Garden Craft – Self Watering Pots

Going away for holidays? Worried about your plants?

Here is a Green project to gift yourself some extra peace of mind and save our environment by re-using more plastic bottles ! 🙂

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

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

Step 1 – An X cut on cap

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

small slits or cuts for water drainage from soil

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Aquarium Filter Wool as wick

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Step 2 – Aquarium Filter Sponge – Length as desired

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

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

How to make self watering pots in 4 easy steps

Step 3 – Adjust wicking sponge as desired.

For wet loving plants, the wick can be inserted fully in reservoir. For drier loving plants, the inner pot can be inserted higher from water source with thinner wick. Thus, adjust as needed based on plants’ preferences.

self watering pots

Inner pot should fit well in reservoir

self watering pots

Step 4 – Add in suitable media for plants

Gardeners Craft and DIY

Completed – Rehousing our monsters (Venus Fly Trap)

This is another wicking method taught by Stella Lee in 2017 out of beverages carton. Absolutely practical and space saving ideas!

SElf watering pots n Garden Craft

Stella lee’s wicking method 

Self watering pots from recycled material

Young seedlings “incubators”

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Singapore, Lets grow Strawberries!! :)

Why?

The most obvious reason is the taste.

If you have the chance to meet my daughter, she will tell you with shining eyes, “because they taste like jelly beans!”

Imagine, strawberries that looked and tasted like jelly beans, and packed with vitamins and all the natural goodness that jelly beans don’t have!

Just ask Shirley Ooi, a gardener from our  Facebook group, “SG Farming in Apartments”.  I am sure she did not expect the taste to be so good ! 🙂

Growing and Picking strawberries indoors

Shirley Ooi was surprised 🙂

Self Pollinating strawberries flowers

How many kids in Singapore can say their daily chores include pollinating strawberry flowers ?!

Growing and Picking strawberries indoors

2015 November – Strawberry and Cream “JellyBean” 🙂

 

Pesticide free strawberries in Singapore

Pesticide free home grown strawberries

Ever wonder what other strawberries varieties there are?

Most of the tasteful wild alpine strawberries cannot be shipped as they need to be consumed on the same day as harvest, and thus not available in our supermarkets.

I really want to try them all ! Wouldn’t you? 🙂

2018 Adventures : Gourmet White Strawberries!

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 July 29 – White variety w caramel taste

Future Plans – Crossing Red & White strawberries to hopefully breed our own delicious SG colors fruits – Red * White like our national flag.

Grow strawberries in Singapore

Sweet berry taste with white flesh

Strawberry Hospital – Treatment

When Alan Tan visited me on Oct 26 2015 and saw my new transplant strawberry patient, he said, ” This one cannot liao! “… and for most plants, he would be right too ! 🙂

Strawberry Care in the tropics

Oct 26 2015 – Signs of a stressed strawberry plant – dried leaves and dried fruits

Strawberry plants Care in the tropics

Dried fruits, lack of nutrients and it was cramped in a 1.5L bottle with 2 other plants

 

Cycle of strawberry plants in the tropics

Stunted dry fruits occurred when strawberry plants lost their vigor

Treatment –

How to treat stressed strawberry plants

Nov 2015 – Strawberries enjoyed the good life – love sunbathing all day but don’t like to sweat (roots need to stay cool) , sipped ice coffee and look fashionable (trimmed unsightly leaves!) 🙂

How to treat sick strawberry plants

After the “hair cut”, its time for a coffee break!

Strawberry Care in the tropics

Dec 2015 – Strawberry plants recovered and flowered after a few months

 

Strawberries plants CAN RECOVER ! 🙂

Strawberry Care information for the Tropical Zone

Feb 2016  – Stressed strawberry plants recovered

Alan Tan’s sick seedlings also recovered under his excellent care 🙂

Strawberry plants care in the tropics

Dec 26 2015 – Alan’s strawberry has recovered!

Strawberry plants care in the tropics

Sick plant recovered under Alan Tan’s excellent care 🙂

Summary of Strawberry Care and treatment – 

  1. Keep the soil acidic and cool for the roots
  2. Some variety needs the sun, some not – do prefer to seeds information
  3. Trimmed away brown and dry leaves/fruits (remove from soil, dont leave in the pot)
  4. Minimum pot depth and diameter is 6 inches (Advice from : Michael Wellik, an American strawberry farmer/expert)
  5. Add fertilizer /compost as needed
  6. DISCLAIMERPlease note, the above information are for seeds grown strawberries based on my own experience and observations. They may not apply to nurseries bought strawberries.

