How to Propagate Thyme

UPDATE 2018 – KRATKY METHOD  (Bottom of page)

Grow fresh herbs at home in containers

Thyme in Liquid Base

2016 – SOIL BASED

Ms. Erin Lee started with 2 pots of thyme 🙂

Like many of us in Singapore, Thyme is a difficult herb to cultivate in our humid weather. More times than not, they died very quickly. Erin Lee said she failed many times too. But she kept on trying and finally she learned how to propagate thyme and grew them very well. 🙂

How to root thyme

Erin Lee expanding thyme garden 🙂

From 2 pots, her thyme expanded to 14 pots of healthy Thyme, which she harvested often for cooking or packed for the freezer.

I can just imagine the scent of fresh herbs along this corridor!

How to grow thyme well in Singapore

Nov 1 2015 – Erin Lee’s 14 pots of thyme!!!

Ms. Erin Lee shared her 3 steps to propagate thyme successfully :

  1. Cut thyme stems with roots (see picture)
  2. Plant roots in moist soil
  3. Grow stem cutting in shade, or allow only one hour of morning sun per day
How to choose thyme stem cutting for propagation

Find thyme’s stem with good healthy roots

Grow thyme

Cut the stem at the point below roots

How to root thyme

Stick the roots in soil, keep the soil moist and grow in shade (max 1 hour of morning sun only) until they recovered.

After propagation, the cuttings looked very weak and some of us may be discouraged had we not have Erin showing us that this is normal! 🙂

 

How to grow thyme

3 days after being separated from the parent plant! New stem look liked its dying

Multiply thyme from rooting

The newly propagated stems may look weak after a week, but new leaves are seen.

Erin Lee said as long as we see new young leaves on the stem, that is the sign that they are recovering and with care, this herb will continue to thrive. 🙂

Growing thyme

3 – 4 weeks later, the stems slowly stand upright.

How to grow thyme

This is how her thyme expanded to 14 pots!

And if all goes well, Erin Lee will have so much thyme that she had to share with friends or freeze them :

How to grow thyme

Thyme harvest

Tips to grow thyme

Chef Donny Tan’s thyme garden from the same rooting method

Not only from aerial roots propagation, we can also start thyme from seeds. Here were tips from Ms. Anupriya in 2016 –

Germinate Thyme from seeds

June 16 2016 – 2 months old Thyme seedlings

Due to high humidity in Singapore, germinating thyme can be quite challenging, however “not impossible” according to Anupriya. Her soil is a mixture of Aromax soil with home made compost and lots of crushed egg shells. She mist spray her soil once every 2 – 3 days and a deep watering soak (see how to in the rosemary post) for her pot once a week. Her thyme seedlings enjoyed 2 hours of morning sun everyday and about 70% of her seedlings survived.

2018 HYDRO THYME FROM CUTTING

Having failed many times in soil, from seeds or aerial rooting, we finally succeeded  growing this beautiful herb in KRATKY (non-circulating) hydroponic method.

Grow thyme from supermarket cutting

From supermarket Thyme cutting

To root a cutting, simply chose a thicker woody stem, trimmed away lower leaves before setting it in a netcup similar to this plant. Only 1 cm of the root is submerged in water for roots to show after 4 – 10 days in water. Some cuttings may take longer to root.

Grow fresh herbs indoor

Support stem in net – cup

Grow thyme from supermarket cutting

2018 August 31 – New leaves showed

Grow fresh herbs from seeds or cutting indoor

Submerged only 1 cm root end in water

Once the roots grew in mass, this herb progressed quite quickly. A light AB nutrients solution was used.

Grow thyme from supermarket cutting

2018 September 12

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoor

2018 November 30

Cold seasoned herbs from cutting

2018 October 04

Grow Harvest Fresh Herbs indoors

2018 October 15

Rooted Thyme may be available for sale. Please contact to check availability. Gardeners who bought had advised that they can be transferred from liquid to well draining soil base.

Grow thyme from cutting in Singapore

Rooting in progress

Cooking with Thyme –

Having fresh thyme that we can harvest as needed, is wonderful. The scent of this herb is not heavy in roasts but it does add an extra aroma, and goes very well with lemon, garlic and butter!

How to cook with thyme

Erin Lee’s roast chicken

How to grow thyme

This is my daughter’s favorite chicken meal – roasted with lemon thyme butter and avocado sides (Kids’ friendly gourmet)

Using thyme in cooking

Chef Donny Tan’s egg cocotte with thyme

 

I love my fresh herbs garden along this windows. What made them special for us is that they are all “potted” in recyclable materials.

 

Grow fresh herbs indoors

2018 Vertical Herbs Gardens

Grow Harvest Fresh herbs indoors

2018 December 14

Finally  we can harvest as much thyme as we need, whenever we like to!

 

Grow thyme well from cutting in Singapore

THYME mini bush

 

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Mr. Green Fingers

You guess right , Mr. Alan Tan ! 🙂

And who would ever guessed this amazing garden of international sunflowers varieties and wild organic edibles garden existed at all, if Alan had not shared pictures with the gardening communities of Singapore?!

It existed not in some plush location, but a corner of a construction site office where he work! 🙂

Awesome Gardeners in Singapore

Alan Tan with his dragon fruits

Singapore awesome gardeners

Jan 04 2016 – Alan’s Sunflowers varieties from around the world

Amazing Private Gardens in Singapore

Alan Tan’s Giant Sunflower

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Alan’s Sunflowers basking in the sun

Singapore amazing private gardens

Alan’s Giant sunflower

Sunflowers were not the only crop that he grew well.

Where he worked in the middle of an industrial park, Alan Tan tend to a lush organic garden of amazing edibles. He grew a variety of gourds, beans, melons, pumpkins, papaya, dragon fruits, okras etc so well that he often shared his vegetables with colleagues, passers-by and every visitor to his garden.

Awesome Urban Farmers in Singapore

Alan Tan’s organic edibles garden

Awesome urban farmers

Alan Tan’s cucumbers

Singapore amazing private gardens

Jan 6 2016 – small bittergourds like these are claimed to treat blood disorder n diabetics

Amazing private gardens in Singapore

I liked it that Alan Tan recycled used construction materials to grow his crops. This is such a good idea for climbing plants!

Amazing private gardens in Singapore

Alan Tan’s bitter guords

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 2015 – Look at the size of this bitter gourd from Alan Tan’s Boon Keng site!

Amazing private gardens in Singapore

Sept 15 2015 – Regina Fok from USA, was awed by Alan amazing garden!

Singapore amazing private gardens

Can’t believed this is in the middle of an industrial park in Singapore, right?

Amazing edibles gardens in Singapore

Oct 16 2015 – Snake gourds

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 4 2015 – Alan’s Japanese Melons

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Jan 18 2016 – Many types of long beans are also grown here (Alan Tan)

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 21 2015 – Another variety of long beans from Alan Tan’s garden

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 26 2015 – Alan Tan’s Long beans

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 24 2015 – Even a “giant” butternut squash! (Alan Tan)

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Alan Tan harvested his butternut squash on Jan 5 2016

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 26 2015 – White gourds from Alan Tan’s garden

Organic okras

Priceless okras from Alan Tan’s garden

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 18 2015 – Alan’s okras

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Jan 02 2016 – Alan Tan’s Red Okras

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 26 2015 – Red Okra

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Nov29 2015 -Alan Tan’s Japanese Pumpkin!

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Nov 29 2015 – Bountiful Harvest from Alan Tan’s garden!

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Alan Tan buried raw greens for compost too!

His office is not the only place where we can find crazy cool plants ! 🙂

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 13 2015 – Passion Fruit vines outside the elevator’s landing of his apartment!

Amazing private gardens in Singapore

Jan 21 2016 – Pretty wild lift landing ! 🙂

Amazing private gardens in Singapore

Nov 22 2015 – Grape Vines almost obscuring the view 🙂

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 30 2015 – Alan Tan’s Grape Vines

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

June 2015 – Rare chocolate mint!

Singapore awesome gardeners and amazing private gardens

Dec 2 2015 – Sick strawberry plants thriving again under his excellent care!

Not only did Alan Tan grew plants well, he is very willing to share his 10 years gardening knowledge and fruits of his labour 🙂

Singapore gardeners who shared and gave generously

Jan 13 2016 – Harvesting seeds to share with fellow gardeners

Singapore gardeners who shared and gave generously

Dec03 2015 – Old Cucumber left to ripe for seeds

Singapore gardeners who shared and gave generously

Jan 02 2016 – Cucumber seeds collected and dried for sharing

Singapore gardeners who shared and gave generously

Jan 16 2016 – Everything that he grew, Alan shared his seeds with fellow gardeners.

Many who visited his garden in Boon Keng Road, were amazed with his garden and I am sure, touched with his generosity.  🙂

Amazing private gardens in Singapore

Jan 14 2016 – Alan Tan (waving hand)

I am sure there are two phases that Alan Tan heard very often.

