MIGNONETTE

Featured

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

Advertisements

TROPICAL STRAWBERRIES

Featured

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

PERILLA or SHISO FROM SEEDS

Not all shiso taste the same.

In our kitchen, we find there are culinary differences between the Japanese and Korean Shiso and thus we used them differently.

In the former (Japanese,青しそ, ao-jiso ), the leaves are thinner and the taste is suitable even for young children’s salads. Eaten raw, the minty flavor is not as sharp as the Korean and taste slightly like cinnamon. Japanese Shiso can be either green or reddish color.

The Korean Shiso seem to be a favorite only with the adults at home, especially meat lovers. We enjoyed the thicker leaves as wrap of greasy meats dipped in sweet Korean chilli paste and sesame oil.  The flavors blend so well that the grease “disappeared” from one’s palate. Regrettably the grease did not disappeared for real! In appearance, Korean shiso has an oval smooth edged thicker leaf compared to Japanese Shiso.

Shiso seeds have short life span and should be kept in the freezer to extend its viability. Germination can be tricky as it was important to maintain both warm and moist environment without drowning the seeds. For best result, seeds environment cannot alternate between dry and wet, it must be kept constantly moist.

It took between overnight to 14 days to see the seeds showed first sign of emerging life.

Grow to grow Perilla Shiso Mint from seeds

3 to 7 days to germinate

Seeds leaves did not show immediately. They appeared 3 days after germination. As young seedlings, the growth progress was relatively slow.

Grow to grow Perilla Shiso Mint from seeds

3 days after germination

Japanese Green Shiso from seeds in Singapore

Mosquitoes-Safe  Nursery

Significant spurt in growth seen only after one week.

Japanese Green Shiso from seeds

One week old

Grow Shiso or Perilla from seeds in Singapore

True Leaves have pointy tip

Hydro seedlings settled in individual “pod”.

Grow Shiso 青しそ, ao-jiso Perilla from seeds in Singapore

2 weeks old

We fed these hydro plants with seaweed extract instead of just AB nutrients.

Japanese Green Shiso from seeds in Singapore

3 weeks old – long roots

Japanese Green Shiso from seeds in Singapore

2018 July 10 – one month old

Grow Perilla or Shiso from seeds in containers

2019 Jan18 – hydro

Grow Perilla or Shiso from seeds in containers

Roots in liquid nutrients

The downside of Perilla mint is that they seem to bolt rather quickly, usually after the 4th harvest and the leaves became tough and brittle. When this happened, leaves do not replaced as fast and they were smaller. We preferred to re-start from seeds and enjoyed younger leaves.

Japanese Green Shiso from seeds in Singapore

Bolting – Flowers pods

Soil Based Shiso

Grow Shiso or Perilla from seeds in Singapore

2018 Nov 19

Grow Shiso or Perilla from seeds in Singapore

10 days old

Grow Shiso or Perilla from seeds in Singapore

3 weeks  old

 

We love these leaves raw in salads, rice rolls or with sashimi. Our favorite salad combination is avocado with these leaves, do try it for yourself!

Grow to grow Perilla Shiso Mint from seeds

Favorite leaves with rice

As the children love only Japanese Shiso leaves, we grew mainly this than the Korean variety at home.

Grow to grow Perilla Shiso Mint from seeds

Hydro SHISO

SEEDS ARE AVAILABLE IN SHOP 

These seedling grew very fast after one month.

Grow Shiso or Perilla from seeds in Singapore

2018 November 21

 

Although at this stage, the size of the leaf is not big, we enjoy the tender smaller leaves over the mature ones. Its texture at this stage is finer and the cinnamon flavor had a sweeter aftertaste.

cool seasoned herbs from seeds

2018 December 21

Larger leaves can be harvested first, keeping the smaller leaves on the plant. The next harvest in a week time. Planted well in cloth bags, with enough aeration to roots zone even though its in soil, this can be a large plant.

Grow cool seasoned herbs from seeds in Singapore

Good roots mass

As the roots had extended out of its seedling bag, it can now be planted in a larger pot to mature further.

BURRITOS !

I love to cook, love to grow and spoil my family!

Whenever my daughter expressed a wish to try a new cuisine, I let my imagination soar. This month (December 2018) desire is Mexican.

For meat burritos, I like earthy herbs like Sage and Oregano as they compliment tomatoes very well. These herbs are grown on our window gardens, ready to be harvested at our convenience.

Fresh cool seasoned herbs at home

Sage

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoors

FRESH SAGE

Grow Harvest Fresh herbs indoor

Cuban Oregano

How to grow herbs indoors

Cuban Oregano

Fresh Herbs harvest in indoor gardens

Spring Onion

We can use any minced meat for Burritos filling, or no meat at all. Rice and beans are another great pairing with vegetables and herbs.

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoor

Dice everything!

These wraps are now available in supermarkets for great Mexican meals anytime. They can be kept in the freezer until needed. Best thaw before use else it will tear upon wrapping.

Grow Harvest Fresh herbs indoor

Multi- Grains Wraps

READY TO USE SEASONING MIX

Burritos are great for leftovers such as roast chicken or biryani rice. The filling can be anything you want. The last ingredient need to be able to melt quickly (any cheese), moisten the drier filling and blend everything together (sour cream, yogurt etc).

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoor

Original Tortillas Wraps

To Prepare (Non Spicy) Filling (as I am cooking for children) –

  • 300g any minced meat (or 2 cup cooked rice) – salt, pepper
  • 1 cup diced onion (medium)
  • 1 garlic (chopped)
  • Fresh Oregano, Sage or any herbs as desired
  • 3 cups any vegetables ( I love red capsicums, corns, peas for the color! )
  • 1 can of any beans
  • 1 teaspoon each, dry spice powder  – cumin, turmeric, coriander (or Mexican burrito spices, pre-mix)
  • 2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • Cheddar, shredded
  • Sour Cream

How to cook filling (the steps are the same for non meat version) –

  • Heat 2 tablespoon oil in Pan
  • Sauteed onion and garlic until slightly brown (until fragrant)
  • Add dry spice powder
  • Add minced beef (mix onion and garlic into meat or rice while stirring)
  • Tomato Paste ( add in when meat is almost cooked) – mix well
  • Vegetables, Beans  and Fresh Herbs

Extra Note – The mixture must not be wet thus allow to simmer at low heat until the liquid (from cooked meat and vegetables) is reduced. This can be prepared ahead of time and kept well in the fridge until needed for a week.

Airtight container keep food better.

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoor

Dry Mixture

An example of ready to use spices mix –

Home Cooked One Dish Meals with Fresh Herbs

Burrito Spices

Prepare wraps when ready to eat.

Preheat oven at 160C.

Step 1 – Filling can be straight from fridge (cold is better)

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoor

Cold Filling

May need toothpick to pin this wrap close ! Avocado is a good substitute for sour cream because of its creamy texture.

