Pot diameter to be minimum 50 centimeters, and the deeper the pot is best for roots development
  2. Full Sun
  3. Slightly acidic soil with PH 5.5 -6
  4. Well drained soil, mixed with sand and perlite to aid drainage
  5. Fertilize with manure is best every 3 months and water the soil well after adding this (all happy gardening blogpost)
  6. First harvest fruits are thin skin, thicker flesh only from second round harvest ๐Ÿ™‚
  7. Trimmed top new branch to keep the tree from growing tall

 

 

 

DONUT Peaches


Just for fun, I wanted to see how far I can grow peaches in Singapore! ๐Ÿ™‚

For any hard crust seed, it is better to remove the hard outer covering before sowing. Personally, I like to check the condition of the seeds too before I sowed them. Our fruits after all, were not harvested fresh on our land and shipping may rendered some damage on quality of fruits and seeds. It is a good thing too because as I discovered, not all pits have seeds.

Grow Donut Peach in Singapore

Use a nutcracker to break some of the hard crust. Not all pit has seed.

Gardening sites online recommended to dry the pit first for easier removal of the seed as the shell would be more brittle , but I did not dry mine before I applied the nutcracker and managed to break part of the crust and sowed the seed without totally removing it from the crust.

As this is my first time germinating peaches and impatient by nature, ย I sneaked a peek at the seed on the 10th day by uncovering the soil and tried to dislodge it . When the seed did not budged, and seem “tied” to the soil, I knew there were roots holding it down.

donut peach seedling

Jan 26 2016 – Donut peach seed has germinated

The first leaf emerged from the soil on January 26 2016, the 19th day after sowing the seed. Most of the hard crust had split open.

donut peach seed germinated

Jan 30 2016 – Donut peach seedling pushing through soil

donut peach seedling

Feb 10 2016 – Donut peach seedling

Flat Peach Seedling

Feb 17 2016 – Donut Peach Seedling – seem to grow faster when there is sun

Flat peach seedling

March 5 2016 – can see the beginning of a tiny trunk :0

Donut Peach seedling

March 14 2016 – Donut Peach seedling

For most of my cool seasoned plants, I used ice to water them during the warmer days in Singapore. The higher the temperature, the more ice is needed. If the plants do not like too much watering, ice packs or ice bottles are used instead. Here are the various ways I chilled soil in Singapore! ๐Ÿ™‚

Flat peach from seed

Cool seasoned plants need ice during warmer days.

Donut Peach

March 20 2016 – Donut peach

Flato Peach

March 25 2016 – new leaves

March 27 2016 - This peach seedling is growing fast!

March 27 2016 – This 2 months old peach seedling is growing fast!

Flat Peach

April 6 2016 – 70days old Peach seedling is almost 14cm tall

How to grow flat peach from seed

May 1 2016 – 3 months old peach seedling

 

Summary of Donut Peaches Requirements:

  1. Big pot with a diameter of at least 3 feet for better roots development
  2. Depending on varieties, it may take 3 -5 years from seed to harvest day
  3. Well drained medium of 1 part each of sand/peat/compost/perlite or equivalent
  4. Does not like wet soil
  5. Full sun
  6. Need a high Phosphorous fertilizer
  7. Self pollinating
  8. May need 100 hours minimum of chilled soil at 7 degree C (!!) to grow flowers ๐Ÿ™‚ – Will worry about this later ๐Ÿ™‚

Pineapple Strawberry


Our gourmet strawberries number 2 ย began its journey on January 16 2016 in tropical Singapore. ๐Ÿ™‚ This is Alpine heirloom Pineapple strawberries, a low growing variety with 1 inch sized light yellow colored fruits.

The taste profile of this variety has been described as sweeter than red strawberries, with ย an unforgettable impact of pineapple and rose.

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

Jan 16 2016 – Germinated today! Sowed Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries seeds on Jan 7 (9 days)

These seeds were not easy to germinate. I succeed only on my third attempt. Germination tests will continue in 2017 to pin down the best method to germinate these wonderful strawberries.

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry babies

Jan 25 2016 – More Heirloom Pineapple strawberry seeds germinated

Pineapple strawberries are rarelyย sold in overseas supermarkets and even Farmers’ marts.

This variety does not travel well.

They have to be consumed the same day as harvest!

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries roots

Feb 3 2016 – Transplanting pineapple strawberries to deeper pots

Grow Alpine White strawberries

March 8 2016 – 80% seedling survived, seem hardier than the white soul variety

As we have germinated a lot of seedlings, they were tried in various containers to see how best to grow them while fulfilling the conditions that allow them to thrive in our tropical weather. This data will be updated when we get them.

