WHITE SOUL STRAWBERRIES

Our first exploration of white strawberries was  WHITE SOUL on August 23 2015 in soil. In 2017, we learned how to grow in liquid base, and began new exploration using KRATKY hydroponics method. This post is a rewrite of the journal from 2015 to compare notes between soil based and KRATKY, non circulating hydroponic. The latter’s setup looked something like this –

Grow White Soul from seeds in Singapore

Strawberry Plant in Kratky

WHITE SOUL

 2015 – Germination was very fast, only 6 days. Seeds were sowed on August 23 after freezing overnight and they germinated on August 29.

Not all white varieties germinate within the same length of time (less than 10 days), some varieties were slower, about 14 days. Please check out germination method at this post.

New method utilizing heat and light while balancing with cool in natural environment was developed in 2018 for speedier germination. This method is only taught in our workshops. For most cool seasoned plants, including lavenders, now used the balancing act to germinate.

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds in Singapore

August 29 2015

2018 – 7 days to germinate

Grow white strawberries in Singapore

January 27 2018 – tiny sprout spotted!

The germination time was about the same for soil based or hydro White Soul variety. In these observation, the seedlings were very small compared to red varieties.

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds in Singapore

One week old

FREEZING LENGTH (Seeds)

We also experimented in 2015 whether seeds that had been frozen longer would made any improvement on the speed to germinate seeds.

A second batch was sowed on October 16 2015, after freezing over a month, and they germinated on October 21, 5 days later. Thus, the length of (seeds) freeze did not make much difference.

Grow White Soul from seeds in Singapore

October 21 2015

WHITE SOUL OBSERVATIONS

Whether sowed on soil or other medium, the seedlings are very small and frail compared to the red strawberries.

Grow White Soul Strawberries from seeds

20 days old

Grow White Soul Strawberries from seeds

2018 February 4 – 14 days

They are very delicate plants and transplant process was difficult. Young seedlings have very low survival rate when we tried them in 2015. The risk of failed seedlings increased with every transplant. Thus do not transplant too many times.

This variety may be difficult for beginner gardener to attempt. Every stage can be a challenge without prior knowledge of growing them from seeds and how to troubleshoot when symptoms of stress appeared. Much of what we learned from growing this variety formed the formation of our workshop’s curriculum on the challenges and how to resolve them.

Grow White Soul Strawberries from seeds

3 weeks old

The heirloom characteristics of red stem showed by the third week. At this stage, the roots were about 1 cm long.

We transplanted most of the soil based seedlings before the crown developed. The growth rate of this medium was slower than liquid based plants. Among the white varieties, White Soul grew the slowest.

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds

2015 December 11

In soil, they often die without warning. The leaves drooped and brown after being transplanted. We learned the most insights by growing this delicate variety.

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds

Wilting Leaves

Seedlings in liquid base grew faster compared to soil based. Knowledge on how to settle the seedlings and hydro nutrients are necessary to grow them in liquid base. Not all nutrients are suitable. Trial and error experiments to get our KRATKY formula right.

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 June 14 – 2 months old, height – 10 cm

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds

2015 Jan 03 – 3 months old

RATE OF GROWTH – Height , New Leaves

Were slower compared to other varieties, especially from germination to third month. In soil, this variety was an uphill challenge at snail pace at every stage.

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2015 November 16 – Growing Snail pace

In liquid base, they grew faster even without any high technology conveniences. However without prior handling experience of strawberries or/and no hydroponic knowledge, they are difficult to grow.

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Hydro – 3 months old

Whether soil or liquid base, this variety remained slow and small compared to red varieties.

They tolerate morning sun and early afternoon heat well from the forth month. More growth was observed from 4th month.

ABOUT RAIN

Not heat but rain killed young White Souls seedlings on January 18 2016..

This trial tested whether they could adapt to natural environment without shelter from heat and rain. Thus 30 plants were sacrificed for this test and planted in 60 L of natural compost outdoor.

From pioneer batches of 30 seedlings,

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2016 January 18 – Part of the batches

only one seedling survived this experiment.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2016 March 18

ABOUT HEAT

At the height of our hot months, White Soul variety suffered stress from heat. The entire plant drooped like this.

