MIGNONETTE

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One of the French variety that we started in 2018 was the MIGNONETTE Alpine strawberries.

This variety was easy to grow, entered flowering stage at 3 months and a vigorous grower with about 100 – 120 fruits in a 4 months window. This matched growing data from gardeners abroad, even though we started them in a tropical climate. This strawberry variety is hardy in United States zone 5 to 9.

Our seeds were freshly harvested from a private grower and germinated in 4 days with 90% success and they are available for sale in SHOP.

Steps to germinate strawberry seeds at this post.

Our goal since 2016 after learning how strawberries grew, was to grow them better in a systematic method so that at every stage, we minimized the time between one development  stage to another. It should be easy for even a novice gardener to understand and learn. It can be cross apply to other cool seasoned plants.

POLLINATE LIKE A BEE ! 

This method is only taught in our workshop. Hopefully by filling the gap of information from seeds, home gardeners from different growing experiences would be able to scale our level of understanding strawberries even higher.

Mignonette’s journey began on July 13 2018 when the first sprouts were spotted. We used the balancing act method to hasten the germination progress.

Alpine strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 July 13 – Sowed July 9, 4 days

Very quickly, more seeds began to germinate over the next few days.

Alpine Mignonette strawberries from seeds in Singapore

July 15 – 70% had seed leaves

Over the years of growing strawberries from seeds, we observed that seedlings which showed “strong” characteristics will grow to maturity with ease. The signs are quick development from sprouts to standing seedlings. The better seedlings will carry the seeds husks for a while. Development leap from seed leaves to true leaves was within days instead of weeks.

Grow alpine strawberries from seeds

2018 July 19

We grew all our workshop seedlings from Heirloom seeds, to offer varieties not available in Singapore to our participants. It is also important that these seedlings started in our natural environment to acclimatize faster.

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 Aug 01

HIGH K (Potassium) FOR FRUITING PLANTS & NATURAL FERTILIZER

 

One month old seedlings showed significant leaves development. What was unseen, was how much the roots zone area had progressed.

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 August 16 – 1 month old

Beneath the soil, the roots length were about 4 cm and the crown turned pink. Fling Test (new workshop curriculum) is required to establish seedlings at every stage of transplant. This method ensured that transplanted seedlings were set properly to approach flowering stage with ease and reduce transplant stress as much as possible.

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Below Soil

Healthy strawberry plants have un-cupped leaves with red stems and thickening crown. They love the sun while roots zone preferred to be cooler.

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 September 16

A scent of sweetness emitted from the plants during active photosynthesis, this became more pronounced during fruiting stage. Thus, pests prevention is a good idea!

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Sticky Trap 

CAN BE CUT TO DESIRED SIZES


In our natural environment, strawberries seedlings can grow without a hitch. They love the sun but may still be too young to cope with direct afternoon heat.

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 16

The first flower were spotted on October 22 2018 from only a single crown and at 3 month old!

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

First Flower

Although small, these fabric pots work very well to carry young seedlings towards  flowering stage with ease. In my humble opinion, growing strawberries is easier than tomatoes! They were not fussy at all, readily accepted low soil depth (2 inch) of mini pots.

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 24 – new flowers

Even if the fruits bearing stem snapped, it can continue to carry the fruits to ripen with a scotch tape bandage!

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 Dec 18 – scotch taped aid!

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 December 20 –

With this confidence, we tested and modified more ways to grow them. It is important that the starting stage from germination to 3 months, was established properly. Thereafter, we could plant them in mini or high pots or any way we want to grow them.

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

LIHO Tall, modified

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Mini Pot

Mignonette Variety is a vigorous grower. Even in a less than ideal environment or low soil depth, they will produce many berries. Once these mini starter plants were plugged into their permanent pot, they continue to thrive without transplant stress. We developed a crossing over technique to ensure they are able to ease over to new environment.

In addition to growing seedlings for workshop, we also grow to learn.

For example, understanding how roots developed is important for hydro or soil based nutrients application. This new understanding allowed us to find new ways to grow them better and more importantly, faster to fruit in our natural environment.

Other trials included moving mature seedlings from soil to liquid base to study how they adapt to new environment.

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Knowing Roots

We saw that they adapted with ease although fruiting was delayed. Their soil based comrades were fruiting aggressively whiles these new hydro seedlings were still pondering at the change of environment! 🙂

From here, we understood that any change in their growing environment can delay fruiting progress even though they remain healthy plants. Our learning journey over the years is not wasted, because we now fully understand these plants and know how to tweak our environment to “cheat” them to fruiting without the perks of a cooler climate!

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 Sept 21 – Soil to Hydro

 

Sweet fruits of our labour, from Nov 01 2018 ! 🙂

Grow Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

First pair of fruits

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TROPICAL STRAWBERRIES

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It had been 4 years since we grew and documented journals on growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore.

With the compilation of data and observations from our plants, we began to test what we hypothesized about strawberries in the tropical zone since 2017 and these were some of our findings.

The parameter for our learning journey was to grow from seeds, in natural SG environment and not used any automated systems. We wanted to grow cool seasoned plants with zero or little carbon footprint as possible to keep growing costs down and see how they adapt to our climate. Heirloom Alpine Strawberries were chosen because they thrived in containers, tasted better and have many varieties from seeds. Runner-less varieties were preferred due to lack of space.

WINTER

There was a lot of misconception about the winter effect on strawberries in our gardening communities.

First, winter is not necessary for strawberries to fruit. Strawberries can fruit in our climate, regardless of varieties. However white and yellow varieties took a longer time to flower in our natural environment.

Gardeners who lived abroad shared that their strawberries improved every season and more often than not, they did so without too much maintenance beyond the normal tilling and fertilizing.

Their fruits sizes also improved over the years. In the winter months, these strawberries grew wild and remained outdoor.

TROPICAL ZONE

We made the following observations on our 2 years old plants and feedback from other gardeners. Gardeners with high tech systems concurred on fruits sizes.

  1. Fruit sizes remained small, maximum length was 3 cm
  2. First harvest yielded the highest quantity of fruits than subsequent harvests.
  3. Did not enter full dormant stage
  4. Hardy plants, survived hot, wet and haze conditions

Fact – strawberries are frost hardy meaning they endured winter well and usually emerged from melted snow in Spring to grow again. Some did not return, only healthy plants returned. In our climate, healthy plants also returned to fruit after an adequate rest period. Length of time was dependent on varieties as well. For example, the hardier red garden variety was about 4 months while the whites took longer, about 6 months. Observation was based on soil based plants.

Fact – Regardless of climates, from seeds,  fruits size for the first harvest was small. Not larger than 3 cm.

BIG STRAWBERRIES  

We looked into the forcing culture of greenhouse strawberries in Japan. A paper published by Atsushi Yamasaki  (Field Crop and Horticulture Division, National Agriculture and Food Research (NARO) Tohoku Agriculture Research Center, Japan), prescribed artificially creating an almost winter environment, to force plants to rest so that they can renew energy to yield better crop.

This would required a cold room environment, an ideal temperature range of 9 to 15 degree Celsius and another winter element. Can you guess what it is?

At this temperature, greenhouse strawberries did not enter the full dormant stage of outdoor plants in the winter. When they returned, these plants start flowering instead of sending runners.

NATURAL FERTILIZER, HIGH POTASSIUM (K) FOR FRUITING

With this method, greenhouse strawberries were manipulated in an artificial environment to fruit all year round and with each crop, be able to harvest bigger fruits. Aside from these winter rest tweaking, strawberries were grown as naturally as possible. Bees were housed indoors to pollinate flowers as needed. Organic compost was preferred.

In summary, strawberries do not need winter to fruit. The cold is needed for them to rest, so that these plants renewed energy to grow better. Size of fruits improved over seasons. The older the strawberries were, the better they get, fulfilling what we have all understood from gardeners who lived abroad.

Thus, for local gardeners with deep pockets and want big fruits, consider investing in a cold room. Create an artificial indoor winter environment, to enjoy bigger size (zero pesticide) strawberries for the family. Commercially, this is not a sustainable method because our cost of energy is too high compared to our neighbors with natural cool environment.

BREEDING & VARIETIES 

For the rest of us, we can still grow and enjoy homegrown strawberries and be able to maintain our plants for years by keeping them healthy. WORKSHOPS are available to share how to tweak our indoor environment without too much hassle, among other tips and handling work.

SOIL DEPTH

We tested different pots depth for all our plants because of space constraints. As long as basic needs of strawberries plants were met, they can fruit on time (within 5 months) without too much trouble.

Strawberries Plants Tropical Care

Mini Cup, 2 inch soil

Plants with cooler roots, grew better with ease. We also grew in modified plastic recyclables with this need in mind when we upcycled them for growing.

Strawberries Plants tropical Care

Tall Cup

When the heat was suffocating during our hotter tropical months (May – September), strawberries plants drooped often. Non-red varieties (white or yellow types) suffer heat related stress more than the common red garden varieties. They recovered once immediate cooling measures were applied. It could be as simple as removal from hot environment to a shadier area. If no symptom showed, strawberries are sun lovers, able to tolerate summer heat as high as 38 degree Celsius and high humidity.

Tropical strawberries care

Droopy leaves

BEAT THE HEAT With FABRIC POTS

 

From the above observation, we do not think planting strawberries in the ground is a good idea, unless there is heavy mulching to keep direct heat from penetrating the roots zone. Instead of straw or hay which are expensive in Singapore, we preferred dried leaves, tree barks and coco bales.

Strawberries (over 6 months old) are hardy enough that they survived direct sun in the ground. However any heat stress can delayed fruiting.

RAIN

Mature plants, over 5 months old,  survived heavy monsoon rains, subjected to some conditions. First, soil must drained well and the crown of the plant are set properly. Rot set in if leaves and crown remained constantly wet.

SOIL vs. KRATKY 

Soil based plants produced more fruits (80 – 120 small berries total)  than plants grew in KRATKY (50 fruits) over a 4 months window, even though the latter medium is cooler.

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

KRATKY (liquid base)

Time to arrived at flowering stage is faster for Kratky than soil based plants.

GENERATIONS

Second generation plants yield less fruits than their parent plants but arrived at flowering stage earlier.

It is from the third generation that we observed better acclimated plants with similar traits of their bountiful parents with less heat issues.

Soil based of these seedlings flowered at 3rd month and fruits developed faster. In Kratky, flowers showed in the second month.

RUNNERS vs. SEEDS

Our runner-less Alpines showed runners when they were stressed. The reasons varied from a near tear in the stem or over fertilizing.

If runners are rooted, fruiting is usually delayed.

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Runner with aerial roots

First flowers from Alpine runners tend to dry up.

Strawberry Plant Care in the tropics

Runner’s Flowers

If runners were rooted, they often sent out more daughter plants instead of flowering.