How to Chill Cool Seasoned Plants’ Soil?

The plants that often intrigue us in Singapore are ones thats not meant to grow in our tropical climate! 🙂

Lavender today (Oct 29 2015)  from one post in our Facebook group, ” SG Farming in Apartments”, and strawberries are my all time favorite plants to grow in Singapore!

If we cannot put our plants in the chiller, it is NOT  impossible to bring the chiller to our pots ! 🙂

This is what I do for my fifty mature strawberries plants and seedlings indoors :

How to cool strawberry soil in the tropics

Aug 2015 – En mass chilling for my 50 mature strawberry plants at home during the heat wave

For plants that need less watering

How to chill cool seasoned plants soil

ICE Packs for non aircon rooms to keep strawberry soil cooler

Tropical Care for Temperate plants

Ice bottles for plants that hate wet soil but needs to stay cool at roots level. (May 6 2016 – Peach)

Seedling Stage Plants ( 3 – 5 months)

How we use home made liquid kelp fertilizer

Iced Nutrients feeding the soil of cool seasoned plants (white strawberries seedlings)

Outdoors, my strawberries soil are mulched with dried leaves to keep soil from over heating and iced down as well. Special compost just for strawberries are also being tried out.

How to cool strawberry soil outdoors

Strawberry care for outdoor pots: Mulched to cover top soil from overheating and iced often

It is possible to adapt our environment for the cool season plants.

All it really takes are some creative solutions and determination to grow strawberries in Singapore! 🙂

 

 

Acidify, Chill and Water strawberries’ soil in less than a minute!

Possible to add ground coffee to top soil without increasing pests in tropical Singapore’s apartment?

No Time!!!

Rushing for work in the morning!!

Strawberries care is only for people who are not working? 🙂

Strawberry plants care in less than a minute

Drink your coffee and iced coffee ahead for strawberry plants on busy days

Actually, it takes less time than you need to water normal plants and still add to the acidic and cooler soil that these plants love! This is how I do it –

Prepare ahead! The coffee you enjoyed 2 weeks ago, dilute it more and collect the drips, then freeze them!

How to chill and acidify strawberry soil in less than a minute

Chill coffee ahead for strawberry plants

Strawberry plants care in the tropics

Strawberry Care -Chill and acidify strawberry plants soil as much as possible

Zero Waste Household – Ground coffee in paper filter will be buried in the compost bin with the rest of the kitchen raw greens for compost!

Garden By the Bed

Year 2015  – When we started on this journey in March 2015, it was just a table by a sunny window in a bedroom 🙂

How to germinate strawberry seeds in Singapore

March 2015 – We started with one humble table 🙂

Then two tables started filling up with plants as we gained confidence in gardening. Papaya, lychee and any seed that stroke our curiosity were tried. We seen how donut peaches start their journey as well! However strawberries were our favorite and thus, we grew many, many strawberries! 🙂

SG Strawberries garden by the bed

April 2015

Our strawberries garden by the bed

From cups, strawberries moved to bigger and more hanging pots

How we grow 30 strawberry seedlings in a bottle

How we grow 30 strawberry seedlings in a self watering bottle (From Green Urban Garden Video I think)

 

How to grow strawberries inside apartments

Strawberries started to climb all over the windows!

Indoors strawberries garden in Singapore

September 2015 – Strawberries all over the windows and spilling over 3 tables!!

Indoors strawberries garden in Singapore

Strawberries everywhere 🙂

Growing strawberries in Singapore

Strawberries spilled out of bedroom to the balcony

Year 2016 –  We continue to fill our home with unique cold zone varieties. As we gained more experience growing them, we challenged ourselves to grow more white strawberries which are tastier and sweeter than common garden varieties! 🙂

Grow Pineapple Strawberries from seeds

Hanging Garden of strawberries and camomile plants

Small Spaces Gardens

December 15 2016 – bedroom garden

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

August 1 2016

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Yummy pineapple scented strawberries!

Small Spaces Gardens

December 30 2016 – Balcony

Year 2017 – 

Small Spaces Gardens

Jan 10 2017 – New Window garden out of PET bottles 🙂

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Library – My writing area filled with our favorite plants!