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Liquid Base

Removal from stress source will revive these plants. In soil, icing down soil relieved the plants. It is not recommended to grow white soul outdoor.

PLANTS STRESS SIGNAL

Our first exploration in 2015, in soil, was not successful. All the flowers dried up and the plants seem in poor health. From this experience, we learned how to read strawberry plants’ signal and what were they telling us before rushing to apply a remedy.

Grow White Soul Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2016 April 10

A wrong remedy add more stress to plants already in distress. For example, adding fertilizer can kill.

Grow White Soul Strawberries from seeds

Mineral was added

ABOUT LEAVES

White Soul leaves like most other white varieties are lighter green and thin texture.

A healthy plant showed open faced leaves and not cupped as illustrated by above picture.

ABOUT FLOWERS

Soil based White Soul enter flowering stage at 8 months, whereas Kratky was 4 months.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds

2016 March 10 – First Flower

In White Soul, the initial flowers may not turned into fruits. Most dried up.

White Soul Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2016 March 23

Even with the best bee at work! 🙂

Self pollinating strawberry flowers

March 18 2016 – Human bee

Liquid Based plants enter flowering stage at around the 4th month.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds

Crown Thickening from 2nd month

ABOUT FRUITS

Typical of white strawberries, White Soul turning into fruits from pollinated flowers took about 3 weeks to fully form.

The first flush of flowers may not turned, thus we learned to prune off rather than keeping on the plant. Trimming off encourage more buds and fruits form better on the next round.

The fruits start oddly shaped and fill up later.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds

White Flesh

  • Fruits size are small
  • Not uniformly shaped
  • White flesh outer and inner
  • Musky scent and taste, mild
  • Flesh soften very quickly
Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

White Soul

White Soul variety provides a good learning experience for immediate level strawberries gardeners, because they are challenging. Overcoming their constant pitfalls in our natural environment enable us to handle any type of strawberries. Learn about other challenges of growing white strawberries in our climate here!

The plant remained small compared to other varieties, but fruit production can be vigorous.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Tiny Plant

Seeds are available for sale in SHOP .

Advertisements

Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI

Whether its soil or liquid based, this mizuna is easy to grow and quick to harvest. It is very delicious to eat as salads or cooked.

The variety that we grew at home is call Beni Houshi, a purple stem mizuna that is very popular in Japanese restaurants.

Added to salads, the purple hue of its stalk adds color and vibrancy as well as being high in anthocyanin, an antioxidant property found in blueberries.

Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI from seeds in Singapore

Purple stalk

These leaves are not bitter or wasabi sharp as common mizuna. The stalk tasted mildly sweet and is juicy. It is suitable for children. Both the leaves and stalks are edible.

Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI in containers

Leaf & Stalk are edible

Although slower in soil, the mature plant seem more robust with thicker stalk and bigger leaves than our liquid based plants of the same age.

Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI in containers

Soil vs. Liquid Base Plants

In Kratky, the stalk and leaves are thinner,

Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI in containers

Liquid Base

than soil based plants.

Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI in containers

Thick juicy stalks

Mizuna is a cut and grow plants, similar to Kale.

Germination Notes

  • In very wet medium, the seeds germinated overnight
Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI in containers

Overnight germination

  • True Leaf showed within 3 days
Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI in containers

2 days old

Within a week, young seedlings have 2 cm length roots.

Grow Mizuna ミズナ, 水菜, Beni HOUSHI in containers

one week old

Without a doubt, this is an easy edible to grow for beginner gardeners.

While stock last, seeds are available for sale in SHOP !

DWARFING A PAPAYA

Featured

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

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

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

Dwarfing fruit trees

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

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

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

GROW IN FABRIC POTS FOR BETTER ROOTS

So how did this method work?

Dwarfing fruit trees

2 weeks old papaya plant from seeds

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

Dwarfing a papaya tree

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

Mai has shared that in his region (Chiang Mai, Thailand) only bisexual papayas are available, so this is what the root mass looked like. One main tap root with many root hairs along the whole main root.. MAI advised to save as many roots hairs as possible when cutting the main root. From my reading ( arlene1027 and contributions from gardeners in South East Asia) on this plant, it seem that we can confirmed whether the mature plant will produce male or female flowers based on their roots. Since only female or bisexual plants produce fruits, it is important to know how to tell the difference. Male root is straight while female root is shorter, developed in a bunch and has more than 1 main root.