Grow white alpine strawberries in Singapore

March 8 2016 – Described as low grower but looked big in my PET bottle at 09.5 cm height for 2 months old seedlings

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry at 2 months old was a big plant and moved to grow bag.

Common problem seen on non-red strawberries in Singapore is cupped leaves. Seedlings tend to fail more during the second month of growth. I seen these in the red strawberries as well last year. From the 4th month, they became hardier.

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries

March 8 2016 – Cupped leaves (3 months old)

Heirloom pineapple strawberries

Cupped and then brown leaves before dying (1 month old seedlings). Transplant shock? Humidity? No idea really why they failed.

On the assumption that cupped leaves may be due to lack of aeration in the PET bottles, I decided to cut out the bottles’ bottom and net it. The leaves improved after this was done –

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry

Leaves improved and a healthier plant after netting PET bottles

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries

Roots extending out of the net.

Recycling efforts continued this year as well. Most of my strawberries are grown in PET bottles, either 1.5L or 600 ml plastic bottles. This year, instead of painting these bottles, we recycled even plastic bags and old socks (suggested by member ” Shy Jean“) to shield them from the heat of the sun. Cooling with ice packs as shared by member Wanqing’s method was also explored during very warm weather. As much as possible, I hope to show gardeners that growing strawberries in tropical countries, is possible and with the least carbon footprint and costs.

Pineapple strawberry from seeds

Sun, Chill and Aeration for health! Isn’t these the same for humans too?! ๐Ÿ™‚ Frozen ice pack cool the strawberries as they sunbathed! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

June 2016 – The pineapple strawberry continued to thrive. Recycled old socks protect “pots” from our tropical heat!

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seed

July 28 2016 – Strawberry plant grown in a 600ml Sprite bottle

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seed

Smallest bottle strawberry plant at flowering stage

See why I enjoyed growing strawberries from seeds? We get the chance to witness each development closely as they evolved. Just watching how the crown began preparation for its flowering/fruiting journey is amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

First, just a single crown with one new “shoot”

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Then it becomes two!

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

More than 2 leaves at the crown

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

The crown thickened and ready to multiply! The stems become redder as well.

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

July 14 2016 – First flower spotted!!

 

Human bees get to work on July 17 2016ย  –

Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Summer began on the first flower to open! ๐Ÿ™‚

Heirloom Pineapple strawberries

Household chores – Pollinating strawberries flowers (Shona, my niece)

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

August 7 2016 – Children pollinating flowers

Grow Pineapple Strawberry

Self pollination with a paint brush

Pollinating flowers with new young friends (Jonas and Eva) from NakedGreens‘ gardening group! August 14 2016 –

 

 

When pollination is successful, strawberry’s petals will dropped completely.

Grow Pineapple Strawberry

Hopefully this developing fruit complete its journey!

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seed

Can’t wait to taste our yellow strawberries ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sometimes, even after successful pollination, the fruit may dry up in Singapore, halting its journey to fruiting. Thus, we always keep our fingers crossed till harvest day! Not taking any developments for granted. ย The strawberry plant though continued to evolve. Check out how flowering stems developed from the crown. –

Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Newly formed flowers just began.

Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

New flower buds

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seed

July 27 2016 -Pretty little bloom peeking out ๐Ÿ™‚

Pineapple strawberries from seeds

Regardless of the color of the fruits, strawberries flowers are yellow center, either white or pink flowers.

 

HARVEST DAY (Parent Plants to our second generation seedlings to come) ย – August 7 2016 :)

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Amazing taste – rose syrup, pineapples and only a hint of strawberries. Very light yellow and a strong scent of pineapple when ripe!

Heirloom pineapple strawberries

Aug 13 2016 – Saving these for the grandparents!

Grow Pineapple Strawberries

Aug 22 2016 – Sweet and flavorful ! Pineapple candies smell scent the room ๐Ÿ™‚

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Kids love these yellow strawberries!!

Grow Pineapple Strawberries

Aug 21 2016 – Bountiful harvest.

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries

September 17 2016 – Do the fruits look like pineapple to you? ย ๐Ÿ™‚

These strawberries took one month to slowly ripen and grow. Fruit sizes are about 2.5 cm to 3 cm when its fully ripe. Pineapple candies smell scent the bedroom! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow Pineapple Strawberries

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries – about 2.5 – 3 cm

Heirloom Pineapple strawberries

They are sweet, a surprise hint of rose syrup with pineapple and strawberries taste! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Video of our strawberries plants – (in English and Japanese)

 

Second Generation (Born in Singapore Strawberries)ย – Seeds from our ripe strawberries were sowed for the next generation of pineapple strawberries. Hopefully we will have acclimatized strawberry plants for Singapore soon.