The above plant remained fruit-less for over a year. When flowers showed, they did not turned until 2 years later. Only three fruits developed well in this period.

From observation, it seem strawberries can only do one thing at a time.

A Puzzle still waiting for answers – Is winter a deciding factor for runners / hybrid plants? Why did overseas strawberries’ runners produced fruits within the year and ours could not?

COLD TO HOT CLIMATE

Mature plants from cold to hot climate do not immediately produced fruits if the fruits are not present on the plants when they arrived.

Acclimation to a drastically different environment took over a year. Fruiting were delayed, 1 to 2 years.

Most did not survived.

In the West, gardens centers only sell starter plants suitable for their zones, to allow plants to adapt quickly. Adapting is easier within the same climate.

Thus we preferred to grow from seeds. From day 1, in our climate.

HEIRLOOM vs. HYBRIDS, soil based

Heirloom Alpines from seeds, produced small berries but compensated with quantity (80 – 120 fruits over 4 months), usually within 5 months from seeds.

HYBRIDS produced larger fruits in lesser quantity and took a longer time to fruit ( 6 months to over a year), usually grown from a mature runner plant not seeds. Supermarkets’ fruits seeds (Korean strawberries) have these characteristics too if they fruit. With hybrids, the risks are that seedlings do not grow true to parent plants or no fruits at all, only runners.

Conclusion

Based on these observations, we continued to grow from seeds rather than hybrid or runners plants. With seeds, we enjoyed different taste from varieties and have acclimated plants within a shorter time than the latter.

Rather than bigger fruits, we chose many small berries from different wild varieties within the year. Seeds from acclimatized parent plants also grew faster.

No matter the decision, it is still ultimately the grower’s choice.

Growing own strawberries will always be a special experience for the whole family.

 

Grow Alpine Mignonette Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 Nov28

CARNIVOROUS BYBLIS

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Byblis is a carnivorous “Godsend” plant for many gardeners faced with flying pests troubles. Their long sticky leaves trapped anything that fly by. And all they need to thrive are filtered water and as much sun as they could get.

Propagate Carnivorous Byblis Plants from cutting

Sticky Leaves Trap Mosquitoes

Thus these plants are easy to maintain and grow for organic pests prevention.

It is not difficult to propagate the plants by stem cutting, and I preferred using a net-cup and sponge over sphagnum moss to establish the cutting, following in the footstep of Brendan Goh. 

PROPAGATING STEPS

First, chose a netcup size that fit a shallow container well. The cutting will not have any roots and its cutting’s end need to be submerged in water.

How to Propagate Byblis Cutting

1) Chose Netcup to fit Container

Soak sponges ahead of time so that the cutting will be supported by a moist environment to reduce stress.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

2) Soak sponges

Chose a longish (6 – 8 cm) stem for the cutting and remove lower leaves while its still attached to the mother’s plant. The lower stem will be tucked in the sponge.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

3) Cut lower leaves

UPDATE – Any length is okay for propagating

Care Tips for Byblis cutting

3 cm length, use mini sponge

The cutting’s end need to be outside the sponge’s edge. Water level will reach mid point of the sponge height.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

Tuck into moist sponge

Sponge will be inserted into a netcup. The latter will be placed over a reservoir container.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

Insert into net-cup

See how this method completely sealed access to stagnant water? With this method, I will be testing them in outdoor gardens without worrying about mosquitoes breeding.

While we wait for roots to show, this entire container can be placed in the sun and all we need to do is periodically check if water need topping up.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

Mosquitoes SAFE ! 

A shallow container can be further inserted into another taller container to prevent leaves from flopping to the ground.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

Increase height

This cutting rooted in 10 days on October 30 2018. It also fell from height due to windy conditions at home but the sponge and netcup buffer the fall well.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

2018 Oct 30 – Roots showed

When the roots grew longer, we move netcup holder to another taller container instead of uprooting to transplant the Byblis. This mean it’s less stressful for the plant. They’d root and bloom faster the lesser the stress in their environment.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

Roots are long

When the roots grew longer, the sponge will no longer be soaked in water. This part will be dry, only roots in water. I hope that this will reduce mealy bugs problem as seen from some posts this morning (October 20 2018).

With any clear container, where light meets liquid, it is better to cover to prevent algae growth and keep roots zone in darkness.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

Shield from light

Last but not least, I am sure there are many other ways to propagate the byblis plants, but this is the way I preferred to do ours. They are really wonderful to keep pests at bay and we hung some of these cuttings on windows as well.

How to Propagate Byblis by Cutting

Window’s Byblis

PART 2 – REVIVAL

We noticed that byblis plants can turned woody over time. It usually start at the lower stem area and then progressing higher. Left untreated, sometimes the plants died. Drier browning leaves do not trapped insects well and they become weaker.

Care Tips for Byblis cutting

Dry lower stem

STEPS to revive BYBLIS

  1. CUT away dry brown leaves at the lower stem area
Care Tips for BYBLIS cutting

CUT 

Care Tips for BYBLIS

Browning & Dry leaves Removal

2. TUCK lower stem (where drier leaves were removed) into liquid base if possible. The sponge now support the higher area where leaves are still green.

Care Tips for BYBLIS cutting

TUCK – Lower stem below netcup

3. SUPPORT higher stem upright position to harness sun.

Care Tips for Byblis cutting

Lowered Stem

Care Tips for Byblis cutting

Support

OBSERVATIONS

  1. SUPPORT  – In indoor environment, BYBLIS that were supported in an upright position seem to thrive better. We used to let them flop over our window grills (in natural sunlight) but noticed that lower stem seem to turn woody faster.

Satay Sticks were tucked into the sponge to lend a firmer support for these weak stem plants.

Care Tips for Byblis Cutting

SATAY STICKS

When they recover, these plants will grow new leaves, regained back the sticky sap to trap more insects.

Care Tips for Byblis Cutting

Newly recovered Byblis cutting

 

2. Green stems had better chance of rooting than dry brown parts of plants.

Care Tips for Byblis cutting

Cutting from green stem only

 

3. Indoor systems 

With this netcup setup, it is also possible to plug this carnivorous plant in high tech systems, as a pests prevention measure. The care maintenance of this plant is just lights and water and any flying insects could be trapped by its long sticky leaves. The more lights received, the better they thrived. However they cannot tolerate plants’ nutrients, thus it needs its own reservoir.

How to propagate Byblis cutting

Natural Flies Trap

A new pot designed to protect our Byblis from lashing wind while remaining mosquitoes safe in its own reservoir. This pot could be used in indoor systems under grow lights or outdoor.

AVAILABLE FOR SALE in SHOP (include house for indoor or outdoor garden with no.4 netcup plug).

How to propagate Byblis cutting

Prototype

4. Outdoor Gardens

We found mosquitoes presence greatly reduced after it was introduced outdoor. Access to stagnant water must be sealed completely, thus the sponge method work very well. When it rained, water soaked through and in drier times, we could add water and then closing the access.

How to propagate byblis from cutting

Mosquitoes Safe Reservoir

How to propagate Byblis by cutting and Care Tips

BYBLIS Outdoor

5. Fragile leaves (and stem)

Byblis’s leaves (and stem) were observed to be quite fragile. They easily break if rubbed against other surface too often. Any tear can caused browning of stem over time and the plant will die.

Byblis Plant Care Tips

A tear when rubbed against window

The only remedy is to cut the green portion of the plant and root with the above steps on propagation.

Byblis Plant Care and Tips

Cut + Re-root

 

These are really pretty and useful plants to grow and propagate. From one mother plant, we had many cuttings to protect our gardens from common flying pests.

This is how the cut point revived on the mother plant. Instead of a single off shoot, sometimes two parts emerged. Thus it became a denser bush if we propagate often.

Byblis Plant Care and Tips

New growth at the cut

Even without roots, the new cuttings could still trapped insects and “feast”. The more they ate, the faster roots showed. And then the cycle begins again ! 🙂

How to Propagate Byblis Cutting

The morning after propagation

October 20 2018 cutting that was used in the propagation steps showed flowers on November 8.

Byblis cutting Propagation via cutting

Beautiful Purple Blooms!

Mosquitoes and any flying Pests Prevention!

Care Tips for Byblis cutting

Vertical Gardens Guards

PS. These handy netcups and sponges are available for SALE here!

OYSTER LEAF

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I am grateful for moments of heightened curiosity when excitement and intrigue sparkle and I am drawn into the chase to look for answers. These recent years had been one roller coaster after another, finding answers to growing challenging (cold seasoned) edible plants in our tropical climate.

After strawberries (still an on going search for answers on hybrids), there was wolfberries and now top of my list, is this Oyster Leaf after hearing about its uniqueness from chefs, then tasting a leaf with champagne at a gathering.

Little is known about this salad leaves outside the fine dining circle. In fact, most local growers do not know it. There was no name for this plant in the Chinese seeds catalog.

Grow Oyster Leaf from seeds in containers

2019 February 23 Harvest

Ironically, I heard about this the first time from a Australian trained Chinese chef who wanted to try growing it for his own restaurant. Thereafter, an opportunity to try it at a business function. It was an instant favorite! I fell in love with the taste and texture immediately.

The experience of enjoying each leaf raw is very interesting. The first taste is salt, then the oysters taste explode at mid section of the leaf and at the end, a mild and sweet taste reminiscent of freshly harvested romaine green. In terms of taste or texture, it met all our expectations, especially among our seafood or salads friends.

In our humble opinions, these leaves should be enjoyed raw and without flavoring because they are delicious and unique. Connoisseurs love them too, they were often paired with seafood or fish dishes.

As an uncommon, sought after vegetable, they were only sold in specialty stores or private greenhouses direct to fine dining restaurants in Britain, at a market price‎  £ 5.50 (GBP) for 30 grams, roughly SGD 320 per kg!

Grow Oyster Leaf from seeds in Singapore

From seeds natural environment

One understands why they cost so much after some research.

In a nutshell, these are “fussy” difficult plants to cultivate and slow to grow. However for the market price they fetched, it is worthwhile to explore for indoor high tech farms looking for delicious niche vegetables for restaurants. An advantage for local growers is that these leaves must be harvested as close to delivery time and destination as possible.

Our family enjoyed tasting salads and vegetables that were not common in supermarkets here. We bridged natural fertilizer such as seaweed or Kelp meal in our nutrients base for our edibles gardens.

NATURAL FERTILIZER FOR SOIL & LIQUID BASE MIX

Here are some notes on Oyster Leaf plants growing conditions –

  • Hates moisture, prefer well draining, non compact/heavy soil (similar to rosemary and lavender)
  • Avoid letting medium go totally dry before watering ( tip – aim to keep its environment constantly moist)
  • Unable to tolerate prolonged sun + heat , prefers part shade (ideal for my apartment’s environment)
  • Fragile, usually die upon transplantation
  • Needs cold stratification (use strawberries germination method)
  • Best harvest early in the day at their most fragrant (morning)
  • Discourage flowering as it may reduce leaves’ flavor (reason why seeds are hard to find!)