Dwarf a papaya

Bisexual Roots mass uncovered (papaya seedling)

How to dwarf fruit trees

Pruned or cut the tip of the tap root

How to dwarf fruit trees

Tap root has been pruned!

How to dwarf a papaya plant

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

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

How to dwarf a papaya

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

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

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

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

FEW months old Papaya dwarfing method

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

NATURAL FERTILIZER FOR FRUITS

MATURE Papaya Shortening Tree Method (Taiwan)

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

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

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

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

Shortening Papaya method

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

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

Shortening Papaya method

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

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

Shortening Papaya method

June 19 – Papaya plant has recovered!

Shortening Papaya method

Slits cut into trunk so that it can bent over

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Pineapple Strawberry

Featured

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

KRATKY Strawberries


The parent plants of this variety began their journey on January 16 2016 in soil. This is Alpine heirloom Pineapple strawberries, a low growing variety with 1 inch sized light yellow colored fruits.

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

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

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

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

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry babies

Jan 25 2016 – More Heirloom Pineapple strawberry seeds germinated

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

This variety does not travel well.

They have to be consumed the same day as harvest!

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries roots

Feb 3 2016 – Transplanting pineapple strawberries to deeper pots

Grow Alpine White strawberries

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

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

Grow white alpine strawberries in Singapore

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

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

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

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries

March 8 2016 – Cupped leaves (3 months old)

Heirloom pineapple strawberries

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

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

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry

Leaves improved and a healthier plant after netting PET bottles

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries

Roots extending out of the net.

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

Pineapple strawberry from seeds

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seed

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seed

Smallest bottle strawberry plant at flowering stage

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

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

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Then it becomes two!

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

More than 2 leaves at the crown

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

July 14 2016 – First flower spotted!!

 

Human bees get to work on July 17 2016  –

Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Summer began on the first flower to open! 🙂

Heirloom Pineapple strawberries

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

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

August 7 2016 – Children pollinating flowers

Grow Pineapple Strawberry

Self pollination with a paint brush

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

 

 

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

Grow Pineapple Strawberry

Hopefully this developing fruit complete its journey!

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seed

Can’t wait to taste our yellow strawberries ! 🙂

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

Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Newly formed flowers just began.

Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

New flower buds

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seed

July 27 2016 -Pretty little bloom peeking out 🙂

Pineapple strawberries from seeds

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

 

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

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

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

Heirloom pineapple strawberries

Aug 13 2016 – Saving these for the grandparents!

Grow Pineapple Strawberries

Aug 22 2016 – Sweet and flavorful ! Pineapple candies smell scent the room 🙂

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Kids love these yellow strawberries!!

Grow Pineapple Strawberries

Aug 21 2016 – Bountiful harvest.

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries

September 17 2016 – Do the fruits look like pineapple to you?  🙂

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

Grow Pineapple Strawberries

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries – about 2.5 – 3 cm

Heirloom Pineapple strawberries

They are sweet, a surprise hint of rose syrup with pineapple and strawberries taste! 🙂

 

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

 

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

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

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

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Sept 2016 – New generation of strawberry seedlings from born in Singapore Heirloom parents! 🙂

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

Grow Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Hanging Garden of strawberries and camomile plants

Grow Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Jan 16 2017 7 am – Scented Window Garden at the balcony 🙂

Grow Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

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

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

Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Jan 26 2017 – First fruit spotted!

Seeds to Harvest Journal –

 

Observations on second generation plants (February 02 2017 ) –

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

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

Grow gourmet Strawberries from seeds

December 01 2016 – Seedlings from our parent plants

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

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

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

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry

An almost torn stem triggered runners in this plant

The instinct to live is high for this seedling! 🙂

Symptoms of stressed alpine strawberries

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

Second Generation Strawberry Plants

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry

Dec 10 2016 – Suffered a transplant shock

 

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry

Dec 11 2016 – Recovered in the afternoon

Comparative Study of SG vs. USA seedlings –

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

Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

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

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

Grow Heirloom Pineapple Strawberry from seeds

Heirloom USA seed germinated on Aug 30

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

Heirloom Pineapple strawberry

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

Summary of Pineapple Strawberries Information –

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

 

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

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

 

Strawberries natural nutrients care

From non-GMO heirloom seeds

 

 

For Lavender Fans

Featured

UPDATE 2018Hydro lavenders ! Journal below soil based plants.