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

August 26 2016 – Very ripe fruits were sacrificed for seeds!

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Germinated on August 30, these seedlings are about a week old on September 7 2016.

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Sept 2016 – New generation of strawberry seedlings from born in Singapore Heirloom parents! ๐Ÿ™‚

As the seedlings grew, we need more space to accommodate an expanding garden. Thus vertical space was considered again. A new method to grow them in less soil and using Singapore natural resources work well. ๐Ÿ™‚ It will be shared in workshop sessions only.

Grow Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Hanging Garden of strawberries and camomile plants

Grow Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Jan 16 2017 7 am – Scented Window Garden at the balcony ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

January 26 2017 – My office where I wrote and replied posts!

Second generation‘s first fruit harvested on January 30 2016 –

Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Jan 26 2017 – First fruit spotted!

Observations on second generation plants (February 02 2017 ) –

  • Hardier than Generation 1 , need no chilling treatment
  • Slower to flower
  • Fruits production is less than parent plants

With so many seedlings on hand, window of opportunities grew to learn more from them. For example, what kind of soil is best for strawberries? Working with soil specialist, we were able to put our seedlings through soil trials in order to pin down a formula that work for these plants in our climate. Thus, customized ready soil mix is in the pipeline soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

Grow gourmet Strawberries from seeds

December 01 2016 – Seedlings from our parent plants

The learning journey never stops as we sought to learn more about our strawberries. What kind of soil is best for them? As these plants are not commonly grown (yet), everything from soil mixes to plant care have to be documented. After many months of trial and errors, I think the solution to best soil mixes is close! ๐Ÿ™‚ What do you think of our progress on these 3 months old seedlings ย ? ๐Ÿ™‚

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Same age seedlings! The bigger plant are grown in our customized strawberry soil compared to normal commercial organic soil ๐Ÿ™‚

Another discovery on December 10 2016 – Stressed Alpine strawberries even a reputed non-runner variety like this one will sent out runners when they sensed danger! ๐Ÿ™‚ I do not think this is a good sign for this plant. Surely it is no longer a heirloom, more of a mutant, and even if the runner is rooted, I doubt it will bear fruits. We will just have to wait and see how this plant grow, will update.

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry

An almost torn stem triggered runners in this plant

The instinct to live is high for this seedling! ๐Ÿ™‚

Symptoms of stressed alpine strawberries

Dec 12 2016 – The more pronounced the tear, the more developed the runner.

Second Generation Strawberry Plants

Recovered from transplant shock very quickly, within 2 days instead of weeks.

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry

Dec 10 2016 – Suffered a transplant shock

 

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry

Dec 11 2016 – Recovered in the afternoon

Comparative Study of SG vs. USA seedlings –

Since we have seeds from USA Heirloom ย and SG born Pineapple Strawberry plants, we thought it would be interesting to study how they grow together for a comparative study. These were our observation so far –

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

SG seed from our own plants germinated one of these SG seedlings on Aug 30 2016

The germination rate for SG seedlings was 4 days compared to 9 days for USA seeds, and as can be observed, the speed of growth is faster for SG seedlings as well. These pictures were taken on October 2nd 2016.

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Heirloom USA seed germinated on Aug 30

Seasoned gardeners lend a hand to study how to grow strawberries better in Singapore from February 2016 –

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

Terence Low of Naked Greens ๐Ÿ™‚ Also Pak Mat (hydroponics), Calvin Soh (Guerilla Seeds), Alan Tan and even my lecturer on Hydroponics, Gregory Chow Kheong Keat (Ngee Ann Polytechnic)

Summary of Pineapple Strawberries Information –

  1. Perennial Plant
  2. has no runners
  3. Ideal soil temperature 16 – 21 degree Celsius
  4. Soil PH 6.1 to 7
  5. Can tolerate full sun or partial
  6. Small fruits of light yellow colors

 

SEEDS AVAILABLE FOR SALE !

 

 

Small Space Edibles Garden

Living in a small apartment and no space for home grown vegetables?

Farm in a Cup

Lim San ‘s Aug 7 2015 harvest of his tomatos

Too busy! No time to tend to a garden?