Our Oyster Leaves’ Journal began on July 13 2018, when a seed germinated in 2 days instead of a month as advised.

Cold Seasoned salads from seeds

2018 July 13

Be patience when cultivating these plants to acclimatize in our region. It was a slower than snails’ pace from the start till the second month. Seed leaves took a week to develop after germination.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

Slow start

The following pictures tracked how they formed from seeds leaves stage –

Grow Oyster Leaf from seeds in Singapore

In net cup for easier handling

Grow Oyster Leaf from seeds in Singapore

2018 August 04

Grow Oyster Leaf from seeds

True leaf showed

From first to second month, the progress was very slow. Some seedlings may failed. As this was our first time and not having any information to fall back on, regarding growth, we did not know why seedlings die yet.

Grow Oyster Leaf from seeds

2018 August 07

Cold Seasoned Salads

2018 August 16

On their second month, their growth development was similar to strawberries. Height of plants, roots development, more leaves formed were all alike. There was a single thin mid section ( I called it the crown like the strawberries’ mid section),  which will thicken and multiplied as it matured.

Cold Seasoned Salads

2018 September 05

Absolutely delicious fresh oyster tasting leaves with thick crisp texture. Now, I truly appreciate why this salad leaves are sought after by chefs around the world.

cold seasoned salads

2018 September 17

As this grew, the mid section or crown thickened and multiply. We harvested leaves from the outer fringe and this seem to prompt new leaves to start from the mid inner section. It looked to be a cut and grow plant.

Grow cold seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

2018 December 01

From the second month, the taste of oyster become more distinct. Interestingly, the taste and smell of oysters changed through the day. In the early morning, it was pleasantly light and sweet. Once the heat is out (late morning) to afternoon, the oyster taste became very strong, akin to eating an oily oyster omelette!

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

Oyster Leaf seedlings

The leaves had some pigmentation, dots of color on the surface and beneath. At first, we thought it was spider mites but fortunately were not the dreaded pests!

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 October 4

Cold climate plants showed the same freckles on leaves so we know this is a normal characteristics of the plant.

Grow cold seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

Freckles on leaves

In addition to thicker leaves texture, the taste profile now is salty and oysters.

Grow cold seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

2019 February 8

Grow cold seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

Cut and Grow Leaves

Hopeful for flowers ! Our tropical heat may had prompt our plants to bolt. Unlike gardeners in the cool climate, I look forward to see how they developed and hopefully there would be seeds.

Grow cold seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

2019 January 19

Challenges 1 – These plants were not able to tolerate prolonged direct sun. The leaves wilt even in morning sun above 30 degree Celsius. Ideally grown in the shade or bright airy area.

Grow cold seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

Heat Stroke

We found that it thrived best in our rainy season when the air was damp, below 28 degree Celsius.

Cold Seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

Okay in the rain

Challenges 2 – Roots had the tendency to drop off when the weather was hot. It was possible to regenerate roots. We do not recommend these plants be grown outdoor in the ground.

Speedy recovery was possible with strawberries’ cooling measures. The following video shared how we used wind to aerate individual reservoir by “rocking” which caused ripples in the liquid base of  these cool loving plants.

 

KALE – SO EASY !

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The general rule of thumb for anyone who loves kale and want fresh harvest regularly is to grow 3 to 4 plants per family member.

Grow your own at home saves money, as this is a cut and grow plant. As a gauge, a 10 weeks old plant will yield 5 big leaves every week. Cost to grow this super food can be as little as $1 per week or zero if we have our own compost.

FEED NATURAL FERTILIZER (SOIL or LIQUID BASE)

Additional perks as home growers are we get to decide when to harvest, whether younger more tender leaves or the bigger foliage from more mature plants. In any case, own grown is always best, as we grow them without harmful pesticides and there is no waste. We only harvest when we need to and how much from the plant. When parents grow, children learned as well.

Learning and being able to grow superfood is a blessing. We are always grateful there is available healthy whole food at home when the weather is bad, and there is no need to dash to the supermarkets. Having these instant fresh salads also mean that we are very conscious of what need to be harvested, thus increasing the chances of healthier options for our meals.

Last but not least, there is NO carbon footprint from our gardens to mouth ! 🙂 

However, space may be a major constraint to grow enough of these wonderfully delicious and nutrients packed greens for urban high rise dwellers like ourselves in Singapore.

To solve space challenges, I chose to grow in PET bottles with Kratky’s non circulating hydroponic instead of soil to save space.

Fresh vegetables on Minimal space

2018 January 8 – squeeze for space

Small net cup like these supported each seedling in their individual or shared reservoir, and recycled plastic bottles at the same time.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

1 week old Kale

STEP 1 – Germination Method

It is important to keep seeds moist at all times. They can be sowed on wet tissues and lightly covered with another tissue. Cling wrapped or ziplock in bag to maintain moisture on seeds bed.

Germination speed is faster on tissues (2 days) than on soil (9 days).

Grow kale from seeds

October 17 2017 – Germinated (2 days)

Kale benefits

1 day after germination

 

STEP 2 – Transplanting Seedling

After a few days, the seeds will show 2 leaves (called seeds’ leaves or cotyledons ) like the following picture. The third leaf is called true leaf and carried the characteristics of future mature leaves.

Grow Grow Kale from seeds in containers

Seed Leaves showed

Transplant seedling when true leaves (the second pair of leaves) emerged and about 4 cm long. At this stage, it need more sunlight.

Tip – For speedier seedling’s growth, keep grow lights on longer while maintaining moisture with foliage misting.

In Hydro – Make sure roots reach nutrient feed.

In Soil – kept moist and seedling is upright.

Kale benefits

1 week old Green Curly Kale

Grow cool seasoned salads from seeds in containers

Scarlet Kale, 1 week old

Kale benefits

2 weeks old kale in “incubator”

STEP 3Adjusting Sun Exposure

For better tasting kale, where leaves are tender and less bitter, adjust sun exposure when seedlings are one month old.

Grow in morning sun which is not hot or remove from direct afternoon sun to grow in partial shade, made better tasting leaves.

Grow Kale from seeds in bottles

January 2 2018 – First harvest

STEP 4 – HARVESTING

Cut bigger or outer most leaves stem as close to main stem as possible.

Keep younger smaller leaves on the plant until they grow bigger, usually within 10 days.

 

Grow Kale in Singapore

Cut and Regrow Leaves

After harvest, the cut parts will not regrow. The stem will continue to grow taller while the harvested area remained bald. Thus, cut the leaf stalk as close to stem as possible to reduce waste. Only the higher mid section will regenerate new leaves.

Cool seasoned salads from seeds

Harvesting Kale

When Kale are harvested young, less than 2 months old, leaf stalk and leaves are more tender. To find the texture and taste preferred, we encourage tasting as the plant grew. There is no right or wrong time to harvest, as Kale can be enjoyed as microgreens or mature. For raw salad, we preferred the less bitter and tender leaves of less than 2 month plants.

Kale benefits

Fresh kale salads

Eating well at home can be as simple as this, adding freshly harvested Kale to cheese burgers.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

Kale with Burgers

We encouraged our daughter, my niece and their friends to harvest vegetables for their meals whenever they want, all over our apartment, on our D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) vertical gardens. Its always an unusual play date activity for their friends, as most do not garden or cook at home.

Cold Seasoned Salads from seeds

Harvesting fresh salads

These are some very good GREEN Projects for children and adults  !

CUT and GROW BACK PLANT

Kale Care and Health Benefits

Grow back within 10 days

I love how mobile my vegetables “garden” is, that they are all grown in jars and PET bottles. in natural sunlight and feed. Garden to table in a minute when we harvest our salads!

Fresh Kale health benefits

January 20 2018 – another harvest

 

NUTRIENTS FEED

SEEDS & HYDRO starter kits  available for sale  !

ADDITIONAL KALE VARIETIES –

SCARLET , RED, GREEN CURLY, TUSCAN KALE – 

Grow colored Kale from seeds

Red Russian and Scarlet Kale

Cold seasoned salads

2018 August 25 – Scarlet & Red Kale

Grow scarlet kale from seeds in containers

Scarlet Kale

TUSCAN KALE

Seeds viability is good, about 90% germinated within three days. Newly sprouted seedlings were yellow in color.

Grow cool seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

2018 December 25

How the seeds progressed within the day – 

Grow cool seasoned salads from seeds in Singapore

Sowed on December 23 2018

Some seedlings were planted in liquid and others in soil based to compare the rate of growth. It was observed to be faster in liquid base.

Grow Kale from seeds in containers indoor

10 days old Tuscany

Grow Kale from seeds in containers

2019 January 03

Grow Tuscan Kale from seeds in containers

2019 February 15

Grow Tuscan Kale from seeds in containers

Tuscan or Lacinto Kale

All spare containers at home were recycled to grow food in liquid using net-cups or soil in vertical hanging gardens.

Garden to Table Harvest

Grow Kale in a cup!

Kale from seeds

Tabletop Kale in liquid

Kale from seeds

Soil based Kale

Booked a session here, workshops are available.

Learned First and Bring Home Instant Gardens Testimonial

Learn how to grow vegetables and herbs workshops

Veggies Workshops

Notes on KALE

  • Likes moist , well drained and loamy soil
  • Grow in partial shade if there is too much sun
  • Temperature over 27C or under strong direct sun will turn leaves bitter and tough
  • Seeds to harvest is 70 – 90 days , estimated height 10 inches tall
  • Harvest big (outer facing) leaves and the plant will regrow new leaves from the middle. The lower stem will have no new leaves
  • Young kale leaves are best for salads
  • Older leaves are usually cooked or baked
  • Hardy biennial plant (2 years to complete its life cycle, to bolt , to decline)
  • Belongs to cabbage family

Kale Benefits

  • Most nutrients packed vegetable (Vitamin A, B6, C, K, Manganese, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Potassium)
  • High anti-oxidant (beta carotene, quercetin, kaempferol)
  • Lowers cholesterol, reduce heart disease
  • Zero Fat
  • Protects eye sight
  • High Fiber content

Delicious Juice Recipes

  • Pineapple-Kale-Blast (Prolific Juicing) – 8 Kale leaves with stem, coriander, Pineapple, half cucumber and 1 medium apple
  • Simple Kale – Kale leaves, lettuce, cucumber, lemon, apples (adjust sweetness with apples)
  • Kale + Coconut Juice (Alan Tan, urban farmer)
  • Green Goddess (Prolific Juicing) – 8 Kale leaves, 2 cups spinach, 12 strawberries, 1 lime, 2 apples, mint, optional – ginger

 

Kale goes very well with citrus fruits in salads and we love them for light breakfast any day!