” Wow! Amazing!!! ”

and

” Thank you” 🙂

Singapore gardeners who shared and gave generously

Alan Tan shared his vegetables with passers-by 🙂

These ladies will miss your organic edibles garden at Boon Keng Road soon .

Can’t wait to see what Alan will be planting this year at his new work site!!! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SG WINDOW FARM

Ever reminisced about what we were doing when we were 21 years old?

Certainly mine was not even close to what I love doing now – growing strawberries!!! My hobbies then were stars away from what this young man loved doing! 🙂 Thinking back now, I must have been quite an airhead!!!

I am still in awe by what this young man built in his parent’s kitchen, an aquaponic “farm” to grow vegetables!!

Singapore amazing private garden

Sept 16 2015 – Bai Choy and Red Pepper

Singapore amazing private gardens

Sept 16 2015 – Bai Choy and capsicum seedlings

Just 21 years old, he built the complete setup by himself and through trial and errors, improved on the initial set up to grow a lot of organic vegetables by September 2015.

Singapore amazing private gardens

September 7 2015 – Cherry Tomato

Singapore amazing private gardens

Sept 16 – Cherry Tomato

 

This is the design of his set up :

Aquaponics

How Xi Zhe built this awesome aquaponic system

Aquaponics

How a bell Siphon work, to discharge excess water from the grow bed

 

In my layman understanding of his sketch, I think a series of pipes drew water from the fish’s waste tanks below the “farm” to feed his vegetables –

Aquaponic window farm

Upgraded fish tank

Aquaponic Window Farm

July 2 2015 – Bio Filter

And somehow, his vegetables fed the fishes 🙂

Aquaponic Window Farm

Filtered fish water feeding his vegetables

Aquaponic Window Farm

Xi Zhe – Red pepper seedlings

In November 2015, Xi Zhe and his parents moved to a smaller apartment and there was no room for his farm.

I wrote this post to share this young man’s incredible farm and enterprising DIY spirit.

Even though the physical set up is gone, we will remember his “farm” and  will cheer for his future one!

Aquaponic window farm

Shade to protect his vegetables from the too hot sun

PS. If anyone likes to understand more of Xi Zhe’s design, he is a member in our Facebook group, “SG Farming in Apartments”. I am sure he will explain better than me how his set up work ! 🙂

Aquaponic

Summary of Xi Zhe’s completed aquaponic system 🙂

 

 

 

Home Made Kelp Fertilizer

Ever wince when you have to throw away expired raw kelp because you have forgotten to use it?

Home made seaweed or kelp fertilizer

Don’t throw away expired kelp or seaweed!

Instead of throwing out expired raw produce in May 2015, I decided to make my own plant food and liquid feed.

How to make fertilizer and liquid feed for plants from seaweed

Kelp – Rinsed a few times to rid of any salt

How to make fertilizer and liquid feed for plants from seaweed

Kelp – Soak in water until soften. It will expand like this!

Home made seaweed or kelp fertilizer

Once kelp is soft, cut into small pieces for pulping. Separate pulp from liquid

Home made seaweed or kelp fertilizer

Kelp pulp and liquid separated and kept to ferment before using

How we used home made kelp fertilizer for edibles garden :

How to use home made kelp fertilizer indoors

Bed bath watering for strawberries seedlings

How to use home made kelp fertilizer

Kelp liquid feed turned into ice cubes to water and cool strawberry seedlings during the heat wave in June 2015

How we use home made liquid kelp fertilizer

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

Benefits of kelp/seaweed fertilizer for plants :

Benefits of home made liquid kelp fertilizer

Strawberry seedlings on home made kelp fertilizer looked bigger

Kelp has cytokinins and auxins and is a natural growth fertilizer for every stage of the plant’s life.

Benefits of home made liquid kelp fertilizer for bell pepper plants

Testing Kelp fertilizer on outdoors capsicums

Kelp and most sea plants usually contain over 70 minerals and vitamins.

Benefits of home made liquid kelp fertilizer for capsicum plants

Kelp + Compost = Healthy plant with bountiful harvest 🙂

Kelp and any sea plants are organic food source as they are grown in the ocean.

Thus, do explore new ways to re-use expired raw greens for the garden instead of throwing them away without a second thought! 🙂

Be Creative! Made your own self watering pots that sealed in the smells of fermenting kelp pulp or liquid!  🙂

How to use home made kelp fertilizer in self watering pots indoors

Rinsed rice water and Kelp in self watering propeller “pot” from Garden UrbanGreen Video.

How to use home made kelp fertilizer in self watering pots

Strawberries on a liquid diet of home made kelp fertilizer in self watering pots!

Typical uses of kelp as a soup stock in Asian kitchens :

How to use kelp as a soup stock for noodles

A hearty kelp noodle broth with seafood and vegetables 🙂

How to use kelp as a soup stock for noodles

Kelp soup stock with Soba (healthy Japanese comfort food) 🙂

 

Small Space Edibles Garden

Living in a small apartment and no space for home grown vegetables?

Farm in a Cup

Lim San ‘s Aug 7 2015 harvest of his tomatos

Too busy! No time to tend to a garden?

How about a Do-It-YourselfAutomatic watering garden out of free-of-charge recycled containers?

Having no land and living in high rise apartments are NOT going to stop Singapore’s determined urban farmers from growing their own food ! 🙂

Lim San thought out of the box and created a ” farm in a cup ” (or bottle) concept to grow fresh edibles. I guessed once he tasted freshly harvested own grown edibles, and enjoyed the satisfaction of overcoming all the limitations to grow them, there is no going back!

Just look at his thriving small “farm” growing out of recycled paper cups in his apartment. 🙂

His crops so far include dwarf tomatoes varieties, bell peppers, lettuce, rosella, spinach and even strawberries!!

How to grow a farm in a cup

Lim San’s Bell peppers on Oct8 2015

Singapore awesome urban farmers

Oct 8 2015 – Capsicum plant flowered in his farm cup!

Small Space Edibles garden

Photo : strawberry plant from seed! Aug 11 2015

Here is another example of his creative small space farms 🙂

 

February 2016 – Okra in a cup !

 

 

Lim San did not stop upgrading his mini – farms ! 🙂

In late 2015, he built vertical farm out of recycled bottles which auto irrigated his edibles remotely and saved the dripping water in a reservoir to be recycled again! 🙂

This system of vertical farming was made famous by Britta Riley‘s WindowFarms, a simple idea to utilize only a window to grow food hydroponically in a vertical arrangement. For city dwellers around the world, her concept brought hope to grow food inside apartments without using a lot of space.

As I was experimenting with the same thing myself around the time Lim San had already improved his, I learned a lot from him with his video. My difficulty arose from not knowing how to connect the T joints to combine compressed air with water. Done in the right way, compressed air from the air pump will combine with water to become water bubbles. The bubbles will be dragged up the vertical tubing by pressurized air from the pump to the topmost bottle. Then trickled down through the rest of bottled “farms”, irrigating them, and finally ending in the reservoir (Coke bottle seen here).

This irrigation cycle began again from the reservoir as long as the air pump is on. A timer is usually used to regulate the irrigation cycles. And that’s basically how vertical farm irrigation system work! 🙂 Cool, huh?

No matter how many fancy vertical farms are available in the market now for home gardeners, nothing satisfy me and likely gardeners like Lim San and many like us D.I.Yers :), is to built something with our own hands and grow food out of the cheapest material possible! 🙂

But Lim San did not stopped here.

In January 2016, he decided to combine  aeroponic and aquaponic systems with this vertical farm to grow more salads and edibles as organically as possible!

In Wikpedia, “aeroponic” was described as a process where plants are grown in an environment of air and mist, without soil as a medium. The word “aero” meaning “air” and “ponos” mean labor , came from Greece. Unlike hydroponics, aquaponics do not use liquid nutrients, instead it utilize water from fish (aquarium) waste to feed plants.

Lim San's Mizuna

Lim San’s Mizuna

Awesome gardeners in Singapore

Lim San – Harvested fresh vegetables on the 45th day

All these systems combined to allow Lim San to grow great harvest like these with only one window! His farm is suspended above ground and limited space used for his aquarium below it 🙂

Vertical private gardens in Singapore

Space to grow edibles is a luxury in Singapore but we still have windows!!!

Lim San 's Mizuna before his harvest

Lim San ‘s before his harvest

Singapore vertical aeroponic and aquaponic private gardens

After Harvest

Awesome gardeners in Singapore

Lim San’s fresh harvest of Mizuna

What I like about about these 3 systems are that they all recycled water, but if I have to choose only one, it would be the aquaponics system because it utilized organic waste from fish and greatly reduced any possibility of mosquitoes breeding in the reservoir if the air pump malfunctioned! 🙂

If I ever get sick of growing strawberries, maybe this would be the NEXT project at home ! 🙂

Cycle of Strawberry Plants

Strawberry Plants – What happened NEXT after fruiting stage?