How about a Do-It-YourselfAutomatic watering garden out of free-of-charge recycled containers?

Having no land and living in high rise apartments are NOT going to stop Singapore’s determined urban farmers from growing their own food ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lim San thought out of the box and created a ” farm in a cup ” (or bottle) concept to grow fresh edibles. I guessed once he tasted freshly harvested own grown edibles, and enjoyed the satisfaction of overcoming all the limitations to grow them, there is no going back!

Just look at his thriving small “farm” growing out of recycled paper cups in his apartment. ๐Ÿ™‚

His crops so far include dwarf tomatoes varieties, bell peppers, lettuce, rosella, spinach and even strawberries!!

How to grow a farm in a cup

Lim San’s Bell peppers on Oct8 2015

Singapore awesome urban farmers

Oct 8 2015 – Capsicum plant flowered in his farm cup!

Small Space Edibles garden

Photo : Lim San’s strawberry plant from seed! Aug 11 2015

Here is another example of his creative small space farms ๐Ÿ™‚

 

February 2016 – Okra in a cup !

 

 

Lim San did not stop upgrading his mini – farms ! ๐Ÿ™‚

In late 2015, he built vertical farm out of recycled bottles which autoย irrigated his edibles remotely and saved the dripping water in a reservoir to be recycled again! ๐Ÿ™‚

This system of vertical farming was made famous by Britta Riley‘s WindowFarms, a simple idea to utilize only a window to grow food hydroponically in a vertical arrangement. For city dwellers around the world, her concept brought hope to grow food inside apartments without using a lot of space.

As I was experimenting with the same thing myself around the time Lim San had already improved his, I learned a lot from him with his video. My difficulty arose from not knowing how to connect the T joints to combine compressed air with water. Done in the right way, compressed air from the air pump will combine with water to become water bubbles. The bubbles will be dragged up the vertical tubing by pressurized air from the pump to the topmost bottle. Then trickled down through the rest of bottled “farms”, irrigating them, and finally ending in the reservoir (Coke bottle seen here).

This irrigation cycle began again from the reservoir as long as the air pump is on. A timer is usually used to regulate the irrigation cycles. And that’s basically how vertical farm irrigation system work! ๐Ÿ™‚ Cool, huh?

No matter how many fancy vertical farms are available in the market now for home gardeners, nothing satisfy me and likely gardeners like Lim San and many like us D.I.Yers :), is to built something with our own hands and grow food out of the cheapest material possible! ๐Ÿ™‚

But Lim San did not stopped here.

In January 2016, he decided to combine ย aeroponic and aquaponic systems with this vertical farm to grow more salads and edibles as organically as possible!

In Wikpedia, “aeroponic” was described as a process where plants are grown in an environment of air and mist, without soil as a medium. The word “aero” meaning “air” and “ponos” mean labor , came from Greece. Unlike hydroponics, aquaponics do not use liquid nutrients, instead it utilize water from fish (aquarium) waste to feed plants.

Lim San's Mizuna

Lim San’s Mizuna

Awesome gardeners in Singapore

Lim San – Harvested fresh vegetables on the 45th day

All these systems combined to allow Lim San to grow great harvest like these with only one window! His farm is suspended above ground and limited space used for his aquarium below it ๐Ÿ™‚

Vertical private gardens in Singapore

Space to grow edibles is a luxury in Singapore but we still have windows!!!

Lim San 's Mizuna before his harvest

Lim San ‘s before his harvest

Singapore vertical aeroponic and aquaponic private gardens

After Harvest

Awesome gardeners in Singapore

Lim San’s fresh harvest of Mizuna

What I like about about these 3 systems are that they all recycled water, but if I have to choose only one, it would be the aquaponics system because it utilized organic waste from fish and greatly reduced any possibility of mosquitoes breeding in the reservoir if the air pump malfunctioned! ๐Ÿ™‚

If I ever get sick of growing strawberries, maybe this would be the NEXT project at home ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Cycle of Strawberry Plants

Strawberry Plants – What happened NEXT after fruiting stage?

We were very lucky this time.

Not only did we managed to germinate strawberry seeds and harvest their fruits, but now we also have an opportunity to study the cycle of these plants in a tropical climate.

Growing strawberries in Singapore

Here is what having 50 strawberry plants looked like at home! They are grown in every sunny space we have and climbing windows too!

How many cycles of fruits can we harvest before the plants die in our tropical climate?

