Monday, 22 May 2017

Grapevine flowering in Singapore

I have three grapevines that I bought from World Farm last year. They had grown a lot and as they were new growths, I know that they would not flower last year.

However, I didn't understand or know the method to make them flower. I know that in places whether the grapevines will go through a dormant stage (in winter), they will bud and flower in spring after pruning.

I wasn't sure about how to make them flower in Singapore. We don't have winter here and wonder how to make the grapevine goes through the dormant stage. I just leave the grapevine alone and one day in April, I was pretty annoyed at the way the grapevines had grown. There were few leaves and mostly brown leaves on the vine. Armed with a pruning tool, I cut the vines down to a couple feets tall. I added some compost on the top of the soil and just left it alone. I thought I had killed the grapevines.

In late April, I noticed some buds appearing from the end of the pruned vines. I realised I didn't kill them. After a week, the vines had extended and leaves appeared. I didn't notice the tiny little "flowers" actually were developing inflorescences that came out from the branches. I thought what those things were.

Suddenly, I realised that they were the flowers of the grapevines. I was very excited and continued to research on this. I believed that my grapevines belong to the northern hemisphere type where the bud break at around May. For southern hemisphere type, the bud break will be in September. I have another grapevine which I do not prune. I think I can try it during August to see the effect.

Developing inflorescences
Developing inflorescences
The flowers are very tiny and they are self-pollinating. However, I wanted to make sure that all of the flowers will be pollinated so I took a twiser to pick up one stamen and dusted on all the stigma. I certainly hoped this helped.

Calyptra is shed, liberating pollen
Calyptra is shed, liberating pollen

I think my pruning didn't yield many flowers. Only about 20 flowers appeared. So, in the end, I ended up with only 10 grapes. Well, it is better than none! At least I know that the grapevine will flower in Singapore and I just need to make sure I do the pruning currently to leave a couple of buds of the one year old growth.

I will update the progress of the grape maturing and hopefully the birds will not beat me to it.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Growing watermelon from seeds

I think it is impossible to grow watermelon in Singapore. This is because watermelon requires a lot of space for it to grow. There are successful cases whether people grow watermelon on a trellis or wall. The fruits can be hanged using old clothes or stockings or nettings.

I remembered my mother used to tell me that growing watermelon in pot or container is futile. She grew watermelon before and there was no fruit in sight.

After researching in the internet and using YouTube, I came to the conclusion that it is possible to grow watermelon in vertical garden using trellis or some kinds of structure to let the watermelon climbed.

One day, I happened to eat a watermelon and I placed the black seeds into the soil. These were from watermelon with red flesh. Two days later, I ate a watermelon with yellow flesh and placed the seeds into the same pot. The seeds germinated but I couldn't tell which one is yellow or red flesh. Too excited and forgotten which one is red.

Anyway, I think it is not an issue. I have four watermelon seedlings in the pot. I was too afraid to remove any of them. The seedlings grew quite well in a couple of weeks and started to throw out flowers. There are two type of flowers, one is male and the other female. Most of the time, you will only see the male flowers. There is nothing much you can do except to look for the female flower. The most obvious difference between the male and female flowers is the small watermelon liked thing beneath the flower. Of course, the next tell-tale sign is the sticky stigma, well, not exactly sticky. Just that there is no pollen on the female flower.

Normally, there is only one female flower among the say one to three male flowers when they bloomed. I would pluck the male flowers and rub the pollen onto the stigma. Make sure that the stigma has been coated with pollen. This would give the watermelon a rounded shape. The flowers will bloom for half a day and close in the late afternoon. When the flowers bloom, just hope that the weather is sunny and not a rainy day. Rain will definitely affect the quality of the pollination.

Watermelon liked flower (female flower) going to bloom
Watermelon liked flower (female flower) going to bloom
After the female flower has been successfully pollinated, the flower will close and in a couple of days, the flower which was pointed up will now point downwards. The watermelon will thus be hanging or lying on the ground.

In my case, due to lack of land, I grew the watermelon in a pot and used structures to let the vines climb. The tendrils can stretch out and twine round the support structures. The leaves can be spaced out to catch the maximum amount of sunlight.

Watermelon developing
Watermelon developing
I started to measure the perimeter of the watermelon each day. In the beginning, the perimeter increased by 1cm each day. However, after two weeks, the size stopped growing. I'm wondering what happened. I understand that the watermelon will ripe in about 50 days or so. If the tendrils dried up, the watermelon has ripen.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Mulberry Plant

I was shopping for groceries at the JEM NTUC Fairprice when I noticed little green "caterpillar liked" things on a small plant. The things looked hairy and didn't appear to be flowers. Upon close examination, it appeared to be some kinds of berries. I wasn't sure what it was. I looked at the label on the pot and it said "Mulberry". It was priced at $7.90. I googled and found out that mulberry is edible when ripe. Interesting. I was curious how the mulberry developed the berries since I didn't see any flowers. The tiny hair liked structures on the berries seemed to be the one that developed the berries. Cool, I think!

Caterpillar liked berries
Caterpillar liked berries

Mulberry Plant @ $7.90
Mulberry Plant @ $7.90

Well, I grabbed the one that looked the healthiest. I was buying something that I had not planted before. I wanted something that is easy to take care and at the end provided abundant amount of fruits. I was really excited and couldn't wait for the little green berries to grow bigger and longer. I acclimatised the plant by placing it in partial shade and then gradually in full direct sunlight. The plant is doing well and some of the green berries started to turn to red. Wait a minute, it seemed to me that the berries were quite small to me. I think that placing them in full sun had accelerated the berries turning red. Oh no... I saw two berries had turned from red to dark purple. I took a leap of faith and washed the berries. I ate them. They had a bit of sourness in them but generally they tasted good. I waited for a couple of hours and nothing bad happened to me. So, they are edible. I was excited.

After a couple of weeks, I cut the long branches away and placed the cuttings into soil to try to propagate them. I believed that by pruning away the branches, it would promote more berries to appear and I was right! After three weeks in full sunlight, receving about at least 6 hours of them, the mulberry plant has bigger and longer berries. Today, I harvest two dark purple berries and they are very sweet.

Dark purple mulberry ready to be eaten
Dark purple mulberry ready to be eaten