Grow lavenders from seeds or cutting in containers

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

Do not over-water.

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

Henry Lim’s lavender journey (2015) – 

Henry Lim's Lavandula angustifolia variety, from seeds

Lavandula Angustifolia variety, from seeds

Began in September 2015 with a Paris Garden kit.

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

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

Germinate lavender seeds

 Customized Medium

He customized his own lavender soil  :

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

How to grow lavender plants indoors

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

Erin Lee’s Lavender Journey :

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

lavender plants in Singapore

September 17 2015 – 2 weeks old lavender

Germinate lavender seeds

November 2015 – 2 months old lavender seedlings

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

Germinate lavender seeds

2016 January 26

Germinate lavender seeds

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

Shirley Ooi’s , 2015 : 

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

Germinate lavender seeds

Aug 11 2015 

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

Grow English Lavender from cutting

English Lavender

Grow French Lavender from cutting

FRENCH

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

Grow Goodwin Lavender from cutting

GOODWIN

Grow White Lavender from cutting

WHITE

KELVIN HO, 2016

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

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

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

 

Lavender plants from seeds

May 15 2016 –  germinated 75 seeds

Lavender plants from seeds

Kelvin’s lavender seedlings!

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

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

Lavender plants from seeds

Recipe 1

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

Soil with neutral PH work better for them.

Lavender Plant

June 16 2016 – Lavender seedlings (one month old)

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

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

Lavender plants from cutting

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

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

Lavender Plants from cutting

Rooting more cutting in cups

Grow lavender plants from cutting

Roots spotted on a cutting!!

Ultimate reward for lavender gardeners were their flowers.

Grow lavender plants from cuttings

Lavender Flowers

 

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

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

GERMINATION Method – Maximum Humidity for seeds

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

Used covered container

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

Grow Lavender

April 12 2016 

Lavender from seeds

May 3 2016 – Lavender updates

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

Grow lavenders from seeds or cutting in Singapore

May 3 2016 – To grow faster

May 14 2016 - Lavender from seed

May 14 2016 – Lavender from seed

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

Lavender Plant care in the tropics

May 10 – Newly bought lavender in distress!

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

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

Lavender Care in the tropics

Flies emerged

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

2019 NURSERY LAVENDER PURCHASE

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

How to grow lavenders well in Singapore

2019 March 06

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

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

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Blue smear on leaves

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

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Cutting rooting in progress

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

How to grow lavenders in Singapore

Pests in the folds of leaves

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

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

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Ants host pests

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

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

PESTS ALERT

COCO-PEAT MEDIUM

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Very Wet Medium

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

How to grow lavender plants in Singapore

Rot setting in in mid section

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

STEPS FOR NURSERY BUYS

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

Heavy Pruned Plant

HOW TO ROOT LAVENDER CUTTING

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

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

STEP 1 – CHOSE HEALTHY GREEN STEMS, REMOVE LOWER LEAVES

Lavender Care in the tropics

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

STEP 2 – GREENHOUSE For HUMIDITY

Lavender Care in the tropics

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

STEP 3 – OBSERVE FOR BROWNING STEMS

Lavender Care in the tropics

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

STEP 4 – CHANGE WATER IF MURKY

Lavender cutting

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

Grow lavender from cutting

May 22 2016 – Rooted!!!!

 

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

TIPS – Don’t root brown stems

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

BROWN Stems

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

lavender cutting care

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

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

Lavender Care in the tropics

May 11 -Choose green stem for rooting

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

Lavender Care in the tropics

May 11 2016 – Green house

Upright firm stem and non droopy leaves were good signs.

