Monday, 20 February 2017

Watermelon grown at my balcony

Yes, watermelon takes a lot of space and it almost impossible to grow them at our highrise apartments in Singapore. After doing some research on the internet, I saw people across the world growing watermelon vertically.

I have a balcony and it is not a big area for the watermelon to grow. I have other plants and trees growing in my balcony already and there isn't much space for watermelon. I was determined to grow at least one. One day, I was eating watermelon and saved a couple of seeds to sow. These were the red flesh watermelon. I placed two seeds into the soil. Another day later, I ate yellow flesh watermelon and placed two seeds into the soil too. I marked them but in the end, I got mixed up and couldn't distinguish them. Only the fruit will tell us in the future.

The watermelon seeds germinated almost the same time and grew quickly. In a couple of weeks, they were already one foot long. They started bearing flowers and mostly male flowers. After say 5 to 10 flowers, I saw the female flowers appearing. The female flowers will have a small under-developed watermelon beneath it. I plucked the male flowers and rubbed the pollen onto the female flower until the stigma is covered with pollen. The flowers will wither in the afternoon and it is better to do the manual pollination in the morning. Of course, if there are natural pollinators such as bees in near the flowers, it is not necessary to do the manual pollination. I needed to be sure that the female flower was pollinated.

The watermelon were growing and spreading quickly. I had to put a "trellis" over the pot to let the vines climb. I let the watermelon circled itself and made sure that the leaves get enough sunlight.

After one or two days, the watermelon will "drape" over and hang onto the stalk. If the pollination is successful, the watermelon will grow gradually in size.

It is amazing to watch it growing bigger each day. However, during this stage or earlier, you will need to do some examinations on the leaves and vines to see for spidermites and mealybugs. They are the worst enemies for watermelon. The spidermites will hide under the leaves and suck all the juice from the leaves. The mealybugs will also be there. I have a tough time to get rid of them. The watermelon stopped growing after 30 days because of the spidermites and mealybugs. I let the watermelon to stay on the stalk for another 30 days before harvesting. So, the total number of days is 60, after the pollination.

Watermelon ready to harvest
Watermelon ready to harvest

The diameter of the watermelon is about 7 cm. The flesh is red coloured and it is 2 times the sweetness of the watermelon in the supermarket. The skin is about 3mm thick. There are about 20 black seeds that I have saved for the next growing season.

Balcony grown watermelon
Balcony grown watermelon
For the growing of watermelon in Singapore, please refer to my blog.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Growing durian tree in a pot

When I mentioned to my friends or family about growing durian tree at my balcony, they said that I'm crazy. This is because they had never seen a dwarf durian tree before. Well, I have not seen one either and only saw dwarf durian trees in YouTube videos.

We went to eat at Ah Seng Durian store and packed some Bayou (肉油)durians back home.

I managed to save three Bayou durian seeds and placed them onto moist sphagnum moss. The seeds will germinate within a couple of days.

Bayou Durian Seed germinated
Bayou Durian Seed germinated
After the seeds had germinated, I buried them into the potting soil in a pot. After a couple of months, I transferred the seedlings into bigger pots.

8-month old durian seedling
8-month old durian seedling
The only thing that I need now is a scion from a mature, fruiting durian tree. I can graft the scion onto my durian seedling.

Growing grapevine from seeds in Singapore

Recenlty, I bought some "red/purple" grapes from the supermarket. They were quite large and round, and had many seeds. It was annoying to eat grapes with seeds and more so when they were large.

However, the grapes were quite sweet and juicy. I took the seeds and just buried them in the pot of soil. I had forgotten about them and thought that they would never germinate. I was wronged. They did germinate after a couple of days. I was surprised and quickly transferred them to another pot. The seeds were buried in a pot with watermelon cuttings because I thought that the seeds would never germinate.

I already have three green grapevines already which I bought from World Farm. They were with me for a year already but there is no sign of flowering. I think there is something wrong with the soil or missing nutrients. I need to do more research on this.

I didn't expect the grape seeds to germinate in Singapore's climate. I hope that the seedlings will grow well and develop into vines. Recently, my balcony's garden has been infested with spider mites. My watermelon plants have leaves with spider mites. I didn't notice them until the leaves started to dry up due to the spider mites sucking on the leaves. They are very tiny and can be found under the leaves. I didn't want to use any chemical, so I used a stiff brush to manual brush them away.