Cool seasoned salads from seeds

Power Packed Salads

We prefer to harvest young Kale leaves (less than 2 months old) instead of waiting till its bigger. Growing our own Kale mean we decide when to harvest to suit our preference.

Cool seasoned salads from seeds

2 months old Kale

ZERO Carbon Footprint

Featured

In 2015, when I started planting strawberries, I thought keeping them cool in our tropical climate is important. As I grew and learned, I found it is possible to grow them in our natural environment without too much fuss once the seedlings established (4 months ++).

Thus, this discovery, the compilation of 2 years of observation and data collection resulted in new ways to grow strawberries, in soil or hydroponic, without using any cooling elements from electricity.

Zero carbon footprint mean we can all grow strawberries at very low cost and without any fancy high tech equipment. Everyone can grow them with enough understanding of how strawberries grow in our climate.

WORKSHOPS are also available with new curriculum catering to beginners to learn how to grow strawberries in a systematic way from seeds. From our youngest participant (2018 , 11 years old) to any age, everyone is learning in small class setting with lots of hands-on experience.

Soil Based using wind

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Bedroom Gardens

Recycled socks shield roots from light and prevent soil leaking to floors below during irrigation. Our PET bottles had been modified to cool roots zone and constantly being improved for strawberries or other cool seasoned plants in soil.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Aug 26 2017 – In modified air-pots from 1.5L PET bottles

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Soil based plants in natural environment

Passion made Possible Strawberries

Vigorously fruiting when the time is right

Hydroponic strawberry plants in Juice Jars

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Aug 24 2017 – A thriving fruiting plant without carbon footprint

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

How many fruits can you see on this plant? 🙂

With hydroponic trial, it is now possible for us at home to study the plant intimately – to look at the roots system and how the crown behave as the plant matured. Roots – wise, this is not possible when the plant is in soil.

From seeds to harvest, it is also faster in hydroponic ( 4 months) versus soil based ( 6 to 8 months).

This is the diary of my first hydroponic strawberry, grown without electricity and the convenience of technology.

My first low cost hydroponic strawberries journey began on April 3 2017. Seeds were sowed March 27 on wet sponges. They germinated within 7 days.

Such tiny seedlings, I was glad I sowed them individually on sponges and need not delicately transferred at this stage.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

April 3 2017 – Germinated!

Hydro Strawberries from seeds

2018 White young seedlings

The thrill of seeing strawberry seeds germinated is the same as when I first started in 2015.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

May 24 2017 – See how tiny they were?

Hands literally trembled when I transplant these tiny 2 months old seedlings! Were not sure if how I did were correct.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

June 04 – Young seedlings in yogurt bottles!

The rate of growth in hydroponic is very fast. We see visible spurts in growth in roots mass and height of the plant from the second month.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

July 12 – 3 months old

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 02 – First flower bud spotted

Without electricity, this plant is grown in stagnant still water and yet achieved aerated characteristics.

Passion made possible strawberries

August 16 – Plant signalling flowering stage with vivid red stems

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 17 – Flower open and new buds seen

With this method, strawberries plants were able to reach flowering stage faster than soil and with the lighter weight, we could grow more plants indoor. In its own reservoir, growing in KRATKY method, we were able to test nutrients efficiently without too much hassle.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 18 2017 – One pollinated flower (without petals) and another bloom.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 20 – Fruits started its journey

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Tiny sweet fruits for picking!

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

The color of ripe!

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Tabletop fruit plant from seeds 🙂

Tiny fruits from a small plant but its been immensely satisfying for me.

This trial proved that without technology, home grown (tabletop) strawberries is possible.

Growing them hydroponically made it easier to harvest fresh fruits direct from table to mouth!

Observation of after harvest stage –

The plant shared similar characteristics of soil based plants. Leaves and fruits production start to wane. There were more brown than vivid red stems.

Grow strawberries in Singapore

Oct 18 2017 – Leaves begin to brown

Grow strawberries in Singapore

Fruits production slowed

Whether soil based or hydroponic, strawberry plants displayed slowing vigor after a few months of fruits production. The characteristics of slowing growth is the same – less vivid red stems, more brown leaves and stunted fruits.

Similar to strawberries grown in the natural cold zone, after plants have adequate “rest”, the red stems returned and flowering starts.

GRow strawberries in Singapore

2017 Dec 24 – Renewed vigor after resting

A mature plant has a developed crown and multiple splits.

Wintering Trials – Observation of dormant stage and recovery

When winter comes, strawberry plants are buried in snow and ice. They probably looked like this.There are no leaves and colour on the crown. Not all plants recovered to grow again when spring arrived.

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

Wintering effect on strawberry plants

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

Sleeping Plant

Recovery begins in the crown when colour returned after a few months of “wintering” !

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

Awakening Plant

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

2018 April 27 – New Shoots

2018 Update – Aren’t they pretty?

Grow strawberries without carbon footprint

2018 January 23

Grow strawberries w zero carbon footprint

Good size strawberry –

Grow strawberries in the tropics

2018 Feb 1 – strawberries ripening

Grow strawberries in Singapore

2018 Jan 27 – Harvest Day

Grow strawberries in Singapore

2018 Feb 4 – Sweet berry taste with white flesh (own crossing)

Size of fruits are not dependent on weather. We observed that the same seeds grown in USA, are the same size for the first year harvest. Gradually over-wintering outdoors will improved their plants while in Singapore, remained same.

Grow strawberries in tropical country

Size of fruit is same as grown in USA

Second Generation –

With fruits, another opportunity to learn and a wild ride has began!

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 20 – red seeds from our fruits

Wonder how the next generation grows? 🙂

Passion made Possible Strawberries

August 27 2017 – First sprout !

Here we go again! Second generation has began. Seeds sowed on August 20, first sign of germination was spotted on August 27 2017 (7 days)!

Grow strawberries from seeds

Oct 15 2017 – A faster growing seedling in hydroponic than soil based

Grow hydroponic strawberries in Singapore

2017 Dec 24 

Last but not least, we had observed that in addition to vivid red stems, roots also have an indicative signal for flowering stage! 🙂

2018 Update on second generation seedlings –

Grow strawberries w zero carbon footprint

2018 January 23 – Flowering

Seeds from our own fruits are harvested for generation studies. From our observation, second generation do not seem to fruit as vigorously as the parent, but the third and 4th plants grew and fruit faster. In fact, it was flowering from the second month in our natural environment. Perhaps we have to keep growing for truly acclimated plants, with our own seeds.

Tabletop fruits harvest

Common Red Alpine

Tabletop fruits harvest

2018 June 18

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore fruits harvest

Flowering in 2nd month

 

2018 Hydro Vertical Gardens – built this with PET bottles  !

Small Space Window Gardening

April 30 Bedroom Gardens

HEIRLOOM Strawberries in plugs (2 months old, soil or hydro) can be pre-ordered in SHOP !

Gardening 101

Featured

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 with rosemary and thyme ? These herbs are not easy to grow for even some seasoned gardeners.

I have learned to be more specific with my advice. 🙂 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! 🙂 Last but not least, who the experts are in that area and be able to ask directly! 🙂

Some edibles need not be grown from seeds. Most plants can be propagated. The word, simply mean to grow from a parent plant. By the way, I learned about this method when I helped my then 10 years old daughter with homework. 🙂 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. 🙂

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.

In addition, direct from local growers, soil or hydro kits for beginners are available!

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.

Gardening fun can extend beyond just growing plants ! Gift ideas for fun loving people –

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?  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! 🙂

 

Gardening basics for new gardeners

Hydroponics salads following Lim San‘s instructions!

And even a video from the kids! 🙂

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! 🙂 Kids too, are better at science subject because of our hobby.

Gardening basics for new gardeners

To Table 🙂

Fast Forward to 2018, our vegetables gardens now look like this!

Creative PET bottles garden containers

Vertical Salads!

We grew really cool salads like oyster leafs, ice plants, spinach and many more in hanging recyclables. Do check it out on the Exotic and Greens page.

The learning journey never stop and it is so fun!

We hope you will join us.

Just do it! 🙂

Last but not least, workshops are available.

 

 

 

 

 

DWARFING A PAPAYA

Featured

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! 🙂 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 right seeds. 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.

Mai also shared that a squirt of lime and a dash of pepper on ripe papaya is not only delicious but also settled queasy stomach! 🙂

GROW IN FABRIC POTS FOR BETTER ROOTS

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.. MAI advised to save as many roots hairs as possible when cutting the main root. From my reading ( arlene1027 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 a Female papaya roots (contributed by  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 –  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.

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.

NATURAL FERTILIZER FOR FRUITS

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  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  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! 🙂

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  they taste better and sweeter being grown on a lateral trunk than on a vertical one. 🙂

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

 

 

Ethan Phang’s Sleek Aquaponics

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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! 🙂 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. 🙂

Aquaponics design

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

Aquaponics design

Awesome aquaponic system in retail spaces 🙂

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 Zhe 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  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? 🙂

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? 🙂 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? 🙂

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  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? 🙂

Aquaponics in Singapore

Tabletop aquaponics

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

  • 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 🙂

Apartments’ Rice Paddies

Featured

Update 2018 – Hydro Rice in natural nutrients began! Test trials underway.

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  know how difficult it is to harvest just one cup of rice and learned to cherish every morsel of grain on their plate. 🙂

Apartment rice paddy

2015 February 24  – 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 for 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 Growing rice:

  1. Soak seeds 24 – 36 hours before sowing to very wet medium
  2. Roots appeared 3 – 7 days in a sunny area
  3. Need strong sunlight
  4. Maintain seedlings in very moist medium until 2nd month

More gardeners’ journals –

Grow rice in pots

2016 February 27  –  soaked grains for 24 hours before sowing on really moist towels.

How to grow rice

2018 February 11 – Sowed on Japanese Grow cloth

Grow rice from seeds in Singapore

2018 February 16 – Germination

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

2016 February 3 – 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 🙂 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.

Grow rice from seeds

Prototype of rice growing on river (natural nutrients)

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

Grow rice in pot

Serena Ganesh’s potted rice paddy

Grow rice in pot

Serena Ganesh’s potted rice from seeds

2018 June 24 – I was surprised to see grains on plants started in PET bottles with only 4 inch of soil!

Growing rice indoors

June 24 2018

Grow rice indoors

Rice grains

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! 🙂

HYDROPONIC RICE – SG STRAWBERRIES’ Journal 

A few batches were started for study, beginning on January 11 through April 2018.

Seeds germination rate is almost 100% within 7 days after soaking for 3 days.