Harvest strawberries in Singapore

Strawberries “garden” in Singapore

What we have observed from our plants –

  1. The red strawberry variety was a large plant, measuring more than 30cm from top to roots. Minimum soil depth is 6 inches.
SG Strawberries first harvest

Oct 20 2015 – Our first strawberries harvest. This is a large plant, over 30cm from tip to roots.

2. ย This variety loves our sun and can tolerate heat, although full overhead afternoon sun is not recommended.

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

strawberry leaves turned brown

As long as the acidic soil temperature can be lowered to 25C (the lower the better) with ice, chilled water and/or air-conditioning, we will have fruits.

After fruiting for 3 months, our strawberry plants lost their vigor.

Fruits quality declined and leaves start to look poorly.

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

Poor quality fruits even with successful pollination and runners did not root.

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

Indoors Mature Strawberry – Curled /browned tip leaves

Finally I decided to trim all the mature plants (9 months old) and observe what happened next.

Cycle of strawberry plants in the tropics

Dec 25 2015 – Our first harvest plant, after pruning.

Jan 2016 – This plant died! Lesson learned – as the plant matured, it need more room for its roots to grow. It cannot remained in this 1.5L water bottle.

Subsequently, we repot all mature strawberry plants into bigger pots instead of continuing to grow them in plastic bottles.

Cycle of strawberry plants in the tropics

Result – Mature strawberry plants started to fruit again in 3 months

Luckily, our mature strawberry plants continued to grow flowers and fruits after recuperating for a few months! ๐Ÿ™‚ But the quantity of fruits was not as many as the first harvest.

One year on, since these plants germinated. They are grown without air-conditioning in my balcony. More sunlight is needed to see fruits but my apartment had only morning sun and outdoors were too stressful for me (mostly snails and theft of fruits rather than the weather). We also learned the hard way that they could not remained in our white bottles, strawberries’ roots need more room than 1.5 L bottles allowed!

SG Strawberries

Pot size is 30L, red strawberries grown in compost pot

SG Strawberries

March 31 2016 – One year old strawberry plants

Strawberry Plant Care in the Tropics

April 25 2016 – Ice continued to play a role even though this pot is indoor

Grow strawberries from seeds

June 9 2016 – After a 6 months break, this 14 months old strawberry plant is fruiting again!!!

I hoped this proved that strawberries can survived in Singapore, and if all the conditions (sunlight, rich compost, cool soil) were met, they can thrived and fruit as well. Much attention is needed to keep the soil from overheating (use ice or air-con) , but otherwise they are hardy plants.

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 Propagate Mint Plant

Many herbs can be propagated this way.

First, cut a stem from a plant or use any stem from the market with leaves on.

Stick the stem cutting in water until roots appeared! Water need to be changed daily for better results.

How to root mint in water

Cut a mint stem and stick it in water until many roots appeared like this! Worked for many plants!

How to root mint and other herbs

Mint or other herbs – The more roots mass the better the plant grew after its planted!

Basil rooting

Worked for basil too!

Bury the roots in soil until more young leaves appeared.

How to grow mint from cutting

Plant mint cutting in soil when many roots appeared in water

To allow the newly propagated mint plant to thrive, cut away the older stem at the top of the plant.

How to renew mint plant from propagation

Mint Propagation -New young leaves will grow after the older stem is cut

How to grow young mint plant

This is how we re-new an old woody mint into new mint plant, as more young leaves grew.

How to grow mint from cuttings

Thriving mint plant from propagating

One year on, our mint plant is still thriving. Their scent is heavenly, grown in own made compost, and zero commercial fertilizers and pesticide. Visitors are often offered cutting from this plant. Herbs are best harvested often to keep them young.

Propagate mint from cutting

November 03 2016 – Mint update

Woody stems mean the plants have gotten old. The fragrance and taste of its leaves will wane as the plant aged.

How to grow mint from propagation

Harvest often to grow young leaves, else it will get old like this plant! Then we have to propagate these woody stems again (Watch the video!)

In the following video, our green pot’s mint plant had grown old, BUT ย we can renew the plant by propagating the stems! ย ๐Ÿ™‚

Summer will show how to do this –

 

See how simple it is to propagate an old mint plant? There is no need to add commercial fertilizer to renew our herbs at home.

How to propagate mint plant

The almost dead plant in our video returned to health after pruning and repotting! (July 2016)

My daughter harvests home grown mint straight from our plants for tea whenever there are tons of homework from school. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our mint plants are grown without commercial fertilizer and pesticide, and they taste and smell amazing.

How to brew home grown fresh mint for tea

A cup of home grown mint tea while studying

Member Jason Ng shared his recipe for a chill out any time mojito , a non alcoholic option is available.