Home Cooked One Dish Meals with Fresh Herbs

AVOCADO Add-ON

Step 2 – Power Layering made the difference !

Sour cream + Cheddar will melt giving the moist to our dry mixture. Top with spring onion. Guacamole or hummus is another favorite addition.

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoor

Cheddar , Sour Cream , Spring Onion

Wrapped this up and baked in a preheat oven for 10 minutes. We know its ready when the burrito is slightly brown on the edges and we also should smell the cheesy sour cream as it melt into the warm filling.

This is why my daughter very rarely dine out with her friends. She rather bring everyone back to eat at home!

 

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoor

Burritos

 

GROW SAGE FROM CUTTING

Growing Sage from cutting is easier than germinating the seeds.

How to propagate sage from cutting

  1. Cut the stem’s end at 45 degree
  2. Remove bottom most leaves as this part will be in water
  3. Need only 2 or 3 leaves at the top
  4. Use net-cup to support roots tip in water
  5. Bright rooting environment

In Singapore, this herb is not common in local supermarkets. It can be bought from European outlets such as Jason or Cold Storage.

Grow Sage from cuttings in Singapore

2018 September 28

Rooting cutting in netcup with sponge, sealed access to stagnant water in the bottle reservoir. This prevent mosquitoes from accessing water to breed.  For busy gardeners, this method is the safest for rooting cutting.

For this Sage, roots showed in 6 days.

Once the roots showed, it grew rapidly.

Grow Sage from cutting in Singapore

2018 October 4 – Roots

In a month, the single stem is taller and had multiplied. We were able to prune the longer stems for more rooting after harvesting the leaves for our kitchen.

Grow Harvest Fresh herbs indoor

2018 November 3

Most of our indoor herbs were grown in liquid base and hang on our windows to harness sun.

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoor

2018 November 15

Pruning (Cut stems) helped herbs grew better, by regenerating more side branches and keep renewed itself.

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoors

2018 November 23

STICKY CINNAMON BUNS

This recipe is from CHEF ANNA Olsen’s “OH YUM” YouTube Channel, posted below. Nothing is changed from her recipe except the sequence of ingredients added in her bread dough preparation.

An all time favorite at home with Summer and children, as well as adults (although we really shouldn’t indulge! ).

Home Made Cinnamon Sticky Buns

Freshly baked on 20 Nov 2018

We are re-writing the steps here for our young ones when they want to make their own.

This recipe takes about 3 hours to make as bread need time to rise. So best baked this when there is no rush or schedules to meet.

BREAD DOUGH ( the sequence is different from video)

  • 1 1/4 Cup  Warm 2% Milk ( heat slightly above body temperature – can feel warm when touch)
  •  1/4 Cup Melted Butter ( Melt butter first then pour into 1/4 Cup for easier measurement)
  • 1/4 Cup Granular Sugar (or Fine sugar) –  stir first in above warm mixture
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon Instant Yeast (about one sachet packet) – don’t stir
  • 3 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt ( salt should not come in contact with yeast, thus lastly added)

While this is being knead in the mixer (use hook), its good time to clean up any mess on the counter before the ants come. In our indoor garden home, we always keep a weary eye out for ants as they host pests!

Pour bread dough into an oiled container and cling wrapped twice, before placing in a warm place. We skipped the part about kneading to a round shape to avoid more cleaning up!

Let the bread rise until at least double in size, about 90 minutes or 2 hour. Closer to the next knead time, we need to prepare the glue and filling first.

STICKY SWEET GLUE PREPARATION – simmer in pot (it should look bubbling)

  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
Home made sticky Cinnamon Buns

Best Maple Syrup – gift from friends

FILLING

  • 2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon Powder

We pour ready dough out on to a floured surface and rolled and set as shown in the video. Let rest another 1 hour before baking, preheated 180C (350F) oven. In our old oven, this took about 30 minutes instead of 45 minutes. Take Note : Don’t rely on video or written instructions to the T’s, need to see from our own equipment.

Home Made Cinnamon Sticky Buns

Sinful Cinnamon Bun!

 

CHEF ANNA OLSEN’s video –

 

 

 

 

Colorful Lettuce

Colorful  lettuce such as the red or four seasoned lettuce will spruce up any salads presentation very well.

This is how to germinate them easily.

  • Sowed on moist tissues and cling wrapped the container to maintain high moisture level. The germination time is within 3 days.
Grow red or colorful salads from seeds

Seeds in moist medium

When these seedlings were less than a month old, there was no hint of red  on the leaves.

Grow different varieties lettuce from seeds in Singapore

2018 Sept 17

Grow different varieties lettuce from seeds in Singapore

2018 September 19

Grow red or colorful salads from seeds

One week old

A hint of its colorful hues at first month old.

Grow different varieties lettuce from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 16

In Kratky (non-circulating hydroponic), their roots mass is dense but not massive.

Grow different varieties lettuce from seeds in Singapore

2018 November 3

Vivid red and other colors at 2nd month. The leaves can be harvested younger than 2 months old. We observed that it can be a cut and grow plant, and the vivid colors comes after the greener leaves were harvested.

Grow different varieties lettuce from seeds in Singapore

2018 November 8

Taste and texture of these leaves are “lettuce” .

Grow different varieties lettuce from seeds in Singapore

2018 November 8

ALGAE SHIELD

Algae is present whenever there is liquid and light.

Algae Prevention in hydroponic gardening

Unsightly and Slimy Algae

In hydroponics gardening, where light, water and nutrients are present, algae growth can be a weekly maintenance headache to clean. Algae can be present in soil as well. Wherever light meets moisture.

Algae Prevention in hydroponic gardening

Hydroponic Chores

To prevent or at least reduce algae growth, removing the light element is the easier solution for roots zone.

Large systems gardening used dark opaque colored containers for reservoir for this reason, however when we want to recycle small bottles for rooting purposes or KRATKY hydroponics, there is often no choice in bottles’ colors unless paint is used.

Hydro lavenders from seeds

Lavenders in KRATKY

Larger bottles wear socks to shield soil or liquid from light.

using recycled materials in gardening

Re-used old Socks

Another solution can be found by re-using hard paper rolls to shield clear plastic containers from light, especially for smaller bottles.

No glue needed! All we need are paper rolls and a pair of scissors. Cut a slit along the length of the paper roll.

Prevent algae in Hydroponics

No glue needed

The height as desired to cover the bottle. Two or more paper rolls may be needed to cover a tall cylinder shaped bottle.

Prevent algae in Hydroponics

Cut Length as needed

Short paper roll to bracket paper shield in place.

Prevent algae in Hydroponics

Paper Bracket

A free of charge, 5 minutes solution to prevent algae growth in small hydroponic bottles and helped our environment!

Prevent algae in Hydroponics

5 minutes solution

 

CARNIVOROUS BYBLIS

Featured

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.

How to Propagate Byblis Cutting

Dews trap flies

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

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

Bylis Plant Care & Tips

2019 Jan 08

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!