As there was no room in my apartment for big pots and still being able to access strong sunlight, I will be growing rice in hydroponic! 🙂 These were how our rice began their journey –

Grow rice from seeds

Soaking for 36 hours

Grow rice from seeds

Germination stages

Grow rice from seeds

4 days old seedling

Rice paddies in apartments

2 weeks old

Grow rice from seeds

2018 February 26 – roots

How to grow rice

2018 January 14 – single shoot 

How to grow rice from seeds

Planted in mini net cup – 2 shoots on Jan 18!

How to grow rice from seeds

2018 Feb 14 – multiple shoots in a month!

Grow rice from seeds husks

Interesting “fur” on shoots

Grow rice from seeds

One month old roots (Feb 14 2018, germinated on Jan 11)

Grow rice from seeds

Stroking roots!

Hydro seedlings were not successful, thus most were transferred to soil in late March 2018. The leaves were brown and limp in all the liquid nutrients I tried.

Grow rice from seeds in Singapore

2018 April 18 – Hydro failed

First grains spotted on June 22 2018.

Grow rice from seeds in Singapore

In outdoor pots

Grow rice from seeds in Singapore

They felt gritty!

Grow rice from seeds in Singapore

Rice Grains

WHEN TO HARVEST GRAINS?

The grains are best left to dry on plant.

They should look completely brown (straw colour) before we cut the stalk off the plant. When pressed, the grain is firm and does not break easily.

They do not mature evenly, thus we usually wait till almost all the grains are brown or less green. These dried grains are also future rice seeds.

Grow rice from seeds in containers

Not yet ready to harvest

 

From our own grains, we germinated second generation rice seedlings on October 4th 2018.

Grow rice from seeds in pots

2018 August 04 harvest

Seedlings were planted in outdoor pots rather than PET bottles this time. For better harvest, they need to be planted in bigger pots or grounded. This time, the seedlings were planted in 80 Liters pot.

Grow rice from seeds in pots

Planting rice seedlings

Grow rice from seeds in pots

2018 October 26 outdoor

Grow Rice from seeds in Singapore

2018 December 12

In deeper pots, rice seedlings were relatively easy to grow and “fruit” on time. Instead of 5 months in shallow PET bottles, where the roots had no place to form well, these plant showed grains in less than 4 months. Thus plant them in deeper pots for abundant and easier harvest.

Grow rice from seeds in containers

2019 January 19

 

2019 – BLACK & WILD VARIETIES 

BLACK PIEDMONT RICE – These seeds were sowed on February 11 and germinated 2 days later on the 13th.

Grow rice from seeds in containers

February 14 – Italian Wild variety

It would be interesting to see how they progressed and compared to the grains from our first journal.

Grow rice from seeds in containers

2019 February 17

They were planted in plastic clear bottle “incubator” to observe roots development. At this stage, we would be keeping the soil very moist while preventing mosquitoes’ breeding by enclosing seedlings in this makeshift greenhouse.

Grow rice from seeds in containers

Planted in soil

Transparent containers also allowed us to observe how roots grew in the early stages. Lessons learned from the first journal, were that seedlings planted in shallow pots or with too many seedlings, took a longer time to show grains. We hypothesized that roots with more room will grow faster with more abundant harvest.

Grow rice from seeds in containers

Incubator

These incubators could be used as a teaching aid to observe rice seedling’s progress closely.

Grow rice seedlings from seeds in containers

2019 February 20

 

SG STRAWBERRIES’ Grow Rice  journal till June 26 2018

 

Seeds or Seedlings available for sale in SHOP !

Grow rice seedlings from seeds in containers

RICE Seedling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Strawberry

Featured

UPDATE 2018 – Successfully grown in non-circulating hydroponics (KRATKY) and began 3rd generation seedlings trials. This variety was acclimatized to SG natural environment by 2017.

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

KRATKY Strawberries


The parent plants of this variety began their journey on January 16 2016 in soil. 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  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 rarely 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?! 🙂 Frozen ice pack cool the strawberries as they sunbathed! 🙂

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. 🙂

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 2016  –

Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Summer began on the first flower to open! 🙂

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 ! 🙂

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.  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 🙂

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)  – 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 🙂

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?  🙂

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

 

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

 

Second Generation (Born in Singapore Strawberries) – 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! 🙂

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. 🙂 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 🙂

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!

Seeds to Harvest Journal –

 

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! 🙂

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! 🙂 What do you think of our progress on these 3 months old seedlings  ? 🙂

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Same age seedlings! The bigger plant are grown in our customized strawberry soil compared to normal commercial organic soil 🙂

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! 🙂 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! 🙂

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  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 🙂 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

 

Two months old Pineapple Strawberry Hydro “plug-ins” seedlings can be PRE-ORDER.

Due to limited space to grow, reservation is needed.Thank you for understanding.

 

Strawberries natural nutrients care

From non-GMO heirloom seeds

 

 

For Lavender Fans

Featured

UPDATE 2018Hydro lavenders ! Journal below soil based plants.

Grow lavenders from seeds or cutting in containers

Just like rosemary, the consensus is to “love it less”!

Do not over-water.

There were gardeners who grew Lavender very well in Singapore. Thanks to these gardeners who shared tips on plant care since 2016, more people (including myself) enjoyed lavenders in our gardens today. These sharing may not be in chronicle order as permission to use their stories (or pictures) came at different time as I wrote this post.

Henry Lim’s lavender journey (2015) – 

Henry Lim's Lavandula angustifolia variety, from seeds

Lavandula Angustifolia variety, from seeds

Began in September 2015 with a Paris Garden kit.

His lavender seeds did not germinate for a long time and Henry initially gave up on the project and re-purposed the soil for other plants.

Henry said germination can take up to 2 months and he was lucky to spot lavender shoots growing in the pots with the other plants and quickly transplant them.

Germinate lavender seeds

 Customized Medium

He customized his own lavender soil  :

His formula consisted of 1:1 pebbles and compost, mixed in with crushed egg shells (boiled, dried and egg membrane removed). He did not used the medium that came with Paris Garden kit. He said lavender soil need to be well drained, a customized mix of aqua-clay, compost and crushed boil egg shells work for his plants.

How to grow lavender plants indoors

Henry Lim’s young lavender seedling in his customised medium. Pot placed in area with free flowing air.

Erin Lee’s Lavender Journey :

Germinating lavender seeds took patience. Erin sowed her seeds in July 2015 and they took 2 months to see tiny sprouts. These seedlings were frail and grew very slowly.

lavender plants in Singapore

September 17 2015 – 2 weeks old lavender

Germinate lavender seeds

November 2015 – 2 months old lavender seedlings

Erin watered her lavender every 2 days and only when top soil felt dry. Lavenders love the sun.

Germinate lavender seeds

2016 January 26

Germinate lavender seeds

Feb 21 2016 – Erin’s “heart” work paid off ! 🙂

Shirley Ooi’s , 2015 : 

Started her lavenders journey on August 11 2015 from seeds. In the daytime, while she worked, they were indoors and watered with ice cubes instead of water.

Germinate lavender seeds

Aug 11 2015 

Lee Michael, January 2017 –  collected different varieties of lavender. In the earlier days before 2018, not many places stock lavenders. It was considered a great find if we chanced upon different types of lavenders in our local (Singapore) nurseries (plant centers).

Grow English Lavender from cutting

English Lavender

Grow French Lavender from cutting

FRENCH

Michael had successfully rooted and grew various types of lavenders from cutting. He used cactus soil mix and advised NOT to add fertilizers for these plants. To encourage a bushier lavender plant, the topmost part of lavender plant were trimmed off after the cutting had established itself.

Grow Goodwin Lavender from cutting

GOODWIN

Grow White Lavender from cutting

WHITE

KELVIN HO, 2016

It was Kelvin Ho‘s dream to start a lavender garden along his corridor in 2015. He read all he could and visited actual lavender fields.

In 2016, he decided to put his learning into action. His first attempt at germinating lavender seeds was a huge success. The first trial yield 75 seedlings total.

The first seed sprout was spotted in 2 weeks, on May 16 2016, and subsequently more seeds also germinated. 🙂  A lavender fan, his hard work and research paid off. He continued to advise beginners and share his experiences today.

 

Lavender plants from seeds

May 15 2016 –  germinated 75 seeds

Lavender plants from seeds

Kelvin’s lavender seedlings!

He experimented with various soil mixes to find the best one to germinate lavender seeds better. These were some of his wild exploration !

Recipe 1 – Cactus potting soil, perlite, Florabella soil, seed compost (all mixed together).

Lavender plants from seeds

Recipe 1

2016 May 22 – The above recipe did not work well. Perlite and Florabella soil were not suitable for lavenders. Seeds did not germinate in them.

Soil with neutral PH work better for them.

Lavender Plant

June 16 2016 – Lavender seedlings (one month old)

Kelvin Ho is no longer a novice where lavender plants are concerned! 🙂 Slowly his lavender corridor garden dream is a reality in 2017. This was his update –

Lavenders grew better where there was ample sun. He also observed that plants in cooling units grew faster.

Lavender plants from cutting

D.I.Y. cool beds (blue boxes)

In addition to seeds grown plants, he started rooting from nursery purchases as well.

Lavender Plants from cutting

Rooting more cutting in cups

Grow lavender plants from cutting

Roots spotted on a cutting!!

Ultimate reward for lavender gardeners were their flowers.

Grow lavender plants from cuttings

Lavender Flowers

 

Cher Keng Heng (2016) experimented widely for germinating, rooting and growing lavenders in his “laboratory”. He utilized hydroponic systems, Kratky methods as well as soil to study them.

At that time, his methods yield the fastest germination results of 2 weeks instead of 2 months. We thought it was his laboratory’s environment which was cool and dry, at 22 degree Celsius, 24/7.  Lavenders’ ideal conditions .

GERMINATION Method – Maximum Humidity for seeds

Sowed lavender in seed compost and covered it for maximum humidity which aids germination

Used covered container

Seeds sprouted first seed leaves 2 weeks later. It was astonishing to see this result in 2016 as most other experiences were 2 months.

Grow Lavender

April 12 2016 

Lavender from seeds

May 3 2016 – Lavender updates

In 2016, Cher Keng Heng suggested a way to hasten seedlings growth with LED grow lights by putting them closer and extend beyond our local daylight hours.

Grow lavenders from seeds or cutting in Singapore

May 3 2016 – To grow faster

May 14 2016 - Lavender from seed

May 14 2016 – Lavender from seed

May 10 2016 – As Cher Keng Heng grew (and experiment) most of his temperate plants in ideally cool controlled environment, I was completely shocked  when he shared pictures of  his lavender plant from a local nursery. This is what is known now as roots rot. Stress, humidity, excessive watering or unsuitable medium (coco peat) can caused this to happen. Once this occurred, the damage was irreversible. Better chance with rooting a new cutting than tried to revive it. The browning stems would spread upwards and plants usually die.