Grape Seedlings
Grape Seedlings

Thursday, 7 July 2016

6 Days 5 Nights Hong Kong Free & Easy with kid

I have been to Hong Kong many times and this time we wanted to bring my kid along since it was school holidays.

I think for Hong Kong, 6 days 5 nights are just right and maybe you can do with 5 days and 4 nights. You will probably need two days for Hong Kong Disneyland and one day for Ocean Park. We only planned one day each for Disneyland and Ocean Park.

Day 1

Star Wars display at T3

We took a Sunday morning Singapore Airlines plane to Hong Kong. The flight was full and I was "lucky" to get a seat with a spoilt monitor. So no KrisWorld for me. The attendant did serve me meal earlier than the rest, but I told her that I needed to be compensated. So, near the end of the flight, the lead stewardess gave me a $75 dollars voucher to purchase things from the KrisShop. My wife used the voucher to buy SKII on our flight back. I had encountered this before 10 years and the compensation was only $50 dollars. So, if your monitor was spoilt and not working properly, please ask for compensation politely and you will be given. You had paid for the full ticket and it is only right that they compensate you.

Of course, SQ flight is great and we landed in Hong Kong on time. We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel at Mong Kok. Cordis hotel offers free wifi and complimentary IP phone. You can call home or anyway free of charge. You can bring the phone with you when you go out and search for location using it. We used the phone a number of times to navigate to our locations as well as calling home.

The hotel manager that day was Nicole and she is very polite. The room is big and the view is picturesque. My wife said that she had the million dollar view of the city and Victoria Peak. Nicole had help us to reserve a table at Super Star Chinese Cuisine seafood restaurant at Tsim Sha Tsui. This is a very popular restaurant in Hong Kong that serves very good roasted duck. They had double-boiled soup which was very tasty and you can't get it elsewhere.

They had the LINE characters at Langham place where you could take photos.

Day 2

We decided to go to Victoria Peak on Monday as we think that the crowd will not be huge on a Monday. We had lunch at the Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine restaurant. It is about 10 to 15 minutes walk from Jordan MTR station. We had the IP phone from the Cordis hotel to guide us there. You could use Google Map to navigate to that area. It is just beside a park.

The dim sum and food are ok level. It is a themed restaurant and normally, the food is so-so level. Don't expect much from the quality of the food. It is a place for you to take photos and be merry about it. Another thing which I was disappointed is that the tea cups are very dirty, they had stains in them. I had requested the waitress to bring me new ones. Of yes, the washroom was under repairs and we need to use the toilets in the park.

After the lunch, we set off for Victoria Peak. We took the MTR train from Jordan to Central. At Central MTR station, you can walk to the Peak Tram station via J2 Exit and walk up to ground level. Turn right and walk through Chater Garden, then cross Queen's Road Central, and make your way up Garden Road. You will pass the Bank of China Tower and Citibank Plaza on your left and St John's Cathedral on your right. Watch out for the tram bus at the crossings. The journey up to the Peak Tram station is quite steep and you may want to wear comfortable footwear.

If you need to go to the washroom, there is a sports hall nearby (on the left side), you can use the washroom there. Depending on the timing, the queue to purchase tickets as well as the queue for the tram can be very long. You can expect to queue for at least 20 minutes for the tickets and then another 15 minutes for the Tram. Inside the waiting area for the Tram, it is air-conditioned.

Trickeye museum.

Day 3

Tuesday Ocean Park

Day 4


Day 5


Day 6

Home sweet home

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Growing strawberry from seeds in Singapore

Recently, I have posted on my sgmygardenisgood blog on starting the growth of strawberry in Singapore using seeds. I think planting strawberry in Singapore is a challenge that can be enjoyable and yet satisfying. This is because majority of the people in Singapore will think that this is an impossible task. But I can tell you that it is something that can be done if you know how. Of course, in the course of growing strawberry from seeds, you will learn how to be patience (same as fishing I guess). Another thing is that you may not know what kind of variety of strawberry you are planting. The other way of getting strawberry plant is to buy one. There are occasions where the local nurseries may carry the strawberry plants from Malaysia (I think). You can get the plants from there.

One month ago, World Farm had many strawberry plants on sales. I managed to get two pots.

However, I want to share with you my journey of growing strawberry from seeds and we can learn and share experience together.