We were very lucky this time.

Not only did we managed to germinate strawberry seeds and harvest their fruits, but now we also have an opportunity to study the cycle of these plants in a tropical climate.

Growing strawberries in Singapore

Here is what having 50 strawberry plants looked like at home! They are grown in every sunny space we have and climbing windows too!

How many cycles of fruits can we harvest before the plants die in our tropical climate?

Harvest strawberries in Singapore

Strawberries “garden” in Singapore

What we have observed from our plants –

  1. The red strawberry variety was a large plant, measuring more than 30cm from top to roots. Minimum soil depth is 6 inches.
SG Strawberries first harvest

Oct 20 2015 – Our first strawberries harvest. This is a large plant, over 30cm from tip to roots.

2.  This variety loves our sun and can tolerate heat, although full overhead afternoon sun is not recommended.

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

strawberry leaves turned brown

As long as the acidic soil temperature can be lowered to 25C (the lower the better) with ice, chilled water and/or air-conditioning, we will have fruits.

After fruiting for 3 months, our strawberry plants lost their vigor.

Fruits quality declined and leaves start to look poorly.

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

Poor quality fruits even with successful pollination and runners did not root.

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

Indoors Mature Strawberry – Curled /browned tip leaves

Finally I decided to trim all the mature plants (9 months old) and observe what happened next.

Cycle of strawberry plants in the tropics

Dec 25 2015 – Our first harvest plant, after pruning.

Jan 2016 – This plant died! Lesson learned – as the plant matured, it need more room for its roots to grow. It cannot remained in this 1.5L water bottle.

Subsequently, we repot all mature strawberry plants into bigger pots instead of continuing to grow them in plastic bottles.

Cycle of strawberry plants in the tropics

Result – Mature strawberry plants started to fruit again in 3 months

Luckily, our mature strawberry plants continued to grow flowers and fruits after recuperating for a few months! 🙂 But the quantity of fruits was not as many as the first harvest.

One year on, since these plants germinated. They are grown without air-conditioning in my balcony. More sunlight is needed to see fruits but my apartment had only morning sun and outdoors were too stressful for me (mostly snails and theft of fruits rather than the weather). We also learned the hard way that they could not remained in our white bottles, strawberries’ roots need more room than 1.5 L bottles allowed!

SG Strawberries

Pot size is 30L, red strawberries grown in compost pot

SG Strawberries

March 31 2016 – One year old strawberry plants

Strawberry Plant Care in the Tropics

April 25 2016 – Ice continued to play a role even though this pot is indoor

Grow strawberries from seeds

June 9 2016 – After a 6 months break, this 14 months old strawberry plant is fruiting again!!!

I hoped this proved that strawberries can survived in Singapore, and if all the conditions (sunlight, rich compost, cool soil) were met, they can thrived and fruit as well. Much attention is needed to keep the soil from overheating (use ice or air-con) , but otherwise they are hardy plants.

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.

Meyer Lemons’ Journey

I chanced upon a post by Ms. Yong Kit Chin on May 16 2015 from Facebook group’s Kitchen Garden SG, about growing Meyer Lemons from seeds.

Grow a lemon tree in Singapore

Meyer lemons are found in organic refrigerated shelves in FairPrice supermarkets

These were her advice on how to germinate Meyer lemon seeds :

Method 1: Peel off the hard shell covering the seed. This make it easier to sprout. 

Method 2: Soak, peel, sandwich seeds in wet kitchen paper and placed these in Ziplock bag. Keep in dark cupboard. Will sprout in a week or 10 days.

Preparing lemon seeds to germinate

Yong Kit Chin – Wash pulp off seeds, soaked and peeled hard shell off for faster germination.

I sowed seeds in soil with hard shell on and without.

Indeed Ms. Yong was right.  It was much faster to germinate seeds without the hard shell ( about 10 days).

With the shell on, it took about 20 days to see the first sprout.

How to germinate Meyer Lemon seeds

Lemon seed’s first leaf peeking through the soil

Growing lemons in Singapore

July 17 2015 – 10 days to germinate when husks are removed from seeds. 20 days with husks on

How to germinate Meyer lemon seeds

One week old lemon seedling was 4 inches from top to roots

How to germinate Meyer lemon seed

One month old lemon seedling planted in soil

Growing lemons in pots

Lemon Seedling Aug 4 – compost pot, in protective “green house”!

Grow a lemon tree

Lemon Seedling on August 20 2015

Grow lemon tree in pot

December 2015 – Lemon plant grows very very slowly

How to grow a lemon tree from seeds

December 18 2015 – Lemon seedling had new leaves but not much taller than a month ago

Meyer lemon seedling

Feb 10 2016 – 7th months old Meyer Lemon seedling is still short! 🙂

Lemon plant from seeds

April 29 2016 – Lemon plant , Slow and steady!

One problem after another began to affect this weakening plant. In addition to grasshoppers, there were leaf miners and then, potassium deficiency.

Potassium deficiency plant

May 30 2016 – Outer leaves are yellow with darker inner veins

Members from our gardening group, SG Farming in Apartments, suggested seaweed fertilizers to treat this.

One year on, I am still battling with grasshoppers on this Meyer plant from seed. Although some leaves were eaten, this plant is very hardy and standing strong in haze and heavy thunderstorms. Our own made compost was added to the plant on November 4th 2016.

Before it can grow, most of the leaves were eaten by grasshoppers.

Grow Meyer lemon from seed

November 03 2016 – A new tarragon cutting was added to this pot in September 2016.

Thereafter, it never recovered and continue to decline. We made the painful decision to cull our plant. Grafted plants from the nurseries would have higher chance of seeing fruits than seeds borne for lemons.

Grow Meyer lemon from seed

February 11 2017

 

A fellow gardener, Marvie Costales , shared how she air layered a citrus plant using only dried leaves and grass.

For myself, the knowledge and satisfaction obtained from witnessing a seed’s first step and accompanying its journey are just as entertaining and fulfilling.

Harvesting the fruits would of course, be the cherry on top ! 🙂

It would be really nice if we had our own grown lemons for cooking.

Lemons are used in varied ways at home, in our chilled teas, to marinate fish and chicken and even in our savory pies!

VerdictNot worth the time and effort to grow Meyer lemon plant from supermarket fresh seed (extracted from lemons) based on our experience. It is better to buy a grafted plant from the nursery. These seeds are easy to germinate and the plant is hardy, but the growth rate was very slow.

Grow lemons from seeds

Sunkist Meyer Lemon

 

 

 

How to Propagate Mint Plant

2018 UPDATE – HYDROPONIC MINT

Many herbs can be propagated this way.

First, cut a stem from a plant or use any stem from the market with lower leaves removed.

Stick the stem cutting in water until roots appeared.

Water need to be changed when it became murky and for best result, they root better in bright area.

Grow mint from cutting in Singapore

Mint cutting rooting in water

How to root mint and other herbs

This method worked for most herbs, including basil, sage, rosemary, thyme etc. The more roots showed, the healthier plants grew.

In normal pots, mint roots often get tightly coiled around the sides and as this progressed, the leaves became smaller and less healthy. The best pots should be where the roots have space or can extend outside, thus aeration or fabric pots work better.

BEST HERBS POT IN OUR TROPICAL HEAT

Bury the roots in soil until more young leaves appeared.

How to grow mint from cutting

Plant mint cutting in soil when many roots appeared in water

To allow the newly propagated mint plant to thrive, cut away the older stem at the top of the plant.

How to renew mint plant from propagation

Mint Propagation -New young leaves will grow after the older stem is cut

How to grow young mint plant

This is how we re-new an old woody mint into new mint plant, as more young leaves grew.

How to grow mint from cuttings

2015 September 16

In 2017 our mint plant  was still thriving. Their scent is heavenly, grown in our own made compost, and zero commercial fertilizers and pesticide. Visitors are often offered cutting from this plant. Herbs are best harvested often to keep them young.

Propagate mint from cutting

November 03 2016

We continue to grow mint outdoors to share with neighbors.

Propagate MINT from cutting

2018 September 19

Woody stems mean the plants have gotten old. The fragrance and taste of its leaves will wane as the plant aged.

How to grow mint from propagation

Harvest often to grow young leaves, else it will get old like this plant! Then we have to propagate these woody stems again (Watch the video!)

In the following video, our green pot’s mint plant had grown old, BUT  we can renew the plant by propagating the stems!  🙂

Summer will show how to do this –

 

See how simple it is to propagate an old mint plant? There is no need to add commercial fertilizer to renew our herbs at home.