Lavender Plant care in the tropics

May 10 – Newly bought lavender in distress!

Regarding roots rot, more than a few gardeners had shared the same tale since 2016. Lavender plants would wane and started dying one week after purchase. The main reason found was roots rot causing plants to fail.

The above purchased plant was green-housed in a plastic covering in an attempt to stabilize it. Flies emerged from the soil and it was suspected that rot had already set in.

Lavender Care in the tropics

Flies emerged

Initially we thought that changing the soil immediately may prevent this from happening but if the rot had already set in, it did not help the plant recover.

2019 NURSERY LAVENDER PURCHASE

The lavender scent of sweetness which reminded one of light French perfume attracted me to this pot. Its a rare impulse as I normally do not buy plants. I checked for soft brown stems at the base of the plant, as this may be indicative of rot. Plants with roots rot ailment do not recover. Another visual check is for web with tiny red moving dots, this would be spider mites, an unpleasant persistent pests which spread easily in any garden.

How to grow lavenders well in Singapore

2019 March 06

I observed that lavenders with no flower buds had a stronger scent. Thus after careful checks, I chose this plant for their strong scent.

On hindsight, I should paid more attention to the blue tint on leaves. The color likely comes from Neem spray, a natural pesticide, indicating presence of pests already.

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Blue smear on leaves

BUYERS BEWARE, especially new gardeners. What looked and smell good, may not be the most healthy plants. As gardeners in this post advised, made cutting for rooting while the plant is healthy is a good insurance. Followed the advice on how to root cutting below with this added input.

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Cutting rooting in progress

As we made the cutting. please check the leaves condition as well.

How to grow lavenders in Singapore

Pests in the folds of leaves

In the folds, underneath and top of leaves, if white, green, black or lightly colored moving dots such as these are found, they are pests. In my case, there was an infestation of well fed aphids in only the middle section of the plant. Left alone, they would have spread to my other plants indoor. Thus a good rule of thumb is to check in the daylight and isolate any new buys until all is clear.

Ants protect and tend to aphids for their honeydew secretions. When one part of the plant became weak due to these sap sucking pests, guess who ferried them to other parts of the plant? Reducing ants presence will greatly reduced aphids and other pests presence. TIP – Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to kill ants, add to soil and water down. It is effective against spider mites too. Google for more information.

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Ants host pests

Both parent and cutting plants must be checked. Affected leaves removed, bagged and discard immediately. They cannot be used for culinary because of pesticide or dried for potpourri (in case the eggs hatched). Aphids and their eggs are extremely hardy, they would not die easily. To treat this plant, sulfur soap solution was used. However please note that sulfur reacts with light (sun or growlight) and would caused leaf burn. Thus only apply this solution at night or in the shade.

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

PESTS ALERT

COCO-PEAT MEDIUM

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Very Wet Medium

When the plant was removed from its pot, its roots was tightly coiled in a very moist coco peat medium. This can lead to roots rotting because lavender plants are dry-loving.

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Rot setting in in mid section

As much as possible this medium should be removed to avoid future decline of the plant. Soaked to soften the tight coil and gently remove the peat. The last rinse in Epsom Salt solution to reduce transplant shock before planting in the right medium. Tips on customized mix below or consider cactus mix for well draining soil.

STEPS FOR NURSERY BUYS

  1. Check for presence of ants
  2. Prepare cutting – remove lower based leaves
  3. Check main plant and cutting leaves for pests
  4. Remove remaining nursery plant from pot
  5. Remove coco peat base as much as possible, soak to soften tight coil
  6. Last rinse in Epsom salt solution (for transplant shock)
  7. Prepare new medium (cactus soil or add 50 – 70% sand to soil for well draining media)
  8. Continue to monitor cutting and parent plant for pests and ants
  9. Isolate until all is clear before adding new buy in the garden
How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Heavy Pruned Plant

HOW TO ROOT LAVENDER CUTTING

The easiest method to grow lavenders  was from cutting of mature plants than germinating from seeds. However from the latter, we could enjoy broader range of varieties than what was available locally.

Propagating from cutting was relatively easy to clone from nursery buys by selecting clean (not brown or black part) stems for rooting. This had become the standard “play-safe” after buying lavenders from our nurseries. By rooting green cutting ahead of time instead of waiting till browning appeared allowed gardeners to enjoy their purchased plants longer. For some seasoned gardeners, they also re-potted in well draining cactus-like soil instead of keeping them in nursery’s soil mix.

STEP 1 – CHOSE HEALTHY GREEN STEMS, REMOVE LOWER LEAVES

Lavender Care in the tropics

May 11 2016 – Clean stem cutting work better (right)  vs. the brown stems.

STEP 2 – GREENHOUSE For HUMIDITY

Lavender Care in the tropics

May 11 2016 – Sit the stem in water, mist the leaves and cover (to prevent water loss)

STEP 3 – OBSERVE FOR BROWNING STEMS

Lavender Care in the tropics

May 11 2016 – Seems ok, stem did not turned brown.

STEP 4 – CHANGE WATER IF MURKY

Lavender cutting

Day 4 – The water is not murky, stem is not brown, no sign of root rot. Remained same on May 19 2016!

Grow lavender from cutting

May 22 2016 – Rooted!!!!

 

Helen Tan advised to change water every 3 days or when water is murky to prevent root rot during propagation. Best individually rooted in its own reservoir.

TIPS – Don’t root brown stems

Day 4 - This is not good. Water is murky, stems are brown. Lesson learned - Best individually rooted.

BROWN Stems

TIPS – Short stems do not root well. Choose longer stems for rooting. Use a netcup as a rooting guide for best result.

lavender cutting care

May 19 2016 – Soft tips may mean rot has set in

TIPS – If rooting hormone is used, applied it on cutting’s end

Lavender Care in the tropics

May 11 -Choose green stem for rooting

Rooting hormone cutting was also green-housed to prevent evaporation.

Lavender Care in the tropics

May 11 2016 – Green house

Upright firm stem and non droopy leaves were good signs.

Lavender care in the tropics

Successful rooting

 

Sthh (Trevor)  Sthh‘s is another lavender expert. I chanced on his lavender cutting success on May 17 2016 from Urban Farmers (Singapore) group and very kindly, he agreed to share his tips again :

lavender plants

3 weeks old lavender from cutting

Sthh Sthh’s method

  1. Cut 3 to 4 inches of green soft stems, just below leaf nodes
  2. Remove lower 1 inch of leaves
  3. Plant in well drained sterile soil (no compost or organic stuff)
  4. Water deeply once, check how he does it in the rosemary post!

    lavender plants care

    This is how dry Sthh Sthh’s soil gets before he water it deeply!

  5. Place under morning sun
  6. Observe for one week
  7. Soil base is same for rosemary and thyme ( or use Cactus soil)

Sthh Sthh think that his variety is Goodwin Creek Grey, (Lavandula dentata x L. lanata) and this variety is more hardy as they are able to withstand a bit more humidity and heat. Characteristics are silvery-grey, toothed-edged leaves, and long flowering stalks.

REGINA FOK, passionate lavenders collector/grower based in USA

Once the stems have roots and for future lavender plant care, Regina Fok suggested the following guidelines for lavender plants in the tropics.

Lavender Treatment

Recovered Lavender Plant!!!

Tips on Lavender Plants Care in the Tropics – ( advice from REGINA FOK, USA)

  1. Water once every 3 to 4 days, only when top soil felt really dry or when the whole pot felt really light weight. This is how to tell when its time to water lavender plant.
  2. Use a syringe, filled with maximum 30 ml of water for lavender plant. Around the sides of the pot, dispense 5ml dose in 6 parts.
  3. Exposed to morning sun only (Update 2018 – FULL SUN is okay)
  4. Air-conditioned nights if possible
  5. DO not use ice
  6. Do not let lavender pot sit near where it can be rained on
  7. Cactus soil mixed with perlite and some compost can be considered as an ideal medium
  8. Base of Plant should not be wet
    How to care for lavender plant

    Regina Fok used cactus soil and perlite

    Where Regina lived in the States, her summer time can be as warm as 38 degree celsius, with high humidity. At night, the temperature will slipped to 25 degree celsius (our normal air- conditioning environment).

    How to care for lavender plants

    Thank you , Regina!!!

Disclaimer – While the solutions above suggested by Regina Fok, work for most lavenders suffering from heat shock or transplant, it may not be a solution that cured all ills for lavenders in Singapore. After all, there are many reasons why lavenders failed in Singapore. An example is fungus from our high humidity which also adversely affect its well beingThere is no cure for this, gardeners can only try to prevent this from occurring.

For a comparative study of how lavender seeds germinated in a cooler climate versus Singapore based data, Regina Fok has once again volunteered her time and data with us.

Lavender plants from seeds

March 23 2016 – 2 weeks to see first sprout! Grown indoors as outdoor is still winter, below 0 degree C (USA)

Lavender plants from seeds

April 8 2016 – lavender is 2 weeks old (USA), looks bigger than Singapore’s seedlings

Regina Fok (USA) decided to test how young lavender seedlings fared in the natural outdoor environment. She planted one pot outdoors and one pot indoors. Her temperature outdoor ranged from 29 degree Celsius daytime and 15C at night. From the observation here, it seem lavender grow better outdoors than protected from all elements indoors :

Lavender plant from seeds

June 2016 – Compare – Grown indoor (3 months old) USA

Lavender plants from seeds

June 2016 – Compare – Grown outdoor (3 months old) in USA

Based in USA, she shared how lavender thrived in their natural environment. Hopefully, this knowledge from a hands on gardener, will helped us adapt our environment for them. Lavender leaves were more silver colored than green in her outdoor gardens.

How to take care of lavender plants in a tropical climate

Oct 30 2015 – Regina ‘s lavender garden in USA.

4 Tips to grow lavender well from Regina Fok 

1. Lavender  hates high humidity but love the sun and heat.

2. Soil should be sandy, loamy  and well drained.  PH level needs to be neutral to alkaline.

3. If possible keep the plant within 20C to grow well. With a lower temperature, the plant can tolerate drought and the chill keeps the humidity out.

4. Its very important to keep the top soil dry to prevent root rot. Water only when top soil feel dry to touch.

OVER WINTERING Lavenders – still carried the scent lightly outdoor. However it was stronger in the summer heat.

Lavender plants retain its fragrance during winter

Jan 30 2016

My 2 cents worth of advice, do consider rosemary soil and care for lavender as well. In addition, to line the pots’ base with rocks or pebbles to drain water out quickly.

Terence Low from Naked Greens and Sharon Eng  advised to add more sand to soil. This aid drainage.

Guanster Guan‘s tip on how to choose healthy lavender from nursery and customize ideal soil mixes.