APPLES FROM SEEDS

Before we get too excited about these apples seedlings and dreams of picking fresh apples from own trees, some reading would suffice to put everything back on track, firmly in reality. Here are the “BAD NEWS” about apples from supermarkets’ fruits seeds –

  • Seedling will become a tree, about 6 to 9 meters high (not suitable for my bedroom gardens! )
  • Unlikely to grow true (won’t look like the supermarket’s apples where these seeds come from)
  • Not self pollinating, need another seedling from different variety
  • Time to harvest if one is lucky, 6 to 10  years
  • Unlikely to be a dwarf variety
  • Unlikely to grow well in pot, need depth of 2 feet (unlikely to fit in bathtubs!)
  • Radius from another tree, 9 feet

Thus these seedlings would be grown for fun and knowledge fulfilling, tracking how they start and grow for as long as possible.

Germination Notes

Small apples from Fuji, Jazz or Gala varieties have higher chance of germination. Just need to keep refrigerated, in a moist enclosed environment, until they sprouted. These seedlings sprouted in 2 weeks.

Grow Apples from seeds

2018 September 16

Grow Apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 September 17

Grow Apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 September 20

As we have two seedlings, one will be grown in soil and the other in liquid medium.

Grow apples from seeds

Apples Duo

Soil Based – A sandy very well draining mix is used over regular potting soil, as they seem to suffer roots rot easily.

Grow Apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 Sept 24 – Soil based

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 Sept 28  with seed husk

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 Sept 28

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 12

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 12

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 28

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

Roots Tracking

Liquid Based –

Grow apples from seeds

2018 Sept 24

Grow Apples from seeds in Singapore

HYDRO Apple seedling

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 Sept 28 – Hydro

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 12

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 12 roots

Longer and more roots mass developed in 2 weeks.

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 28

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

Apple seedling in own hydro nutrients

Grow apples from seeds in Singapore

Red stems on both seedlings

Hydro and Soil seedlings were observed to grow in equal pace in September 2018, but the rate of growth was faster for soil based in October.

Both seedling were donated to a gardener for further observation in December 2018 due to lack of time and space.

SWISS CHARDS

Swiss Chards are cold seasoned biennial ( 2 years to complete life cycle) vegetables and come in beautiful vibrant colours, livening up any salads.

We don’t see them on our supermarkets’ shelves and thus decided to grow from seeds.

As they belonged to the beets family, their seeds are similar looking as well.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

Fordhook Giant – Pink Stem

Germination Tips –

  • Sow on very wet medium
  • Preferred darkness
  • Maintain wet medium until roots showed
  • Soaked seeds for 20 minutes if sowed directly on soil, slightly buried
Cold Seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 11 – Rainbow seeds sowed

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 September 14

RAINBOW SWISS CHARDS

The distinctive colors of rainbow Swiss Chard was visible before seed leaves showed. As the seedlings grew, these colors become more vivid.

YELLOW HUE

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 September 17 – yellow hint

Seeds husk was still attached as the roots grew longer when this seedling was about 6 days old.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 19 –  6 days old

Seed leaves showed on the 7th day as the roots developed mass. The yellow hue is brighter on the stem.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 21

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 October 04

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 October 10

RED HUE

Sometimes when the seed germinated this way, they are actually 2 seedlings.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 September 17 – RED + Green

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 19 – Vivid Red

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 20 – 6 days old

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

Red Swiss Chard

FORDHOOK Giant

 

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 September 14

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 30 – Pinkish stem

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

Swiss Chards varieties

Swiss Chard has the texture of Romaine and each leaf is very tasteful and juicy. In salad bowls, they add color and vibrancy.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 October 9

We will be starting new batches of Swiss Chard and other cold seasoned vegetables for salads after tasting how great they were freshly harvested from our indoor gardens!

 

Cold seasoned salads from seeds in containers

Home Grown “Rainbow” !

 

SEEDS ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE !

Notes on Swiss Chard

  • 3 – 4 days to germinate
  • Harvest stage around 2 months
  • Seeds like very wet medium
  • Small leaves can be used in salads
  • Bigger leaves for light stir fry
  • Stems typically steamed like asparagus
  • Full sun or partial shade, not fussy
  • If soil, pot need to be deeper, mulch on top soil to prevent heat from penetrating (similar to strawberry outdoor)
  • Mature leaves are crinkled, thick, juicy ( I love them raw for the texture)

WESTERN PARSLEY

Lest we get confused with Chinese Parsley, which to me taste like celery,  these so called “Western” Parsley are Curly leaf (English) and Italian Flat Leaf Parsley.  As this herb is a biennial, meaning it will bolt (flower) in the second year and then died, I much preferred growing them from seeds than buying from the nursery. This way, I know how long I can harvest from my plant before the need to sow new seeds.

Curly Leaf Parsley (2015)

Germinating Tip – Unusual as it seem, I soaked these seeds in a market fish rinse water overnight before sowing, after a few unsuccessful attempts. Thank goodness, there was no lingering fish smell that attracts ants and flies!

Grow Curly Parsley from seeds

1 week old Curly with Rosemary cutting

Grow Curly Parsley from seeds

2 months Curly Parsley

Curly Parsley from seeds

2015 December 04 –  1 plant in pot

Curly Leaf Parsley are pretty looking and commonly used for garnish. Its flavor is quite mild compared to the Italian Flat Leaf.

Grow Curly Parsley from seeds

Freshly harvest Curly Parsley

Flat Leaf Parsley (Hydro and Soil)

Germination Tip –  Pretty easy, sowed in very wet medium, using kale’s method. First sprout spotted in 2 days.

Grow Italian Flat Parsley from seeds

2018 July 31 – very moist soil

Before true leaf showed, root has extended about 2 cm.

Grow Italian Flat Parsley from seeds

Long roots

Grow Italian Flat Parsley from seeds

2018 August 06 – True Leaf

Cold seasoned salads

1 month old

Cool Seasoned fresh herbs indoors

Flat Leaf

Cold seasoned salads

2018 Sept 05

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 October 04

Soil based plants

Cold seasoned salads

2018 Aug 06

Cold seasoned salads

2018 August 10

Cold seasoned salads

2018 August 25

Cold seasoned salads

Hydro & Soil Parsley

Notes on Western Parsley

  • Preferred cool weather, thus need to protect from hot sun or grow in partial shade
  • Biennial, will flower and die on second year (collect seeds!)
  • Germination – maintain very moist medium for seeds
  • Seedlings preferred slightly moist medium
  • Not fussy about soil type
  • Leaves and stems can be eaten
  • Goes very well with roasted garlic for Italian meals such as pastas

 

Grow cold seasoned herbs from seeds

Pies filling

Cold seasoned salads

Brie & Herbs Pies

CHICKEN PIES With FRESH THYME

Our chicken pies are an all time favorite with guests, parties, picnics or home meals.

When the children were young and dislike eating vegetables, it was also my way to sneak in as much greens as possible into their favorite tea time pies and they could not picked it out!

