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Jun 28, 2009

Sustainable Farming

Sustainable farming in practice here:


  1.  This is a 'No-Dig' 35 feet x 10 feet pumpkin patch.  Barely 2 months, we now have 42 pumpkins (the red tips mark the pumpkins), with more to come judging by the flowers.

  2.  The original soil is sandy.  We build up the beds using compost, some soil and mulch.

  3.  Three varieties of pumpkins are planted here, creating diversity to reduce outbreaks of insect or fungal and bacterial problems.  So far we have had one bacterial problem which we quickly addressed by uprooting and destroying the plant.  Fungal problems have been minimal and have been addressed by quick action using cassia alata juice. Insects have not been serious.  The beetle  A. abdominalis is present but does not seem to cause any problems to the pumpkin plants.

4.       No purchased fertiliser, or any other input have been used here.  We only use our farm made compost.

5.       We are now looking forward to see whether a second crop of pumpkins using the same plot of land can produce similar yields.  That would really be a test of sustainability.

zpumpkin28june4Web.JPG   zpumpkin28June5Web.JPG

Jun 08, 2009

Kerengga - Our Organic Partners

Sceptics say, organic durians, sure?  How do you handle weevils that just love durians and can easily infest 40% of your fruits?  Or what about borers that kill the trees in weeks after you have lovingly taken care of the trees for years?  And squirrels, they love the durians, so what do you do, kill them?

Well, we have a few hundred durian and mango trees and we will tell you it's almost impossible (the labour costs will be too high) if not for our "friendly" neighbourhood kerengga ( weaver ants, or oecophylla smaragdina )

carnivorous ants.JPG

Gang of carnivorous kerengga attacking a piece of meat. Meat is used to establish a colony in a new tree.


kerengga nests.JPG

Kerengga nests the size of large durians.


dead tree from borers.JPG

A tree killed by borers.

fresh borer hole oozing sap.JPGA borer hole that’s still active and oozing sap.

dry borer hole after kerengga.JPG

 A borer hole that's dry after kerengga cleaned out the borers 






Highway of raffia strings for the weaver ants to form a colony of 20 to 30 trees around one central tree.

superhighway.JPGA 20 meter long raffia highway.  The ants learn to use it after two days ( with coaching from us of course).


using the highway.JPG

Using the highway


new nest.JPG

New weaver ant nests as they colonise a new tree.



Once the weaver ants colonise a tree, the borers are gone.  Weevil infested fruits and squirrel attacks are almost non-existent.  That gives us time to focus on the other major problem with durian trees – phytoptera attacks, for which sadly, we have no answer as yet.