As lavender germination and growth are very slow in our weather, many gardeners do give up after a few months. For lavender fans, its never a question if they are willing to wait and try numerous times until they learned how to grow lavender in Singapore.

Its a quest worth seeking, as lavender smells wonderful, and if we get to harvest fresh ones at doorstep, in spite of the many challenges, why not? 🙂

HYDROPONIC Lavenders in KRATKY  (SG STRAWBERRIES’s Journal, 2018)

We sowed our seeds on December 30 2017 using strawberries’ germination method, and most of the seeds sprouted 7 days later.

How to germinate lavender seeds

2018 January 7

These seedlings looked very small and growth were slow, but to my surprise, roots were quite long.

Grow lavender from seeds in Singapore

2018 January 16 – 1 week old lavender

One week old lavender seedlings roots were 4 inches long.

Grow lavender from seeds in Singapore

Long roots

We planted half in soil and half using Kratky hydroponic method with our liquid nutrients.

It was observed that hydro seedlings grew faster than soil based plants.

2018 Jan25 – Soil based

More leaves showed on hydro plants than soil based within the same period. They were from the same pack of seeds and germinated at the same time.

Grow Lavenders from seeds

2018 Jan25 -Hydro lavender

2 weeks later . . .hydro seedlings began to grow taller while soil based seedlings dragged their feet. Rice husk were mixed in soil medium for aeration. They were all grown in the same area by the window.

Grow lavenders from seeds

2018 Feb07 – Soil Based

Hydro plants were taller than soil based. At this time, we also learned how to grow strawberries in SG natural environment, and thus lavenders were grew the same way, with zero carbon footprint method.

Grow lavenders from seeds

2018 Feb07 – Hydro lavenders

Lavenders are sun loving and can be grown in liquid based medium.

Hydro lavenders from seeds

Lavender from seeds

They started with one main stem and would grow side shoots within one month. The leaves were thick and when rubbed, lavender scent was already evident. Our pleasure with these plants begin.

Grow lavender from seeds in Singapore

Fuss Free Lavender from seeds

Although lavenders can be easily grown from cutting, the varieties available in our local garden nurseries were not broad. To enjoy the exotic and wider range, like white lavenders, it is only possible from seeds if cutting from a live plant proved difficult.

Grow lavenders from seeds

2018 June 01

Hydro lavenders from seeds

Happy in liquid!

Cautionary Notes about Lavenders –

  1. If nutrients is not right, this is what stressed lavender seedling looked like, with cupped leaves. Healthy lavender leaves were open faced.
Hydro lavender from seeds

Closed up leaves

Once they recovered, the leaves unfolded and open. Do not expect a quick instant recovery, they may took longer than a month to stabilize. Slight browning at the leaf tip was still present. Sign of fully recovered plant showed only when new leaves grow from the topmost mid tip. The bottom leaves growth followed after.

Lavender from seeds in Singapore

Recovering lavender

2. Rain – Browning of leaves start at the base of the plant when it was rained on.

Grow lavenders from seeds in Singapore

Browning starts at the base

It was an amazing discovery that lavenders are nor only easier in liquid base, but they do recover from browning stems and leaves to grow again. In soil, brown leaves or stems are often indicative of roots rot leading to full decline of the plant in Singapore.

Grow lavenders from seeds

New leaves are emerging

Hydro Lavenders from seeds

Leaves are less brown

Lavenders from seeds

2018 June 13

Grow lavenders from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 28 – (Plant A)

Updates on hydro lavenders – As they matured, their stems thickened and these plants now look like miniature scented trees! Netcups support these plants well, allowing the stems to mature and sealing access to stagnant water in the reservoir below.

Grow Lavender Plants from seeds in Singapore

2018 Dec 09 – (Plant A)

Grow lavenders from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 28 – Leaning Lavender

Grow Lavender Plants from seeds or cutting in Singapore

2018 Dec 09 – Leaning Tower, 2 “arms” raise

Lavenders Plants from seeds or cutting in Singapore

2018 Dec 09 – Sun Lovers

Uses for Lavender

Lavenders are mostly grown in bedrooms for their scent. However this is not the only way we use them. Example is adding lavender leaves to sugar and used this infused sugar for desserts and tea.

 

Gift ideas from plants we grew

For lavender scented tea!

We also used our own herbs for beauty products such as soothing facial masks, potpourri etc

Girls’ Sleepovers are never boring in our home!

Lavender nutrients, seeds and net cups in SHOP !

Grow hydro lavender from seeds in Singapore

Lavender n Mini Netcup

Grow lavenders from seeds in Singapore

Branching out

Netcups turned almost every spare bottle or jars into instant self watering pots. Rest easier during time away from our gardens.

Hydro Lavenders from seeds in Singapore

Lavenders nutrients

Glass Tinted bottles were great for lavenders’ long roots. In my environment, they need not climb windows like strawberries to harness the sun in these wine bottles.

Grow Lavenders from seeds in Singapore

2019 February 15

Access to stagnant water is sealed. Thus there is zero risk of mosquitoes breeding with this method.

Grow lavenders from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Mosquitoes Safe Planting

Our lavenders plants are grown in recycled jars and plastic bottles, alongside with strawberries. Although these plants are frost tolerant, they love the sun too. Our cool seasoned plants, proudly grown in Singapore.

Grow lavenders from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Lavenders in recycled bottles

We love all our lavenders and can’t wait to start more unusual varieties from seeds!

Lavender Plants Care Tips in Singapore

Scented Mini Tree !

 

ROSEMARY – GROW THEM WELL

Featured

Rosemary plants are one of the easiest herb to grow once we understood what they need.  As a novice gardener in 2015, I could not say the same as I was a serial killer of rosemary plants bought from nurseries, even though I followed their instructions of care faithfully. I did not understand then the why but now I do.

  • Nursery plants are potted in cocopeat. As this medium retains water, it is not suitable for rosemary. Follow soil mixture instructions below by fellow gardeners
  • Rosemary tolerate sun very well 
  • Can be grown outdoor as long as soil mixture does not retain water
  • Easier to grow from cutting than seeds
  • Do not need much fertiliser, use any in mild form only
  • Do not need to water everyday (soil based)
  • As they grow, trim often (cut stem) to encourage bushier growth
  • Suffered roots rot easily if roots are constantly moist (soil based)

2018 – 2019 Update – Rosemary in Liquid Base

These were thriving rosemary plants grown by fellow gardeners, outdoor , in our natural elements (rain, wind, haze) since 2015.

How to multiply rosemary from cuttings

2015 October 10 – Steve Teh‘s

How to care for rosemary

Steve Teh’s  6 years old Rosemary & Bay Leaf plant

Without any sunny spot to grow, your rosemary probably will look like mine. They were transplanted outdoor as there was not much sun in my balcony gardens. Starting from seeds were more difficult and slower.

Rosemary and Curl leaf parsley love sun

Rosemary and Curly Parsley – Limp seedlings after transplanted

Rosemary plants are easier to propagate from cuttings than starting from seeds. My first rosemary cuttings were from Terence Low’s (NakedGreens group admin) and rooted in tap water.

Mar01 2016 - 11 days to root in tap water! Woody stems can still root!

March 01 2016 – Woody stems can still root!

2018 August 25 – From above cuttings, our plants have multiplied and still thrived today.

TIP – Trim often to encourage new branches. Use leaves for cooking, stems for rooting

Grow rosemary from cutting

Watermelon Skin Compost 30% : 70% sand & pebbles

How to Root Cutting Tips

Jack Yam, a member in our Facebook gardening group (SG Farming in Apartments), perfected the rooting method for rosemary, and had a pictorial tutorial on how to root them.

These were what he said –

  1. Trimmed away the leaves from mid to bottom of the stem
  2. Support the cutting so that only 1 cm of the roots’ end is in water
  3. Cutting root better in bright sunlit area
  4. Rooting rosemary cutting

    Roots showed in 7 days!Cutting root better in bright sunlit area.

    Rooting rosemary cutting

    Healthy roots are white color

Rooting from living plants from gardens had a higher chance of success than grocery bought.

Netcups can be used to support mature plants and prevent mosquitoes access to stagnant water if they fit well and sealed access with correct fitting sponge.

Grow rosemary from cutting in Singapore

Mosquitoes Safe Growing

Propagating a cutting –  We observed that cutting root better if supported with only 2 cm of tip in water rather than resting fully in container.

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

Rooting without Mosquitoes Risk

Netcups for smaller reservoirs available in SHOP !

Grow Rosemary from cutting in containers

Rooted in netcups

Soil Mixture Tips

If rosemary plants are grown in areas where there is no shelter from rain, the soil mixture must be customized to allow rain to flush out as fast as possible.

April 22 2016 - Rosemary cuttings can survived rain storms if the soil is prepped well to prevent water log.

April 22 2016 – Water flushed out as fast as it hit

Rosemary from cutting

May 30 2016 – Grown outdoors and thriving! I generally let rain water these pots unless its a dry spell 🙂

Rosemary plant care information

July 12 2016 – Rosemary in outdoor garden, thrived in spite of being rained on etc One plant eaten by snail or stolen again!

Propagate rosemary cutting

October 25 2016 – update on rosemary cutting ! 🙂

Grow rosemary plant from cutting

Jan 27 2017 – After a week of heavy rainfall

The trick is mixing the soil, to be less soil! 😀 More sand, more pebbles, only 30% soil, the rain/ water must flush out as quickly as it arrived. How to get the soil mix right? Play with your mixes – Mix and match your soil one lazy afternoon, dip in a pail of water n see if it drained in one minute! 😀 Add more pebbles etc if they do not drain well. Lastly, the base of the pot is best lined with pebbles or rocks to aid draining as well.

Other gardeners also generously shared tips on how to propagate and keep rosemary plants thriving for years.  So my thanks to all of them for sharing.

Rooted in liquid, Grow in liquid (HYDRO, using nutrients)

As fussy they are in soil and needed the right mixture to prevent water logging, they thrived even better in liquid base.

For our indoor gardens in 2018, we are growing more plants (herbs, vegetables, lavenders, strawberries etc) in liquid base as they are lighter than soil and do not strained our windows.

Hydro Rosemary Journey from cutting –

Grow fresh herbs indoors

2018 August 18 – rooted in 4 days

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

2018 September 03

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

2018 December 11

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

Pruning encourage new shoots

The process of rooting cutting whenever we used this herb never stop, because we can never have too many rosemary in this home or for our workshop’s participants (whenever available) ! So here we go again on December 11 2018!

Rooted in liquid, Grow in Soil Method

Sthh Sthh from Plant Community Singapore shared how to root Rosemary from store bought herbs :

How to grow rosemary from cutting using store bought herbs

Oct 8 2015 – Used most of the leaves for cooking then use the stem for rooting

How to grow rosemary from cutting

2-4 weeks to see roots. Tap water used only. Once roots appeared, transfer to net pot with nutrients solution (Can use Lushgro A+B solution for leafy vegetables)

Sthh Sthh used his own mix of nutrient solution too.