We love to use herbs, especially thyme, from our gardens.

Ready made puff pastry in sheets are used instead of making our own to save time.

Home made chicken pies

Ready made puff pastry Sheets

This recipe is for chicken pies filling and can be prepared ahead. It can be kept for one week in the fridge.

Instead of uncooked chicken, leftover roast chicken or turkey can be used as well.

Ingredients

  • Chicken Fillets ( breast or thigh, boneless, seasoned with salt & black pepper)
  • Vegetables ( chopped, cube sized – carrots, celery or frozen peas)
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Onions (slice or chopped)
  • Brown Mushrooms (optional, chopped)
  • Can of Campbell Cream Mushroom soup

Method

  • Sauteed Onion until fragrant
  • Add carrots first as they take a longer time to cook, until soften
  • Add chicken
  • Add herbs, mushrooms, other vegetables
  • Add Cream of Mushroom soup

Other Notes

Dicing Carrots – 1. Cut the carrot lengthwise in the middle 2. Lay the half’s flat on cutting surface. 3. cut into strips before dicing them into smaller cube pieces.

Cooking with fresh herbs

How to dice Vegetables

 

Pastry Sheets (Always baked in pre heated oven)

  • Cut a pastry sheet into 4 parts
  • Fill a tablespoon and fold in 4 corners of pastry over filling
  • Bake at 160C until pastry is brown

They should be served hot and if there are leftover pies, they are best baked in hot oven for 5 minutes than microwaved, as the latter soften the skin rather than maintain its crisp texture.

The cream based soup bind and hold ingredients well, and made for a moist flavorful filling as it steamed inside the puff pastry while its being baked.

 

Pies with Fresh herbs

Chicken Pies

Sugar Loaf Chicory

My friends who knew me well probably guessed its the name, “Sugar Loaf” that attracted me to try these seeds! Little did I know that this vegetable is fame for their slightly bitter undertone.

These vegetables are used commonly in the Italian or Spanish kitchens in soups, grilled or cooked with cheeses, garlic, lemon or even mixed with toasted nuts. They are loved for their robust and slightly bitter taste.

Grow sugar loaf chicory from seeds

2018 August 04

The mature plant resembled romaine, with large tightly folded leaves.

They are eaten raw in salads (good with apple cider vinegar base) or cooked. The leaves stand heat well.

The seeds were easy to start, similar to Kale’s method, in very moist environment, within 5 days.

Cold seasoned salads

2018 Aug 04

Cold seasoned salads

2018 August 13

Cold seasoned salads

2018 August 28 – 3 weeks old

Notes on Sugar Loaf –

  • French name – Pain de Sucre
  • Italian name – Pan di Zucchero
  • Sun lover but if too hot, will bolt
  • Large Romaine leaves, upright head
  • Sweet core center
  • Escarole type plant
  • 50 -80 days maturity
  • Slightly bitter in salads (usually paired with pears and nuts)
  • Tolerate heat in cooking ( olive oil and garlic)
  • Grilling (BBQ) will bring out more sweetness

Salads Dressing Recipe (Tossed with pears or grapes, toasted nuts, grated cheese)

  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 2 teaspoon Mustard
  • Salt & Pepper as desired
  • Chopped Coriander

Powerhouse Golden Purslane

Although Purslane is considered a weed in many countries, it nonetheless packed a powerhouse of nutrients for salads lovers. The health benefits include high omega 3 fatty acids (helps lower cholesterol) , natural antioxidants,  Vitamin A, B, C, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium.

Native to Asia, purslane is now enjoyed widely for its nutrition and thick, crunchy leaves texture.

We sowed the cultivated edible purslane known as Golden Purslane on July 7, using strawberries’ method, and first sprouts were spotted 4 days later, on July 11. Similar to strawberries, these seeds need light to germinate, thus sowed on surface yield speedy germination success.

The seedlings had red stems when they germinated but the color will be more yellowish green as they matured.

Golden Purslane Plant Care

3 to 4 days to germinate

Golden Purslane Plant Care

Vivid red stems

Golden Purslane Plant Care

Seed leaves appeared

The vivid red stems dimmed when seeds leaves appeared.

Edible Purslane from seeds

4 days after germination

Grow edible succulent from seeds

2018 July 30

Grow edible succulent

2018 August 04

Grow edible succulent from seeds

2018 August 13

Golden Purslane is a cultivated variety with upright green stem instead of red.

Grow edible succulent from seeds

2018 Aug 13

Golden Purslane Plant Care

2018 September 18

Edible succulent from seeds

2018 October 4

Leaves are thick and slightly crunchy. There is a hint of lemon and the taste is not over powering. In salads, these are easily blend in with other flavors and eaten more for their benefits and texture than taste.

Edible succulent purslane

2018 Aug 25

Golden Purslane Plant care

Leaves and Flowers Formation

Edible succulent from seeds

2018 October 4

Golden Purslane Plant Care

New Leaves and flowers at base of plant

Cultivated Purslane’s yellow flowers are observed to open when there is strong sun and closed again when it is dimmer.

Grow edible succulent from seeds

Yellow Flower

Edible succulent from seeds

2018 August 27

Seeds are available in SHOP !

Interesting Notes on Golden Purslane –

  • Leaves, Stems and Flowers are edible
  • Flowers are typically yellow, 5 petaled, and opened in sunlight
  • Stems can be rooted
  • Sometimes replaced  for spinach
  • Higher beta-carotene than spinach
  • Annual
  • Succulent, prefers drier soil and sun
  • Can be invasive nature, grow like weeds, self sowing seeds

OYSTER LEAF

Featured

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 did not know it. There was no name for this plant in the Chinese seeds catalog.

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.

This salad leaf had a crunchy bite! Not thick like Romaine heart, but in the bite, there was thickness and crispy feel. Then the oyster taste explodes on the palate. They can be taken without flavoring because the leaves on its own were delicious. In fact, I much preferred them this way. 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.

 

POTATOES IN CONTAINERS

My daughter, Summer, loves potatoes in any form, whether grilled, roast with our fresh herbs, mashed for pot pies or steamed. So I decided to try planting our own in the outdoor apartment’s gardens.

Grow Potatoes from Eyes

Baked Salmon with Potatoes

We choose small to med sized potatoes rather than large Russet potatoes for our first trial. The larger potatoes may need a long cooler season than our weather.

To plant, we have to find the eyes on potatoes which looked like this.

A small indent on the skin. On each cut slice, there can be more than one eye. In fact, I was told the more the better the yield.

Grow Potatoes from eyes

Potato’s Eye

Grow Potatoes from Eyes

Slice a part with more than 1 eye

In big deep pots, we plant potatoes’ cut-side in well draining soil with our own compost. There is about four inch of soil at the base of the pot before we plant. We will top up soil as the potatoes grew as they drew nutrients from the top.

