Chin’s Nature Corner
first strawberry
The first fruit had to be discarded because
half of it turned black when it ripened.
second batch
My son had hoped that the second and third
fruit would ripen at the same time.
second fruit
The second fruit ripened without any problem
but the third fruit also turned black.
Strawberries on the Balcony
THIS STORY is not exactly about nature but about gardening, which I believe is a good substitute as a pastime or hobby for nature-watching, especially for people who are not able or do not have the opportunity to indulge in the latter activity.
 There are some similarities, I think. Many people believe that gardening has a therapeutic effect (on the gardener, of course), and yet many others believe that they derive health benefits from spending time outdoors watching nature.
  Out in the wilds, the nature-watcher will normally experience a certain sense of discovery or some excitement or even exhiliration when he/she encounters a "new" species for the first time.
  The gardener, after carefully cultivating a plant, especially one which he/she is growing for the first time, will feel some excitement on seeing the first flower buds, more so when the plant is a non-native species. And his/her expectation grows as the buds grow bigger and culminates in a sense of achievement and joy when the buds bloom and the flowers set fruit.
  The strawberry plant is a non-native species in Malaysia although it has been commercially cultivated for decades in the Cameron Highlands and Genting High- lands. It originated from the temperate countries and so grows quite well in the cool mountainous areas.
  Quite recently, "tropicalised" strawberry plants became available and can be purchased from certain nurseries or growers. I suspect that these are mostly propogated from the runners.
  My son Ken must have felt quite excited when one his strawberry plants bore its first fruit. He posted photos in our WhatsApp family chat group of the berry and the plants that he was growing on his balcony. I asked him to send me more photos when he had "harvested" the ripe fruit so that I could do a story for my website. So here we are.
Gabey and her strawberry
Gabey holding up the fruit of her father's labour with glee before making short work of it.

  This is the second time that I have written a story with the title "Straw- berries on the Balcony". The first was done more than 20 years ago when I succeeded in growing some plants from store-bought seeds. That first write-up was published in Sundate, the Sunday magazine section of the daily newspaper that I was working for at that time.
  I had just moved with my family from an apartment to a double-story link house and we started to "grow things" because we now had a front yard.
  When my strawberry plants were growing, being mindful that they were temperate climate plants, I moved them to the balcony to shelter them from the harsh tropical sun.
  Now, my son has to grow his strawberry plants on the balcony because he lives (with his wife and two young children) on the tenth floor of a condominium because that is the only spot that gets sufficient sunlight.
Gordon and his strawberry
Gordon was just as delighted as his sister when he got his berry, the fourth fruit to ripen.

  I like to think that I was the first person to grow strawberry plants in the hot and humid lowlands of the Klang Valley more than 20 years ago but I had no way to verify this.
  Of the five strawberry plants that I raised, I gave away two, which had started to bear fruit, to a colleague who had asked for them. The plants that I kept for myself eventually died due to a heavy infestation of white flies.
 My son faces a different issue with his tropicalised strawberry plants. The fruit has a tendency to turn black when it ripens. You can see this in the third photo at the top of this page.
 For a long time, I kept a lookout to buy some more strawberry seeds to "give it another go". I checked out the gardening sections of supermarkets and other shopping outlets that I thought would likely have them in stock but couldn't find any that sold them. I think I missed out the nurseries! ~ CFS, 25 July 2019.
The pots of strawberry plants are placed on shelves (a wooden pallet) due to limited space on the balcony.

This page revised on 25 July 2019. Copyright © Chin Fah Shin.