How to propagate mint plant

The almost dead plant in our video returned to health after pruning and repotting! (July 2016)

My daughter harvests home grown mint straight from our plants for tea whenever there are tons of homework from school. 🙂

Our mint plants are grown without commercial fertilizer and pesticide, and they taste and smell amazing.

How to brew home grown fresh mint for tea

A cup of home grown mint tea while studying

Member Jason Ng shared his recipe for a chill out any time mojito , a non alcoholic option is available.

Recipe for mint mojito

Jan 12 2016 – Mojito has become my all time favorite drink after gardening in the sun !

Jason Ng’s recipe for Non alcoholic Mojito :

1.Mint leaves (muddle in the cup with little sprite 1st, leave it for 5mins)
2. Big lime
3. Lemon grass ( use the stalk, smashed to release fragrance)
4. Sprite (softdrink)
5. Sugar (optional)
6. Vodka (Optional)
7. Add ice

Thank you, Jason!!!!

GROW MINT IN LIQUID

In 2018, we learned how to grow in non-circulating hydroponic (KRATKY method) after rooting cuttings in water. This method allowed us to grow more in limited spaces as each pot is considerably lighter than soil based plants. Mint in particular, seem to thrive in liquid than soil.

Rooting in net-cup will encourage “tidier” roots mass.

Propagate MINT from cutting

2018 September 1

Grow mint well in pots

2018 October 28 – Roots

Growing mint in liquid base allowed us to observe how aggressive the roots developed. In a matter of weeks, the above cutting grew rapidly.

Propagate MINT from cutting

2018 September 14

Propagate MINT from cutting

2018 Sept 30

Propagate MINT from cutting

Invasive Roots

In addition to the aggressive growth of the main roots mass, there were also runners and off shoots from the roots itself !

No wonder this plant is known to be “invasive” and in soil, mint had often showed roots bound problem. When this happened, we typically had to remove the plant from the pot and loosen the roots mass or re-pot in bigger pots. Because of its invasive nature, it is best not to grow mint outside of a pot as it would soon overwhelmed the whole garden!

How to propagate mint from cutting

Messy roots

In liquid base, I’d remove such plantlets from the roots end. Left alone, they grew aggressively above the liquid base and we need to refill nutrients every day in our small KRATKY containers.

Whether soil or liquid based, we pruned our leaves hard to keep renewing the plants’ energy. Too much leaves left unharvested can attract leaf sappers and turned most herbs old.

How to propagate mint from cutting

Hard Pruning

Thus, do grow to use! Enjoy them in infused tea, just the thing for a relaxing cuppa!

Herbs from cutting

2018 December 7

How to propagate mint from cutting

Thyme & Mint Tea

My daughter continue to enjoy her fresh mint tea and natural scent in bedroom. They don’t get fresher than mommy’s home grown mint!

Grow mint from cutting in Singapore

Our fresh Mint harvest

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.

 

 

Strawberries Care in the Tropical Zone

New data in  2017 – Strawberries are heat and cold tolerant at the same time. They are extremely adaptable plants once they are mature. This observation lead to new trials to see how far I can pushed this boundary.

In outdoor trials, plants successfully fruit in spite of aphids infestation and without hand pollination. No ice or commercial fertilizer was used.

Grow strawberries in Singapore

2017 Dec 25 – Fruits spotted

Grow strawberries in Singapore

Aphids stress test

Rain or Shine, these plants in outdoor trials are adapting.

Grow strawberries in Singapore

2017 – Thriving in natural SG environment

Strawberry plants care in the tropics

2018 February 9

2015 – Whilst strawberry plants thrive like weeds in cooler climate and require minimal care to grow well, in the tropics, more attention is needed for them to grow well.

Indoor strawberry plants after harvest

Indoor Strawberry plants after harvest – Curled up leaves and stunted fruits

Stressed strawberry plants showed symptoms in leaves first and stunted fruits in later growth.

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

strawberry leaves turned brown and fruits are dry

Cycle of strawberry plants in the tropics

Stunted dry fruits occurred when strawberry plants lost their vigor

If possible, grow them in deeper wider pots with compost and mulch top soil with dried leaves to prevent over heating. Give roots more room to grow and continue to feed and chill the soil.

Strawberry Care information for the Tropical Zone

Result – Mature strawberry plants will recover to flower and fruit in a few months

 

For outdoors, its better to weed them out during the rainy season when its not too warm. Iced the soil as needed.

Strawberry Care information for the tropical zone

Iced bottles and ice kept our soil cool for strawberries in outdoor compost pot

Strawberry Care information for Singapore outdoors

Compost , Sun and chilled soil keep strawberry plants going. Best to do this in late October when our weather is cooler

Dec 12 2015 - First Flower Spotted!

Dec 12 2015 – First Flower Spotted!

Wild strawberries variety

IMG_5263 Dec8

September 29 2016 – Second year outdoors 

Outdoor strawberry plants

September 28 2016 – strawberry plant from 2015

Grown indoors, this strawberry plant was languishing for lack of sun in our apartment. Now that its cooler, I brought it outdoor again. In one week, it has revived to better health. This is grown in a 30L compost pot with earthworms and heavy mulching with dried leaves on top soil to prevent heat from penetrating.

Tropical care for home grown strawberries

Color returned to the stems and the crown is developing new shoots.

February 11 2017 – Very mature (over 1 year old) plants are tested in outdoor trials to see how well they adapted to our climate, without much human intervention.  These plants are no longer hand pollinated but still grown in natural compost from recycled green waste. They survived rain, haze and sun well. I learned to rim my pots with copper wire so snails could not climb into my pots.

Tropical care for strawberries

Chemical Free snails prevention!

Please note only copper work as they seem to be toxic to snails. However copper wires are not commonly found in shops and sometimes, I have to strip old electrical cords for them.

strawberry plants from seeds

Feb 11 2017

Strawberry plants from seeds

Pesticide and chemical free strawberries!

Summary of strawberry care information in the tropics:

  1. Minimum pot size should be 4 inches deep and as wide.
  2. Strawberry soil need to be acidic
  3. They like compost
  4. Red strawberry varieties need minimum 6 hours of sun light
  5. Soil and roots prefer to be cooler than 31C, and night time 25C but they do adapt to environment once plants are more mature (2017 plants are grown without airconditioning)
  6. Fruiting stage plants need watering more often
  7. Drought resistant – survived stress test of no watering for 3 days
  8. Plants nearing flowering stage have strong strawberry candies scent, will attract ants which may carry aphids and mealy bugs. Recommended to use scrotch tape to detect the under/upper leaves for pests
  9. Trimmed dried leaves and fruits after fruiting stopped and allow room and time for plants to recuperate !
  10. 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.

 

 

Tabletop Fruit Trees :)

Lim San, a fellow gardener in our Facebook gardening group, “SG Farming in Apartments” , often shared his  creative gardening projects with us.

More than once, I was inspired by his recycling efforts to use plastic bottles or paper cups to grow edibles using either hydroponics or aquaponic methods.

This time though, by his 10 months effort to bonsai a Mulberry tree!

Bonsai Fruit Trees

Lim San’s tabletop mulberry tree

I did not know bonsai trees can still bear fruits!

According to Lim San, it is best to choose a young sapling to train rather than a mature plant with thicker stem.

How to grow a bonsai mulberry tree

Mulberry tree – Young sapling is easier to train than thick tree nodes stems

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Runner

2015 October 22 –  Our first experience with runners occurred after our plants begun their fruiting journey. We had fruits on many flowering stems but also noticed odd little joint on some other stems. Members of our gardening groups who lived abroad and had strawberries in their gardens, told us these were runners and also how to root them.

How to root strawberry runners

2015 October 25 – First Runner spotted

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 May 30 – Runner

Runners, pinned on soil, will grow new roots. They become new plantlets and can be separated from the parent.

Propagating strawberry runners

Strawberry runners were suspended in mid air

We decided to try rooting some runners and see what happened next.

A strawberry vertical “tower” was brought down to allow runners to be pinned for rooting.

How to propagate strawberry plants

Soil depth extended for strawberry vertical pot!

Rooting strawberry runners

Strawberry runner pinned to soil with a curtain peg!

As the weeks passed, it slowly gained strength to stand upright 🙂

rooting strawberry runners

Strawberry runner rooted and the stem stand upright

When the strawberry runner developed more established roots, we can separate it from the parent plant by cutting the attached stem.

When to separate strawberry runner from its parent

Strawberry runner had developed roots while attached to parent plant

How to propagate strawberry runners

Strawberry runner’s roots

How to propagate strawberry plants from runners

2015 Nov 15 – Rooted Runner

Above plant died soon after separation.

On hindsight, it might have been better to root this runner without the extra burden of carrying fruits as well. Most of these developing fruits dried up and did not grow more.

2016 – 2017 Observations

Rooting runners experiments continued after 2015 in spite of countless failures.

Grow Strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2016 December 28

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2017 January 11

Rooted runners were donated to other gardeners to explore. Seedlings did not survive as well.