Grow Potatoes from Eyes

2018 August 06 – Plant w cut side down

After 2 weeks in soil, roots emerged on the top.

Grow Potatoes from Eyes

Roots

Leaves showed!

Grow Potatoes in Containers

2018 August 23

Grow Potatoes in pots in Singapore

2018 October 26

Grow Potatoes in pots in Singapore

Sneak Peek !

Potatoes typically can be harvested in 3 months time.

We will update as our plants grow.

The moment when we plant our slice of “eyes” in soil Video !

We hope to see our fresh harvest soon from these potatoes!

Grow potatoes in containers

Prepping Potatoes eyes

 

Grow Ginger in Pots

Growing ginger is surprisingly easy, but on hindsight, I should have planted them individually or in a wider pot to allow the roots to grow more.

Fellow gardener, Ms. Pek Nyuk in our Facebook gardening group ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/866039746800973/) , recommended to start planting them in shallow soil depth in wide pot and then top up with soil as they grow.

This store bought ginger was cut into 4 parts, each part with the “eye” and planted with it facing upwards. Although there were eight buds on this ginger that could be separated and plant, gardeners also recommend not to do so as smaller parts would not have enough energy to grow a good yield.

How to grow ginger in pots

2018 February 9

Another example of the “eye” –

Grow gingers in pots

The eye are the round indents on the skin

The picture below showed my newly planted shoot on 16 July 2018. One per pot this time! 🙂

Grow ginger from store bought ginger

Newly growth from the eye

Some were re-planted in outdoor bigger pots. We planted them like this, cut side in soil with the shoot facing upward.

Grow ginger in pots

2018 August 06

In previous pot, my ginger were small because there was no room to grow further..

How to grow ginger in pots

2018 July 15

Thus we harvested early, on July 15 (only 5 months) instead of waiting another four months for them to mature. The leaves had started to brown. These plants will not be able to grow well remaining in this small pot.

How to grow ginger in pots

No room for roots to grow

This is how we harvested our ginger.

 

A soothing brew of ginger tea for cool days!

How to grow ginger in pots

Comforting ginger tea

 

Turmeric Ginger is grown in the same way. We started our own plants in May 2018 to treat eczema rashes by applying grated pulp (and juice) with black pepper. This application work almost instantaneously to stop the itch and inflammation and has no burn on skin. Thus, should be comfortable for young children as well.

Grow own turmeric ginger in pots

Turmeric Leaf is used in curry

It is sometimes called yellow ginger because this ginger juice stained everything yellow! We use turmeric in curries and even with seasoning of seafood.

Grow own turmeric ginger in pots

2018 October 27 – freshly harvest

Apply directly on skin to treat inflammation and itch and find instant relief. It does not come any fresher than home harvest and with my own ginger, I know there is no pesticide.

Grow own turmeric ginger in pots

Pulp + Juice + Black Pepper

We learned our lesson after our first harvest in small pot on July 15 2018. Next round in bigger deeper pot yield a better harvest. No matter the size, fresh ginger smell and taste much better than anything bought in stores!

How to grow ginger in pots

First Ginger Harvest on July 15 2018 

How to grow ginger in pots

2018 Dec 05 – Better Harvest

Look how amazingly juicy is our freshly harvested ginger! We are addicted to home grown harvest more than ever now.

How to grow ginger in pots

Freshly harvested Ginger !

 

Moist Carrot Cake

Original Recipe from Richard Goh (October 2010).

For 9 inch square tin, paper lined.

Preheat oven at 180C

Part 1 – WET Ingredients

In big mixing bowl, beat well –

175 ml                   Sunflower or Veg Oil

175g                      Light Muscovado Sugar

3 nos.                    Eggs, beaten

Part 2 – Add to WET

175 g                       Grated Carrot

85g                         Sultanas

55g                         Walnuts (optional)

1no.                       Grated Orange Rind

Part 3 – Add to (1) + (2) until just blended, DO NOT over beat

175g                       Self Raising Flour

1 tsp.                     Bicarbonate of Soda

1 tsp.                     Cinnamon Powder

½ tsp.                    Grated nutmeg

Baked in preheat oven, 40 – 45 minutes.

Leave to cool in tin 5 minutes, then overturn onto wire rack for cooling

Frosting

Beat until smooth and spread over cake

200g                       Cream Cheese

100g                       Icing Sugar

2 tsp.                     Orange Juice

Served in squares with strips of orange zest cream cheese frosting.

Carrot Cake from Juice Pulp

Carrot Cake

We use juice pulp for this carrot cake!

Carrot Cake from Juice Pulp

The best fiber from this pulp!

Carrot Cake from Juice Pulp

Carrot, Beet Pulp from juicing

Temperamental Plants

Growing cool seasoned plants such as strawberries outside their ideal zones is not difficult as long as we understood the plants’ signals.

From the experience of seeds grown plants, we first recognized what are the healthy signals.

For strawberries, the most indicative of health is red or vivid stems/crown. Next are open faced leaves, upright standing plant, and vigorous growth of leaves.

Growing Strawberries from Seeds in Singapore

2017 July 24 – Vivid stems

Tropical Care of Cool Seasoned Plants

Un-cupped Leaves

In fatigue stress, the first sign is declining red in the stems.

Strawberry Care in the tropics

Nov 4 2015 – After fruits harvest

Remedy – Repot in new soil and let tired plants rest and wait for recovery.

Colour will first return to crown then stems if all is well with the plants. If the plants have been too dependent on fertilizers or not healthy to begin with, they may not be able to recover. This is the same as natural zone grown strawberries. Not every plant returned after wintering outdoors. But for those that do, they are stronger and more vigorous plants.

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

2018 April 27 – New Shoots

Not all droopy leaves and stems are indicative signs of bad health. Sometimes, strawberries can be temperamental plants as well.

Strawberries Care in the Tropics

Throwing a Tantrum!

Don’t be fooled ! These plants are not sick. The stems and colour are still in the pink of health.

Strawberries Care in the Tropics

Sign of unhappiness

Remedy – Study the growing environment and reverse whatever is causing fatigue in these plants. Young seedlings are less hardy and can be easily stressed. Example, if wind is too strong, remove pot to less windy areas. The solution can be as easy as that!

Strawberries Care in the Tropics

Recovered overnight

EASY BEGINNERS VEGETABLES

We love growing and harvesting our own vegetables at home. Nothing quite beat the taste and texture of our own plants. It is also immensely gratifying to see the whole journey from seeds to cutting the leaves for a meal and to be able to harvest again each week from the same plant.

AMARANTH

We try amaranth in hydro and soil.

In our opinion, amaranth taste better if soil grown.

This leafy vegetable is a cut and grow plant and can be harvested within a month. There are a few varieties of edible amaranth (Yin Tsai, Chinese Spinach) , examples are red, green or mixed amaranth.

The seeds germinated in 2 days like this. It is important to keep the seeds constantly moist.