Growing strawberries in Singapore

Aug 26 – Summer’s room

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Hanging Gardens still filled windows

Growing strawberries from seeds

Strawberries seedlings for workshops (

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

July – Kitchen’s windows

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Kitchen  – It was really nice when flowers were spotted!

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

September – Living Room

Growing Strawberries in Singapore

Living room fruits

2018 May 22 – NEW HYDRO Vertical Gardens

Small Space Edibles Gardening in containers

Vegetables !

Hanging strawberries gardens

White Strawberries

Vertical Hydroponic Gardens

June 24 Hanging Gardens

As we learned to grow in hydroponic nutrients rather than soil, the strain on windows are greatly reduced as they are lighter.

Wild Woodlands Strawberries

Our wild strawberries’ journey began on September 1 2015 after freezing some seeds.

Germinated wild woodlands strawberries

Sept 7 2015 – tiny sprouts

My variety was “Fragaria Vesca” or Woodlands Strawberries. This pack of seeds did not have good germination rate. Out of 30 seeds, only 5 germinated 🙁

Growing wild woodlands strawberries from seeds

Only 5 seedlings

This was our first comparison between red (Fragaria Vesca) and white Alpine (White Soul) varieties. The latter was very small seedlings that grew slower than red Alpines.

Growing Wild Woodlands strawberries in Singapore

Oct 20 2015 – 50 days old , Red vs White

Strawberries with runners tendencies seem to be faster growing plants. They grew taller from the second month, have thicker stems and crown than the other varieties.

Fragaria Vesca from seeds

Nov 2015 – 3 months old

Wild Strawberry would be the most challenging variety for us because they have runners and we have limited space.

When they were 4 months old, we decided to plant them in outdoor pots.

Grow Wild Woodlands strawberries outdoors Singapore

Dec 2015 – Test growing Wild Woodlands strawberries in outdoors garden

We mulched the top soil with dried leaves to prevent heat from penetrating to roots level. In the beginning, we froze bottles and lay them on top to cool the plants in the afternoon. As our rainy season approached, this extra care was reduced.

Growing wild woodlands strawberries

Strawberry care for outdoor pots: Mulched to cover top soil from overheating and iced often

To nourish the soil, we add ground coffee grinds and crushed eggs shells around our plants. Little did we know, being new gardeners, that the scent of rotting egg membrane would attract snails and other pests. It was a myth finally witnessed, that snails were not only not afraid of sharp eggs shells, they loved to eat and have no problem crossing over them and ate up all the shells and finally, our precious strawberry plants.

Snails not the tropical heat were the biggest threat for outdoor strawberries! They ate even the crown so the strawberries could not revived and breed in the pots. We were lucky to be able to spot them in time and saved half of our plants.

Why my wild woodlands strawberries disappeared without a trace

January 5 2016 – Snails

Wild Woodlands strawberry eaten by snail

Jan 7 2016 – Not even a crown left

We began another journey in late 2016. This journal continued in another post about outdoor plants till 2018.

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Outdoor plants

 

Facts about Wild Woodlands Strawberries : –

The matured plants are 6 to 12 inches tall and reproduce by stolons (above ground runners) and it needs space to run!

 

How To Germinate Strawberry Seeds

3 EASY steps to germinate strawberry seeds in Singapore :

I) Bright morning sun room in normal SG temperature (NO air-conditioning)

How to germinate strawberry seeds in Singapore

May 2015 – Bright morning sun area is best

Cool breeze ventilated the germinating trays which were recycled from fruit packaging.

Germinating Strawberry seeds in Singapore

Feb 21 2017 – Strawberry seeds need light and warmth.

2) Don’t bury the seeds! Seeds sowed on soil surface as shown:

How to germinate strawberry seeds in the tropics

Strawberry seeds need light to germinate

How to germinate strawberry seeds in the tropics

Successful strawberry seeds germination

3. Water from bottom up rather than top down.

How to water strawberry seeds during germination

Water is push up the soil

How to water strawberry seeds during germination

Fresh strawberries seedlings in cups to save space.

 

Once the seeds are buried in soil, it may not germinate or germinate at a slower pace (more than 10 days).

Watering from the bottom lets the soil takes only the amount of water it needs and the excess water is drained away through the holes we cut at the bottom.