Lavender care in the tropics

Successful rooting

 

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

lavender plants

3 weeks old lavender from cutting

Sthh Sthh’s method

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

    lavender plants care

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

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

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

REGINA FOK, passionate lavenders collector/grower based in USA

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

Lavender Treatment

Recovered Lavender Plant!!!

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

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

    Regina Fok used cactus soil and perlite

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

    How to care for lavender plants

    Thank you , Regina!!!

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

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

Lavender plants from seeds

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

Lavender plants from seeds

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

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

Lavender plant from seeds

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

Lavender plants from seeds

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

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

How to take care of lavender plants in a tropical climate

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

4 Tips to grow lavender well from Regina Fok 

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

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

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

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

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

Lavender plants retain its fragrance during winter

Jan 30 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to germinate lavender seeds

2018 January 7

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

Grow lavender from seeds in Singapore

2018 January 16 – 1 week old lavender

One week old lavender seedlings roots were 4 inches long.

Grow lavender from seeds in Singapore

Long roots

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

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

2018 Jan25 – Soil based

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

Grow Lavenders from seeds

2018 Jan25 -Hydro lavender

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

Grow lavenders from seeds

2018 Feb07 – Soil Based

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

Grow lavenders from seeds

2018 Feb07 – Hydro lavenders

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

Hydro lavenders from seeds

Lavender from seeds

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

Grow lavender from seeds in Singapore

Fuss Free Lavender from seeds

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

Grow lavenders from seeds

2018 June 01

Hydro lavenders from seeds

Happy in liquid!

Cautionary Notes about Lavenders –

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

Closed up leaves

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

Lavender from seeds in Singapore

Recovering lavender

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

Grow lavenders from seeds in Singapore

Browning starts at the base

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

Grow lavenders from seeds

New leaves are emerging

Hydro Lavenders from seeds

Leaves are less brown

Lavenders from seeds

2018 June 13

Grow lavenders from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 28 – (Plant A)

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

Grow Lavender Plants from seeds in Singapore

2018 Dec 09 – (Plant A)

Grow lavenders from seeds in Singapore

2018 October 28 – Leaning Lavender

Grow Lavender Plants from seeds or cutting in Singapore

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

Lavenders Plants from seeds or cutting in Singapore

2018 Dec 09 – Sun Lovers

Uses for Lavender

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

 

Gift ideas from plants we grew

For lavender scented tea!

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

Girls’ Sleepovers are never boring in our home!

Lavender nutrients, seeds and net cups in SHOP !

Grow hydro lavender from seeds in Singapore

Lavender n Mini Netcup

Grow lavenders from seeds in Singapore

Branching out

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

Hydro Lavenders from seeds in Singapore

Lavenders nutrients

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

Grow Lavenders from seeds in Singapore

2019 February 15

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

Grow lavenders from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Mosquitoes Safe Planting

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

Grow lavenders from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Lavenders in recycled bottles

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

Lavender Plants Care Tips in Singapore

Scented Mini Tree !

 

ROSEMARY – GROW THEM WELL

Featured

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

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

2018 – 2019 Update – Rosemary in Liquid Base

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

How to multiply rosemary from cuttings

2015 October 10 – Steve Teh‘s

How to care for rosemary

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

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

Rosemary and Curl leaf parsley love sun

Rosemary and Curly Parsley – Limp seedlings after transplanted

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

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

March 01 2016 – Woody stems can still root!

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

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

Grow rosemary from cutting

Watermelon Skin Compost 30% : 70% sand & pebbles

How to Root Cutting Tips

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

These were what he said –

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

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

    Rooting rosemary cutting

    Healthy roots are white color

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

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

Grow rosemary from cutting in Singapore

Mosquitoes Safe Growing

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

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

Rooting without Mosquitoes Risk

Netcups for smaller reservoirs available in SHOP !

Grow Rosemary from cutting in containers

Rooted in netcups

Soil Mixture Tips

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

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

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

Rosemary from cutting

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

Rosemary plant care information

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

Propagate rosemary cutting

October 25 2016 – update on rosemary cutting ! 🙂

Grow rosemary plant from cutting

Jan 27 2017 – After a week of heavy rainfall

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

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

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

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

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

Hydro Rosemary Journey from cutting –

Grow fresh herbs indoors

2018 August 18 – rooted in 4 days

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

2018 September 03

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

2018 December 11

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

Pruning encourage new shoots

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

Rooted in liquid, Grow in Soil Method

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

How to grow rosemary from cutting using store bought herbs

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

How to grow rosemary from cutting

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

Sthh Sthh used his own mix of nutrient solution too.