Amaranth from seeds

Red Amaranth

HYDRO Seedlings –

Amaranth from seeds

1 week old amaranth

Grow amaranth for salads

Red Amaranth

SOIL based Amaranth

Amaranth from seeds

Amaranth in soil

Amaranth from seeds

Green Amaranth

The texture is silky when lightly braised in soup or quick stir fry. Extremely suitable for young children.

Amaranth from seeds

Mixed Amaranth 

Amaranth from seeds

Fresh and LUSH Harvest

CAMOMILE 

Grow camomile from seeds

Overnight germination

Grow camomile from seeds

1 month old

Exploring more interesting fresh salad options! Camomile leaves are crunchy and taste like the tea of the same namesake! Mixed with spicier arugula, it certainly add texture and kicked up quite an interesting mix.

Grow camomile from seeds

Taste like Tea, mix with arugula

 

KALE – More Information Link

Grow Kale from seeds

Kale seeds

Kale seeds also germinated in 2 days. A cut and grow plant that can be harvested in 2 to 3 months depending on each individual’s preference.

Grow Kale from seeds

2 weeks old Kale

Our family loves the younger (smaller), sweeter tasting leaves that are usually not sold in supermarkets, as we consume them raw. The younger leaves are juicer and less fiberous.

HYDRO KALE

Kale benefits

2 months old kale

 

Kale Care and Health Benefits

7 – 10 days regrow

Kale benefits

Fresh kale salads

 

MALABAR SPINACH

Is also known as climbing or Ceylon spinach but this is not actually a spinach. It belonged to the Basellaceae family and the thick leaves resembled spinach. Eaten raw, every single bite is juicy and crunchy.

Malabar Spinach

3 days to 1 week to see germination

Grow Malabar Spinach from seeds

3 weeks old

Fresh seeds harvested from plants are easier to germinate than store bought dry seeds. The latter need to be stratified by applying a nail file, knife or sand paper on seeds’ surface before sowing. It preferred hot direct brutal sun but can also be grown in part shade. In mature plants, the thick stem can be propagated in water or direct sowed in soil and roots will regrow.

Grow Malabar Spinach from seeds

Thick Stems

This plant is a climber or creeper in cooler climate and need support. To harvest, we cut only the leaves and they regrow in a week.

Grow Malabar Spinach from seeds

Thick Juicy Leaves

Not sure if our string trellis would work, will update soon.

Grow Malabar Spinach from seeds

2 months old

This plant can be propagated from cutting. We will be growing some of these in hydro to maximize space on the hanging gardens.

Malabar Spinach from Cutting

June 19 – Rooted in 10 days

Two plants per family is often enough for a reliable source of vegetables harvest every week. Avoid drying out the soil as this will cause flowering which resulted in bitter tasting leaves.

Malabar Spinach from seeds

2018 May 28

 

WATER CRESS

Despite its size, this vegetable is a power house of nutrients (vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E, manganese, carotene) and is recommended to eat them raw in mixed salads or juice.

Water Cress from seeds

2018 April 27 – 2 days germination

Will be consuming as microgreens in mixed salads.

Grow water cress from seeds

2 weeks old

Grow watercress from seeds

2018 May 29

Hydro Vegetables from seeds at home

Watercress & More

 

Edible Succulent – Golden Purslane

Edible succulent golden purslane

High omega 3 Fatty Acids + Lemony Crunch

 

Sugar Loaf (Italian name – Pan di Zucchero)

Cold seasoned salads

Sugar Loaf Escarole

Swiss Chard 

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

Red Swiss Chard

 

We grew vegetables on our windows to  harness natural resources such as wind and sun. Our “pots” are constantly in motion, creating ripples in their individual reservoir, giving roots zone more aeration naturally.

 

This hanging garden also allowed soil and hydro based plants to grow together and we DIY these pots’ hangers from PET bottles.

Creative PET bottles garden containers

Hanging Vegetables Gardens

SALADS & HERBS WORKSHOP is available for private 1 : 1, small private group or schools setting. Learn how to grow from seeds in both soil and hydro, the plus & minus of both mediums and embark on this wonderful journey of growing & harvesting fresh whole food.

Growing Vegetables Workshops in Singapore

WORKSHOP

Growing Vegetables Workshops

Seedlings in Recyclables!

Fresh harvest from our gardens everyday !

Grow Vegetables from seeds in containers

Home Grown Wellness

Vertical Container Gardens

Our indoor gardens are often challenged by limited space and sun but it is still pleasant to live surrounded by plants we love.

Since 2015 to accommodate our expanding strawberry garden, we grew vertically on our windows as well as horizontally on tables by the windows. We made pots out of recycled PET (  polyethylene terephthalate ) bottles to hang.

There are several reasons why we love these plastic bottles –

  1. Weight – Lightest among any other pots
  2. Free of charge and yet harmful to our environment if we just throw. Go Recycle!
  3. Cut-able – can be customized for individual plants’ needs
  4. Versatile – suitable for soil based or Kratky Hydroponic

SOIL BASED Bottles

Indoor container strawberries garden

Soil Based – Bottom side for plant

Soil based needs a narrow dripping point, as we do not want water to splash on our floors whenever we irrigate our hanging gardens. Thus we used cap side for drip off and wider end at the bottom for plants.

Container indoor hanging gardens

SOIL Based – Dripping end

Indoor container strawberries gardens

Soil based strawberries

HYDRO HANGERS

Container Herbs Garden

Strings at cap side

This is how we turned ordinary plastic bottles into hydro or soil based hanging gardens.

Step 1 – Cut holes to string ropes through for hanging

Kratky Hydroponic –  Cut 2 holes at opposite side of the bottle near the cap. We chose the wider end for inserting hydroponic bottles.

How to built hanging gardens

HYDRO – Holes for string

Soil based – Cut holes at bottom end of hanging pot for strings.

PET bottles container hanging gardens

SOIL Based – Strings

Step 2 – Knots at each hole to prevent wear and tear by rubbing, also keep bottle steady in the wind. Top knot (not shown) for hook to latch.

How to built hanging gardens

Step 2 – Knots on sides and top

Step 3 – Cut hole (s)  to insert hydroponic pot or plants (soil based)

For Kratky bottles (non circulating hydroponic) – Measure against hanging pot to estimate the size of opening to cut. I preferred to cut smaller and then widen when the plant is inside hanging bottle.

How to built hanging gardens

Step 4 – Estimate height of hole

How to built a hanging vertical garden

Hydroponic plant and nutrient feed

Soiled based – Cut size of hole as desired to plant

How to grow in vertical hanging container

Sweet basil in hanging soil pot

Step 4

Hydroponic – Cut holes at the bottom of hanging pot to drain rainwater if outdoor (prevent mosquitoes breeding)

How to built hanging gardens

Cut Drainage holes

Soil based – Net or cap over with holes for drainage

Vertical cheap container gardens

Net over

How to built vertical vegetables container gardens

Cut drainage holes on cap

 

Wear Socks! – To shield liquid base or roots end from light (heat) to prevent unsightly algae.