A chance discovery – Stressed Alpine plants trigger runners

This runner was caused by a near break in a stem. The more pronounced the stress, the bigger (more aggressive) the runner.

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2017 December 13

Experiment 2 – What happened if we do not root or remove runners?

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2017 October 08 – Runner Un-Rooted

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

A new developing runner

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Aggressive energy

After a while, the red stems became more brown and all the runners died. Parent plant also lost energy. To save the parent plant, these runners were cut. Flowers did not show for another 5 months and most did not turned into fruits.

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Aerial roots of runner

2017 October 08 – The tale of two plants, grown from the same pack of seeds. The plant with no runner have fruits.

The other plant (with runners)  had no fruits but nonetheless, remained healthy. After the runners were cut, it still survived in 2018, in my outdoor pot.

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Tale of 2 Strawberries

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2017 September 5

Strawberry runner

2017 June 29 – Runner plant’s regressed flower

2018 Update 

In the pot, this plant with runner is on the lower right corner. It was observed to be a slightly larger plant compared with the rest of the plants which remained true to their heirloom characteristics. Its leaves were also darker green and thicker.

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 February 09 – outdoor plants

Growing strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Thicker leaves

In September 2018, this plant showed flowering buds and runners (not rooted) at the same time.

Grow Strawberries Outdoor in the tropics

2018 September 13

Strawberry Plant Care in the tropics

2018 September 17

Grow strawberries outdoors in the tropics

Still running!

 

Non Runner Plant Characteristics

Strawberries Plant Care outdoor

2017 December 28 – Mature Plant

  • Thinner Lighter Green Leaves
  • Very red stems during flowering stage
  • More fruits but smaller in size

Plants with runners

We explored how did these plants from same pack of seeds displayed hybrid characteristics such as runners and regressed flowers while most others remained true to their heirloom properties.

Looking back, the reason was likely how they began their journey.

Seedlings with runners started their journey outdoor in our compost pots by accident. They germinated when we recycled the seeds soil and these seedlings suffered 3 days of torrential storms in the week of  May 21 2017.

Strawberries plants outdoor in the tropics

Stressed seedlings

From a very young stage, outdoor seedlings were different from those that were germinated indoor with no stress.

Grow strawberries plants in the tropics

2017 June 03 – No red stems

Comparison of indoor (red stems) and outdoor stressed seedlings.

Strawberries runners plants outdoor in the tropics

2017 June 17

As they grew, the red stems returned to our hybrid plants, but they were other differences, such as thicker stems and larger leaves.

Strawberries runners plants outdoor in the tropics

2017 July – Less red & Thicker stems

The above seedling matured into the runner plant illustrated in this post.

Grow strawberry plants outdoor in the tropics

2017 September 05

Runner Plants Characteristics

  • Bigger Plant
  • Thick stems and leaves
  • Regressed flowers, 2 years to reach this stage
  • Bigger but few fruits (once runners are removed)
  • Red stems do not showed until third month

Observations on our runner’s plants, seeds grown parents – 

  • They don’t last even with established roots mass once cut from the parent plants
  • When they survived, fruiting was delayed
  • In colder countries, when strawberry parent plants returned in the Spring, their energy is renewed and they fruit better every season. Their plants are able to propagate from runners. In contrast, in the tropics, runners seem to deplete energy from parent plant even more.
  • Rooting Runners = Delayed fruiting or worst case, keep sending out runners
  • DISCLAIMER – These observations are based on my own plants (from seeds) and may not applied to every strawberry plant (types, varieties)

 

2018 HYDRO Plants

We learned from experience not to keep runners on plants or root them since 2016.

On our hydro plants, flowers showed within 10 days once runners were removed.

 

Strawberries Runners in Singapore

2018 June 19 – Flowers showed after runners were cut on June 11

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Runners are discouraged

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Wisteria Lesley’s Mulberry Trees

When reading posts on mulberries, one name keep popping up.

Grow Mulberries in Singapore

Nov 02 2015 – Wisteria Lesley’s mulberry trees

She is generous with advice on subjects as wide ranging as proper names for plants (mind you, in both Chinese characters and English names!!! ) to plant care and insects control.

This wonder lady with her bottomless pit of knowledge, is Ms. Wisteria Lesley.

I saw her posts in Green Culture Singapore and Urban Farmers (Singapore) quite by accident.  Pictures of her lush plentiful mulberries caught my attention. I don’t think I ever taste one before or seen these sold in supermarkets!

How to grow mulberries in Singapore

Mulberries that made you drool ! 🙂

 

How to grow mulberries

Ripe mulberries are dark colored

Mulberry plant leaves are edible too

Ms. Lesley used  mulberry leaves to brew tea!

I remembered her previous posts as well.

Of her trimming down her mulberry trees to bald stumps after each harvest.

Her generous offers of cuttings at a reasonable price and of course, an immediate response from gardeners here until the cuttings were all gone.

New shoots would grew on the stumps and after only a few weeks, Wisteria Lesley shared pictures of flowers.

Grow mulberries in Singapore

Ms. Lesley ‘s mulberry cuttings after a pruning

Grow a mulberry tree in Singapore

Nov 25 2015 – -Flowers appeared on new shoots after pruning

Rooting mulberry stems

June 10 2015 – Flowers on mulberry cutting as it root in water

Mulberry flowers after hard pruning

Photo – Wisteria Lesley’s mulberry tree had flowered, 3 weeks after pruning

 

How to grow mulberry plants from stem cuttings

Nov 25 2015 – Mulberry flowers turned into fruits

I decided to ask her how she began her mulberry’s journey and if I could share her story here.

Ms. Lesley has three mulberry trees and they began their journey in 2008.

For bald stem cuttings like this picture, it is best to root them in fresh water until leaves and “good roots mass” appeared.

How to grow mulberry in Singapore

May 31 2015 – Cuttings from mulberry trees rooting in tap water

Mulberry stems rooting in water

June 23 2015 – Day 23, mulberry cutting rooted in water !

These can be planted in minimum 15 cm diameter pot until they are more established.

How to grow mulberry trees from cutting

2008 – Ms. Lesley’s mulberry trees started with these cuttings.

Mulberries can be planted in pots or grounded.

Her trees are planted in the ground.

When their roots became root bound, they coiled around soil instead of the pot.

This plant would pop up of the pot when pressed gently on the soil. A sure sign that it is ready to move to bigger pot or be grounded ! 🙂

SG STRAWBERRIES JOURNAL

Began on July 19 2016 from cutting.

Each cutting were stripped of leaves and pruned down (made shorter) for the rooting process (in plain water). Roots did not show but fruits developed.

Grow mulberries in containers

Fruits without roots !

We decided to plant our cutting without roots and surprisingly they established well in containers without them. We grew them in our own compost mixed with sand.

Grow mulberries in containers

2017 December 23

These plants grew better in the ground and can be very tall plants with thick stem, but are possible in large pots as well. However for better fruits yield and size, they were best grounded with as much direct full sun for as long as possible.

When there was inadequate sun, these plants took a longer time to fruit no matter what we do. For a long time, they grew only leaves and become taller. We constantly pruned them down or as advised, bend (and tie) the thin stems to gain more access to sun heat.

Grow Mulberries from cutting in containers

2017 February 12

First fruits on our cutting showed in July 2017.

Grow Mulberries from cutting in containers

2017 July 6

Yield and size of fruits seem to increase over the years, in shaded gardens. The darker the berries, the sweeter they were.

Grow Mulberries from cutting in containers

2019 February 08

Our fruits were not very big or plentiful but we were nonetheless, very grateful to be able to harvest them at all.

Grow Mulberries from cutting in containers

Natural Ribena!

 

Information from http://www.gardenguides.com/ :

  • Full Sun
  • Ground depth should be minimum the same height as the sapling and twice the size of its root ball
  • At maturity, this is a medium size tree, 20 -30 feet
  • Water well after transplant
  • Slightly acidic soil, PH 6.0
  • Adaptable in zones 5 – 9

 

 

 

 

Wolfberries / Goji Berries/ KAU KEE Plant

Featured

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

 

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

How this journey began – 

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

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

How to grow a wolfberry or Goji berry tree from cutting

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

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

There are 2 ways to grow this hardy perennial plant.

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

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

    Goji berries seedlings

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

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

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

MOVE HEAVY POTS FOR SUN ! 

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

Grow a goji berry tree from stem cutting

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

How to grow wolfberry plant from cutting

Regina Fok ‘s stem cutting has rooted in water

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

Gojiberry Wolfberry from cutting

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

Gojiberry from cutting

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

Grow gojiberries from cutting

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

Grow wolfberry plant

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

Gojiberries and wolfberries from cutting

October 2016 – Regina’s plants bore fruits!

Grow goji or Wolfberries

Nov 11 2016 – Vigorous grower!