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

Rosemary propagation

Rosemary Propagation – Only roots come in contact with nutrients solution

 

Rooting rosemary

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

 

Rooting Rosemary

Rosemary rooting pots suspended above nutrients solution

 

How to grow rosemary from cutting

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

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

How to water rosemary plant

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

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

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

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

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

How to water rosemary plants

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

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

lavender plants care

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

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

Propagate Rosemary

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

How to multiply rosemary plants

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

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

SOIL MIXTURE Tips from gardeners

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

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

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

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

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

How to plant rosemary cutting

Steve Teh’s rosemary sought the sun aggressively!

Rosemary plants needs

Chef Donny Tan’s rosemary plants at his doorstep

ROSEMARY IS USEFUL ! 

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

 

How to grow Rosemary in Singapore

Eye pleasing and delicious

Rosemary Seasoned Salt for culinary purposes.

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

Rosemary Plant Care

Rosemary seasoned salt

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

HAIR and SCALP TREATMENT

Grow Rosemary from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Extracting Rosemary Oil

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

Grow Rosemary from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Pound leaves with coconut oil

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

Grow Rosemary from seeds or cutting in Singapore

Mixed with conditioner

Rosemary Benefits

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

USE ROSEMARY OIL WITH HAIR MASK FOR DEEP REPAIR TREATMENT

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

Grow rosemary from cutting in Singapore

Freshly cut rosemary smells awesome

 

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

 

Rosemary Plant Care in the tropics

Rosemary in liquid base

 

 

 

White Strawberries

Featured

In 2017, we began new exploration of white wild Alpine strawberries varieties in KRATKY (passive hydroponic) that were not common commercially and too fragile to ship, thus we had to grow them from seeds.  Some of their taste profiles were described as intensely aromatic, mostly sweet with different variant of interesting flavors, such as pineapple, cotton candy, rose syrup or caramel.

As we explored more widely and tasted the fruits of our labor, we discovered not every white (or yellow) strawberries carried this special taste.

Now we understood why some growers classified the special ones as “gourmet” and others as “common”. Seeds prices were higher and sources to buy were more limited with the gourmet range.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in KRATKY

Strawberries without soil

True white strawberries belonged to 2 groups only.

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

Both the alpine and beach strawberries are wild species.

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

An example of white strawberries sold in ISETAN (Japanese shopping store) on January 8 2016. It is not far fetched to sell fifteen pieces of gourmet white strawberries for Singapore $200, about USD $150.

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

Photo : Joyce Ho

After growing our own wild white strawberries since 2016, we now know that these supermarkets’ strawberries are likely hybrid. Heirloom wild strawberries are typically small and soft flesh. Once harvested, they are unlikely to last a day. What they lacked in size, these varieties more than compensate with their aromatic intense flavor and unique taste.

A sought after and commercial popular white hybrid variety is Pineberry (white flesh, red seeds), a cross between Fragaria and Ananassa varieties. This cannot be grown from seeds, as Pineberry is a cultivated hybrid, thus please do not buy pineberry seeds online.

List of some Wild Alpine White varieties –

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

We started our exploration in 2015 with WHITE SOUL variety in soil and then late 2017 liquid base.

2018

With the experience gained from Pineapple Strawberries (yellow varieties) in 2016 and 2017, we had more confidence to try more white strawberry varieties. On January 20, we sowed four new types and they germinated on January 26 after 6 days, using new germination method.

One of these new varieties belonged to the gourmet category with taste profile of caramel and pineapple. These seeds are no longer on sale.

Grow white strawberries in Singapore

January 27 2018 – tiny sprout spotted!

See how tiny they were when they began this journey in Singapore!

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

So Tiny

White strawberries varieties are considerably smaller and slower to grow than the common red varieties.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 April 27 – 80 days old

And like children, they grew up!