How to built vertical vegetables container gardens

Recycle old socks

How to built hanging gardens

Colored bottles shield roots

Hydro pots are lighter than soil based pots

How to built vertical vegetables container gardens

Hydro kale

How to built vertical vegetables container gardens

Rosemary in liquid base

In late September 2018, these PET bottles pots became “fashion” accessories after the S-hooks ZehZeh’s craze in Singapore! Just for laughs –

S hook ZehZeh

Gardeners also can hook !

The best thing about this no-tech vertical garden, beside being cheap to maintain and built, is that it allow both soil based and hydroponic to grow together.

Creative PET Bottles Recycling IDEAS

HYDRO & SOIL

Happy Green gardening by re-using PET bottles! 🙂

WORKSHOPS available – How to start vertical vegetables container gardens in hydro and soil (for beginners), from seeds and cuttings.

SUGAR CANE !

My friend of over 20 years, Ling, brought me some home grown sugar cane in February 2018 and they were amazingly juicy and sweet.

Home Grown Sugar Cane in Singapore

2018 February 24

To enjoy these, we hacked the long hard stem of the fruits at the joint which will break after a few hits. From the top of each shortened stem, split it in half first then quartered as desired. We ate this by biting off thinner strips and chewing out the juice from its fibrous flesh and then discard the fiber. Commercially, there are cold pressed machines in Asia that will squeezed the juice out for a refreshing and sweet thirst quencher. Best chilled! Sometimes, a slice of lemon is add to counter the sweetness.

Sugarcane is not suitable for container gardening as it is a giant when fully grown.

Home Grown Sugar Cane

Ling’s sugar cane “jungle”

According to Ling’s mother-in-law who grew these plants, they need full brutal sun and grounded. She watered only occasionally with rice rinse water. Most of the time, these plants depend on  rain.

The stems were harvested when they were “long” enough, at least 6 months from sapling stage in her garden. She chopped off the desired length, leaving a shorter stump in the ground and the latter with grow bigger for the next harvest.

The experience of tasting this amazingly fresh and delicious crop made me curious. I wonder how they start their journey?

Home Grown Sugar Cane in Singapore

Source – The Noble Sugarcane (Johnscropblog)

To start, plant them with the “eyes” facing upward in soil after cutting to shorter length at the joint.

Home Grown Sugar Cane in Singapore

Young shoot

Young shoots emerged about 14 days and grew rapidly.

Home Grown Sugar Cane in Singapore

This can be further separated

A young sugarcane sapling has invasive roots mass and tend to roots bound easily in containers.

Home Grown Sugar Cane in Singapore

2018 March 24

This one a keeper for study while the rest were planted in my outdoor garden.

Home Grown Sugar Cane in Singapore

2018 March 24

Will update as the saplings grow.

KALE – SO EASY !

Featured

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

ICE Plant

Out of boredom on December 30 2017, I decided to sort out my seeds collection and found ice plant seeds which were bought in April.

I had totally forgotten about them!

There are about 135 varieties and under them, 1900 species of ice plants. Originally discovered in the dry and barren South Africa’s mountains, they thrived better in sandy soil. In addition to leaves, their flowers are also edible.

Ice Plant in Singapore

Grown by Dr. Wilson Wong (Green Culture Singapore Facebook Group’s Creator)

Surprisingly the seeds germinated very fast, in fact only 19 hours, using strawberry germination method.

How to Germinate Ice Plant

2018 January 1 – Ice Plant’s first sprouts!

Ice Plants in Singapore

2018 January 7 – 1 week old seedling

Transplanted on January 08 to sandy medium, will hope they grow well ! 🙂

Ice Plants in Singapore

Customized sandy based medium

I have given up on soil medium as my seedlings tend to wilt after a day in natural environment.  A member of our gardening group, Ms. Vivien Misaki, had better luck by refrigerating seedlings in soil and “green housed” in ziplock bag. Her tip was to mist it once a day and not overly water them.

Cold seasoned salads

Tip – Don’t fertilise or over water

My seedlings also grew better in controlled “still” environment of an egg carton, rather than outside. These young seedlings cannot tolerate sun, wind or transplanting, as most died soon after. I will likely will keep them wrapped in this unlikely green house (egg carton) until they are more mature. Tip – Transplant early into individual space.

Cold seasoned salads

Delicate seedlings!

Cold seasoned salads

5 days old seedling

Cold seasoned salads

2018 July 31

When the seedlings had 2 sets of leaves, they were removed from egg carton into individual PET bottle greenhouse. Shield against wind, in the heat of greenhouses, they seem to grow faster. Without this shield, seedlings will wilt even with good roots mass. They were placed in area with morning sun and bright afternoon light.

Grow cold seasoned salads from seeds

PET bottle greenhouse

It is warmer in this “green house” than in natural environment. Air is allowed through slit at the base of the cover.

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 30 

 

Cold seasoned salads

2018 August 25

Ice Plant Care

2018 September 14

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 September 24

Cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 28

Grow cold seasoned salads from seeds

2018 Sept 28

EXTRA notes –

From our hydro plants’ observation, they seem fragile and needed support, including leaves and stem. Both break easily upon handling.

Grow ice plants from seeds in Singapore

Leaves break from stem

Grow ice plants from seeds in Singapore

Leaf tear

To prevent damaging mature plants through handling, a suggestion was made by Mr. Kia Kuang Tan to seed directly in permanent pot and discourage tall plants by bringing grow lights closer.  This way, the plants will need not stretch towards light source weakening the stem,

Grow ice plants from seeds in Singapore

Stem needed support

Our ice plants were observed to droop often in natural environment and thus they continued in our PET bottle  “green houses” to support leaves in a more upright position..

Grow cold seasoned plants from seeds

2018 October 5

Ice Plants Notes

Just Germinated Seedling to  2 months old – 

  • Young seedlings are unable to tolerate wind and direct sun. Need to be green housed or in controlled environment
  • Transplant early to individual permanent pot
  • Slow growing

Mature Plant Notes

  • Tolerate full Sun
  • Try to maintain cooler roots zone for healthier plant
  • Drought tolerant
  • Prefers dry hard packed medium – more sand, perlite
  • Leaves and stem need support
  • Flowers are edible
  • Thick and succulent leaves with salt crystals
  • Market price in Singapore – $160 + per KG

 

MICROGREENS

Thanks to Jack Yam’s sharing with easy to follow tutorial and accompanying photographs, a lot of gardeners learned how to grow microgreens.

With Jack’s permission, his pictures and instructions are shared in this post.

Step 1 – Recycle any plastic container suitable for growing! Drill or cut holes at the base for drainage. This allowed excess water to drain from the soil.

Grow food at home

Cut or drill holes for drainage

Not handy with electric drill, I re-used easier to cut soft plastic containers instead! Drainage holes were created by snipping corners with a pair of scissor.

Grow Harvest Eat from garden to table

Re-used plastic containers!