Recipe for mint mojito

Jan 12 2016 – Mojito has become my all time favorite drink after gardening in the sun !

Jason Ng’s recipe for Non alcoholic Mojito :

1.Mint leaves (muddle in the cup with little sprite 1st, leave it for 5mins)
2. Big lime
3. Lemon grass ( use the stalk, smashed to release fragrance)
4. Sprite (softdrink)
5. Sugar (optional)
6. Vodka (Optional)
7. Add ice

Thank you, Jason!!!!

SG Strawberries KIDS :)

During our live radio chat with DJ Mei Xiang from 883FM on March 18 2016, Summer was asked how I was as a mom and what her childhood was like. I am glad to say I passed with flying colors as a mom! ๐Ÿ™‚

I love kids, and its my regret that due toย a late marriage pursuing the excitement of life and work, we only have our Summer. ๐Ÿ™‚ But she is a lovable child, and has the best of both daddy and I as well as being her own (great) person. ๐Ÿ™‚

SG Strawberries

See, what I mean about being enthusiastic? ๐Ÿ™‚

Summer is a very enthusiastic learner. She sought knowledge from sensory exploration as well as reading from a very young age.

2 year old Summer loved to play with flour :)

2 year old Summer loved to play with flour ๐Ÿ™‚

SG Strawberries

Summer learned how to make bread before she can walked steadily ๐Ÿ™‚

SG Strawberries

5 years old Summer made bread, learned by touch the right dough texture ๐Ÿ™‚

We indulged our daughter and kids, but not with material pleasures. ๐Ÿ™‚ No matter what they were curious about, we tried to answer all their questions and encouraged explorations. This is how we learned and thus, growing strawberries was just another project to explore in our household! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you see the world through the eyes of a child, nothing is too impossible. When Summer mentioned her wish to pick strawberries at home, my niece Shona’s eyes shone with excitement and images of harvest rooted in our imagination (even mommy!) , and thus the research began in earnest! ๐Ÿ™‚

SG Strawberries kids

SG Strawberries kids – Japanese niece Shona and nephew Kosuke with Summer Fong at our Garden by the Bed!!

The two older girls were encouraged to read and researched on strawberries and shared their findings via YouTube videos in their own words ๐Ÿ™‚

I am a firm believer that science should be explored outside of textbooks. In fact, I discouraged memorizing notes! Science is fun and should be applied in practical everyday ways to aid learning for young children. For example, when the subject of water pressure was taught in Summer’s class, we made our own garden ‘gadgets’ such as self watering bottles and even an automated vertical irrigation system to see how they work.

SG Strawberries kids

May 2015 – A simple conception using air pump and basketball needle to pull water bubbles upwards and irrigate our vertical farm ๐Ÿ™‚

Science is not a subject we studied for grades. Both Summer and Shona did well for science not because they memorized hard but they truly understood the concepts. As part of my lessons with them, we learned about plants by planting the seeds, observations of seeds’ journey and hands on exploration from transplanting etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

The seeds are our teacher, and every germination is the beginning of a new exploration ๐Ÿ™‚ This is more exciting than memorizing notes, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚

SG Strawberries

Kids want to see if they can track how roots drew water from soil using colored water ๐Ÿ™‚

SG Strawberries kids

July 24 2015 – Studying Insects

SG Strawberries kids

July 25 2015 – chrysalis! Isn’t this neat?

April 15 2016 - Praying Mantis

April 15 2016 – releasing Praying Mantis into our edibles garden ๐Ÿ™‚

Summer was encouraged to share her strawberries project with interested classmates. Our home is always open for kids wanting to learn more about growing edibles.

Singapore strawberry farm in the bedroom

This hanging garden was dissembled in December 2015 because strawberry plants needed more room in bigger pots than the hanging bottles allowed.

I think the visual impact of seeing strawberries growing on our windows in Singapore, was infectious. Classmates from Summer’s school visited, and we encouraged them to touch and pollinated the flowers. Our strawberries were not kept in protective glass jars, they were unique opportunities for kids to see and feel the results of our imagination and research! ๐Ÿ™‚

Self Pollinating strawberry flowers

Summer shared how to pollinate strawberry flowers with classmates

Pollinating strawberry flowers with children

Classmate Cheng Jing lend a hand pollinating strawberry flowers

Self Pollinating strawberry flowers

Pollinating strawberry flowers became a daily chore at home ๐Ÿ™‚

As it was all about sharing our strawberries experience, friends from our Facebook’s group, “SG Farming in Apartments” visited our strawberries garden by the bed! ๐Ÿ™‚ And whenever possible, we shared how they taste as well ๐Ÿ™‚

The fruits size were not very impressive but I hope the magical moment of picking home grown strawberries in Singapore made an impression and won them with its flavor! ๐Ÿ™‚

Kids harvesting strawberries in Singapore

Young friends picking and tasting jelly bean sized strawberries in our bedroom!