Grow goji or Wolfberries

Nov 12 2016 – Not the first harvest!

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

Grow goji or Wolfberries

Minimum care for hardy wolfberries plants!

Grow goji or Wolfberries

How wolfberries grow on plants!

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

Grow wolfberry or gojiberry from Cutting

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

How to grow Goji berry from cutting

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

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

Wolfberries from rooting

Plants with more roots mass will grow faster (PlantB)

 

PESTS PREVENTION – TRAP FOR WHITEFLIES etc

 

Feb 10 2016 – Plant A

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberry from Kau Kee cutting

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

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

Grow Wolfberries, gojiberries

October 30 2016 – First flower bud seen

Grow wolfberries, gojiberries or kau kee

Dec 04 2016 – More buds on the way

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberries

Feb 01 2017 – Flowers and berries

Grow wolfberry from kau kee cutting

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

wolfberry flowers

Feb 28 2017

Grow wolfberries in Singapore

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

Grow wolfberries, gojiberries from cutting

Dec 10 2016 – Isn’t this cute? Just before the flower bloom fully.

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberry from Kau Kee Cutting

Feb 17 2017

Grow wolfberries, gojiberries from cutting

Dec 12 2016 – more flowers bloom at the same time

Grow gojiberries, Kau Kee, Wolberries

November 11 2016 – Flower coming out from bud.

Grow wolfberries , gojiberries and kau kee

SG Kau Kee Flowers – Do they look the same as Regina’s USA wolfberries flowers?

Grow wolfberries, gojiberries from cutting

Dec 12 2016 – Not the same shade of purple in the flowers

Wolfberry from Kau Kee cutting

Jan 11 2017

Grow wolfberries, gojiberries from cutting

After the flower bloom, the petals turned dried and dropped off

Wolfberry or Gojiberry fruiting stages

February 25 2017 – Fruiting begin

Flowers and fruits on its own without much human aid. These are very hardy plants, drought resistant and did not need fertilizer.

Wolfberries began fruiting journey!

Grow wolfberry and gojiberries from cutting

Jan 27 2017 – Small green berries first after flowers self pollinated

Grow gojiberry n wolfberry in Singapore

March 24 2017 – It took about 4 months from green berries stage to fully ripen red state.

Growing wolfberry or gojiberries in Singapore

February 28 2017 – Vigorous fruiting, heat tolerant

Grow wolfberries, gojiberries from cutting

A green berry gaining weight finally! Hopefully they turned red soon

Grow wolfberry or Gojiberry from cutting

Jan 19 2017

Grow Wolfberry or Goji Cutting

Jan 31 2017 – Slowly but surely, the berries are turning red (been 5 months since it was a small berry)

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberry from Kau Kee Cutting

Wolfberry

Grow wolfberry and gojiberry

Feb 18 2017 – Fresh Wolfberry is Juicy! 🙂

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberries

Feb 01 2017 – Gifted my mom with the first berry.

Seeds Journey – our seeds were harvested from our plants and sowed on February 18 2017. Out of 3 seeds from above fruit, only two germinated on February 28 (10 days) . Another learning opportunity has began!

Grow wolfberry or gojiberry

Feb 18 2017 – Sowing seeds from our fresh wolfberry

Grow wolfberry or gojiberry

February 28 2017 – Germinated !!

Grow wolfberry or gojiberry from seeds

March 1 2017 – hopefully a strong plant

Germinating fresh Wolfberry seed

Length of germinated seed is about 2 cm. Roots had not emerged.

Grow wolfberry or gojiberry from seeds

March 26 2017 – 2 days to 1 month old seedling!

Growing wolfberry or gojiberries in Singapore

June 04 2017 – seedling grows very fast

Growing wolfberry or gojiberries in Singapore

June 04 2017 – Seedling planted in outdoor garden

Seeds grown seedlings are slower. However it has brunch out from one stem and is steadily growing up! 🙂

Grow wolfberries gojiberries from Kau Kee cutting

Dec 23 2017 – 9 months old wolfberry seedling

Difference between leaf and flowers buds

Grow wolfberries Gojiberries from cutting

Leaf bud

Leaf buds are thicker and usually formed at the tip of the stem. Whereas Flowers buds are smaller and formed at the joint between developed leaves (see below).

Grow wolfberries Gojiberries from cutting

Flowers bud (Feb 2017)

As small flowers buds matured, they became swollen and a tint of purple showed.

Grow wolfberry gojiberry in Singapore

Hint of purple

What happened after fruiting? 

Leaves will drop until the whole plant was devoid of leaves. Some fruits still remained until they too dried on the stem and dropped as well. This is how the plant looked after fruiting is done.

 

Grow wolfberry gojiberry in Singapore

Bare plant!

They remained in this dormant stage for 3 months.

When the plants revived from dormant stage, another observation were made on –

  1. un-pruned (did not trimmed dry stems, left bare stems on)
  2. pruned (cut away dry stems) plants

To my surprise, the one with stems un-pruned grew flowers first, straight from bare and dry stems! For both pots, I added only compost from my bins and mulched with dried leaves as usual.

Grow wolfberries gojiberries from cutting

2017 Nov 18 new flower out of bare stem

  1. Flower buds were spotted first on the un-pruned plant. Tip – Keep the bare stems! Don’t prune them, continue to feed the soil!
Grow wolfberry gojiberry in Singapore

Nov 17 2017 – plants awakening

Grow wolfberry gojiberry in Singapore

Nov 18 2017 – Flower bud seen from bare stem

Grow wolfberries gojiberries from cutting or seeds

Nov 17 2017 – Flower buds appeared from bare stem

Grow wolfberries gojiberries from Kau Kee cutting

NOv 21 2017 – Flower and fruit from a bare stem

On bare dry stems (un-pruned), it can re-grow this way as well. New shoots grew straight from wooden stems. Thus, this plant will be taller. Tip – Need support, grow near wall or fence.

Growing wolfberry or gojiberry in Singapore

June 10 2017 – New growth on the woody stem

2) On pruned plant, where bare stems were trimmed, new shoots grew first. Flowers were slower to show. This plant had more leaves than the un-pruned plant.

Grow wolfberry gojiberry in Singapore

Pruned plant re-grew shoots

Grow wolfberries gojiberries from seeds

No thorns on new shoots

Grow wolfberry gojiberry in Singapore

Flowers buds showed later than plants with bare stems intact

Pruned plant grew new shoots and have more leaves, thus they looked lush compared to the bare/untrimmed plant on the left. However, its the latter that will show flowers first!

Grow wolfberries gojiberries from cutting

Unpruned (left) vs Pruned plant (right)

2018 Journal

wolfberry in Singapore

2018 January 22

 

Reflection on parent plants’ journey in 2015 – Looking back now I was amazed by how much the plants grow ! The cuttings showed roots after 11 days, on January 06 2016 (started on December 26 2015) . These were how they looked on the first day of being planted, a short stalk with few leaves! Tip – Need to be individually potted in wide and deep pot or best grounded! 

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberry from Kau Kee cutting

January 13 2016 – Journey to find answers began!

Grow goji or Wolfberries

Nov 11 2016 – Pruned it often to encourage a bushier growth

Grow wolfberries, gojiberries or kau kee

Dec 04 2016 – DIY a steel cage to support the plant, else the stems keep flopping to the ground

Grow wolfberry or gojiberry from cutting

Jan 31 2017 –  Plant B , tied long stems to the steel frame

Wolfberry from Kau Kee cutting

Jan 20 2017 – This steel frame work well to support the plant

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberry from Kau Kee cutting

Jan 17 2017 – Plant A, slower to flower

The more the plants are pruned, meaning cutting away stems while harvesting for leaves, they get bushier. These plants gave me lots of leaves for cooking as I grew them.

Grow wolfberries gojiberries from cutting

2016 December 02

Grow Wolfberry or Gojiberry from Kau Kee Cutting

Feb 17 2017 – Plants are grown in own compost from kitchen green waste and dried leaves.

Neglect may be the key to get it to flower, meaning don’t harvest as often when its near the one year mark. Let the stems get woody. These plants are best grown in the ground, but if this is not possible, in the biggest pot you can find. 🙂

2019 January 19 – New Beginning

We tried to reused our wolfberry’s pots for vegetables when the dormancy stage extend beyond four months in October 2018. All the stems were pruned hard and only bald stumps remained in December. We thought that the wolfberry plants would not revived and hence, hydro vegetables such as kale were transferred here as they managed to adapt to soil.

Much to our surprise, these bald stumps showed leaves and our wolfberry’s journey began a new phase.

Grow wolfberry Gojiberries from Kau Kee cutting in Singapore

New leaves

 

CONCLUSION KAU KEE is wolfberry.

It took 10 months from cutting to see flowers.

5 months from successful (natural) pollination to full red berry stage.