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 July 2

White strawberries have the characteristics red stems of normal red garden varieties. From germinating through growth stages here, we are breeding them in natural SG environment.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 July 15

Our hope is to grow more varieties of white strawberries and built a portfolio of gourmet hydro plug-ins for household gardeners and high tech systems. Some of our seeds collected over the years are no longer available for sale internationally.

A Comparative journal from USA, with Regina Fok

To collect growth data on white strawberries from our seeds. Thank you, Regina!

Her seeds germinated in 9 days in an indoor environment of 23C. Similar to our white strawberries seedlings, her seedlings were small as well.

Grow white strawberries from seeds

April 8 2016

White Soul strawberries from seeds

May 21 2016 – 2 months old

Grow white strawberries from seeds in Singapore

White strawberries variety from SG Strawberries seeds

The size of first harvest fruits are same as ones grown in tropical Singapore.

Grow white strawberries from seeds in Singapore

White strawberries are alpines

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

THE UNEXPECTED CURVE BALLS  (CHALLENGES) 

White strawberries are by far, one of the most difficult to start from seeds. However, the more challenges they present, the deeper we learned how to grow them.

Whether in high tech systems, Kratky (liquid base) or soil, this knowledge is invaluable , especially for gourmet strawberries’ recovery SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) because plants and seeds are now scarce to our region.

With this variety, we experienced how every part of the plant can “break away” and how to save them when it happened. The following is a list of challenges for growing white strawberries plants out of their natural zone.

Leaves Wilting

Grow White Soul strawberries from seeds

Wilting Leaves

White strawberries are extremely delicate and fragile. Transplanting them need extra care. The leaves suffer rot easily, thus its a good idea not to get the leaves wet and stay wet. Surviving seedlings are slower to grow. They become hardy after the fourth month.

Roots Separation

The roots sometimes dropped off for no reason.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 August 02

With limited roots, strawberry plant can still stand upright. They also recovered fast with the right remedy. Sign of successful recovery is first more roots mass and then new leaf growth from the crown (mid section of the plant).

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 August 2 – Root-less

It is possible to regenerate new roots when this happened for hydroponic plants.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 August 28

Crown Separation

The strawberry top can breakaway from its crown like this.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2019 February 28

In the past, when this happened, it would rang a death knell for this plant.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Separated from Crown

However, even with a tiny part of roots remaining, it is possible to revive a strawberry plant.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Tiny root part

With recovery SOP, now we could recover these plants as long as they were healthy before the separation, that is not pests stressed etc. In 7 days, new roots showed.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2019 March 05

Once on the mend, roots gained mass quickly. This was the progress between March 5 to the 14th.

Grow White Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2019 March 14

A clear signal from a recovered plant is when new leaf showed at the crown and color returned to the stem.

Fruits of our labour

Uphill battles won ! Finally we harvested fruits from February 2018 plants!

We are always grateful for these small fruits after so many trials at every stage.

Grow white strawberries from seeds

2018 Aug 01 – Caramel + Pineapple

Grow white strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 August 01 –

Grow white strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Seeds harvest

Do check in to our SHOP for seeds or net-cups ! Seedlings had to be pre-ordered due to limited space.

Grow gourmet strawberries

Bulk Delivery of hydro plugs

With the compilation of 2 years of strawberries growth data in our tropical zone, we discovered new ways to grow them better. Future strawberries will be breed this way, with zero carbon footprint, yet tough enough to fruit in natural environment. In addition, our hydro seedlings can be easily plugged in high tech systems or stand bare in Kratky.

White Strawberries Summary –

  1. Perennial plant
  2. Heavy feeder, need Phosphorous and Potassium like most strawberries
  3. Minimum 6 hours light, prefers shade over full sun
  4. Well drained loamy soil
  5. Moderate watering, preferred drip irrigation
  6. Temperature not above 29 degree Celsius 
  7. More delicate seedlings than red varieties
  8. Fruits were slower to develop in natural environment
  9. Suffered heat stress more often, not recommended outdoor
  10. Pineapple scent permeates the whole plant during fruiting stage
  11. Mature plants are 6 – 8 inches tall, Width 10 – 12 inches across
  12. Suitable for USA zone 4 – 8 (For reference, Singapore is beyond Zone 13 )