Sugar Loaf Chicory

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

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

Grow sugar loaf chicory from seeds

2018 August 04

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

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

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

Cold seasoned salads

2018 Aug 04

Cold seasoned salads

2018 August 13

Cold seasoned salads

2018 August 28 – 3 weeks old

Notes on Sugar Loaf –

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

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

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

ZERO Carbon Footprint


In 2015, when I started planting strawberries, I thought keeping them cool in our tropical climate is important. As I grew and learned, I found it is possible to grow them in our natural environment without too much fuss once the seedlings established (4 months ++).

Thus, this discovery, the compilation of 2 years of observation and data collection resulted in new ways to grow strawberries, in soil or hydroponic, without using any cooling elements from electricity.

Zero carbon footprint mean we can all grow strawberries at very low cost and without any fancy high tech equipment. Everyone can grow them with enough understanding of how strawberries grow in our climate.

WORKSHOPS are also available with new curriculum catering to beginners to learn how to grow strawberries in a systematic way from seeds. From our youngest participant (2018 , 11 years old) to any age, everyone is learning in small class setting with lots of hands-on experience.

Soil Based using wind

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore

Bedroom Gardens

Recycled socks shield roots from light and prevent soil leaking to floors below during irrigation. Our PET bottles had been modified to cool roots zone and constantly being improved for strawberries or other cool seasoned plants in soil.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Aug 26 2017 – In modified air-pots from 1.5L PET bottles

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Soil based plants in natural environment

Passion made Possible Strawberries

Vigorously fruiting when the time is right

Hydroponic strawberry plants in Juice Jars

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Aug 24 2017 – A thriving fruiting plant without carbon footprint

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

How many fruits can you see on this plant? 🙂

With hydroponic trial, it is now possible for us at home to study the plant intimately – to look at the roots system and how the crown behave as the plant matured. Roots – wise, this is not possible when the plant is in soil.

From seeds to harvest, it is also faster in hydroponic ( 4 months) versus soil based ( 6 to 8 months).

This is the diary of my first hydroponic strawberry, grown without electricity and the convenience of technology.

My first low cost hydroponic strawberries journey began on April 3 2017. Seeds were sowed March 27 on wet sponges. They germinated within 7 days.

Such tiny seedlings, I was glad I sowed them individually on sponges and need not delicately transferred at this stage.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

April 3 2017 – Germinated!

Hydro Strawberries from seeds

2018 White young seedlings

The thrill of seeing strawberry seeds germinated is the same as when I first started in 2015.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

May 24 2017 – See how tiny they were?

Hands literally trembled when I transplant these tiny 2 months old seedlings! Were not sure if how I did were correct.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

June 04 – Young seedlings in yogurt bottles!

The rate of growth in hydroponic is very fast. We see visible spurts in growth in roots mass and height of the plant from the second month.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

July 12 – 3 months old

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 02 – First flower bud spotted

Without electricity, this plant is grown in stagnant still water and yet achieved aerated characteristics.

Passion made possible strawberries

August 16 – Plant signalling flowering stage with vivid red stems

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 17 – Flower open and new buds seen

With this method, strawberries plants were able to reach flowering stage faster than soil and with the lighter weight, we could grow more plants indoor. In its own reservoir, growing in KRATKY method, we were able to test nutrients efficiently without too much hassle.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 18 2017 – One pollinated flower (without petals) and another bloom.

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 20 – Fruits started its journey

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Tiny sweet fruits for picking!

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

The color of ripe!

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

Tabletop fruit plant from seeds 🙂

Tiny fruits from a small plant but its been immensely satisfying for me.

This trial proved that without technology, home grown (tabletop) strawberries is possible.

Growing them hydroponically made it easier to harvest fresh fruits direct from table to mouth!

Observation of after harvest stage –

The plant shared similar characteristics of soil based plants. Leaves and fruits production start to wane. There were more brown than vivid red stems.

Grow strawberries in Singapore

Oct 18 2017 – Leaves begin to brown

Grow strawberries in Singapore

Fruits production slowed

Whether soil based or hydroponic, strawberry plants displayed slowing vigor after a few months of fruits production. The characteristics of slowing growth is the same – less vivid red stems, more brown leaves and stunted fruits.

Similar to strawberries grown in the natural cold zone, after plants have adequate “rest”, the red stems returned and flowering starts.

GRow strawberries in Singapore

2017 Dec 24 – Renewed vigor after resting

A mature plant has a developed crown and multiple splits.

Wintering Trials – Observation of dormant stage and recovery

When winter comes, strawberry plants are buried in snow and ice. They probably looked like this.There are no leaves and colour on the crown. Not all plants recovered to grow again when spring arrived.

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

Wintering effect on strawberry plants

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

Sleeping Plant

Recovery begins in the crown when colour returned after a few months of “wintering” !

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

Awakening Plant

Strawberries do not fruit in winter

2018 April 27 – New Shoots

2018 Update – Aren’t they pretty?

Grow strawberries without carbon footprint

2018 January 23

Grow strawberries w zero carbon footprint

Good size strawberry –

Grow strawberries in the tropics

2018 Feb 1 – strawberries ripening

Grow strawberries in Singapore

2018 Jan 27 – Harvest Day

Grow strawberries in Singapore

2018 Feb 4 – Sweet berry taste with white flesh (own crossing)

Size of fruits are not dependent on weather. We observed that the same seeds grown in USA, are the same size for the first year harvest. Gradually over-wintering outdoors will improved their plants while in Singapore, remained same.

Grow strawberries in tropical country

Size of fruit is same as grown in USA

Second Generation –

With fruits, another opportunity to learn and a wild ride has began!

Passion Made Possible Strawberries

August 20 – red seeds from our fruits

Wonder how the next generation grows? 🙂

Passion made Possible Strawberries

August 27 2017 – First sprout !

Here we go again! Second generation has began. Seeds sowed on August 20, first sign of germination was spotted on August 27 2017 (7 days)!

Grow strawberries from seeds

Oct 15 2017 – A faster growing seedling in hydroponic than soil based

Grow hydroponic strawberries in Singapore

2017 Dec 24 

Last but not least, we had observed that in addition to vivid red stems, roots also have an indicative signal for flowering stage! 🙂

2018 Update on second generation seedlings –

Grow strawberries w zero carbon footprint

2018 January 23 – Flowering

Seeds from our own fruits are harvested for generation studies. From our observation, second generation do not seem to fruit as vigorously as the parent, but the third and 4th plants grew and fruit faster. In fact, it was flowering from the second month in our natural environment. Perhaps we have to keep growing for truly acclimated plants, with our own seeds.

Tabletop fruits harvest

Common Red Alpine

Tabletop fruits harvest

2018 June 18

Grow strawberries from seeds in Singapore fruits harvest

Flowering in 2nd month


2018 Hydro Vertical Gardens – built this with PET bottles  !

Small Space Window Gardening

April 30 Bedroom Gardens

HEIRLOOM Strawberries in plugs (2 months old, soil or hydro) can be pre-ordered in SHOP !