The taste of fresh wolfberry is medicinal and texture is seedy. 🙂

The Berries of Goji and Kau Kee Plants:

Both the berries and the leaves are edible.

It is considered a good herb for improving eye sight .

The berries are often sold in dried form like these :

 

Fresh goji berries

March 7 – Annie Lim from Perth, Australia, shared picture of fresh goji berries from her garden

Annie Lim from Perth, Australia, said her Goji berry plant grew like weeds in her garden. They are about a meter high and potted instead of in the ground. Some support would be required when there are fruits, otherwise they will bend over. This is a hardy plant, no matter how much was pruned, this plant would rebound even more.

This plant is hardy as it can tolerates winter temperature, summer heat and drought condition. It is also a native plant of Tibet.

Fresh everlasting wolfberries on tree:

Fresh wolfberries on tree

This is what Gojiberries and wolfberries tree look like! Thanks to Ms. Peck (USA), I finally get to see one

Grow wolfberries

Potted Gojiberry plant in Perth Australia (Annie Lim)

Annie Lim also shared that this plant loved the sun and should be able to thrive in Singapore.

How to prepare Gojiberry/ Wolfberry/ Kau Kee stems for Propagating –

  1. Stripped off leaves and mind the thorns while handling this stem
  2. Trim down the length of the stem
  3. Place stems in water until roots appeared (In Singapore’s experiment, about 11 days)
Grow Wolfberry

Regina Fok preparing her Goji berry stems for propagation

 

The leaves are sold in supermarkets and Singapore wet markets. It is good to know the Chinese name for this plant : 枸杞菜   (Ms. Wisteria Lesley ,Urban Farmers Singapore, November 5 2015, said the proper name of this vegetables is this. Package one was wrongly typed ! )

Grow gojiberry plants from stems

Goji berry stems in Singapore are sold like this or fresh stem cutting in markets. People used the leaves for soup

The leaves are often cooked as a nourishing soup with pork and beaten egg :

The leaves have a smooth silky texture when its cooked.

The leaves have a smooth silky texture after its cooked.

Ms. Regina Fok, who is  based in USA and I will be sharing our data on this progress.

It would be interesting to find out if  winter is a factor in producing berries for this plant.

Answer one year later (2016)  – Winter is not a factor for flowers ! 🙂

Information :

  • Full Sun
  • Water well during hot weather and after transplant
  • 10 – 12 inches soil depth
  • Wide pot to give its roots some room, but best in ground with compost.
  • Matured plant is 8 to 10 feet tall
Grow wolfberries goji from cutting

Wolfberry

 

Growing Strawberries in Singapore Outdoor Garden

The goal is to test how to adapt strawberries to fruit without air conditioning in Singapore.

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Jan 3 2016 – Success!!!

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Jan 7 2016 – Made in Singapore strawberry!! First fruit in outdoors garden without air-conditioning

On October 19 2015, I began the first outdoor trial with Alpine strawberries from my niece’s sickly lot.

These outdoor plants had a traumatic start ! 🙂

Growing strawberries with children

August 31 2015 – Niece and nephew germinated 16 strawberry seedling in this paper cup!

Growing strawberries with children

Aug 31 2015 – strawberry babies living in an overcrowded environment! 🙂

Growing strawberries with children

Aug 31 – Here’s what cramped strawberries looked like! 🙂

Growing strawberries with children

August 31 2015 – Summer moved cramped strawberry babies to bigger container

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Oct 24 – 2nd Trauma , Strawberries suffered heat stroke on niece’s  hot balcony. Treatment in special compost and iced soil immediately!

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Oct 30 – Strawberries recovered quickly.

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

January 5 2016 – Finally understood why my plants disappeared!

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Iced bottles and ice kept our soil cool for strawberries in outdoor garden

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Oct 30 2015 – Strawberry plants recovering well without airconditioning

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

December 19 2015 – Strawberry plant s continue to flower and fruit in our outdoor garden without air conditioning

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Dec 20 2015 – More strawberry fruits in outdoor garden pots!

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Dec 25 2015 – Strawberry growing over the rim of a 30L pot 🙂

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Dec 31 2015 – Strawberry is healthy and growing bigger

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

Jan 1 2016 – Strawberry plants developing fruit in outdoors Singapore garden

Summer and I decided to self pollinate the strawberry flowers in the garden instead of depending on bees on December 13 2015.

We are keeping fingers crossed that this will be the start of strawberries gardening in Singapore! 🙂

Growing strawberries in outdoor Singapore garden

January 3 2016 – Summer with the strawberry fruit that she help “developed” !

Our strawberries compost was prepared 6 months ahead of our outdoors strawberries trials.

How to make organic compost

Kitchen green waste for our organic compost : peels etc, dried leaves to absorb moisture

How to make organic compost

Lots of ground coffee in the compost pot for acidic soil!

How to make organic compost

Preparing compost for strawberries ahead of time.

Jan 2016 Update – Problems encountered in outdoors trials – PESTS!

Pests not tropical weather killing strawberry plants outdoors in Singapore

Jan 2016 – Snails or Grasshoppers ate outdoor strawberry leaves until only a stump remained.

Strawberry plants can grow from bare roots

Jan 2016 – Strawberry plants can grow from bare roots. Healthy roots are white colour.

Strawberry plants can grow from bare roots

Jan 24 2016 – More signs of recovery. Strawberry plants can re- grow from bare roots

Please read post on ” Home Made Super Soil” for tips on composting.

My conclusion :

For Singapore or any tropical region, it is best to begin strawberries indoors, preferably in June or earlier. (Please read how to germinate strawberry seeds)

Prepare compost or acidic soil early. Allow raw greens to break down completely before using.

Move strawberries outdoors from October or when cooler rainy season begins.

Strawberries are quite hardy from 3 – 4 months stage. Ours survived haze, wind and thunderstorms.

Red strawberry variety are sun loving as long as the soil stayed cool.

Acidic and rich compost needed for better fruits quality.

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.

 

 

 

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! 🙂

 

 

Home Made Super Soil

Home Made Compost is possible in crowded, urban tropical cities like Singapore.

This process of recycling kitchen green waste into compost for gardening , is good for plants, ourselves and the environment .

Look at how my edibles garden turned out with this “home made” super soil for yourself  !

From THIS –

Composting methods in Singapore

March 2015 – Dead or dying citrus plant, abandoned after Chinese New Year

Benefits of Organic Compost

March 20 2015 – Dead Tree awakening with organic compost!

TO THIS – !!!

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Dec 14 2015 – A fully recovered plant! 🙂

How to use and benefits of organic compost

A healthy thriving plant again

Update of this tree on July 17 2016 (16 months from when I start composting in this pot) –

using compost

2016 July 17

This plant continued to thrive on its own without much fuss. Every six months, we still used this pot as an open composting bin. It remained amazing to witness how recycled raw greens for compost is good for gardens.

home made nutrients rich soil

2016 July 17

Uses of compost

How lime/citrus begin their fruiting journey – Isn’t this cute?

When I see how this little tree continued to prosper, its as if it talking to me, ” I am okay now. Thank you! ” 🙂

Benefits of recycled green waste compost

Jan 20 2017 – STILL ALIVE and Thriving!

No other fertilizer was added in this pot, beside composting of peels and adding earthworms from the garden. Imagined this – whatever nutrients that this plant gained from the compost, allowed it to rejuvenate its drive to recover from a dying state. Then I often wondered what we will gain when we consumed edibles grown in this kind of natural compost ?  Will we be able to rejuvenate ourselves as well?

SPEEDY COMPOST WITH THIS !  

Meyer Lemons –

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Growing Meyer lemon in compost pot

Sweet basil 

How to use and benefits of organic compost

September 16 2015 – Sweet Basil

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Layer upon layer of kitchen raw greens, soil, dried leaves are added to the pot until its almost full.

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Sweet basil in compost pot is bigger than my herbs grown indoors

Rosemary and Curly leaf Parsley

How to use and benefits of organic compost

Rosemary and curly leaf parsley thriving in spite of the thunderstorms!

Our MINT was grown without pesticide and in our own compost from recycling kitchen greens waste –

Benefits of home made organic compost

Kids love to harvest home grown mint for tea when they are studying

Bell Peppers or Capsicums – 

Growing bell peppers in home made compost

Bell peppers or capsicum grown in home made compost, taste sweeter. Kids are eating them raw like green apples!

Growing red bell peppers in home made organic compost

Red and Green bell peppers in the same pot

Even strawberries! 🙂

Growing strawberries in outdoors Singapore garden

We weed our strawberries outdoor to learn more about growing them in the tropics.

Two varieties of strawberry plants were weeded here from October 2015, to see how they fared in our special acidic compost in normal SG temperature.

So far, sick plants have recovered in them and survived our terrible haze and thunderstorms, to flower and bore fruits by December 2015.