Pesticide free strawberries in Singapore

Pesticide free home grown strawberries

SG Strawberries

September 2015 – Shirley Ooi

SG Strawberries

September 16 2015 – Mrs. Shanti, Summer’s form teacher from Marymount Kindergarten

Our learning did not stopped, in fact it spilled out of the bedroom to the outdoors. We wanted to grow more edibles and thus, decided to recycled abandoned pots for compost bins and grew food in them. Kids helped to dig for earthworms, plant seeds and transplant seedlings to pots. Every step of the way, they had a hand in it. The reward of our outdoor garden was when we harvest and taste the fruits of our labor!

Shona and Kosuke digging earthworms and composting raw kitchen greens.

Shona and Kosuke digging earthworms and composting raw kitchen greens in our organic garden.

Gardening with children

SG Strawberries kids helped built this organic edibles garden ๐Ÿ™‚ May 2015

How to use compost

December 23 2016 – Our natural edibles garden from recycled kitchen green waste

SG Strawberries

March 22 2016 – Shona harvesting her favorite home grown crunchy capsicums after school ๐Ÿ™‚

Gardening with children is not only an enjoyable endeavour for me but I truly believed that it taught us a lot about science and innovation. In fact, the more strawberries varieties we grew, the more questions arose! We have not stopped researching since we started! ๐Ÿ™‚

Last but not least, I am glad that this experience allowed me to bond even deeper with Summer, Shona and little Kosuke, and it made us all think deeply about our environment and how to grow delicious food safely.

 

 

Strawberries Care in the Tropical Zone

Whilst strawberry plants thrive like weeds in cooler climate and require minimal care to grow well, in the tropics, more attention is needed for them to grow well.

Indoor strawberry plants after harvest

Indoor Strawberry plants after harvest – Curled up leaves and stunted fruits

Stressed strawberry plants showed symptoms in leaves first and stunted fruits in later growth.

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

Cycle of strawberry plants in the tropics

Stunted dry fruits occurred when strawberry plants lost their vigor

If possible, grow them in deeper wider pots with compost and mulch top soil with dried leaves to prevent over heating. Give roots more room to grow and continue to feed and chill the soil.

Strawberry Care information for the Tropical Zone

Result – Mature strawberry plants will recover to flower and fruit in a few months

 

For outdoors, its better to weed them out during the rainy season when its not too warm. Iced the soil as needed.

Strawberry Care information for the tropical zone

Iced bottles and ice kept our soil cool for strawberries in outdoor compost pot

Strawberry Care information for Singapore outdoors

Compost , Sun and chilled soil keep strawberry plants going. Best to do this in late October when our weather is cooler

Dec 12 2015 - First Flower Spotted!

Dec 12 2015 – First Flower Spotted!

Wild strawberries variety

IMG_5263 Dec8

September 29 2016 – Second year outdoorsย 

Outdoor strawberry plants

September 28 2016 – strawberry plant from 2015

Grown indoors, this strawberry plant was languishing for lack of sun in our apartment. Now that its cooler, I brought it outdoor again. In one week, it has revived to better health. This is grown in a 30L compost pot with earthworms and heavy mulching with dried leaves on top soil to prevent heat from penetrating.

Tropical care for home grown strawberries

Color returned to the stems and the crown is developing new shoots.

February 11 2017 – Very mature (over 1 year old) plants are tested in outdoor trials to see how well they adapted to our climate, without much human intervention. ย These plants are no longer hand pollinated but still grown in natural compost from recycled green waste. They survived rain, haze and sun well. I learned to rim my pots with copper wire so snails could not climb into my pots.

Tropical care for strawberries

Chemical Free snails prevention!

Please note only copper work as they seem to be toxic to snails. However copper wires are not commonly found in shops and sometimes, I have to strip old electrical cords for them.

strawberry plants from seeds

Feb 11 2017

Strawberry plants from seeds

Pesticide and chemical free strawberries!