Step 2 – Fill only 1 inch depth of good gardening soil mix, customized or buy ready mix.

Microgreens from seeds

Fill and pat down soil

Step 3 – Water well, the medium should be very wet and then slowly drained from the holes we had cut/drilled below.

Grow Eat Fresh Food

The soil is very wet

 

Step 4 – Sow seeds on the surface. Press gently on seeds to ensure that they touched the soil but were not buried. 

Grow Eat Fresh Food

Seeds are on the surface

Lesson learned from our own experience, DO NOT cling wrapped the container as mold will grow. However this is easily remedied with sun exposure after a few hours.

Our microgreens’ journal began on December 17 2017 following Jack Yam’s instructions.

We hope to grow many varieties of microgreens and be able to harvest fresh from our table top gardens!

Grow microgreens from seeds

Broccoli and Red Beet seeds from Gardeners Day Out event in Singapore

  1. Broccoli seeds germinated in 18 hours!
Grow Eat fresh food at home

2017 December 18 at 2pm – Broccoli

Impatient to taste our first microgreens, we harvested on December 24 2017, exactly 7 days later.

Grow Harvest Eat microgreens

Broccoli microgreens taste like broccoli

Jack Yam advised there is no fixed rule as to when microgreens can be harvested. They can be as young as one week old with a set of seed leaf or more mature 3 to 4 weeks. The older seedlings will have more leaves and better bite. Microgreens are generally eaten raw and however old they are when we harvest them, they taste really good.

How to Grow microgreens at home

Dec 29 2017 – Broccoli leaf

How to Grow microgreens at home

2 weeks old seedling

2) Red beet was our second microgreen variety to try .

The seeds are really cute as they looked like wholemeal cereal bites!

Grow Harvest Eat microgreens

December 17 2017

Red beets germinated on December 19 2017, 2 days later.

Grow Harvest Eat microgreens

December 19 2017 – red beet

First harvest and taste on Christmas day 2017!

Grow Harvest Eat microgreens

Red beet

How to grow microgreens at home

Red Beet Leaf taste like beet!

Whole food grow at home made great snacks as well!

Grow Harvest Eat microgreens

Red beets and broccoli greens!

Growing microgreens was really easy and  fast to harvest.

In spite of their size, they packed a punch in nutrients, texture and taste.

Our grow rack of  anti-aging, healthy and colourful microgreens is expanding! 🙂

How to grow microgreens at home

2017 Dec 30 – Growing more varieties

One Time harvest 

  1. Spicy Taste – radishes, mustard/mizuna (wasabi tasting) , rockets
  2. Thai Basil
  3. Broccoli
  4. Pea / dou miou
  5. Red Cabbage
  6. Sunflower
  7. Alfalfa
  8. Red Amaranth
  9. Coriander
  10. Fenugreek
  11. Basil (green , purple)
  12. Kale
  13. Pak Choy
  14. Spinach
  15. sesame
  16. Chia seeds
  17. Water Cress
  18. Edamame
  19. Fennel
  20. Cucumber
  21. Chard
  22. Stevia
  23. Pumpkin leaves
  24. Sorrel
  25. Chives

Multiple harvests microgreens – cut will regrow

  1. Corn (Jack Yam’s tip – the white part of shoots are very sweet but the longer the shoot grows, the texture is fibrous)
  2. Wheatgrass

Most leafy greens can be harvested early to be eaten as microgreens or let to mature to grow into salads. Thus we can use vegetables and herbs seed for microgreens. For example, any type of kale, basil, pak choy, amaranth etc.

Microgreens vs. Sprouts

They are not the same.

Sprouts are germinated seeds and harvested in 48 hours. Consumed sprouts are mainly the seed, stem, roots and underdeveloped light color leaves. Their ideal growing conditions, 100% humidity and warmth (27C/80F), sometimes carried risks of pathogenic bacteria. In Europe, consumers are often advised to cook sprouts before eating.

Microgreens are young greens and harvested from 2 to 4 weeks. Their growing conditions are completely opposite the sprouts conditions – high light and sun exposure, low humidity and good ventilation. They have 2 developed cotyledons (seed leaf) and partially developed true leaf. Usually consumed raw without roots as they are cut above soil level.

An USDA 2012 study on microgreens yield an interesting detail. The nutritional benefits of microgreens varied when its grown in artificial lights and natural strong sunlight. According to this study, natural sunlight will yield the maximum nutritional content for microgreens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coriander – Grow from seeds

I love this aromatic herb for many reasons. Its add flavor to any dishes and packed a punch in health benefits.

Coriander or Cilantro’s health benefits

  1. Reduce levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing levels of HDL
  2. Lower blood sugar and pressure
  3. improve bowel movement
  4. Rich in vitamin C, K and protein
  5. Anti-inflammatory benefit

What’s there not to love about this herb?!

Health benefits of cilantro

My first home grown coriander on March 23 2016

In South East Asia, this is relatively common herb in our markets but there may be parts of the world where its not so easily found. Thus, it would be useful to learn how to grow from seeds.

Health benefits of cilantro

Coriander Seeds – round with hollow casing

Coriander seeds can be found not only in plant nurseries which are more expensive but also in dry goods shelves of supermarkets. These seeds are used in Mediterranean and Asian kitchens to add flavor to stews and sauces.

For better germination success, I like to “crack” the seeds before sowing on wet tissues or other medium.

Health benefits of coriander

Stratify seeds before sowing – easy to crack seeds with finger nails

The seeds were sowed on pre-moist soil and placed in an area where I have some morning sun.

Health benefits of cilantro

7 days to germinate

Coriander can be eaten as microgreen or slightly more mature plant.

Health benefits of coriander leaves

3 weeks old cilantro or coriander

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 !

Aloe Vera Care & Benefits

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

Healthy Aloe Vera looked like this –

Healthy Aloe Vera Signs

Healthy Aloe Vera

Unhealthy Aloe Vera symptoms –

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Unhealthy Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plant problems and solutions –

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems 2

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems 3

How to grow aloe vera –

Aloe Vera Plant Care and Problems

How to propagate aloe vera 🙂

Interesting information about Aloe Vera from my readings –

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

Benefits and Uses –

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

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

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

 

Disclaimer – I love these natural remedies but only try at own risk! 🙂

 

 

 

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! 🙂

A REFERENCE BOOK HELPS TOO

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Customize Soil Mixes

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

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

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

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

Customize soil mixes

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

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

Customize soil mixes

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

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

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

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

Customize soil mix

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

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

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

Soil for cacti and succulent

Customize soil mix for cacti and succulent

Cacti and succulent soil

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

Mix thoroughly and remove any coarse particles.

cacti and succulent soil mix

Cacti and succulent soil customize and mixed thoroughly

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

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

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

Don’t have to follow 100% ! “. 🙂

There are more than one way to garden and customize soil mixes. Most seasoned gardeners have their own formulas. It is impor