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 .

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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

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

 

 

SG Strawberries KIDS :)

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

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

SG Strawberries

See, what I mean about being enthusiastic? 🙂

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

2 year old Summer loved to play with flour :)

2 year old Summer loved to play with flour 🙂

SG Strawberries

Summer learned how to make bread before she can walked steadily 🙂

SG Strawberries

5 years old Summer made bread, learned by touch the right dough texture 🙂

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

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

SG Strawberries kids

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

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

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

SG Strawberries kids

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

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

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

SG Strawberries

Kids want to see if they can track how roots drew water from soil using colored water 🙂

SG Strawberries kids

July 24 2015 – Studying Insects

SG Strawberries kids

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

April 15 2016 - Praying Mantis

April 15 2016 – releasing Praying Mantis into our edibles garden 🙂

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

Singapore strawberry farm in the bedroom

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

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

Self Pollinating strawberry flowers

Summer shared how to pollinate strawberry flowers with classmates

Pollinating strawberry flowers with children

Classmate Cheng Jing lend a hand pollinating strawberry flowers

Self Pollinating strawberry flowers

Pollinating strawberry flowers became a daily chore at home 🙂

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

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

Kids harvesting strawberries in Singapore

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

Pesticide free strawberries in Singapore

Pesticide free home grown strawberries

SG Strawberries

September 2015 – Shirley Ooi

SG Strawberries

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

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

Shona and Kosuke digging earthworms and composting raw kitchen greens.

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

Gardening with children

SG Strawberries kids helped built this organic edibles garden 🙂 May 2015

How to use compost

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

SG Strawberries

March 22 2016 – Shona harvesting her favorite home grown crunchy capsicums after school 🙂

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

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

 

 

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 )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harvesting Strawberries In SG Apartment!


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

Harvest strawberries in Singapore

Picking fresh strawberries in Singapore

We picked our first SG strawberries on October 20 2015, two months earlier than expected. 🙂

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

Picking Strawberries in Singapore

My fellow researchers/gardeners are thrilled to bits !

Harvest fresh strawberries in Singapore

Summer’s wish has come true!

Picking fresh strawberries in Singapore

Picking strawberries in Singapore!

Picking fresh strawberries in Singapore

Home grown strawberries in Singappore

Pick and eat home grown strawberries

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

Pesticide free strawberries in Singapore

Pesticide free home grown strawberries

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

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