Growing strawberry from seeds in Singapore
Growing strawberry from seeds in Singapore

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Kids Haven Children's Bed

We went to the Kids Haven at 31 Woodlands Close, Woodlands Horizon, #07-11, Singapore 737855. You will need to call them to confirm the timing.

We were served by Vivien and I think she is the founder for Kids Haven (correct me if I'm wrong). She is knowledgeable and is very patient with us. We were deciding between the loft or the normal bed. As our daughter's room is quite small and we want to create some playing areas for her in the bedroom. The only way to do it is to have a loft bed and create the play area under the bed. However, the bed will be quite high, about 1.5 m above the ground. My daughter has a habit of tossing around the bed and we are afraid that she may fall. But my daughter likes the loft bed and we ordered one for her and also a Hello Kitty canopy. The Hello Kitty canopy is quite new and Vivien has not figured out how to assemble it yet. But we like it so we proceeded to order it.

We ordered on 21 Dec 2015. The item is Victorian Lovely Hearts Loft Bed with Lovely Cottage Canopy (includes rooftop, wall pockets, metal frame and curtains) plus castle curtains. The total cost is $1200. We were told that the leadtime is about 2 to 3 months. We were hoping that the bed can be delivered before the Chinese New Year on 8 Feb 2016.

One day, my daughter fell from our King-size bed. We were worried that she might fall from the loft bed in future. We went back to Kids Haven to change the bed and Vivien was kind enough to let us change it. We made some amendments to the requirements and removed the castle curtains as we didn't have the loft bed. We added in the three drawers under the bed. In the end, the cost is $1100. We had paid a deposit of $600 and the remaining $500 will be paid by interbank transfer.

We waited patiently and luckily my master-room bed is King-size, there is no problem squeezing 3 of us on the bed. The week before CNY, I received a call from Kids Haven that the bed will arrive in 2 weeks' time and will arrange for delivery once they receive them.

However, the Hello Kitty canopy had missing parts which were not delivered to Kids Haven. They had to air-flown the parts in and would take a couple of days. Two workers came to deliver and assemble the bed. We were quite excited and the assembly took quite some times. The finished product is quite good and my daughter loves it very much.

The Hello Kitty canopy arrived after a week and we had to assemble it by ourselves. Luckily, I'm an engineer and it was quite easy. There were 54 poles instead of the 60 poles as mentioned in the instruction guide. Anyway, the instruction guide was quite complicated but to an engineer, it was rather easy to read and understand. Just need to make sure and identify all the poles with the numberings.

However, the connection between the poles will be quite loose and the structure is quite unstable if there is any stress on any pole. It will be better if you can glue or secure the connections.

Bed & Canopy from Kids Haven
Bed & Canopy from Kids Haven

Monday, 4 April 2016

Growing grapes in Singapore

I have heard of someone in Singapore who grows grapes successfully. It was reported in Yahoo news last year. I was fascinated about this but I think if you were to grow from seeds, it will take very long or in the worst case, the seeds will never germinate.

Last weekend, I was at the World Farm (aka Hua Hng) and I saw about 10 pots of plants with very faint label. Looking closely at the label, I saw it was written "Grapes $6". I was surprised and inspected the plants. I googled on my iPhone and found that the stem was the grapevine cane.

Grapevine at World Farm
Grapevine at World Farm

It was not very common to find grapevine here in the nurseries. After visiting the farm and selected some pots for my Phalaenopsis orchid, I had decided to buy two pots of the grapevine since there are relatively cheap. I selected the two best ones and quickly went home. It was very hot here, almost 35.6 degrees. Strangely that they didn't have the orchid mix for Phalaenopsis. So, I just have to use the sphagnum moss for the orchid.

I asked the worker about the grapevine and he said that it is green grapes. He said that it needs plenty of sunlight and water, also the fertilizer is quite important. He recommended a 5-5-5 organic fertilizer for the grapevine. The fertilizer is $4 per pack.

I was very excited about this grapevine and hopefully the plants can survive at the balcony. I think I need to make a trellis for the grapevine.

Yes, I had made a DIY trellis for my grapevine to climb. It was very simple to make and I had actually made two versions. For the first version, I had used 5 extendable rods from Daiso (3 rods @ $2). I tied them to make a fence-liked structure and attached it to the pot hanger. The second version was much simpler, I bought garden wirings from Daiso @ $2. It is 3mm in diameter and 1m long. I bent and wrapped it around the hanger to create a fence.

Check out my Instagram @tanbk168 for the DIY Trellis.