Growing strawberries in Singapore

2017 – One of my plants thriving in natural SG environment

Why not wolfberries too?

Growing wolfberry or gojiberries in Singapore

February 28 2017 – Wolfberries or Gojiberries

In our household, recycling raw greens for compost bins is second nature! 🙂

How to make organic compost

We are striving toward zero-waste in our household

What GREEN goes into our compost bin?

  • Fruit Peels (banana, watermelon etc)
  • Fruit or Vegetable Pulp (from juicer, raw)
  • Soya bean pulp (Okara , 豆渣 / 豆腐渣)
  • Used tea leaves or coffee grinds
  • Egg shells – membrane inside egg shells can attract snails. Contrary to beliefs, snails love to eat egg shells. Having them on surface soil will attract snails to the plants and will not deter them from feasting. This need to be buried deep in outdoor gardens.
  • Spoiling raw vegetables or fruits – remove seeds if possible as they may germinate in the compost bin
  • No fish, meat or bloody innards as the scent of rot is foul and likely attract rodents

 

How to make organic compost

Any plant based waste from kitchen

5 Easy Steps to prepare organic compost OUTDOORS

  1. Cover the holes with net or any material (pebbles, sand) that allow liquid to drain while stopping soil/compost erosion
  2. Dried leaves or any organic dried matter from the garden
  3. Any soil – new, used, spent
  4. Add kitchen green waste
  5. Cover with soil and dried leaves, raise the compost container for aeration is a good idea.

 

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Cover pot’s drainage holes with net to allow water to drain out but not erode the soil and compost.

Dried leaves, grass, used pets’ bedding (such as straw, hay), tree barks, shredded paper, cardboard can be used as brown for layering in compost bins.

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Step 2 – Dried leaves from trees.

Any soil (old, new, spent) can be used in the compost bin except soil that had been infected by pests such as roots mealy. We don’t re-used such soil because there may had been unhatched eggs in them.

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Step 3 – Add soil

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Step 4 – Add raw greens etc. Cover with soil and top off with dried leaves so less fruit flies hovering around the pot!

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden

Layers after layers are repeated until my pot is almost full.

What to do when it rained, and the compost become wet?

After a heavy rain, its good to “turn/stir” the pile and add dry soil . I usually top off with dried leaves to ward off fruit flies. The soil smell like orange, nothing foul.

In our tropical heat when there is a dry spell, our compost would be ready in 2 – 4 weeks.

How to prepare compost bins for outdoor garden and what to do when compost is wet

Almost ready

A “ready” state is when the green waste are indistinguishable from each other.

Composting in Singapore

The ready product is a soft, citrus smelling dark soil!

Benefits of composting

Color of nutrients rich compost is BLACK !

Home made compost

Lots of worms as raw greens break down! Not for the squeamish 🙂

When the compost is ready, the color of the compost is very dark and none of the peels and kitchen raw greens are distinguishable. This is my super soil which I used as a top soil in my pots.

2) For apartments’ corridors composting,  please followed this group’s “Composting in Singapore” instructions.

There is no smell and not much presence of pests , it is neighbors’ friendly but takes longer to breakdown.

Compost bins suitable for apartment’s corridors

How to prepare compost bins for indoor area without pests or smells

Step 1 – Plastic Bin with cover, drilled holes at the bottom for drainage

How to prepare compost bins for indoor area without pests or smells

Step 2 – Cover holes with net. Second layer is shredded newspapers, followed by dried leaves and soil.

How to prepare compost bins for indoor area without pests or smells

Step 3 – add greens and my idea of a toilet roll for aeration! 🙂 Top off with soil, newspapers and cover bins!

How to prepare compost bins for indoor area without pests and smells

In the process of breaking down organic matter for compost, heat and moisture are created in the compost bins. Newspapers absorb liquid and smells.

Composting in Singapore

Thumbs UP – Compost bins like these are neighbors friendly – no smells, no pests!

For an easy non fussy indoor method, Lim San had uploaded a new video in February 2017 –

Just for knowledge, the following video showed what happened in my compost bin when too much raw greens is added over brown ratio! Thus do keep Lim San‘s advice in mind (Brown : Green , 30:1 ratio) when starting a new compost bin! 🙂

Compost bins in Singapore

Bins can be used outdoors but mind the mosquitoes breeding when it rained on the bin’s covers! Best to lay a cloth than tile like this.

 

We love to cook with edibles from our organic garden!

It is possible to grow edibles without using commercial fertilizers.

Sweeter edibles grown in home made organic compost

Young chefs in training and home made Quiche with herbs from our garden 🙂

 

Growing vegetables with children in our organic garden

SG Strawberries kids helped built this  edibles garden (2015 ) 🙂

Recycling waste for compost

September 1 2017 – still at it!

Benefits of composting

2017 November 5 – Gardens get better the longer we compost!

A small pleasurable plot of edibles, grown in nutrients dense compost by recycling waste, and shared freely with neighbors now. It was an empty corner where people abandoned plants and discarded pots, changed for the better.

Gardening has become my voice for sharing ideas to promote recycling in our communities and how every household can play a part to protect our environment. This is also a good way to teach the younger generation how to grow food from “own-made” super charged soil! 🙂

SG Strawberries kids

2018 March 15 – Trio who helped me with this garden

Benefits of natural compost fertiliser

2018 August – Outdoor salads “Bowls” in natural compost

In addition, we took science out of the textbooks and learned how to protect our environment while growing delicious food.

 

 

 

How to Transplant Strawberry Plant

More than half of my 30 strawberry plants died from transplanting woes than from Singapore tropical weather.

This is an experience earned the hardest way! And the reason why this blog is set up, to share our knowledge.

Very young seedlings’ individual fabric pots – Save Space 2 !

Summer and Shona showed how to move 2 weeks old seedling to bigger pot 🙂

 

Transplant individual mature seedlings to breathable pots, set of 5 ! 

 

Young Seedlings ( 1 – 3 months old) –  Mind the roots !

Moisten the soil to loosen roots before separating plants. In a tightly packed container, some of the roots may have tangled together. Use water to gently separate them.

How to move 3 months strawberry seedlings

Untangled Plants

Young strawberry seedling have long tapered roots.

How to transplant young strawberry plants

Close up on roots

This is the same process if pests (such as mealy bugs, ants etc) invaded soil. We need to clean old soil from roots zone before transplanting to pots with new soil. Wash roots zone with water. If infestation is bad, we may have to soak roots in Epsom salt solution before transplanting and threw out old soil. Do not use such soil for composting.

How to transplant young strawberry plant

Cleaning roots

How to transplant  4th months and older strawberry plants  – Mind the CROWN!!!!

Matured plants including flowering and fruiting plants.

The crown’s healthy color is red. It usually developed around the third month, from a single part to multiple. This is where flowering start, so we have to be mindful of not causing stress to the crown during the transplanting process.

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

2018 June 11 – Hydro Plant

Do not tug or pull the crown when removing mature strawberry plants from pot.

Transplanting strawberry plants

Soil based crown

To remove the plant from the older pot, its okay to cut some of the roots if they are stuck to the pot. But do not jarred the crown. This is the CPU of the matured strawberry plants!

How to transplant mature strawberry plants

When roots get stuck to pots, I do cut some of their roots to release strawberry plants , instead of pulling the crown!

How to remove remove strawberry plants from plastic bottles ? 🙂

How to transplant mature strawberry plants

For plants in vertical plastic bottle: cut plastic away from the crown area to release the plants!

How to transplant mature strawberry plants

Cut away plastic to release the crown. Do NOT tag or pull the crown to release from bottle!

Transplanting strawberry plants

Release bottle from plants first then loosen the soil before moving the plants. Some of the roots may be stuck to the sides of the pot

Transplanting strawberry plants

Loosen the soil first around the plant. I like to clean the debris from old pot before replanting, but thats up to the individual gardener rather than a “must do” ! 🙂

If the roots are stuck to the container or are too tangled up with other plant’s roots, its okay to cut it loose.

What do Transplant Stressed (Shocked) strawberry plants looked like? 🙂

No matter how careful we were with the roots and crown, sometimes the plants will still be stressed during the transplant process. They looked like this in their new pot :

How to transplant strawberry plants

July 2015 – Strawberry plants in transplant shock state 🙂

Don’t be discouraged! Give it sun and water as normal , wait patiently. There is no need to add fertilizer.

Transplanting mature strawberry plants

Transplanted strawberry plants can recover! It may takes 2 – 8 weeks to see it well again.

Stressed strawberry plants can recover

Mid August 2015 – The plant slowly recovered.

TIPS on transplanting strawberry plants  – Best to move plants to permanent pot by third month when the crown is not developed yet.

Summary :

Young seedlings – Mind the roots when transplanting. Loosen roots before repotting in new pot.

Matured Plant – Mind the crown. Roots can be cut to separate plant from pot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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