If you have time for only top down watering, just make sure that the seeds are not dragged into the soil. 🙂

I have germinated different varieties of strawberries with these 3 easy steps, and they work the best.

Other observations on Strawberry Seeds Germination in Singapore:

  1. Types of pots used –  Cylinder shaped versus flat surface seeds germination “pots”.
Germinating strawberries seeds in Singapore

Cylinder shaped pot had varied results with strawberry seeds germination

Cylinder or cone shaped pot yield different results. For example, white strawberry varieties did not germinate in this pot but red strawberries did.

Flat surface container germination work for all strawberry seeds I tried.

I can only reasoned that its the uneven absorption of water as the cause. The moisture need to be relatively even for the soil, and thus, a flat surface container work best for germination.

Self watering without mosquitoes risks

This paper towels below my flat “pot” retained  water from the soil and prevent mosquitoes from breeding in my “pots” !

2. Temperature of soil

Some seeds instructions recommended a certain range of temperature to germinate seeds.

For example, most white strawberry varieties instructed 16C – 21C  be maintained for successful germination.

Self watering pot for seeds germination

Ice and water in reservoir to keep soil chill, aquarium sponge is used to wick chilled water to soil

But it did not work for me.

I had a lot of difficulties germinating Heirloom Pineapple strawberry seeds with the chilled soil in my self watering pot above. Finally I gave up and returned to my 3 easy steps method, and the seeds germinated …finally!

Sometimes what work for gardeners abroad may not work for us! We just have to try our own way and don’t give up ! 🙂

3. Germinating From Fresh strawberries seeds 🙂

Harvesting ripe seeds from strawberries

Summer and Shona were harvesting mature seeds from ripe strawberries 🙂

Well, the experts’ consensus are in, this is not a good idea! 🙂

Supermarkets’ strawberries are hybrids and they do not produce true to the parent plants because of their genetic make-up. In laymen terms, this mean “no fruits” !!! 🙁 Correction  (data from 2017)  –  Gardeners have managed to harvest from fresh Korean strawberries’ seedlings, harvest day from seeds was about 1 year. The seedlings were frail, about 90% will not grow till maturity.

Our experience from USA strawberries had been all seedlings did not survive more than three months.

In spite of this, the method on how to extract the best seeds is still valid and we successfully grew second generation strawberries from our own Heirloom Pineapple Strawberries plants in September 2016.

Extracting seeds from supermarkets’ strawberries is fun and this can still be a good project to engage kids to gardening. Kids have fun when they see, feel and make their own decision on which seeds to harvest, plant them and then, anticipated the seedlings. 🙂

Strawberries from seeds

Strawberry seeds just germinated – Very cute!

Our fresh seeds germinate the fastest, sometimes overnight to the second day to see something sprouting! 🙂

MORE TIPS !!  

For better germination rate , FREEZE bought strawberry seeds overnight first, before sowing 🙂

How to germinate Strawberry seeds

Freezing strawberry seeds

I prefer directly on moist soil rather than tissues or cotton because its easier to transplant them later . Place some seeds in bowl and ziplocked in bag to freeze. This prevent seeds from spilling accidentally in the freezer and moisture from seeping in.

My recommendation is to try with some seeds at the first try instead of the whole pack! 🙂 That way, if they did not germinate the first round, at least there are seeds left to try again.

Regarding freezing, I have froze seeds in various time frames before I sowed (trials : 1 month, 2 month, 3 months, overnight, 2 nights and NO Freezing) .

Those seeds that were frozen, germination time is 5 -6 days, regardless of how long they have been frozen. Thus , I think overnight freezing in ziplock or airtight pack is enough in Singapore conditions. 5 – 6 days is still faster than most seeds packaging predictive gauge of 2 – 4 weeks.

If the seeds are not frozen, germination time can be more than 10 days or they don’t germinate.

Left over seeds or new seeds should be ziplocked in bags and kept in fridge or freezer as well. Being chilled, they last longer and would be ready for sowing the next time you felt like growing fresh strawberries at home again! 🙂

Please leave a comment if you find this content useful 🙂

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New 2018 RED Alpine seeds were tested, and showed excellent germination of over 90% within 8 days.

Grow Strawberries From Seeds

2018 Red Alpine, France

 

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2 weeks old strawberries

Transplanting Tips at this link.

Bulk delivery to schools 🙂 – Encouraging discoveries for young keen minds !

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