His recipe is : NPK 21-21-21, a dash of epsom salt, and a teaspoon of seachem flourish trace minerals into 3 litre of water. EC about 2000. (I am clueless here as well, not being familiar to commercial fertilizers! )

Rosemary propagation

Rosemary Propagation – Only roots come in contact with nutrients solution

 

Rooting rosemary

Rosemary ‘s stem stayed dry in net pot while roots are in nutrients solution

 

Rooting Rosemary

Rosemary rooting pots suspended above nutrients solution

 

How to grow rosemary from cutting

Rosemary transferred to pot (Sthh Sthh’s post in Oct 2015)

STHH STHH also shared how he watered and adjust the soil media needed for a dry loving plant like rosemary and even lavender! Deep Water Soak Treatment

How to water rosemary plant

April 25 2016 –  When the soil become dry, STHH immersed the whole pot in a basin of water. Green Culture Singapore’s post.

STHH STHH – How I water my rosemary and thyme, very deeply. Entire pot is submersed in a basin of water. Then pot is lifted to drain.

If water does not completely drain in less than 1minute, your medium is too dense for rosemary or thyme. Time to add some grit. Many options are available – sand, pebbles, perlite, whatever that aid good drainage.

If your water does not soak deep into the soil, the roots of the plants will stay close to the surface, and if so, you cannot skip watering your plants every couple days, which also increases humidity, which is a killer for rosemary and lavenders here in SG.

Deep watering helps plants to establish better roots, and watering will be required only once a week, or twice a week when it gets hot. For suspected fungal infection, or for aeration of soil, you can add a little hydrogen peroxide.

How to water rosemary plants

STHH – The water must drain out in less than 1 minute, also to gauge whether soil used is suitable

And that is how STHH keep his rosemary plants so well. Please remember to only water these plants when the soil is dry.

lavender plants care

This is how dry Sthh Sthh’s soil gets before he water the soil !!!

Agnes Yang on Feb 8 2016 shared how she root her rosemary cutting (from a live plant) –

Propagate Rosemary

Feb 8 2016 – Agnes Yang’s Rosemary rooted in half strength seaweed liquid feed, 7 – 10 days to see roots.

How to multiply rosemary plants

February 9 2016 – Recycled plastic bottle to root Rosemary stems 🙂

Ms. Yang used a syringe to draw a small amount of this and she also said, ”  I’m using diluted seaweed solution. Cheaper than rooting hormones and works well as continuous support even after potting through watering with it”.

SOIL MIXTURE Tips from gardeners

Steve Teh (Plant Community Singapore, Dec 8 2015) – Compost: perlite: coarse sand: rice husk. The ratio is 3:1:1:1.  Some limestone powder added in the mix for higher alkaline level. If  rice husk is not available, then add more sand and perlite. Coarse sand is from nursery and not the beach as the latter contained salt. If beach sand is used, it need to be washed first to rid of salt.

Veronica Yuen (SG Farming in Apartments, Jan 2016) – ” It require good drainage, use 50% perlite, 25% compost, 25%potting mix. Water once or twice a week.”

Terence Low, Naked Greens – 1:1 top soil and other part perlite, pumice or sand will do.

Guanster Guan ‘s soil mix formula, please click on the hyperlink.

All in agreement that Rosemary are sun lovers 🙂 Just don’t love them too much with the watering! 🙂

How to plant rosemary cutting

Steve Teh’s rosemary sought the sun aggressively!

Rosemary plants needs

Chef Donny Tan’s rosemary plants at his doorstep

ROSEMARY IS USEFUL ! 

As a herb, it can be used raw in salads, as it’s scent adds an aromatic experience to raw vegetables. In this plate, Chef Donny Tan created a beautiful tomatoes and grapes salad with rosemary.

 

How to grow Rosemary in Singapore

Eye pleasing and delicious

Rosemary Seasoned Salt for culinary purposes.

To make this, just dry baked sea salt with rosemary leaves and kept in airtight containers. When bottled in beautiful glass jars, these are elegant gifts as well.

Rosemary Plant Care

Rosemary seasoned salt

Rosemary salt can be used with baked potatoes or lamb seasoning.

HAIR and SCALP TREATMENT

Grow Rosemary from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Extracting Rosemary Oil

Rosemary extract can be made by submerging the leaves in vodka. When vodka is not  available, I still preferred to use a mortar and pestle to prepare my herbs for home remedies or seasoning over the electrical equipment.

Grow Rosemary from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Pound leaves with coconut oil

For hair treatment, herbs leaves are removed from the cutting and pound in oil. Coconut oil is the best but any light oil is fine as well. The mixture can be applied to hair as is or warmed for a hot treatment. For oily scalp, we can opt out the oil, and instead mixed with suitable conditioner and then apply.

Grow Rosemary from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Mixed with conditioner

Rosemary Benefits

  • Soothes itchy scalp
  • Reduce hair loss because rosemary oil stimulates blood circulation on scalp, promoting hair growth
  • Anti-inflammation properties
  • Nourish hair follicles
  • Stimulate cell renewal leading to natural healing
  • Scent improve memory

USE ROSEMARY OIL WITH HAIR MASK FOR DEEP REPAIR TREATMENT

After overcoming the challenges of growing rosemary, there is only happiness and satisfaction during harvest.

Grow rosemary from cutting in Singapore

Freshly cut rosemary smells awesome

 

Rooted herbs seedlings may be available for sale, do contact via SHOP.

 

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

Rosemary in liquid base

 

 

 

Wolfberries / Goji Berries/ KAU KEE Plant

Featured

Updated 2018 June 30 –  We completed the full cycle journal on Kau Kee cutting to fruits and other observations! These plants continue to surprise while gifting us knowledge and food. As fresh berries were not available in our markets, we grew to share them with our family and neighbors. Last but not least, we can grow this herb in our tropical zone. Winter is not a factor to see fruits.

 

This journey has taught us that plants are quite adaptable as long as we understood their basic needs. It may take a longer time to adapt to our climate, but as long as they live, we had opportunities to learn.

How this journey began – 

October 17 2015 – I came across this post by Eddie Chua in our Facebook group, “SG Farming in Apartments” about his Goji stem cutting that has rooted in water.

As my mother loves Goji berries, I love to grow my own for her.

How to grow a wolfberry or Goji berry tree from cutting

Goji Berries and Kau Kee Chai (Photo: CN Herb)

There was not enough information online about how they start in 2015 and I wanted to find out more for this journal. The only way is to start from cutting or seeds.

There are 2 ways to grow this hardy perennial plant.

  1. By Seeds : Angie Wong, a member at Singapore Urban Gardening group (Facebook), shared how she germinated from Eu Yang Sang’s dried berries. Taken from the fridge, these were cut open for the seeds inside, and sowed directly on wet tissues.
    Grow goji berries

    Angie Wong  chose the plumpest ones from Eu Yang Sang’s dried berries.

    Goji berries seedlings

    Angie Wong – 6 days to germinate. These seedlings were 9 days old

  2. By Stem Cutting ( Eddie’s instructions : strip the stem of big leaves, cut the stem down and soak in water until roots appear)

For this Wolfberry/ Goji berry or Kau Kee trials, I begged Regina Fok who lived in USA, to share her observations with me . 🙂 I wanted to see if winter chill is a factor required for this plant to bear berries. And hence, our rooting trials began in 2 countries in 2015.

MOVE HEAVY POTS FOR SUN ! 

Regina Fok’s Goji Berry Plant began in October 2015, in USA

Grow a goji berry tree from stem cutting

Oct 2015 – Regina Fok’s goji berry stems rooting in water

How to grow wolfberry plant from cutting

Regina Fok ‘s stem cutting has rooted in water

After her stem cuttings rooted in water, Regina Fok planted them in soil and they over wintered indoor in pots. The plants did not faced the full elements of winter as young plants.

Gojiberry Wolfberry from cutting

May 10 2016 – Roots have outgrew the pot over the winter

Gojiberry from cutting

May 2016 – Regina Fok’s cutting planted in the ground once spring arrived!

Grow gojiberries from cutting

Gojiberries, Wolfberries flower buds seen on Regina’s plant (USA)

Grow wolfberry plant

June 4 2016 – Regina’s plant flowered once its in the ground!

Gojiberries and wolfberries from cutting

October 2016 – Regina’s plants bore fruits!

Grow goji or Wolfberries

Nov 11 2016 – Vigorous grower!

Grow goji or Wolfberries

Nov 12 2016 – Not the first harvest!

Regina Fok’s plants did not need much care. In fact, she almost forgotten about these plants in her garden, until she chanced upon them in October 2016, while clearing her garden for winter. For all her neglect, she was surprised to see the plants had grown well and even fruiting without adding fertilizers!

Grow goji or Wolfberries

Minimum care for hardy wolfberries plants!

Grow goji or Wolfberries

How wolfberries grow on plants!

Our wolfberry plants’ journey began on December 26 2015 in Singapore

Grow wolfberry or gojiberry from Cutting

Trimmed off Kau Kee (wet market in Toa Payoh) leaves and cut the stems shorter before rooting in water

How to grow Goji berry from cutting

Jan 6 2016 – Kau Kee /Goji berry/ Wolfberry cutting rooted in water (11days)

I learned from gardeners in Singapore that this plant can be planted in soil directly without roots, and decided to do a comparative study on how having roots affect a plant’s growth.

Wolfberries from rooting

Plants with more roots mass will grow faster (PlantB)

 

PESTS PREVENTION – TRAP FOR WHITEFLIES etc

 

Feb 10 2016 – Plant A

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberry from Kau Kee cutting

Feb 10 2016 – Plant B had more leaves and was taller

Conclusion  – For any stem cutting that had “rooted”, it is best to  plant in soil  when there were good “roots mass” seen. This basically mean a lot of white new roots in layman terms!  Plants were stronger faster compared to cuttings with less or no roots.How flowers start their journey ! The dates are not in sequence as flowers bloom at the same time on both plants but hopefully the pictures demonstrated how they formed. No commercial fertilizer were used to encourage flowering. These plants were grown in our own natural compost  from recycled kitchen green waste! 🙂

Grow Wolfberries, gojiberries

October 30 2016 – First flower bud seen

Grow wolfberries, gojiberries or kau kee

Dec 04 2016 – More buds on the way

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberries

Feb 01 2017 – Flowers and berries

Grow wolfberry from kau kee cutting

Jan 10 2017 – Lots of flowers but berries are still green

wolfberry flowers

Feb 28 2017

Grow wolfberries in Singapore

Flowers formed in clusters the older the plants grew (August 04 2017)