Summary of strawberry care information in the tropics:

  1. Minimum pot size should be 6 inches deep and 6 inches wide. The bigger pot the better according to Michael Wellik as well (strawberry farmer in USA)
  2. Strawberry soil need to be acidic
  3. They like compost
  4. Red strawberry varieties need minimum 6 hours of sun light
  5. Soil and roots prefer to be cooler than 31C, and night time 25C
  6. Fruiting stage plants need watering more often
  7. Trimmed dried leaves and fruits after fruiting stopped and allow room and time for plants to recuperate !
  8. 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.

 

 

Tabletop Fruit Trees :)

Lim San, a fellow gardener in our Facebook gardening group, “SG Farming in Apartments” , often shared his ย creative gardening projects with us.

More than once, I was inspired by his recycling efforts to use plastic bottles or paper cups to grow edibles using either hydroponics or aquaponic methods.

This time though, by his 10 months effort to bonsai a Mulberry tree!

Bonsai Fruit Trees

Lim San’s tabletop mulberry tree

I did not know bonsai trees can still bear fruits!

According to Lim San, it is best to choose a young sapling to train rather than a mature plant with thicker stem.

How to grow a bonsai mulberry tree

Mulberry tree – Young sapling is easier to train than thick tree nodes stems

 

 

 

 

Propagate Strawberry Plant

Every growth event with strawberries is a first for us as it was for some Singaporeans!

Before we successfully germinated strawberries seeds in Singapore, we have never seen strawberry seedling, much less our first strawberry runner on Oct 22 2015!

How to root strawberry runners

October 22 2015 – Thrilled to see strawberry runners on our plants in Singapore!

Our gardening group members advised us to pin these runners on to soil while its still attached to the parent plant.

Propagating strawberry runners

Strawberry runners were suspended in mid air

However our strawberry plant was not grown in pots but suspended mid air and hung on windows. ๐Ÿ™‚

This strawberry vertical tower was brought down to allow runners to be pinned for roots.

How to propagate strawberry plants

Soil depth extended for strawberry vertical pot!

Rooting strawberry runners

Strawberry runner pinned to soil with a curtain peg!

As the weeks passed, it slowly gained strength to stand upright ๐Ÿ™‚

rooting strawberry runners

Strawberry runner rooted and the stem stand upright

When the strawberry runner developed more established roots, we can separate it from the parent plant by cutting the attached stem.

When to separate strawberry runner from its parent

Strawberry runner had developed roots while attached to parent plant

How to propagate strawberry runners

Strawberry runner’s roots

How to propagate strawberry plants from runners

Nov 19 2015 – Strawberry Runner continues to fruit and flowered

This is a whole new strawberry plant!

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays Craft – Self Watering Pots

Going away for holidays? Worried about your plants?

Here is a project to gift yourself some extra peace of mind while you are away! ๐Ÿ™‚

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

  1. Cut an X on the cap and slit holes on plastic bottle near the opening
  2. Cut desired length of the wick
  3. Arrange the wick through the X cut and inside bottle
  4. Add medium and plant
How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Step 1 – An X cut on cap

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

small slits or cuts for water drainage from soil

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Aquarium Filter Wool as wick

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Step 2 – Aquarium Filter Sponge – Length as desired

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Cut bottle in half, soil depth as desired. Insert wicking sponge through X cut.

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Step 3 – Adjust wicking sponge as desired.

Gardening Craft

Step 4 – Add growing medium and plant

Gardeners Craft and DIY

Completed – Rehousing our monsters (Venus Fly Trap)

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Adding cotton in reservoir to prevent mosquitoes breeding and keeping the soil chill with ice

 

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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™‚

 

 

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

In the beginning (Year 2015 ), it was just a table by the window in a bedroom ๐Ÿ™‚

How to germinate strawberry seeds in Singapore

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

SG Strawberries garden by the bed

April 2015 – Then to 2 tables and some hanging pots ๐Ÿ™‚

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 – 2017 , we continue to fill our home with unique cold zone varieties. As we gained more experience growing them, we challenged ourselves to grow harder but tastier types! ๐Ÿ™‚

Small Spaces Gardens

December 15 2016 – bedroom garden

Small Spaces Gardens

December 30 2016 – Balcony

Small Spaces Gardens

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

Small Spaces Garden

January 11 2017 – My writing corner filled with my favorite plants!

July 16 2017

Growing strawberries in Singapore

Summer’s bedroom

Strawberries from seeds

New Pineapple Strawberries plants

Growing strawberries from seeds

Strawberries seedlings for workshops

Growing strawberries from seeds

Approaching flowering stage

Growing strawberries from seeds

Self learning hydroponics out of juice jars

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!

 

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) !!